November 27, 2001

Peru's top writer battles son over 'corrupt' TV

                 LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- Proposals by an influential Peruvian novelist and
                 friend of President Alejandro Toledo to kick out television station bosses he
                 calls corrupt put him on collision course on Tuesday with his son, a former
                 Toledo adviser who warned that free speech was at risk.

                 Mario Vargas Llosa, a prolific intellectual and commentator whose books include
                 "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter," said this weekend that the licenses of America
                 Television and Panamericana Television should be transferred from owners linked
                 to corruption under former President Alberto Fujimori.

                 The demand from Vargas Llosa, who made an unsuccessful presidential bid in
                 1990, sparked a public spat with his son Alvaro Vargas Llosa, a critic of President
                 Alejandro Toledo, who took office in July vowing to rebuild Peru's democracy.

                 "I am against squelching freedom of expression. It would be a real catastrophe for
                 Peru," Alvaro Vargas Llosa said.

                 His father had proposed "transferring the licenses to civil society or private
                 companies in a transparent process in which neither the government nor the state
                 can intervene."

                 Fujimori, who ruled Peru with an iron fist from 1990 to 2000, fled to Japan last
                 November, two months after his top aide, Vladimiro Montesinos, triggered the
                 country's worst political crisis when a video showed him paying an apparent bribe.
                 Montesinos is now on jail awaiting trial on a slew of corruption charges.

                 Among the avalanche of "Vladivideos" since made public were tapes showing both
                 Panamericana chief stakeholder Ernesto Schutz and America Television's former
                 Director Jose Francisco Crousillat receiving cash in exchange for pledges of

                 Both Schutz and Crousillat have since fled the country. Schutz was arrested in
                 Argentina in October -- Peru has begun extradition proceedings -- while Crousillat
                 is still missing.

                 'Delicate moment' for democracy

                 "At this extremely delicate moment in the construction of (Peru's) democracy,
                 those who have fled shouldn't be able to still own these stations through henchmen
                 or family members," said Mario Vargas Llosa, who was given Peru's highest honor,
                 the Order of the Sun, by Toledo last week.

                 Toledo has recently said people still linked to Montesinos were cooking up a plot to
                 destabilize democracy.

                 Peru is pushing to extradite Fujimori on human rights and corruption charges, but
                 Tokyo considers him a Japanese citizen and has said it will not ship him to Lima.

                 Alvaro Vargas Llosa, also a writer, had been a campaign adviser to Toledo but quit
                 in April, saying Toledo had disappointed him and risked becoming another Fujimori.

                 The younger Vargas Llosa then led a campaign urging voters to leave their ballots
                 blank, a drive condemned by his father.

                 Although Mario Vargas Llosa mostly lives abroad, he remains a respected
                 intellectual whose opinions are taken seriously.

                 After the call for network changes, Alvaro Vargas Llosa accused his father of being
                 manipulated by Toledo's government, which he said hoped to control the channels

                 The elder Vargas Llosa told RPP radio that he had not meant to imply the channels
                 should lose their licenses. "There should be sanctions against the two most
                 powerful TV channels that for 10 years served Fujimori and Montesinos' mafia ...
                 (by) lying, justifying electoral fraud, hushing criticism, and completely
                 misrepresenting and demonizing opponents," the writer said.

                    Copyright 2001 Reuters.