Writing for His Country


Mario Vargas Llosa
Daniele Devoti, via Flickr

Joshua Leo and Liz Waid share the stories of Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. His writing and ideas have been controversial, but he has made a big difference in his country.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Joshua Leo.

Voice 2

And I'm Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

"I learned to read at the age of five. It is the most important thing that has ever happened to me. Reading changed dreams into life and life into dreams. It placed the universe of literature in my reach."

Voice 1

This was the beginning of a speech by Mario Vargas Llosa. He gave this speech after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. Today's Spotlight is on this Peruvian writer, politician, and reporter. Vargas Llosa is one of the most important writers from Latin America. He spent most of his life writing about the struggles of normal people against oppression. He even ran for president of Peru. But his writing and ideas have been controversial. Many people disagree with him. But his writing has brought the world's attention to Peru.

Voice 2

Many things in Vargas Llosa's early life influenced his later writing. He was born in 1936. He was born to an average family in Arequipa, Peru. But before he was born, his father left his mother. For several years, he and his mother lived with his grandparents in Bolivia. His mother could not accept that his father had left. So she told Mario that his father was dead. But when he was ten years old, his father returned. Together, the family lived together just outside the capital city of Lima.

Voice 1

As a young man, Vargas Llosa attended a military school in Lima. He later wrote about this experience in many of his books. He hated the school. So he left a year before he finished. Then he began work as a newspaper reporter. He wrote about the events of his city and country. But he also began to write plays. During this time, he saw his first play performed live in a theatre.

Voice 2

Vargas Llosa returned to school to study at university. He published his first two books. And he also got married. After he finished his education, he was able to travel to Europe. He studied in Spain, and then moved to France. This time was very important for his writing. He used many of these experiences in his writing.

Voice 1

Vargas Llosa was part of a group of Latin American writers in the 1960s. This group of writers was part of the "Latin American Boom." These young writers were from many countries in Central and South America. The difficult and changing politics in Latin America influenced their writing. At that time, many governments in Central and South America oppressed their people. As a result, revolutionary groups formed. In the countries of these writers, violence, poverty, and struggle were common.

Voice 2

Members of this group also include Julio Cortázar of Argentina, Carlos Fuentes of Mexico, and Gabriel García Márquez of Columbia. Their books were powerful and important. However these writers were writing in Spanish. This meant that many Europeans and North Americans were not able to read their books. But soon that changed.

Voice 1

A publishing company in Barcelona, Spain began to translate their work. It published their books in many languages. This brought international attention to these writers. It informed people in many other countries about the political and military struggles of these nations. But it also brought attention and popularity to Vargas Llosa. He became well known in and out of his country.

Voice 2

Vargas Llosa's first novel was published in 1963. This long story took time to write. The English name is The Time of the Heroes. In Spanish it is called The City and the Dogs. The book is about a military school in Lima. The information and details are from Vargas Llosa's experience in military school. The book criticises many things about the school. This angered military officials and politicians. This was true of many of his books. He continued to use his writing to criticize the government and society.

Voice 1

Over time, Vargas Llosa's political views have changed. And this has divided him from many former friends. As a young writer, he supported the Cuban revolutionary government of Fidel Castro. However, his political views changed. He saw how that government took away the rights of some of its people. And he began to disagree with many of the other revolutionary groups in Latin America.

He began to think that protecting business was more important for a country's economic development. He thought that building the economy was more important than social programs.

Voice 2

So in the 1980s and 1990s Vargas Llosa began his political life. Vargas Llosa protested the economic policies of the government. In particular, he objected to the policy of nationalization. The government was taking control of particular businesses. Vargas Llosa believed it was better for these businesses to be privately owned. He was also concerned about terrorist groups in Peru. These groups were growing stronger. Their leaders wanted to create a new government through force. They murdered many innocent people. Peru had become a very dangerous place to live.

Voice 1

In 1990, Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru. He wanted to stop the terrorist groups. But he also wanted to make many other changes in the country. He wanted to limit government help for the poor. And he wanted to grow big businesses, and share private property. Many people wanted a president to stop the terrorist groups. However, they did not like the other ideas Vargas Llosa had. Vargas Llosa lost the election to Alberto Fujimori. However, Fujimori was not a good leader. Now he is in prison. After losing the election, Vargas Llosa left politics. But he continued to speak and write against the government.

Voice 2

In 2010, Vargas Llosa received the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Foundation gives this international award. It said the award was "for creating maps of structures of power and for his sharp images of individual resistance, revolt, and defeat."

In his Nobel Prize speech, Vargas told a story about a little boy. The little boy was himself. He said:

Voice 3

"Because of the stories he read, this little boy discovered a way to escape. He escaped the poor house, poor country, and poor reality he lived in. This little boy was able to go to wonderful, magical places. He could see surprising things. Every night brought a more intense, thrilling form of happiness."

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Johanna Poole. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, "Writing for His Country."

Voice 2

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

What are some ways that people can change their countries? What is the best way?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Rain Bows
said on August 07, 2012

Hello Spotlight,
I’m proud of this honorable person who represents Latin America.
It is inspiring to hear such great stories of life.
Greetings,
Sofía Miketta,
Manta-Ecuador.

Avatar Spotlight
HeeOnHuynh
said on March 05, 2015

Hey Spotlight, I have one comment about your program, just my opinion. I often listen to Spotlight Program twice a day. One, I listen at day and two at bedtime listening. I always was awoken by Spotlight’s music at the ending program. Hix… Can you omit music at the end? Please!!!

Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on October 18, 2016

The best way to change any country in the world is : compulsory education , dissemination of secularism, and outthquagmire of underdevelopment.

Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on October 18, 2016

The best way to change any country in the world is : compulsory education , dissemination of secularism, and outthquagmire of underdevelopment.
 
Thanks Liz Waid .

Avatar Spotlight
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on October 18, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To; spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Tuesday 18, October 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Johanna Poole, Joshua Leo, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article, thanks!

I think that people can change their country with diplomacy and good arguments. And best way to change it is to talk to the leaders in a civilition way.
Sometimes, people have the reason to criticize the government but to discuss the issues in a civilition way is better.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil