Archive for the ‘Mario Vargas Llosa’ Category

“Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

This morning, while dealing with a brand-new washing machine spewing out soapy water all over the garage floor, I’ve come across a number of articles bemoaning the death of culture.

The first one was at American Digest’s Sidelines,

Our culture has continued to slide giggling into the pit.

It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song.

Concerts of serious music rarely include anything less than half a century old. Very few of us could name a living painter or architect. Entire years pass when no American outside the academy spontaneously quotes a line of verse written by any American poet younger than Elizabeth Bishop (b. 1911), or a British poet younger than Philip Larkin (b. 1922). The middlebrow novel is slipping into extinction. Movies are an extension of the comic-book industry; only TV drama shows occasional flashes of brilliance. The churches are branch offices of Globalist Multiculturalism, Inc.: the Episcopal church in my sleepy, 360-year-old Long Island town advertises Misa en Español. A Report from the Conservative Movement’s Dustbin – The Unz Review

Inclined as I am towards ancient music, non-fiction books, and not going to church, the moaning about “It is now thirty years since you last heard anyone hum a tune from a current popular song” tells me that the person who wrote that doesn’t have young children incessantly playing the brainworm-inducing Happy and Let It Go. Never mind that up until a couple of years ago the only living painter most people could name was Thomas Kincaid, the Leonardo of QVC.

The second is Joshua Cohen’s review, Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘Notes on the Death of Culture’. Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society is Vargas Llosa’s latest book, where he bemoans “our” lack of common culture, deploring “The Civilization of the Spectacle,” an essay I read while my mom was looking at Vargas Llosa himself on the cover of ¡Hola!. Don Mario was having lunch with his latest mistress, Julio Iglesias’s first wife, and pop! the paparazzi caught the spectacle.

The third was this beaut from Boer Deng at the WaPo, Ballet is more diverse than ever. Why is the audience still so white?
Changes to American ballet go beyond Misty Copeland.
Ms Deng is uniquely ignorant of the several principal dancers of Spanish and South American ancestry at the NYCB & the ABT over the decades, and insultingly ignorant of this.

Yes, there is a coarsening of society in general. If you, my gentle reader, are bothered by it, don’t sponsor and don’t frequent those engaged in what bothers you. Continue to engage and support that art which feeds your soul, and bring a friend or two when you do. (While you are at it, you may buy Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society through my Amazon links.)

If you want to be more proactive, The Western Canon and The Educated Child are two good resources. Dress up, including during travel. Come up with something that promotes the culture you appreciate.

As for the rest, I agree with Joshua Cohen when he says, “Culture is how we pass the time between hypocrisies.”

Blogging on Latin America shall resume shortly.

UPDATE
Linked to by American Digest. Thank you!

The Hezbollah camps Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, April 27th, 2015

While the U.S. media distracted itself with news about Bruce Jenner and tried to ignore Hillary Clinton’s corruption, the big news story of the week came via Emili Blasco: Nicolas Maduro negotiated with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela. See also Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah en América
A lo largo de los años, Tarek El Aissami ha desarrollado una red financiera sofisticada y de múltiples niveles
(more posts on El Aissami here).

ARGENTINA
Cristina Kirchner and Vladimir Putin cuddle up over oil – and bitter feelings for Britain
Argentina and Russia signed a a “strategic partnership” that included oil and gas deals, after Ms Kirchner visited Moscow and the Kremlin

BRAZIL
The ghost in the Planalto
Dilma Rousseff is in office but no longer in power

Thankfully, it is hard to imagine suicide or a coup. It is also hard to see Ms Rousseff, a tough former urban guerrilla who survived torture, resigning. And Brazilian law holds that a president can be impeached only for political or common crimes committed during her current term of office—though whether that rule would necessarily exempt any malfeasance during her first term is not clear. So far nothing ties Ms Rousseff to corruption; some would like fiscal irresponsibility to be impeachable, but probably it is not. It is for Mr Cunha to decide whether to start impeachment, and he is one of 52 politicians being investigated over alleged illegal donations from Petrobras.

Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges
State-run oil company writes off $2.1 billion of alleged bribe payments

Images of transgender prisoner whose face was ‘pulverized’ by police after they stripped her and shaved her head spark outrage in Brazil

CHILE
Chile volcano ash cloud reaches Brazil; some flights canceled

COLOMBIA
Colombian Physicians Get the Final Go-Ahead for Euthanasia
18 Years of Legal Limbo Over with New Regulatory Protocol

Cobweb explosives, #FARC’s latest method discovered by Fudra [armed forces]

COSTA RICA
Scientist in Costa Rica discovers new species of glass frog
Brian Kubicki discovers the Hyalinobatrachium dianae glass frog species in Costa Rica’s Talamanca mountains

CUBA
Giving Obama Cover on Cuban Weapons Shipment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visits Cuba

ECUADOR
Ecuadorian Activists Want Nothing Less than Universal Marijuana
Cannabis Ecuador: “With or Without Prohibition, There Will Always Be Drug Use”

MEXICO
MEXICAN AUTHORITIES RECOVER STOLEN RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL

NICARAGUA
In Paradisiacal Nicaragua, Contemplating a Canal. Paradisiacal?

PANAMA
Panama, reputed to be region’s top money laundering hub, toughens up legislation

PARAGUAY
Paraguay preps bond tap in buoyant market

PERU
Protester killed in Peru during rally against Southern Copper project

Peru library to preserve Vargas Llosa’s vast literary treasure

PUERTO RICO
S&P downgrades Puerto Rico debt to ‘CCC+’ from ‘B’

URUGUAY
Ex-Gitmo detainees protest at US embassy in Uruguay, demand financial support

VENEZUELA
Should Venezuela be on the List of Terrorist States?

WATCH: ROGUE MANGO ATTACKS VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT NICOLÁS MADURO

Woman who hit Venezuela leader with mango rewarded with new home
Woman who threw mango at Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro promised new home

The week’s posts and podcast:
Colombia: How are the FARC negotiations going?

Sunday tango at the gazebo

En español: Unidad de quemados #217

Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Argentina: Hitting new lows on the #Nisman murder

Venezuela: Maduro negotiated for Hezbollah training camps in Venezuela

Chile: Here’s the kaboom!

Alinsky wears high heels

Venezuela: Censorship all around

Cuba: Strawberries can get you jailed

Argentina: Prosecutor drops #Nisman’s case

Bolivia: Dumb. And dumber.

Podcast:
Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela & other US-Latin America stories



The New Yorker on Vargas Llosa

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

The Discreet Hero is now translated into English by Edith Grossman, and The New Yorker has an article by Thomas Mallon,
Restless Realism
Mario Vargas Llosa’s imagined lives.

“The Discreet Hero,” an energetic book with a more straightforward narrative method than almost any other Vargas Llosa novel, centers on an extortion plot against the self-made owner of a local transport company, a good man who refuses to pay, and whose son and mistress may be in on the crime. It also brings the return of Don Rigoberto, the irresponsible aesthete through whom Vargas Llosa mentally dodged some of the worst of the Peruvian eighties. Still bemoaning the “barbarism” of the country beneath his window, Rigoberto is now sixty-two and ready to retire from the insurance company. His son, Fonchito, however, is maturing with the same magic-realist slowness as Lituma: he should be easily past thirty but is still no more than fifteen, driving Don Rigoberto and Doña Lucrecia to distraction with tales of an older man who keeps mysteriously appearing to him. The parents finally put their doubts about his story into the hands of a private eye and a shrink; the possibility is even raised that this precocious sexual manipulator may have had a spiritual experience and become an angel.

I haven’t read the translation, but I greatly enjoyed “The Discreet Hero” when it first came out in Spanish. I hope you do, too.

Vargas Llosa: Venezuela a “pathetic failure”

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Mario Vargas Llosa, visiting Caracas for the Cedice conference:

On his last visit to Venezuela in 2009, he was held for several hours at the airport and criticized by Chavez for coming to “offend” and “provoke” Venezuelans.

Again, Vargas Llosa did not hold back, saying 15 years of socialism in Venezuela was a “pathetic failure” akin to Cuba and North Korea, evidenced by the highest inflation in the Americas and other weak economic indicators.

“What’s happening in Venezuela is a radical anachronism,” he said. “Venezuela has gone ever more backwards in the last 15 years and is approaching the most pathetic examples of economic, political and social failures like Cuba and North Korea, the last real exponents of socialism in the world.”

He added, however, that he had no wish to provoke anyone in Venezuela, and was grateful to the country for giving him his first international award, the Romulo Gallegos prize, in 1967.

Vargas Llosa offered his support to students who have been protesting against Maduro since early February.

“I hope the dialogue is genuine and authentic, and enables the pacification of the country,” he said of talks between the government and moderate opposition leaders intended to stem violence that has killed 41 people in the last two-and-a-half months.

