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Nobel Winner Mario Vargas Llosa Urges Sanctions for Dictators

Peruvian Writer Mario Vargas Llosa Wins Nobel Prize
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. Photographer: Billy Farrell/ via Bloomberg

Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian writer awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature, said democratic governments should punish with economic sanctions the dictatorships they often tolerate.

Vargas Llosa, who has accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of trying to stamp out the country’s democratic institutions and last year challenged him to a debate over the direction of his Bolivarian revolution, described dictatorships as “absolute evil” that should be fought with all means governments have at their disposal.

“It is regrettable that democratic governments, instead of setting an example by making common cause with those, like the Damas de Blanco in Cuba, the Venezuelan opposition, or Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo, who courageously confront the dictatorships they endure, often show themselves complaisant not with them but with their tormenters,” he said today at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, according to a transcript posted on the academy’s website.

Vargas Llosa, 74, was awarded the Nobel Prize “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat,” the Swedish Academy said when it announced the award Oct. 7. He has previously called for diplomatic and economic sanctions against authoritarian regimes in Chile, Cuba, Afghanistan, Iran, South Africa, Myanmar and Peru.

‘Time of the Hero’

Vargas Llosa’s literary breakthrough came with the 1963 publication of “The Time of the Hero” (La ciudad y los perros), which drew from his experiences at military school and was publicly burned by officers in Peru’s military. Other novels include “The Feast of the Goat,” which portrays the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican dictator who ruled the Caribbean nation from 1930 until his death in 1961.

Vargas Llosa said Latin America has made progress and for the first time “we have a left and a right that respect legality, the freedom to criticize, elections, and succession in power.”

“That is the right road, and if it stays on it, combats insidious corruption, and continues to integrate with the world, Latin America will finally stop being the continent of the future and become the continent of the present,” he said.

Vargas Llosa became more than a commentator on Peruvian politics when he ran for the presidency in 1990 and lost to Alberto Fujimori, an experience he chronicled in his 1993 memoir “A Fish in the Water.”

The 10 million-krona ($1.5 million) Nobel literature prize was created in the will of Alfred Nobel and first awarded in 1901. Nobel, a Swede who invented dynamite, also set up awards for achievements in medicine, physics, chemistry and peace.

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