Three Latin American intellectuals, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and the Mexican Jorge Castañeda Gutman and Enrique Krauze, accepted the challenge of president Hugo Chávez to open a public debate in his program “Aló Presidente!.
The program of the president has a special edition this week with a daily emission between 8 and 10 PM, the hours with more audience. The program is of course directed by the president who challenged the intellectuals of the international forum on democracy that is being hold in Caracas this week.
The special edition of “Aló President!” has been done to coincide with the celebration of the international congress that has set critics to the political project of president Chávez. The first tension rose with the arrival of the prestigious Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa who was retained in the airport for 90 minutes and prevented to make critics to the government under the possibility of a expel from the country.
President Hugo Chávez invited the intellectuals to participate in his program along with leftist theorists he called “revolutionaries”.
“Se me ocurre algo en ese momento (…) Invito a esta gente, les doy un espacio en ”Aló Presidente”, que es continuo de aquí al domingo”.
“I think something in this moment… I invite this people, I give them a space in “Aló Presidente”, that will be until Sunday“, he said in the program.
By his part, writer Vargas Llosa declared:
“Estamos a favor del diálogo como uno de los principios básicos que nosotros defendemos”.
“We are in favor of the dialogue as one of the basic principles we defend.”
The Latin American intellectuals who are participating in the international forum on freedom and democracy, have coincided that Venezuela is going toward a communist dictatorship, while Chávez has referred to the forum as an event of a “ultra-decadent” rightist wing.
The president said that the discussion should be among them and the “revolutionaries” and he would be as a spectator of the debate, but Vargas Llosa, Castañeda and Krauze said that they would participate only if it is with the president and not with intellectuals of other tendencies.
Enrique Krauze is the author of “Power and Delirium” (“El poder y el delirio“), a book about president Chávez. He said that the debate should be with clear rules in order to avoid monologues.
“Sería muy interesante para la vida del ciudadano venezolano (…) muy sano para la vida política de Venezuela ver a su presidente en un debate de ideas y escuchando opiniones de los demás y no solo exponiendo las suyas”
“It would be very interested for the life of the Venezuelan citizens and very healthy for the political life of Venezuela to see its president in a debate of ideas and listening opinions from other people and not only the exposition of his.,” said Krauze.
Castañeda said that the subjects to be discussed should be human rights, democracy and the current financial crisis.
At the same time, there is another congress organized by socialist intellectuals that have been called by president Chávez as “revolutionaries” and have all his sympathy.
Giving an opinion on the possibility of a debate between the president and the Latin American intellectuals, the Venezuelan writer Rafael Arraiz Luca said in Globovisiion.com that the dialogue is not easy because the president “finds difficult to take the situation with a democratic spirit”:
“Confunde las opiniones adversas con las opiniones personales. Yo puedo perfectamente disentir de tus idea, pero expresar una crítica a tus ideas no significa un ataque personal”
“He takes the opinions of his opponents as personal opinions. I can perfectly be contrary to your ideas, but expressing a critic to your ideas does not mean a personal attack,” he said.
Vargas Llosa to CNN
Writer Mario Vargas Llosa declared to CNN that president Chávez is looking for excuses to avoid the debate. The declarations of the Peruvian intellectual brought more words from president Chávez who pointed that he has been already in problems in other countries for his speeches and that it is a luxury of his country to allow that a person like him can come “in the middle of a revolution to say whatever.”
Vargas Llosa and other intellectuals have denied that the debate would be with other thinkers – called by the president as “revolutionaries.” Vargas Llosa, who was candidate to the presidency of his country some decades ago, said that the debate should among them and the president of Venezuela. Chávez said that he is “only a simple president and a soldier.”
President Chávez insisted that the debate would be this coming Saturday at 11 AM (Caracas time) between the “Venezuelan bourgeoisie, the right wing and the contra-revolutionaries.”
“Aún cuando ellos no aceptaran, no se atrevieran a aceptar, tienen todas las garantías, hasta chocolate de este bien bueno. Si no aceptaran mañana, ellos sabrán, de todos modos, me atrevo a decir que Caracas queda abierta para que vengan aquí, cuando quieran, todos los intelectuales del mundo que defienden el capitalismo”.
“Even if they do not accept, if they did not dare to accept, they have all the guarantees, even chocolate of this that is very good. If they do not accept tomorrow, it is up to them, I dare to say that Caracas will remain open so they can come here, whenever they want, all the intellectuals of the world, to defend the capitalism“, said the president.
Writer Mario Vargas Llosa said to CNN:
“Consideró que Chávez buscó un pretexto para que el debate con intelectuales no tuviera lugar. La propuesta no fue seria, fue un mero gesto o tal vez una emboscada
“I think that Chávez is looking a pretext in order to avoid the debate with the intellectuals. The proposal was not serious, it was only a gesture or maybe an ambush.”
A book for Obama
The president talked also about the American president Barack Obama and said that he has “another book” for him, “What is to Be Done?” of Lenin.
“Quién sabe si Obama leyó Las Venas Abiertas, a lo mejor no le ha dado tiempo, las Venas Abiertas de América Latina”
“Who knows if Obama have read “Open Veins of Latin America”, maybe he has not have time, Open Veins of Latin America,” he said.