Born in Chillán to Jewish immigrants, Teitelboim was interested in literature from an early age. Volodi became one of the most representative symbols of the Chilean left and joined the Communist Party when he was only a teenager. He was the general secretary of the party and, during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990) he was in exile in Moscow.
From there, he denounced the human rights violations committed in his country, on his program Escucha Chile, broadcast by Radio Moscow on short wave.
Volodia Teitelboim was one of those rare beings to combine an active and influential life in politics with the talents of a discriminating writer and literary critic. He was one of Chile's leading essayists, combining writing with half a century as a member of the Politburo of the Chilean Communist Party.
Amongst those who mourned his passing was Fidel Castro who said, ""I will not say he has died; he has left to live in ideas. He joined the ranks of those who struggle and will continue to struggle for those dreams."
The following is from the Santiago Times.
CHILEAN COMMUNIST ICON TEITELBOIM BURIED; NATION MOURNS
Volodia ValentÌn Teitelboim, the renowned Chilean Communist Party leader and writer, was buried Saturday in the General Cemetery of Santiago, where both supporters and detractors paid their respects to one of the most outspoken opponents of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
A lymphatic cancer patient for the past two years, Teitelboim entered the Universidad de Chile’s medical clinic on Jan. 15. At the time he was suffering from pneumonia resulting from a severe lung infection. Ten days later, he experienced a relapse. Refusing to be connected to life support, he passed away Thursday, Jan.31, at 91 years of age.
Teitelboim was born to Eastern European Jewish immigrants in 1916 in the southern town of Chill·n, Region VII. In 1932 he entered law school at the Universidad de Chile, where he first started attending political meetings, and soon joined the Juventud Comunista (Communist Youth).
After more than two decades of activity in the Communist Party (PC), Teitelboim was elected a deputy to Congress in 1961, and then to the Senate in 1965. He remained a senator until the military coup in September, 1973. Exiled in the USSR, he founded the magazine “Araucania de Chile” and started the “Escucha Chile!” program on Radio Moscow, in which he denounced the human rights abuses of the dictatorship.
He eventually returned to Chile in 1988, and was elected Secretary General of the PC in 1989, a post he held until 1994.
A prolific writer, Teitelboim produced dozens of works, including anthologies, epic poetry, novels, biographies, and a four-volume autobiography. Among his biography subjects are Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro, Jorge Luis Borges, and Juan Rulfo. He received Chile’s National Prize in Literature in 2002.
Teitelboim once said he was married to politics, but that literature was his secret lover.