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domingo, enero 20, 2008

Mario Vargas Llosa Briefly Hospitalized

Mario Vargas Llosa

AFP reports that Vargas Llosa was discharged from the hospital yesterday:
Peruvian author and one-time presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa was discharged from hospital Saturday a day after he was admitted with heart problems, local news media reported.

Vargas Llosa, 71, was rushed to the San Pablo clinic Friday and, after undergoing a series of tests, is now out of danger, radio RPP reported. Officials at the clinic refused to confirm or deny the report to AFP.

Upon hearing the news during a cabinet meeting President Alan Garcia asked Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo to visit the writer, the president's office announced.

By then Vargas Llosa had already left the hospital in company of his family, so Garcia's office said that del Castillo would instead visit the author at home or call him by phone.

While I've always loved Vargas Llosa's books, his neo-liberal politics has always been distasteful to me. In 1990 he ran for president of Peru, the candidate of conservative parties, but lost the election to Alberto Fujimori, who is now on trial for human rights abuses. In the campaign for president, according to James Cockroft, "Fujimori seemed less extremist in his economic neo-liberalism than Vargas Llosa and also spoke demagogically about helping Peru's poor. Sympathizers of the left voted for [Fujimori] as 'the lesser evil.'" But after the election Fujimori carried out IMF-type austerity policies even more extreme than those advanced by Vargas Llosa.

In 1990 Vargas Llosa described his unsuccessful campaign to the New York Times:
Alive and apparently unscathed after three years of crisscrossing his impoverished and terrorist-wracked country in pursuit of the presidency, Mr. Vargas Llosa says he is disappointed but also "a bit relieved" that the electorate rejected him in June in favor of Alberto Fujimori, a Japanese-Peruvian agronomist. The author's campaign was born of a sense of responsibility in the face of the tragedy of Peru and a conviction that the country could change and prosper with a free-market economy. But, switching from his excellent English to his perfect French, this urbane and elegant man with the swift and piercing amber eyes of a cat confesses that "le coeur n'y etait pas," that his "heart was not in it."

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