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Book Fair prize winner slams president, PRI

December 6, 2011

Upon receiving Latin America’s top literary prize at the inauguration of Guadalajara’s 25th International Book Fair (FIL) last Saturday, Colombian-Mexican author Fernando Vallejo used the opportunity to lambast Mexico’s politicians for their role in the violence that has swept the country in recent years.

At a press conference after receiving the Romantic Language Literary Prize – worth 150,000 dollars and which he donated to animal-friendly charities – Vallejo slammed the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as “the seed of all cartels in Mexico” and accused President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) of “having done nothing for Mexico.”

Ahead of next year’s presidential election, Vallejo warned the electorate to “always remember that there are no public servants but opportunists.” He urged the people “not to vote, not to be fooled by the scoundrels of democracy,” because “it is immoral to choose the bad to avoid the worst.”

Novelist and columnist Luis Gonzalez de Alba criticized Vallejo’s attack on Calderon, accusing him of inciting violence against the president. Vallejo had declared “if a tyrant comes to power unelected, kill him,” in reference to the allegations of voting fraud that surrounded Calderon’s narrow and controversial electoral victory in 2006.

Such incitements are “the last thing we need in this country,” argued Gonzalez, suggesting that these inflammatory statements fall into the realm of law, “because inciting crime is a crime in itself.”

Born in Medellin in 1942, Vallejo has lived in Mexico since 1971 and officially became a Mexican citizen in 2007. The controversial author of “Our Lady of the Assassins” was praised by the FIL jury for being a “truly original character of Spanish-language literature,” who expresses “his emotions through the voice of an artist who embodies the reality of a strange world and imagination.”

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