Authoritarianism is a theme that runs throughout the novel, embodied by the Trujillo regime and its police, laws, and spies. The theme is obvious to the citizens throughout their lives under this regime in the Dominican Republic. Here, it is evident when Minerva and Dede are brought into the police station in Monte Cristi. When Minerva mentions that Captain Pena has given them permission to travel there, with a veiled threat to the officer who is questioning them, "The paroxysm of blinking made me pity the poor man. His own terror was a window that opened onto the rotten weakness at the heart of Trujillo's system." Though Minerva calls the fear instilled in all the officers of the authoritarian regime a "weakness," it is what holds the regime in power.
From 1974 to 1987, Vargas Llosa focused on his writing, but also took the time to pursue other endeavors.  In 1975, he co-directed an unsuccessful motion-picture adaptation of his novel, Captain Pantoja and the Secret Service .  In 1976 he was elected President of PEN International , the worldwide association of writers and oldest human rights organisation, a position he held until 1979.  During this time, Vargas Llosa constantly traveled to speak at conferences organized by internationally renowned institutions, such as the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Cambridge , where he was Simón Bolívar Professor and an Overseas Fellow of Churchill College in 1977–78.   
Anyone familiar with Cuban history knows that Fidel led the revolution against President Fulgencio Batista to restore freedoms to Cuba and to reinstate the Constitution of 1940, not to create a communist dictatorship copied from the Soviet model. The reason communism has not tumbled in Cuba, just as it has not in North Korea, is because of the country’s complete repression. It’s a brand of repression linked entirely to one dying man. When he goes, so too will much of the fear that his regime instills in its people.