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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Few More Years of Aracataca

ARACATACA, Colombia -- Life did not imitate art on Sunday when this town where Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born and first heard the ghost stories that would inform the "magical realism" of his novels rejected a proposal to change its name to honor him.

Fewer than the required 7,400 voters showed up for a referendum, which had been pushed by the local government to rename the community Aracataca-Macondo.

Macondo is the name of the fictitious town where Marquez's masterwork, "One Hundred Years of Solitude," unfolds. In the novel, it is a place where anything can happen. It rains for four years after a massacre of banana workers and there is a plague of insomnia.

Despite an ardent campaign, Mayor Pedro Sanchez did not have the backing needed for the name change, which he said would have brought tourism to this town of 53,000 in Colombia's northern banana-growing country.

After polls closed in the late afternoon, he said more than 90 percent of the votes cast were in favor of the proposal. "But turnout was not high enough for the vote to count," he conceded.

Despite the mayor's enthusiasm, some residents considered the name change a gimmick. "I've always known this place as Aracataca and that's good enough for me," said 27-year-old Manuel Almanza, who fixes punctured tires and has never read anything by Gabo, as Marquez is known here.

Many of those lining the unpaved streets flashed thumbs-up signs, while others shook their heads to say no. But most agree that Aracataca, where people seeking diversion were torn Saturday night between the town's cockfighting ring and the film "Poseidon" on television, needs something new.