As the Venezuelan Supreme Court Outlaws Spontaneous Protests as “Not an Absolute Right” and demands express authorization from the mayor or the governor of the jurisdiction where they are carried out, repression has intensified since the opening of the “dialogue” (link in Spanish).

Musician Willie Colón, who has close ties with Venezuela:

Video here:

And, as repression intensifies, RATION CARDS, BLOCK LONG FOOD LINES AS INFLATION RATE IN VENEZUELA HITS 60%

Garcia Marquez’s black eye: Vargas Llosa ain’t telling

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

A post for us, lit geeks:

On Valentine’s Day, 1976, in Mexico City, Gabriel García Márquez was photographed showing off a shiner (and possibly a broken nose?):

What is known:
On February 12, 1976,

in a Mexico City movie theater packed with people attending the premiere of a film about the plane crash survivors in the Andes who turned to cannibalism.

At one point Mr. Vargas Llosa rushes up to Mr. García Márquez, who innocently tries to embrace him. Instead Mr. Vargas Llosa decks him, Mr. García Márquez’s blood gushing everywhere.

Of course, there’s plenty of speculation as to why. Photographer Rodrigo Moya, who took the above photo, said in 2007

Some had surmised that the fight may have been over politics, since Mr. García Márquez has always been on the left and Mr. Vargas Llosa at the time had begun to migrate to the right. (He later made an unsuccessful attempt to run for president of Peru in 1990 as a free marketeer.) But, as Mr. Moya explains, the cause was a woman, specifically, Mr. Vargas Llosa’s wife, whom Mr. García Márquez consoled during a difficult period in the marriage.

When I first heard of this, I thought the lady in question was Julia Urquidi, the Aunt Julia of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, who was the first Mrs. Vargas Llosa, but it must have been the second Mrs. Vargas Llosa, cousin Patricia Llosa (also mentioned in Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter), who has been married to him since 1965.

No matter:
Peru’s Vargas Llosa to take secret of Garcia Marquez spat to grave

“There’s a pact between Garcia Marquez and myself (not to talk about it),” Vargas Llosa, 78, said at a meeting of right-wing intellectuals in Caracas when a journalist popped the inevitable question following the Colombian’s death last week.

“He respected it until his death, and I will do the same. Let’s leave it to our biographers, if we deserve them, to investigate that issue.”

Which shows you one can throw a punch, be a great writer, and still come out as a gentleman.

And,
Yes, being pro-democracy and civil rights makes you “right-ring”, in the eyes of Reuters.

UPDATE:
Linked to by Babalu. Thank you!

Vargas Llosa going to Venezuela

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Mario Vargas Llosa: ‘I feel the need to go [to Venezuela] to demonstrate’

Indeed, the BBC reports that Vargas Llosa to visit Venezuela to back anti-Maduro groups
The Peruvian Nobel Prize winning author, Mario Vargas Llosa, has said that he will travel to Venezuela to lend his support to opposition groups.

Mr Vargas Llosa said he was going to travel to Venezuela on 15 April to attend a conference organised by an opposition think-tank, Cedice.

“I will go with other liberals to lend our support and show our solidarity to those who are putting up a big fight against the dictatorship of Maduro,” he said.

As you may recall, when Mario and his son Álvaro attended a Cedice conference in 2009, they each were detained at the airport by the military.

The Goodbye, Columbus Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, March 10th, 2014

LatinAmerWhile more important stories were in the headlines, Cristina Fernandez took the cake by attempting to remove all traces of Christopher Columbus from the royal palace executive mansion, no matter that Columbus never set foot in the Country, and the Italian-born navigator shared a native land with millions of Argentinians.

ARGENTINA
Ted Turner Hospitalized In Argentina For Undisclosed Ailment
A security guard at the Instituto Argentino de Diagnostico y Tratamiento confirmed to The Associated Press that Turner was hospitalized there.

Pope Francis: the priest of the slums
Peter Stanford, author and former editor of the Catholic Herald, retraces the trip Pope Francis used to take to the outskirts of Buenos Aires to try to understand the man who was known as ‘the priest of the slums’

BOLIVIA
Footbridge collapses at Bolivian parade killing at least four people
Three musicians among the dead as an overloaded metal footbridge collapses during the opening parade of carnival in highlands city of Oruro

BRAZIL
Dilma Rou$$eff

Fresh deal to end Rio rubbish strike
Rio de Janeiro officials and street cleaners say they have reached a deal to end a strike which has left litter piling up in the Brazilian city.

CHILE
Chicago Latino Film Festival to honor Chilean actress Paulina Garcia
The Chicago Latino Film Festival will confer its career-achievement award on Chilean theater, film and television actress Paulina Garcia, organizers said.

Incoming Chilean Finance Minister Promises to Boost Investments
Alberto Areas Says New Bachelet Administration Will Take Over Slowing Economy
: expect more government spending, more debt.

COSTA RICA
Governing Party Candidate Pulls Out of Costa Rica’s Presidential Campaign
Sinking in the polls a month before Costa Rica’s presidential election, Johnny Araya, the candidate for the country’s governing party, pulled out of the campaign on Wednesday

CUBA
At least 8 new political prisoners in Cuba in February

French Banks Investigated for Sanctions Violations

ECUADOR
TWO Capt. Louis Renault moments:
1. Presidente plantea enmienda constitucional sin que se llame a referéndum

2. Ecuadoran President Correa Blasts NY Fed Judge’s Ruling for Chevron

EL SALVADOR
Leftist party ahead in El Salvador polls
Elections in El Salvador will decide whether the incumbent leftist government will gain a mandate for another five years. The winning party must tackle gang violence and address the country’s economic problems.

LATIN AMERICA
The Economist: iPhonenomics
One phone, many countries
Costly Brazil, dysfunctional Argentina, bureaucratic Mexico. Our correspondents go shopping for the same Apple product

MEXICO
Court Setback for Mexican Drug Kingpin
A Mexican judge has denied the drug kingpin Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán Loera an injunction against any extradition to the United States.

Andres Oppenheimer: Mexico’s new friend: Castro’s Cuba

If Peña Nieto wanted to keep Cuba and Venezuela from firing up Mexico’s left, he could have done the same with polite diplomacy, without the need to praise as a “moral leader” a dictator who is responsible for thousands of deaths and has not allowed a free election in five decades. In an effort to distance himself from his predecessors, Peña Nieto has gone overboard.

ANALYSIS: FORMER MEXICAN CARTEL LEADER KILLED AGAIN

NICARAGUA
Busted in Nicaragua: ex-Rep. David Rivera’s pal, Ana Alliegro, in FBI custody over campaign scheme

PANAMA
Panama demands Venezuela pay $1bn debt
President Martinelli asks Caracas not to use decision to cut diplomatic ties with Panama as “excuse” to not pay debt.

PARAGUAY
‘7 Boxes’ review: fast-paced thriller from Paraguay

PERU
Peru to ‘eliminate’ key environmental rule for oil and gas firms, says minister
Announcement that seismic tests won’t need Environmental Impact Assessments sparks controversy and concern

PUERTO RICO
Felix Salmon on Why Puerto Rico’s bonds are moving to New York: it all comes down to default protection for the bondholders.

VENEZUELA
Venezuelan president to visit Iran next month

La libertad en las calles
PIEDRA DE TOQUE. Venezuela ya no es un país democrático y la gran movilización popular es para que haya todavía elecciones de verdad en ese país y no rituales operaciones circenses como son las de Cuba

Scenes from Venezuela, 3/8/14 #8M #SOSVenezuela

Venezuela’s Opposition Is United Against Maduro, But Internally Divided

A Growing Crisis in Post-Chavez Venezuela

Los Guayabitos: The Venezuelan town where La Revolución reigns supreme

Venezuelan Crisis Plays Out On The Floor Of The United Nations

Large Protests Continue As Venezuelan Government Celebrates OAS Victory

Late Friday in Washington, the Organization of American States approved a declaration that rejected violence and called for justice for the 21 people the government says have died in weeks of street protests. The resolution also offered “full support” for the Venezuelan government’s peace initiative, in which the opposition has so far refused to participate.

The week’s posts:
Don Mario se quita los guantes y le cae encima al fascista Maduro: En español: Vargas Llosa a puño limpio

Argentina: Goodbye, Columbus

Colombia: Congressional elections tomorrow

Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Argentina: Still in the hole for $185 million

Venezuela: Waiting to buy food

Cuba: Mario Díaz-Balart explains to the dense why Cuban oppression is bad

Venezuela: Door-to-door raids, AWOL colonels, Panama out

Venezuela: Hugo Chavez is still dead

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

En español: Terapia intensiva

BREAKING NEWS Ecuador: Chevron wins

Venezuela: Big shoes and misreports

At Da Tech Guy:
Marco Rubio at #CPAC2014: “America must be involved in leading the world”

