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Vargas Llosa praises Latin American's democracy

Peruvian Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa on Tuesday praised Latin America for becoming more democratic, but criticized Venezuela and Cuba and called the government's in Bolivia and Nicaragua "clownish."

In his Nobel lecture in Stockholm, the author said that "for the first time in our history, as in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and almost all of Central America, we have a left and a right that respect legality, the freedom to criticize, elections, and succession in power."

Vargas Llosa, who made an unsuccessful run for Peru's presidency in 1990, urged Latin American leaders to stay on that path, combat corruption and continue to integrate with the world.

However, he noted the region still has its dictatorships, including "Cuba and her named successor, Venezuela, and some pseudo populist, clownish democracies like those in Bolivia and Nicaragua."

Vargas Llosa is in Stockholm to accept the Nobel Prize in literature from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf on Friday.

The novelist, who switched to liberalism after having been a member of the communist party in his youth, also criticized western nations for not taking a harder stance against dictatorships in countries such as China, Myanmar and Cuba.

"Dictatorships must be fought without hesitation, with all the means at our disposal, including economic sanctions," he said. "It is regrettable that democratic governments, instead of setting an example by making common cause with those, like the Damas de Blanco in Cuba, the Venezuelan opposition, or Aung San Suu Kyi and Liu Xiaobo ... often show themselves complaisant, not with them but with their tormenters."

Vargas Llosa is the first South American winner of the $1.5 million Nobel Prize in literature since Colombia's Garcia Marquez in 1982, and the first Spanish-language writer to win since Mexico's Octavio Paz in 1990.

His best-known works include "Conversation in the Cathedral" and "The Green House."