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Still Booming


Fuentes has had three children: a daughter, Cecilia, with Macedo, and two with Lemus, both of whom have died—Carlos, of hemophilia, at 25; Natasha, of mysterious causes, at 30. “It either paralyzes you, or you take these events into your soul and work with them,” he says. “I’ve been working with them … It’s the only way to make the loss into a gift for them and for yourself.”

Unlike his friend Vargas Llosa, who lost a Peruvian presidential bid in 1990, Fuentes has declined invitations to run for national office. But he remains Mexico’s go-to intellectual. He considers the country’s current center-right leadership no different from the PRI’s 71-year semi-dictatorship, finally overturned in 2000. The drug wars, he says, are terrible and largely built on American demand, though also exaggerated by our media. His politics have evolved from socialist to Old Left—he advocates an FDR-style “New Deal” for Mexico. What he doesn’t bemoan, though, is the decline of the Solzhenitsyn-style dissident intellectual. “Pablo Neruda used to say it was up to writers to say what people could not say,” Fuentes says. “But the civil society has evolved very much in Latin America—we are less needed now. And why should anyone listen to intellectuals? It’s ridiculous.”

Destiny and Desire
By Carlos Fuentes.
Random House. $27.


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