Peru Mario Meets Crazy Horse

A novelist battles a government takeover of private banks

As a blizzard of ticker tape fell from the skies, Peru's most famous novelist stepped onto a rickety stage in downtown Lima. Before him, a crowd of 25,000 waved red-and-white Peruvian flags and chanted "Libertad! Libertad!" ("Freedom! Freedom!"). They then began to shout his name: "Mario! Mario! Mario!"

Mario Vargas Llosa, 51, the author of such acclaimed novels as The War of the End of the World and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, had torn himself away from the proofs of his new book to embroil himself in Peru's latest crisis. Addressing the crowd in Lima, Vargas Llosa warned, "A totalitarian...