Vargas Llosa, on the elections in Colombia: “They have voted badly, let’s see how Petro acts”

The act is in Madrid, but it could well be in Bogotá. By the time the writer Mario Vargas Llosa presents the regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, with the award from the International Foundation for Liberty on Monday, everyone knows that the big issue of the day is the victory of the former M-19 guerrilla and economist Gustavo Petro in the Colombian elections. After the ceremony, the Nobel Prize winner accompanies the conservative leader to the exit. Cameras surround them. And in the short time that separates that moment from the subsequent telematic intervention of Iván Duque, the outgoing president of Colombia, Vargas Llosa analyzes the election results in three words: “[Los colombianos] They voted wrong.”

Vargas Llosa (Arequipa, Peru, 86 years old) has become a benchmark for liberals both in America and in Spain. He was a candidate for the presidency of Peru in 1990, when he lost in the second round against Alberto Fujimori, the author of The party of the goat he has distinguished himself for his criticism of leftist American governments. Hence, probably, that he conveys his concern about Petro’s victory, which means that the left will form a government in Colombia for the first time in the history of the American country. A milestone that journalists ask him about, who recall in their questions that the writer defended last year, during the PP’s national convention, that “the important thing about an election is not that there is freedom, but to vote well.”

―In Colombia, have they voted well or have they voted badly? they ask him.

They voted wrong. Let’s see how he [Petro] act ―answers Vargas Llosa, the great claim of the XV Atlantic Forum. Ibero-America: democracy and freedom, held at the Casa de América in Madrid. ―If you act within the law, welcome. There is a legality that has been maintained all these years despite the fact that the guerrillas represented something else. You have to see, you have to wait.

Ayuso is no longer present, leaving as quickly as he had arrived, after listening to the praises of Vargas Llosa (“we support you, we love you, we admire you and we are absolutely sure that you will take us in the right direction,” the intellectual tells him to the president). And then, amidst the metallic noises emitted by several microphones coupling together, a dialogue begins between Vargas Llosa and Iván Duque, who intervenes from the seat of the Colombian Government, without a tie and relaxed during his conversation with the novelist.

“Do you think that Petro will act within the law, or that he will take liberties with that law?” Vargas Llosa asks him.

“All Colombians went to the polls, and the first thing to recognize in order to defend democracy is when there is a popular pronouncement,” answers the outgoing president, who again and again conveys his happiness at speaking with the novelist. “Clearly, Colombians elected a new president. All our support to guarantee a transparent and efficient transition. At the point of the question you asked, dear Mario, I think that all of us who assume the presidency assume an enormous challenge, always guide ourselves by order and legality (…). The foundations of democracy cannot be altered, dear Mario.

Petro prevailed on Sunday with 50.44% of the votes compared to 47.31% of support obtained by his rival, Rodolfo Hernández, who took more than three points ahead. “From today Colombia changes. Is another. It is not a change to take revenge or to create more hatred, ”he said in his first speech as president-elect.

Now it’s time to manage the aftershocks of the earthquake that has led to his victory, the first on the left in Colombia, and that have come from America to Spain. Or so Díaz Ayuso hinted this Monday, in what could be interpreted as a veiled reference, the only one, to the Colombian elections: “We have the responsibility that Madrid continues to be a place of opportunities. According to what we are seeing in other electoral processes, Madrid, now more than ever, will probably become the home of all those who flee from dictatorships and totalitarian systems that impoverish and divide society, and interfere in the decisions of the businesses and property,” he said.

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Vargas Llosa, on the elections in Colombia: “They have voted badly, let’s see how Petro acts”