The two Latin American literary greats were once friends, but
stopped speaking to each other in 1976 when Vargas Llosa gave
Garcia Marquez a black eye in a dispute — depending on who one
believes — over politics or the Peruvian's wife.
"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
Vargas Llosa, who once ran for president in Peru on a
conservative ticket, lamented the passing of his erstwhile
rival, a friend of Cuba's Fidel Castro with left-leaning views.
Garcia Marquez had, he said, achieved what all writers aspire
to: "That his work lives beyond him."
Vargas Llosa's presence in Venezuela is once again controversial
given his ferocious criticism of former president Hugo Chavez
and successor Nicolas Maduro's socialist rule.
VENEZUELA A "PATHETIC FAILURE"
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.
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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
"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.
(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Andrew Hay)
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