How Mario Blew It

From the start, Mario Vargas Llosa was a most reluctant presidential candidate. "When politics invade, the writer dies," he mused before entering the fray. Disgusted with the political infighting among his supporters, he withdrew, but then re-entered the race, convinced that his country needed an incorruptible leader.

An admirer of Margaret Thatcher's unfettered capitalism in Britain, Vargas Llosa offered Peru a fiscal shock treatment to cure the economic troubles that have cut the average Peruvian's standard of living in half since 1985. At first his message won a broad following. Polls showed the novelist winning nearly 50% of the votes, and...

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