Intellectuals close to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner launched a campaign Tuesday to stop Nobel Prize Mario Vargas Llosa from opening the Spanish-speaking world's largest cultural fair because of his disparaging remarks about Argentine politics.
Vargas Llosa, winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for literature, has been invited to inaugurate in mid-April the International Book Fair in Buenos Aires, which UNESCO expects to be attended by more than one million people.
Horacio Gonzalez, director of the National Library of Argentina, blasted Vargas Llosa as an authoritarian liberal who should not be at the event, while Culture Secretary Jorge Coscia labeled him a reactionary and an enemy of cultural industries.
Philosopher Jose Pablo Feinmann said he felt enormous indignation that Vargas Llosa would inaugurate the book fair, and publisher Aurelio Narvaja called him a propagandist of ‘liberal ideas and policies’.
The intellectuals are angered over Vargas Llosa's statements on Argentine politics and personal attacks against Kirchner and allies such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
In a recent interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, the Peruvian writer, who is an outspoken proponent of free markets and liberal democracy, described Cristina and Nestor Kirchner as a total disasters.
Argentina is going through the worst form of Peronism, populism and anarchy. I fear that it is an incurable country, he told the newspaper.
Vargas Llosa also told Spain's El Pais that Cristina Kirchner and her late husband, former president Nestor Kirchner, are exemplary capitalists who... managed to multiply their capital seven times.
And on the Argentine radio network La Red he questioned how Argentina's voters could have elected a president with that level of ignorance and intellectual poverty.
Like many Latin American writers of his generation, Vargas Llosa, 74, supported Cuba's communist regime, but by the early 1970s he grew disillusioned with the left.
He ran for president of Peru in 1990 heading a right-wing ticket, losing to a little known academic of Japanese descent named Alberto Fujimori, who is now serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights abuse.
Vargas Llosa has promoted liberal ideas all over the continent including Venezuela where he challenged President Chavez to an open debate. The Venezuela leader declined but used the country’s media to blast the Nobel Prize. Vargas Llosa has said that the Chavez regime ignores human rights and has turned the country into a factory “to make people poor”.