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Indira, the secret of the patriarch Gabriel García Márquez

The name of Indira Cato had been going around in my head for many years. On the day of the death of Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), that noon of Holy Thursday, in that April of brilliant light and ominous omens near the sea of ​​San Antero, someone alluded to the still unconfirmed rumor that the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude had left behind a daughter, and it was a kept secret.

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García Márquez had a secret daughter, named Indira, with a Mexican journalist

The rumor had spread from Mexico to the Caribbean, and had crept like an unexpected wind into the Madrid apartment of Gabo's biographer, Dasso Saldívar, the author of Elvoyage to the seed, already Gerald Martin's house in London, and our house in Cartagena de Indias. It is a rumor that was suspiciously aroused again at the writer's funeral at the Palace of Fine Arts, and remained flapping like a wind that opened and closed doors, without bringing credible reasons or verifiable news.

Dasso confessed to me that, in the face of rumours, a biographer has the duty to scrutinize and decipher until the origin and veracity of the loose voices are verified. Gerald Martin had the suspicion since it all started, more than 30 years ago. And he was convinced of the reality only 10 years ago. It was a secret that no one dared to name, not even those closest to García Márquez, his family, his brothers and his friends. With Dasso we had a dialogue since 2019 that became a secret pact to trace the fate of that girl, test the news and find the best way to tell it. Dasso agreed from the beginning that I should tell this monumental news. It was an overwhelming challenge.

A silence out of respect for Mercedes Barcha

Dasso Saldívar confirmed the news thanks to Guillermo Angulo, the oldest of his friends who survives him, at 94 years old, with the fresh memory of when he met the young and skinny writer under 30 years old, who had dark circles under his eyes purple from scaring away hunger in Paris, while writing the novel of the veteran colonel grandfather of the Thousand Days War, there were still misgivings and fears among the brothers and friends themselves in recognizing that open secret that no one dared to tell.

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When I learned the name from the lips of Dasso and his family in Cartagena de Indias, Indira Cato resonated in my heart like an enigma to be solved. When I asked the relatives of Cartagena de Indias about Indira, they were speechless, and over time, they themselves revealed to me that she was the daughter of García Márquez, but that no one dared to name that love relationship between the writer and the journalist and filmmaker. Susana Cato “for veneration of Mercedes Barcha”.

That was an emotional cataclysm for Mercedes and for the family, but the García Márquez barely knew about her, they welcomed her with the warmth and affection of being a member of the lineage. However, that reception also generated conflicts with Mercedes. Nothing that had happened could dethrone the splendor of the love epic that Mercedes and Gabo had forged over 57 years of marriage, but that became the best kept secret of the writer and his family.

Dasso suggested that this should be told with subtlety and respect for human beings and the two families. And he remembered having witnessed an image in which Gabo carried his little girl on his legs. “The smile of happiness that Gabo has with his girl on his legs, I will not forget it as long as I live!”, he told me for that scoop of the report in the newspaper El Universal de Cartagena. In those pages, he began as a journalist on May 21, 1948. The world returning to its origins.

Susana Cato, in a YouTube video.

Gabo's student. Susana Cato (Federal City of Mexico, 61 years old) enrolled in the Script Workshop dictated by García Márquez at the San Antonio de los Baños Film School (Cuba). She was one of Gabo's most talented students, when she proposed plots about love stories at film school. Together with his teacher and Eliseo Alberto Diego, he wrote the film series No se jus con el amor (1991), directed by Carlos García Agraz, José Luis García Agraz and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. And he also created the plot of the short film The mirror of two moons, directed by Carlos García Agraz, with a script by García Márquez.

Along with Gabo, he also participated in the script about María. As a correspondent for the magazine Cambio in Mexico, she interviewed García Márquez and entitled her report: In Colombia, the writer has no choice but to change his profession. Susana published two books between 2019 and 2020: Ellas. Las mujeres del 68 (Process Editions), a series of interviews with women who lived through this historical moment, with a prologue by Elena Poniatowska and the book Issir. Spoken portrait of an Iraqi migrant (2019) (Process Editions).

Indira Cato, daughter of Gabriel García Márquez.

Indira's train. The train shakes up the memories again. Watching the documentary Take my loves away, produced by Indira Cato, I feel that this train is the same one that takes us from Aracataca to the hearts of these Mexican women who, along the railway line, they hand out bags of food to hungry migrants who lean out of the windows. Upon discovering them, the young film producer Indira Cato went after these supportive women who gave what they did not have, something more than food, for the smile of the migrants. He knew that there was the harsh movie of everyday life.

Indira Cato, a young film producer, has a profound and coherent social, ethical and aesthetic vision of cinema. In 2020, he won fifteen awards with the production of his first documentary Llévate mis amores (2014), directed by Arturo González Villaseñor, with a script by both. He studied Dramatic Literature and Theater at UNAM. He has published film reviews on the website Butaca Ancha. She successfully participated in the second edition of the Coahuila State Film Festival, 2020. She is working on the documentary Las hijas del maiz, about a group of midwives from Chiapas.

Indira bears the surname of her mother, Susana Cato, and not that of her father, Gabriel García Márquez. The two have forged their destiny by hand. Indira has never claimed the surname of her father, who did not acknowledge her publicly, but kept his loving paternity a secret. Gabo did not escape the fate of his paternal ancestors: his father and grandfather adopted the maternal surname as they were not recognized by their parents. The brothers Rodrigo and Gonzalo are watching her, says Gabriel Torres García, Gabo's nephew, who maintains that life is beyond fiction: Indira studied with her nephew Mateo, son of Gonzalo García Barcha. Gabo, for his part, was attentive to her until the end of his life. When choosing a name for her, he banished Virginia, which had haunted his clairvoyance since the sixties, and Indira was imposed by Indira Gandhi, whom he met in 1983, and who was the first female head of state to call him in that October 1982 when the Nobel Prize was announced.

Indira has the deep gaze, the very black eyebrows of her father, and the unfathomable gaze of someone who goes through things just by looking at them.

Gustavo Tatis Guerra is a chronicler for the newspaper 'El Universal de Cartagena de Indias'. Author of 'The yellow flower of the conjurer' (2019).

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