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He served as Mexican ambassador to Paris beginning in 1975. He resigned from the foreign service again in 1977 when former President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz was appointed ambassador to Spain, saying he wouldn’t serve with the man who ordered a student massacre in Mexico City, which activists said killed up to 350 people.

A believer that literature allowed him to say what would be censored otherwise, Fuentes also was the subject of censorship.

His mystery novel “Aura,” which narrates a romantic encounter beneath a crucifix with a black Christ that some officials claimed was too racy, was banned from public high schools in Puerto Rico. It also sparked controversy in Mexico in 2001 when a former interior secretary asked the novel to be dropped from a suggested reading list at his daughter’s private junior high school.

Fuentes was born in Panama on Nov. 11, 1928, to Mexican parents. He lived most of his life abroad, growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro; Washington; Santiago, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. He later divided his time between homes in Mexico City and London, where he did most of his writing.

Fuentes was married from 1959 to 1973 to actress Rita Macedo, with whom he had his only surviving daughter.

After the couple divorced, he married Lemus, and they had two children together. Their son Carlos Fuentes Lemus died from complications associated with hemophilia in 1999, and Natasha Fuentes Lemus died in 2005 after a cardiac arrest.

Fuentes also acknowledged having affairs with actresses including Jeanne Moreau and Jean Seberg.

As he grew older, Fuentes left many novels unfinished with imperfections and, he said, “wounds that make the book bleed.”

He continued to publish essays and do public speaking to the very end, including the day he died. In an opinion piece in the newspaper Reforma, he expressed optimism for the new government of Francois Hollande, who was sworn in Tuesday as president of France. Fuentes said he hoped it would be “defined less by its technocratic profile and more by what the French understand as `humanism’.”

One subject Fuentes always postponed was writing about himself.

“One puts off the biography like you put off death,” he said. “To write an autobiography is to etch the words on your own gravestone.”


Associated Press writers Marjorie Miller and E. Eduardo Castillo contributed to this report.