On the eve of a stormy runoff presidential election between leftist Ollanta Humala and rightist Keiko Fujimori, Peru’s Nobel laureate has angrily withdrawn his weekly column from the prestigious national newspaper, El Comercio.
According to the Guardian, Mario Vargas Llosa has accused the newspaper of becoming a “propaganda machine” for Keiko Fujimori, daughter of none other than jailed former dictator Alberto Fujimori.
The acclaimed novelist said the newspaper “violates daily the most elemental notions of journalistic objectivity and ethics.”
He added that El Comercio, in an all-out effort to prevent the victory of Ollanta Humala, “silences and manipulates information, twists the facts, opening its pages to lies and defamation.”
Yet Vargas Llosa is by no means a fan of Ollanta Humala.
Earlier on in the campaign, he had described the electoral choice between Fujimori and Humala as one between “terminal cancer and AIDS.”
Joining a host of celebrated public figures, academics and journalists, Vargas Llosa has thrown his weight behind Humala amid fears for democracy in Peru.
A journalistic investigation by the rival newspaper La Republica suggests that Alberto Fujimori is running his daughter’s campaign from jail, where he is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption, embezzlement, kidnapping and human rights abuses.
Most Peruvian media outlets are concentrated in a few hands. The owners of El Comercio group hold controlling shares in two television stations and three other newspapers, all of which endorse the campaign of Keiko Fujimori.
Meanwhile, journalists critical of the Fujimori camp have been fired, harassed and threatened. Some have received telephone death threats and others have had dead rats and even funeral wreaths delivered to their homes.
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