Mario Vargas Llosa, the winner of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Literature, was awarded the prestigious title of Doctor Honoris Causa by Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB) on April 12, 2011. "I am deeply honored and committed to Universidad Andrés Bello and will do everything in my power to not disappoint them,” said Vargas Llosa.
Among those participating in the ceremony at UNAB’s Casona de Las Condes campus was UNAB’s Rector, Pedro Uribe, the author of The City and the Dogs (La Ciudad y los Perros), as well as Chile’s Minister of Culture, Luciano Cruz-Coke, the Mayor of Santiago, Fernando Echeverria and the university’s entire teaching staff.
In his speech, Vargas Llosa directly criticized Latin American politics, noting that "in many places it has become dirty and vile." He added that "the disparagement of politics these days knows no borders and affects not only Peru. The erosion of democracy is reflected in electoral disinterest." In that sense he blamed, in large part, the media for the daily celebration of corruption and frivolity. "The media has contributed to stripping respectability from politics. Frivolity and cheap gossip has led to the current state where what is known of politics is only its worst side, "he said.
Referring to the statements of Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, who said that Chile should apologize to Peru for the Pacific War and espionage, Vargas Llosa reflected: "In Peru we should maintain a policy of friendship, closeness, peace, cooperation and trade with all neighboring countries, and especially with Chile."
Regarding his vote in Peru’s upcoming presidential election, the Peruvian writer was cautious and did not disclose whether he supports Humala or Keiko Fujimori. However, in statements to the press he has previously said that he would not vote for the daughter of the former Peruvian dictator and was awaiting the development of a Nationalist candidate.
UNAB joins a long list of prestigious institutions that have recognized Llosa, including Yale University, Ben Gurion University of Israel, Harvard University, San Marcos University of Lima, Oxford, Universidad Europea de Madrid and the Sorbonne in Paris. Previously Vargas Llosa received the Cervantes Prize (Premio Cervantes), the Planeta Novel Award (Premio Planeta de Novelas) and Prince of Asturias Literature Award (Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Letras).
Universidad Andrés Bello awards honorary doctoral degrees primarily to individuals who have excelled in certain areas of knowledge or professional work that contribute to the advancement of humanity. The Peruvian writer is the latest to receive the degree Doctor Honoris Causa, the highest academic distinction awarded by UNAB, and joins the distinguished ranks of the others who have been recognized with this honor: Claus Roxin (2009), Marcela Contreras (2009), Enrique Valentín Iglesias García (2008), Woodie Flowers (2007), Cristina Gallardo-Dômas (2007), Álvaro Uribe (2006), José María Aznar (2006), Alfred Sommer (2006), Máximo Pacheco (2004), Otto Kernberg (2003), Per-Ingvar Branemark ( 2002) and Gonzalo Rojas (1998).