The presence of prestigious Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa has risen concerns in the Venezuela of president Hugo Chávez, famous for his socialist project for the South American nation. Vargas Llosa, one of the most important authors of the Hispanic literature, came to Caracas for the International Congress on Freedom and Democracy organized by the Center of Promulgation of the Economic Knowledge for Freedom (Cedic). The former president of Bolivia, Jorge Quiroga, is also in the Congress.
Tensions rose already when the Peruvian author arrived to the Maiquetía International Airport and was retained for 90 minutes by the Venezuelan authorities.
The author of “The War of the End of the World said to the press that an official suggested to him in a gentle way that any attempt to make critics on the government would cause his deportation from the country. The official, who was not identified, reminded to the Latin American scholar and writer that he was a foreigner and he was not allowed to give political opinions.
But Vargas Llosa, as an author, is a man of freedom. His quotes already caused international attention in the same city where president Hugo Chávez lives. Vargas Llosa said that Venezuela was on the way to become a “second Cuba in Latin America” and that it is going closer to a “communist dictatorship.”
“No queremos que Venezuela se convierta en una sociedad totalitaria comunista. No lo es todavía porque si lo fuera no estaríamos aquí”
“We do not want that Venezuela becomes a totalitarian communist society. It is not yet and that is the reason we are here.“
He said also that he did not come to Venezuela to insult president Chávez, but to express ideas.
Control the press!
While the charismatic figure of writer Mario Vargas Llosa was already causing disturbances, president Hugo Chávez was launching his own campaign against a press he considers his enemy.
President Chévez suggested in his weekly televised program “Aló Presidente!” that the means of communication are “inciting” his assassination. Therefore, he called to the Ministry of Public Works, the National Procurator, the Supreme Tribunal and other official institutions, to take action “against the media”:
“…cumplan con su obligación ante el pueblo, que para eso están ahí, de lo contrario, “¡que renuncien, que se vayan de sus cargos y que (sean reemplazados por) gente con coraje!”
“ …Fulfill your duties with the people, it is why you are, otherwise, resign! let your seats to be replace for people of courage!,” he said addressing those suppose to take actions against the press.
The president declared in his program that the State must act against those media that “poison the people.” However he did not say to which media he was referring, with the exception of the president of Globavision to which he called “mafioso.”
“Getting far from democracy”, Vargas Llosa
The Peruvian writer, by his part, stated in the forum that the country is getting far from democracy little by little and in such way it will become a second Cuba in Latin America.
“Hay espacios de libertad que todavía están allí y creo que hay que aprovecharlos si no queremos que Venezuela deje de ser una sociedad democrática y se convierta en una dictadura comunista, que es a donde iría este país si este proceso continúa”
“There are spaces of freedom that still there and I believe that we have to profit them if we do not want that Venezuela let to be a democratic society and becomes a communist dictatorship, that is where it is going if it continues like that,” said Vargas Llosa.
The fear to any kind of critics to the regime, radicalization, reduction of public freedom and freedom of press, market and any other base of a culture of democracy, are the elements pointed by the author to bring out such conclusions.
But Vargas Llosa was farther: he cited some examples of what is happening in Venezuela, especially in the control over the freedom of press, the harassment to Globovisión, a private television channel and the cut of functions of local governors. Several political leaders of the opposition have abandoned Venezuela in the last years.
About Uribe and the reelection
Mario Vargas Llosa gave also his opinion on the possibility of a third presidential period of Colombian Alvaro Uribe.
He said that it would be a regret if president Uribe intends a second reelection and that such political move became a “sport” of the Latin American governors to “perpetuate” themselves in power.
“Creo que él (Uribe) ha hecho un magnífico gobierno y creo que sería lamentable que eligiera presentarse una vez más, por tercera vez, creo que no se deben romper las reglas de juego con las que un gobernante democrático sube al poder”
“I think that Uribe has done a magnificent government and I believe that it would be regrettable if he opts for once more, for a third time, I think that it is better not to break the rules of the game of how a democratic government rise to power,” he said to the W Radio.
He suggested in Bogotá that the democracy could be deteriorated with a second reelection.