The two Mario Vargas Llosas
My faithful correspondent Daniel del Solar has forwarded an article datelined Quito, about reactions by indigenous leaders to a talk by Mario Vargas Llosa. The Peruvian novelist and one-time candidate for president recently (once again) criticized them severely for radical actions in Ecuador, Peru and -- most recently and dramatically -- Bolivia.

I don't believe that Vargas Llosa is "racist" (though that word has shifting meanings), but he has long been a neo-conservative (in US political terms) and may even have become a neo-liberal (in Latin American terms), which is worse. Many years ago, in a very public debate, his tocayo (meaning someone who shares your first name), Mario Benedetti, pointed out something that is still is true of Vargas Llosa: His fiction is far to the left of his "public intellectual" statements. It is as though he can only feel what the disadvantaged feel when he imagines them as characters, and when he steps before a microphone or a lectern as himself, he must distance himself from them. Sometimes he becomes aware of this conflict, or split vision, even within a novel -- like the quite amazing Historia de Mayta. Mostly, though, he is empathic in his fiction and coldly, very coldly, analytic outside it.

For the author's own words: Artículos de Vargas Llosa

For an article by another of my friends, Peruvian historian José Luis Rénique, which puts Vargas Llosa in an understandable context: Flores Galindo y Vargas Llosa: Un debate ficticio sobre utopías reales

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