MADRID – Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa has turned down an offer from the Spanish government to head the Cervantes Institute, although he said he would continue collaborating with the cultural institution.
Sources with Spain’s conservative government told Efe that the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize in literature sent a letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy explaining his decision.
The 75-year-old Vargas Llosa, a former communist who became disillusioned with the Cuban Revolution and moved to the right, had declined the same offer in 1996 from then-Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, also a member of the center-right Popular Party.
A naturalized Spanish citizen and former Peruvian presidential candidate, Vargas Llosa won world literature’s highest honor “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.”
Sources close to the author, who is currently traveling in London, told Efe Friday that he would not make any public announcement of his decision.
Rajoy’s government had told Efe Wednesday that Vargas Llosa was its choice to take the helm of Cervantes Institute, which was established in 1991 and is dedicated to promoting the teaching and use of the Spanish language worldwide and disseminating Spanish and Latin American culture.
With a budget of more than 100 million euros ($128 million), the Madrid-based institute maintains 77 centers around the world that teach Spanish and organize exhibits, plays, concerts, screenings of Spanish-language cinema and other activities.
Vargas Llosa has been a member of the institute’s Board of Trustees, headed by King Juan Carlos, for the past 20 years.
His major works include “The Feast of the Goat,” an account of Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, and “The War of the End of the World,” which is based on the War of Canudos conflict in late 19th-century Brazil. EFE