The magazine Vivir Madrid, a recent capital outgrowth of the more veteran Vivir Oviedo, began giving recognition to the ‘Madrilenian of the year’ last year. Chosen essentially by patrons of large companies, several of them linked to the Asturian bourgeoisie, the honor is sponsored by DKV insurance, the Ontier law firm or the multinational machinery company GAM, among other companies. After celebrating last year the president of the Teatro Real, Gregorio Marañón, this second year the honoree was the writer Mario Vargas Llosa. The event was attended by the mayor of Oviedo, Alfredo Canteli, and that of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, who joined in the warm praise of the author, the highest expression of Madrid’s virtues, according to all those involved. “I’m overwhelmed,” he said, when they finally let him speak.
The act was held, as in 2021, in the Royal Theater itself, in the room where, as Marañón himself recalled, the 1845 Constitution was voted on, not the most advanced of the 19th century. The speeches mostly went through the mention of freedom, in the sense of the latest political campaigns of the right. “We are giving a very positive signal that we are all Madrilenians who want to live in peace and freedom in Madrid”, said the president of the DKV, formerly of the circle of businessmen, Javier Vega de Seoane. The secretary of the jury, Xandra Fernández, also president of the luxury brand association Club Fortuny, said that the jury, in addition to the militant Madrid, also recognized Vargas Llosa for his “defense of the unity of Spain.” Previously, Belén Sánchez, from Banco Sabadell, had defined the Nobel Prize as an “encyclopedia with intellectual capacity of unlimited dimensions”.
The one who spread the most was Mayor Almeida, who was not sparing in the incense. “The universality of Madrid is called Mario Vargas Llosa.” The author comes to embody, according to the mayor, “the symbiosis” that began to take shape in 1492. But the Peruvian writer -Spanish since 1993- is also current, because his voice is raised “against the enemies of truth and reason ”, he pointed out. Almeida highlighted that Vargas Llosa was exactly five years ago now in the Barcelona march for the unity of Spain. He called it an “unerring marcher of intellectual honesty” and said it arouses “global popular fervor.” The tribute was offered to him, he defended, despite the private nature of the promoters, “his neighbors, his fellow citizens.”
The writer took the floor, perhaps somewhat embarrassed by so much praise. He said that Almeida had already liked him when he heard him defend the liberal creed in a previous forum, defended that in Madrid no one receives foreigners with “that attitude of certain hostility” common to other capitals and avoided referring to the immigration law . He recalled his days as a student in the 1950s, insisted on the idea that Latin Americans should feel “proud” that Spain had discovered them and that one can understand Spanish from Mexico to Paraguay, and said that if he was already from Madrid , today it is more so, after the “remarkable mention” received. Regarding contemporary politics, he was discreet: “Spain is experiencing problems of modernity that were previously hidden” and the Spanish will gradually find “formulas of calm that will provide solutions to problems.”