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Mario Vargas Llosa's comments infuriate the Kirchners

By Tony Pagliaro

05.01.06 | In a recent public event held in Nicaragua, during which the well-known and respected Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, was awarded the “Ruben Darío” decoration, when asked by journalists about Néstor Kirchner, he stated that the Argentine President is “an unpleasant person, and a demagogue without clear ideas”.

In a country where constant adulation to Mr. Kirchner is a daily game in which most Ministers and governmental officers constantly compete against each other, a reaction to Mr. Vargas Llosa’s wise statement was to be expected.

The Minister of Interior himself, Mr. Aníbal Fernández, became -this time- the defender, expressing to the local press that the Peruvian writer’s comment on Kirchner was a “cheap” one. How can anybody say anything wrong about Mr. Kirchner, he asked.

In addition, Mr. Fernández (a totally disloyal officer of former President Duhalde, who openly has betrayed him) commented as well on a recent piece on Argentina published by The New York Times where, for the first time, the American liberal newspaper acknowledges that in Argentina there are “pressures on the free press”.

This real “understatement” was considered by Mr. Fernández to be of a “political nature” and he therefore considered that it was a “mistaken view”, asking all journalists present whether they had personally experienced “any difficulty” in the performance of their work, without requesting any specific answer from anyone.

Mr. Fernández did not mention that Mr. And Mrs. Kirchner are openly in bed with the monopolistic “Clarín”’s media group, owned and led by Mr. Horacio Magnetto (the most powerful man in Argentina, after the Kirchners) whose many papers, TV and radio stations immediately defend, applaud and cheer whatever the Kirchners do, and whose “headlines” are daily discussed and drafted, in advance, by the media group officers together with Mr. Kirchner´s communication experts.

He did not mention either the recent firing of dissenting journalists, nor the constant attacks (by the Kirchners themselves and by all their officers and allies) against the leading traditional Argentine newspaper, “La Nación”. In Argentina most of the press, with few exceptions, is not any longer a neutral observer of the political scene. Rather it has become (in exchange for favors) a primary actor on the political arena. It plays the role of an agent of Kirchner’s team.

This type of manipulation of the press causes that in Argentina there is virtually no criticism of the government and serves to constantly support the Kirchners popularity. But it is impossible to indefinitely use the media as a tool of manipulation. The New York Times, this time, is right. A free press is essential in an open society. Argentina’s independent press is really under fire. The “Clarín’s” group, instead, is definitely not.

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