The jury for Spain's Cadiz Cortes Ibero-American Freedom Prize has unanimously selected Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa as the recipient of this year's award.
The jury hailed the writer and intellectual for his "untarnished defense of liberty, both of the press and in politics, and his efforts to maintain the perfection of the Spanish language through his literature," the municipal government of the southern city of Cadiz said in a statement Saturday.
In a letter sent to Cadiz's municipal council, which conferred the award, Vargas Llosa said the city's name was "intimately associated with the aspirations for democracy and freedom of all Spaniards and Latin Americans since the 19th century."
The Cadiz Cortes, Spain's national sovereign assembly during the early-19th-century Napoleonic Wars and French occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, is known for adopting the Spanish Constitution of 1812.
That charter, considered among the most liberal of its time, established the principles of universal male suffrage, national sovereignty, constitutional monarchy and freedom of the press.
The author said nothing could please him more than to "receive this honor, which at the same time is a mandate to act with rigor, honesty and coherence."
One of the world's most acclaimed contemporary novelists, Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2010, the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 1986 and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious literary honor in the Spanish-speaking world, in 1994.
He has been a member of the Peruvian Academy of the Spanish Language since 1977 and of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language since 1994, and holds several honorary doctorates from universities in the Americas, Asia and Europe.
The Cadiz municipal government established the Freedom Prize in 2009 to pay tribute to "people or public or private institutions that are notable for deepening, disseminating and extending freedom in the Ibero-American sphere."
Colombian former President Alvaro Uribe, Spanish former Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, Brazilian ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Spain's King Juan Carlos and Uruguayan President Jose Mujica are the previous winners of the award.
This year's jury members included Cadiz Mayor Teofila Martinez Saiz and the head of the Andalusian region's Superior Court of Justice, Lorenzo del Rio Fernandez. EFE