Ecuador: Donziger guilty of fraud against Chevron

En español: Vargas Llosa a puño limpio

Monday, March 10th, 2014

En su artículo La libertad en las calles
PIEDRA DE TOQUE. Venezuela ya no es un país democrático y la gran movilización popular es para que haya todavía elecciones de verdad en ese país y no rituales operaciones circenses como son las de Cuba
, Don Mario se quita los guantes y le cae encima al fascista Maduro:

La prostitución de las palabras, como lo señaló Orwell, es la primera proeza de todo Gobierno de vocación totalitaria. Nicolás Maduro no es un hombre de ideas, como advierte de inmediato quien lo oye hablar; los lugares comunes embrollan sus discursos, que él pronuncia siempre rugiendo, como si el ruido pudiera suplir la falta de razones, y su palabra favorita parece ser “¡fascista!”, que endilga sin ton ni son a todos los que critican y se oponen al régimen que ha llevado a uno de los países potencialmente más ricos del mundo a la pavorosa situación en que se encuentra. ¿Sabe el señor Maduro lo que fascismo significa? ¿No se lo enseñaron en las escuelas cubanas donde recibió su formación política? Fascismo significa un régimen vertical y caudillista, que elimina toda forma de oposición y, mediante la violencia, anula o extermina las voces disidentes; un régimen invasor de todos los dominios de la vida de los ciudadanos, desde el económico hasta el cultural y, principalmente, claro está, el político; un régimen donde los pistoleros y matones aseguran mediante el terror la unanimidad del miedo y el silencio y una frenética demagogia a través de los medios tratando de convencer al pueblo día y noche de que vive en el mejor de los mundos. Es decir, el fascismo es lo que va viviendo cada día más el infeliz pueblo venezolano, lo que representa el chavismo en su esencia, ese trasfondo ideológico en el que, como explicó tan bien Jean-François Revel, todos los totalitarismos —fascismo, leninismo, estalinismo, castrismo, maoísmo, chavismo— se funden y confunden.

Léanlo todo.

The Corcovado thumb Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean

Monday, January 20th, 2014

The statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio was struck by lightning, damaging its right thumb. Here’s the striking photo.

ARGENTINA
Argentine Government Rules Out Military Role in Drug Enforcement

The fish are biting . . . you: Carnivorous fish injure 10 Argentine river bathers in area where 70 were wounded last month

BOLIVIA
Bolivian President Touts Nuclear Power Program

BRAZIL
The Laureus World Sports Awards, abruptly cancelled, Sporting events in Rio
We regret to announce

Inri Cristo, preacher on a scooter

Mulher de malandro decidirá eleição
O eleitorado diz que quer mudança, mas pretende reeleger Dilma. É puro chavismo

CHILE
The drugs industry in Chile
Getting the treatment

COLOMBIA
Someone explain to me why should anyone trust the FARC, Bomb explodes in Colombian town as rebel ceasefire ends
At least one person was killed when a bomb went off in the town of Pradera in western Colombia, officials say.

Bogota; time to move on

CUBA
Cuban political prisoner Osvaldo Rodriguez Acosta starts hunger to protest denial of family visit

Another Moronic Offensive Stunt to Take Place in Castrogonia

One Year of Immigration And Travel Reform… What Changed?

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
OBAMA CALLS DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ‘THE DOMINICAN REPUBLICAN’

ECUADOR
A tale of two hacks: Ecuador’s continued assault on the press

Ecuadorian state newspaper says new media outlet would seek to destabilize the government

EL SALVADOR
El Salvador’s first presidential debate brims with pledges – but can candidates deliver?
El Salvador’s presidential election takes place next month, and topics of gang violence, the economy, and healthcare are top of mind.

GUATEMALA
Guatemala’s president and vice president withdraw criminal complaints against newspaper editor

HAITI
Haitians living abroad weigh investment opportunities
After four years in Washington, D.C., a diaspora investment conference moves to Port-au-Prince

JAMAICA
LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law

LATIN AMERICA
Cuban Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Has Lived in an Oppressive Society

Andres Oppenheimer is optimistic: Latin America’s downward spiral?

Sure, Venezuela may descend into further chaos, but it doesn’t have many followers. Argentina will most likely change course within the next two years, and Brazil will, in the worst-case scenario, remain stagnant.

More importantly, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile are doing well, and may drag several other countries in their direction. Together with Brazil, the four Pacific-coast countries make up more than 75 percent of Latin America’s economy.

