Mario Vargas LOSER!


“Must smash that pesky insect! Why does he taunt me so?”

Well, Mario–maybe it’s because he’s a popular, elected leader, while you’re a sad, old, sold-out fart with no new ideas of his own, who lost his own election bid rather badly for that and other reasons. Kiddies, this is what the bitter old guy came to Venezuela for. Basically, to preach the same old racist-putschist-capitalist gospel that he thinks should pay off far more handsomely than it actually does:

Hundreds of right-wing political leaders and representatives of pro-capitalist think tanks from across the world gathered in Venezuela’s luxurious Caracas Palace Hotel this week for an exclusive event titled “International Conference for Freedom and Democracy: The Latin American Challenge.”

A major theme of the conference was how to put an end to the political changes been carried out by President Hugo Chávez and a wave of other progressive presidents who have been elected across the region over the past ten years.

Peruvian author and former Peruvian presidential candidate Mario Vargas Llosa, one of the high profile keynote speakers at the event, framed the Chávez government as the chief obstacle to the progress of capitalist free markets in the region.

“The path of progress is not the path of collectivism, it is not the path of state-ism, it is not the path of social property,” said Vargas Llosa, referring to new forms of social property that the Chávez government has promoted to co-exist with private property, which remains protected by the Venezuelan Constitution. “Property is individual and private or it is not property,” said the author.

Gee, that’s about as original as an old, worn-out cookie cutter. Hey Mario, ever hear of public schools? Public hospitals? Public roads? For that matter, how about the public airport at Maiquetía, by which you arrived in the country whose leader you came to insult? All of those and more are property–and they’re not individual OR private!

Vargas proceeded to encourage the wealthy and powerful conference attendees to impede the Chávez administration’s progressive policies, which have been approved by a decisive majority of Venezuelans in more than a dozen democratic elections. “If this path is not interrupted, Venezuela will be converted into the second Cuba of Latin America,” said Vargas Llosa. “We should not permit it. That is why we are here.”

This is hilarious, coming from a man who once ardently supported and defended Fidel Castro, back before the plagues ate his brain. Kiddies, allow me to present and translate for you the words of one Mario Vargas Llosa, back in the day:


That was his 1967 speech upon receiving the Rómulo Gallegos prize for his novel, The Green House. Here’s what it says, in my own translation:

The American reality, clearly, offers the writer a veritable banquet of reasons to be a conscientious objector and live in discontent.

Societies where injustice is law, a paradise of ignorance, of exploitation, of inequalities that blind one with misery, of economic, cultural and moral condemnation, our tumultuous lands submit to us sumptuous materials, examples, to show in fiction, in a manner direct or indirect, after facts, dreams, testimonies, allegories, nightmares, or visions, that reality is badly made, that life must change.

But in ten, twenty or fifty years, the time for social justice will have come for all our countries, as it has for Cuba today, and a united Latin America will have emancipated itself from the empire that robs it, the classes who exploit it, and the forces that today offend and oppress it.

I hope that this hour arrives as soon as possible, and that Latin America enters, once and for all, into dignity and modern life, and that socialism will free us from our anachronism and our horror.

Emphasis as in the original.

Gee, Mario, what the hell happened? You’ve gone from being an ardent, pan-Latin-American socialist, to being a neoconservative imperialist–living in Spain, no less! But I suppose you don’t remember having said that. After all, it was more than 40 years ago, and a lot of things have happened since then. No doubt you took one look at what happened to Chile and Argentina a few years later, not to mention Bolivia that same year, and decided that maybe this whole rebellious, dignified socialism thing wasn’t such a good idea after all. It’s not hard to see why; the iron heel of fascism was a pretty good persuader that maybe capitalism was the way to go after all–eh, Mario?

Of course, there are other great writers, your contemporaries, who haven’t given up on socialism. Eduardo Galeano, who lived in Argentina after fascists had driven him out of his native Uruguay (and just before the junta took over there in 1976), was menaced frequently at his office by the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance. They threatened him with death. His response? “The schedule for calling in threats, Sir, is from six to eight!” He wrote this incident up in his book, Days and Nights of Love and War. It was originally published in Cuba. He, too, is an award-winner. He also has not stopped being a socialist; he’s a great observer of Chavecito’s Venezuela, and these days, I daresay, his oeuvre is more keenly appreciated there than your old stuff is. (Have you read it, Mario? Does it shame you? Or did you quit touching things with Cuban germs on them before that amazing book came out?)

It would certainly give pause to me, Mario, if I were like you–an old sell-out. Fortunately, I’m not there yet; if I’m lucky and if I keep my head, I never will be. I can’t help thinking of what Che Guevara once wrote in a letter to his mother: “Not only am I not moderate now, I shall try never to be. And if I ever detect in myself that the sacred flame has given way to a timid votive flicker, the least I can then do is vomit over my own shit.”

But like I said, I’m not there yet. I’ll have to vomit over other people’s shit instead. Yours, Mario, will have to suffice.

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8 Responses to Mario Vargas LOSER!

