MADRID — The Spanish government says Nicaraguan author and former politician Sergio Ramirez Mercado has won the 2017 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honor.

Ramirez has written more than 20 novels, including “Margarita, esta linda la mar” (Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea), which won Spain’s prestigious Alfaguara award in 1998.

An active journalist, Ramirez was deputy vice president of Nicaragua between 1985 and 1990 and a long-time member of the leftist Sandinista bloc.

The prize was announced Thursday by Spanish Education and Culture Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo.

The 125,000-euro ($148,000) award generally alternates between Spanish and Latin American writers. Spanish novelist Eduardo Mendoza won the prize in 2016.

The prizes are presented each April 23 on the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote.”