More than a downward spiral, we may soon see the end of the populist cycle, and the beginning of an upward spiral.

Organized crime in 2014: What can Latin America expect?
Organized crime is adaptable and profit-driven, and in 2014, that could mean moving beyond Mexico and Colombia to a more diverse set of nations.

MEXICO
Adrift in Mexico’s deportation capital
Mexicali has became the U.S. government’s biggest dumping ground for deportees who often have deep ties in America.

Michoacan replaces security chiefsMexican soldiers patrol the streets of Apatzingan, Michoacan. Photo: 16 January 2014
Mexico’s authorities say top security officials will be replaced in the western state of Michoacan that has recently been rocked by violence.

Deep-water drilling is a test for Mexican oil company Pemex

Gangs from Central America on the rise in Mexico: Report
A new report out of Mexico details the growing links between Central American Maras and the nation’s main criminal groups, highlighting more cross-border gang activity

El pincel de la justicia
Ramiro Gómez hace su primera presentación en un espacio formal, en una pequeña galería en Chinatown. No tiene un taller: el dueño del lugar le prestó el primer piso para que ahí concluyera cuatro lienzos que son parte de la obra que expone.

PANAMA
Canal Standoff Worries Panamanians
A standoff over cost overruns in the Panama Canal expansion has Panamanians as anxious as the global shipping industry.

PERU
Peru: Media Merger Serving as Pretext for Manipulation
Let the People, Not Caudillos, Determine the Role of the Press

Disagreement between Vargas Llosa and his son illustrates the debate in Peru over media concentration

PUERTO RICO
Fixing Puerto Rico: Part I

URUGUAY
A leopard never changes its spots: Paris Hilton poses up a storm on the beach in Uruguay wearing animal print dress

VENEZUELA
Regulation, Death by a thousand cuts (Updated)

Thomas Berry died ‘trying to show family real Venezuela’, parents say
Berry family speaks for the first time of grief at death of their son and his wife, killed by robbers in front of their daughter after their car broke down on a dangerous stretch of highway

Pet rights? When all are rights there are no rights

Venezuelan economic controls lead to newsprint shortage

The week’s posts and podcast:
Puerto Rico: Festival success

Brazil: Corcovado damaged by lightning

Argentina: Where’s Cristina?

Panama: North Korea to pay fine for the rust bucket

Mexico: Mireles won’t back down

Puerto Rico: Take down that fence!

Venezuela: Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic UPDATED

Mexico: Military clash with cartel-fighting militias

Ecuador, Iran, Syria: The new axis?

Argentina’s crumbling economy

Mexico: El Universal claims DEA-Sinaloa deal in Fast & Furious

At Da Tech Guy Blog: Do heed those travel warnings.

The week’s podcast: The US-Latin America stories of the week


Michel Moynihan interviews Vargas Llosa

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

for the Daily Beast:

The Politics of Literature: An interview with Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa

Why do intellectuals hate democracy? Was Borges a fascist? The contentious 2010 Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa talks to Michael Moynihan about the big questions in literature and politics.

What about the middle way between authoritarianism and dictatorship? I know you have written about Hugo Chavez, for instance, and one can get Mario Vargas Llosa’s books in Caracas.

Oh, but with great difficulty. It is because in Caracas you still have a margin of freedom. But in Cuba—ask that Cuban journalist that is here [at the Oslo Freedom Forum]. He was telling me the way in which I am read in Cuba. It’s fantastic, you know? There are lists of people who want to read a certain book. Some times they are rented, sometimes it’s like a library, from individuals. [Dissident writer] Yoani Sanchez told me that she met her husband because she discovered that he had a novel of mine, The War of the End of the World. So she called him and said, “Is it true that you have a novel by Vargas Llosa?” He said, “Yes, but there is a list. But we can meet.” And they got married. I saw her recently and I said, “Is this story true?” She said, “Of course it is true. Thats why I am interested in what you are writing now. My sentimental future depends on it.”

In open societies you have the impression that you are just enjoying literature, that it won’t have any affect on your life. But literature always has an affect on life, even if it’s not so visible. But when you have a dictatorship, this is so immediately visible. Literature becomes an instrument to resist, to communicate things. And this is so in right-wing dictatorships and in left-wing dictatorships. It becomes a non-conformist activity, reading becomes a risk. It’s very, very important to keep alive this thing that can’t be controlled, because literature can never be totally controlled. Television can. Cinema can.

Read the whole thing.

While you’re at it, buy Vargas Llosa’s books through the above links.