  1. Utpal Lahiri says:

    Ever noticed how these “thinkers” seem to never have noticed that “private” and “collective” are not mutually exclusive? I mean, the only non collective private property (productive) is that of individual merchants (which is presumably what Adam Smith had in mind when he wrote what he wrote): just try running a modern economy based purely on individual merchants …

  2. Yeah, really. He totally missed the fact that a group (or better put, a CORPORATION) can also be a private owner. And in fact, corporations WANT to be the private owners of our whole society. Which I’m sure is what Dubya really meant when he talked about the “ownership society”–that, after all, was just a neat front for loan sharks dressed up as respectable lenders to get people to put their whole lives on the hook for an adjustable-rate mortgage whose rates, invariably, soon became extortionate.
    He also forgot all about cartels. Which are a major threat to freedom for the vast majority of us…and yet he wants us to be afraid of the reds under the bed? Nope, sorry, been there done that lousy T-shirt dissolved in the wash yadda yadda yadda. I’d much rather fear the military-industrial complex that that paranoid old commie pinko, President-General Eisenhower, was always banging on about…
    Meanwhile, I’ve found a Mario (besides the always excellent Silva of La Hojilla) who’s a good antidote to the Vargas Loser:

  3. Nolan says:

    I think he has the right to change his opinions, I mean the cliched ridden argument that he didn’t know what the situation was like in Cuba when he supported the revolution is probably a half-truth at best, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The bigger problem is that he has been irrelevant for years, showing little evidence he remains in touch with what is going on. Also his son is a hack.
    I never understood why Vargas Llosa is always grouped in the same category as the regions great; His early output was excellent, yes, but in my opinion he shouldn’t be grouped in the same category as Cortazar, Garcia Marquez, Fuentes or Galeano, among others. Of course all of them except Fuentes are/were lifelong Socialists, while Fuentes is left leaning. Not that only leftists make great writers mind you – Borges was hardly a commie, but I sometimes think Vargas Llosa is overrated just because of his political views.

  4. I suspect the real reason for his doing such asinine things as attending this profoundly antidemocratic conference is as you said–it’s been years since he has written or done anything of real relevance. When’s the last time he wrote a book, and what acclaim did it get? I can’t remember anything recent (whereas I’m well aware of what the leftist García Márquez last published, a few years back–and I know Eduardo Galeano has a new book out, too). So it appears he has lost his relevance, all right. Therefore, to feel important, he must do something of fake relevance, and this is it.
    Democracy has disappointed him, and he can’t conceal his disdain for it. He ran for election in Peru, lost–and in a snit, he buggered off to Spain, of all imperialist (and at best, shakily democratic) places. I gather that he thinks the will of the people cannot be trusted, because the people would never choose the likes of him. Well, of course they wouldn’t–they’re not that stupid! They know they can’t trust HIM. They can see through his “democratic capitalism” jaw-jawing; it’s hard not to, because capitalism has profoundly underwhelmed every society that has ever been sold that bill of goods. It’s only ever been good to those who had plenty of capital to begin with, and that’s NOT the majority of Latin Americans (or even North Americans or Europeans). It’s not that they don’t want democracy–they do–and even in Cuba they have some form of it, hard as that is for some to admit–but they want ECONOMIC democracy as well as the political kind, and they strongly suspect that capitalism is not it. And they’re right. Capitalism is not “one voter, one vote”–it’s “whoever owns the gold, makes the rules.” That means that the more you own, the more political power you have. Which is not a terribly democratic notion at all–quite the opposite, in fact. Capitalism is just feudalism in modern clothes.
    This talk of private property being the only kind is disingenuous, but it certainly gives you an idea of where he’s coming from. He wants to be one of the big propertarians, the big fish. He probably suspects he never will be, but like all those poor white gomers in the US who vote for rich Republicans against their own better interests, he figures that if he toadies enough, he will get his bundle yet. What he’s gotten for doing this may be considerable, but it’s still chump change to the REAL owners.
    That’s why he refuses to engage in a debate with any leftist intellectual–he knows they’ll clean his clock with the facts, and he’ll be left standing there with his pants down. He’d rather engage in a media showdown against Chávez, who wisely refuses to be drawn (and who would, in any case, pwn Vargas Llosa nine ways to Friday.) By “standing up to the dictator” (who is nothing of the sort), he can at least get right-wing brownie points (and a nice, fat raise in his speaking fees, too.) And if the “dictator” wins the debate, he can go home crying oppression, and say “See? I was right! That big dude in the red shirt bullied me. He’s a dictator, I tell you!” And again, boom–a raise in speaking fees. Which will still be chump change compared to what those paying him to entertain the masses have got…
    But in any case, it doesn’t matter how much money he gets, how many wingnuts fawn on him as an Intellectual, or how many toys he dies with. The people won’t vote for him because they know him to be dishonest. And when he dies, he’ll be just another old man who got dotty with the passage of time–or, worse, got bought and so lost his honor.
    I would love to be an acclaimed writer but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be him…

  5. Nolan says:

    Well I will say in his defense we don’t know how close he came to being elected – I’ve heard people accuse Alan Garcia and Fujimori of cooperating to keep him out of power, and while such conspiracies are hard to believe, I wouldn’t put it below those two scumbags. However, the fact that he chooses to live in Europe without being in forced exile reveals the disdain he has for those he claims to represent.
    Chavez was just being smart, he knew that Vargas Llosa was just trying to provoke him and have the media spin his response, while a debate between intellectuals could have actually been something informative for the public.

  6. Yep…which is why the ‘Cito insisted on it. Of course, that’s just what the antidemocrats at the forum didn’t want–because it would prove their contentions to be shallow and out of date. Especially in light of the current economic crisis, which is proof, if anyone ever needed any, that the Ownership Society is a bust.
    I wouldn’t put it past anyone to game the Peruvian elections, either. But his reaction to his loss is the truly telling thing. He was obviously only weakly committed to Peru to begin with if he ran out after losing, instead of sticking around to fight–or accept defeat in good grace.

  7. I’m just watching the latest Hojilla now. It’s quite a hoot, too!

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