Writer Mario Vargas Llosa (Arequipa, 1936) urged Latin Americans throughout the continent to understand the “extraordinary richness” of the concept of “freedom” and to understand that “communism has ended,” when he received in Quito the National Merit Medal of the Ecuadorian State.
In a ceremony at the Carondelet Palace, the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature said that in the continent there are still “compatriots” who “have not understood” that communism is “a fantasy” that “disappeared due to the absolute inability to satisfy the most basic needs of the people who believe in it.”
He added that it is neither in Russia (a regime of “comradeship capitalism,”) nor in China (“a capitalist country of businessmen who remain silent in the face of the follies of power,”) nor in Cuba (“where thousands take to the streets to demand the food and work they don’t have, defying prison.”)
While praising the path taken by Ecuador in electing Guillermo Lasso as president, he wished that all Latin Americans who still believe in that “ghost” will soon discover it, because “then they will start working on this daily reality in which things can be changed.”
The writer spoke after receiving the medal of the National Order of Merit in the rank of Grand Cross, presented to him by the Ecuadorian president, a personal friend, and co-religionist, who described Vargas Llosa as a “universal Latin American” who, as a “liberal”, is in “rebellion.”
The award was for his contribution to letters and to the world of universal culture, although not wanting to pass himself off as an “expert in literature,” Llosa described himself more as a defender of democratic values.
“I will not be the one to make a presentation of Mario Vargas Llosa’s literary career. I don’t want to make the mistake of passing myself off as a literary expert. I am simply a politician but, like Mario, I was also a citizen who entered public life with a clear objective: to defend freedom,” he said.
“I also felt that I had to rebel against a certain status quo that continues to dominate both our politics and our culture,” he continued.
The event, limited in capacity due to the pandemic, was attended by members of the Government and public institutions, as well as representatives of the world of letters and the two children of the honoree: Álvaro and Morgana.
The ceremony also included a minute’s silence in memory of the recently deceased Ecuadorian writers Jorge Velasco Mackenzie and Eliécer Cárdenas.
The Ecuadorian president praised Vargas Llosa’s struggle to “remain different,” “always iconoclastic,” “firm in his thinking,” when “many of his contemporaries accommodated themselves to regimes clearly contrary to the ideals of freedom and change” and installed “a policy of political truth police.”
“Mario, by not conforming, by maintaining his independence, was exercising true rebellion”, he asserted, insisting that, with his arrival to the Government in May, “Ecuador has recovered institutionality and basic democratic values.”
Vargas Llosa arrived in Ecuador this Monday from Mexico, where he participated in the IV Biennial of Novel that took place in the Mexican city of Guadalajara, and this same night he was scheduled to leave the city.