October 8, 2019 / 4:40 PM / 15 days ago

Writer Llosa roasts Peru's 'shameful' Congress, backs president

Peruvian Nobel Prize winner writer Mario Vargas Llosa looks on during a launching ceremony of his new book "Tiempos Recios" at Casa de America in Madrid, Spain, October 8, 2019. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

MADRID (Reuters) - Peruvian Nobel Prize-winning writer Mario Vargas Llosa praised centrist President Martin Vizcarra on Tuesday for dismissing the country’s right-wing opposition-dominated parliament and labeled its former lawmakers as “semi-illiterate swindlers”.

In a high point of Peru’s constitutional crisis, Vizcarra dissolved Congress on Sept. 30, saying he wanted to defend Peru from what he described as a corrupt mafia. No public institution or foreign power has backed the opposition’s charge that the move was illegal and amounted to a coup.

“He’s done well shutting Congress. It was a shame for Peru, a Congress of semi-illiterates, of swindlers,” Vargas Llosa told reporters in Madrid. The author is arguably the world’s most famous living Peruvian, known for his strong pro-democracy stance.

“I hope that in January when they elect a new Congress, citizens will choose better,” he said during the presentation of his new book “Fierce Times”, adding that democracies of today are vulnerable to corruption, populism and demagoguery.

Vargas Llosa, who lives in Madrid, ran for president in Peru in 1990, losing to Alberto Fujimori. After running the country for 10 years, Fujimori ended up fleeing to Japan amid accusations of corruption and human rights violations and was later sentenced to prison in Peru.

The writer is one of the most significant figures of the 1960-1970s literary movement known as the Latin American Boom. His most successful novels, often dealing with issues of dictatorship and democracy, include “The Time of the Hero” and “The Feast of the Goat”.

Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Dan Grebler

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