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Mujica’s Human-Rights Blind Spot for Comrades

By: Hana Fischer - @hana_fischer - Aug 26, 2014, 8:40 am
Uruguayan President José Mujica speaks before the Organization of American States in Washington, DC.
Uruguayan President José Mujica speaks before the Organization of American States in Washington, DC. (Flickr)

EspañolJosé Mujica, the world famous Uruguayan president, is a child of the 1960s. These were turbulent times in Latin America, where the world was divided between good and evil, Bolsheviks and fascists, and the enlightened and the ignorant masses.

It was in this context that the “enlightened” decided to forcefully impose their “truth” — whether through terrorism or dictatorship — on the rest of the Latin America.

Mujica was one of many who opted for guerrilla warfare, and it is undeniable that this experience has contributed to a deeply-rooted psychology and ideology.

The population at-large were trapped in the middle of this horror, as always happens in these cases. The guilty parties defined themselves as either victims or martyrs, when in reality what compelled them was a sense of superiority.

The guerrilla fighter is proud, much like the terrorist and the dictator. The force that compels him is the rampant desire for power — the strongest aphrodisiac that exists.

Once democracy was restored in Uruguay, many Marxist leaders confessed that the greatest lesson they learned was that the human rights of all people must be respected, not just those of your sympathizers. The recognition and protection of these rights — beyond ideology, religion, race, or gender — was not an exercise of lip-service, but something essential for peaceful coexistence.

Among those who espoused this elevated philosophy was the historical leader of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio), Líber Seregni. In 2000, he declared the actions committed by the military reprehensible, as were the actions executed by the Tupamaro National Liberation Movement.

Seregni questioned the attitude of some members of the Broad Front. For them, human-rights violations committed by “adversaries” were bad, while violations committed by “those who think like me” were not. He acknowledged that many Marxists implicitly believe “there are rights for me and my ilk, and then there are rights for the others.”

He recognized this mea culpa, saying:

The culprits were individuals who committed horrific crimes. I look at myself and say that we were very weak at some points when we faced an authoritarian government … we denounced any and all violations they committed, but we did not have the same clarity and steadfastness to denounce the human-rights violations that the Tupamaros were committing.

I say this in order for us all to understand the current situation. This is essential for the cultivation of a societal spirit inclined to look for solutions in each and every instance. There is no need to divide the world and the events that transpired — in such a polarizing manner — into those completely good and those completely bad.

With the end of the 20th century, the world underwent a major transformation. Faraway is the decade of the 1960s, with its Cold War tensions, and the clashes between “Bolsheviks” and “fascists.”

Nevertheless, below the surface, the status quo has persisted, just under different guises. Today, guerrilla forces adopt a religious stance. And they garner the support of the “enlightened” of our time. These are the governments that align themselves with Iran, who express sympathy for Hamas, and whatever guerrilla group commits similar atrocities.

Many actions of our government leaders demonstrate the ideology and psychology that motivated their ranks in the 1960s, and concerns about them remains as valid as ever. For example, Uruguay voted on the UN Human Rights Council — along with Pakistan, Venezuela, and Cuba — to investigate the impact of Jewish settlements on Palestinian territories.

But at the same time, Uruguay declined to vote in favor of an investigation into human-rights violations in Iran. It just so happens that Iran and her allies identify with the same Marxist-leftist ideals of the 1960s. Israel, on the other hand, aligns with capitalism and democracy.

Along the same lines, the political faction of President Mujica have challenged Israel’s “policy of extermination” toward Palestinians, and labeled the country “genocidal.” Mujica too, on more than one occasion, has referred to Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as “genocide.”

He has noted that “when hospitals, children, and the elderly are bombarded, it seems to me like a genocide.”  When asked if Israel has the right to defend itself, he replied: “Everyone has the right to defend themselves, but there are defensive actions you just can’t take.”

Mujica is not dumb, and he is not misinformed. He is perfectly aware of reality. That is, the Israeli rulers are concerned about spending taxpayer money on one of the essential purposes of any state, guaranteeing the security of its citizens. Hamas, on the other hand, spends its money on offensive rockets to kill as many Jews as possible.

Indeed, that terrorist group’s contempt for human life  — including the lives of its own people — is so great that it has publicly acknowledged that it encourages the civilian population to sacrifice themselves. It is also well known, although not as openly acknowledged, that money is given to the families of children and people who use themselves as human shields.

A Hamas deserter even declared in an interview with Andrés Oppenheimer, that “Israel often asks the residents of Gaza to leave the buildings that are to be attacked, but Hamas asks residents to stay in their homes.”

While those in the Mujica administration are “appalled” by the “genocide” supposedly perpetrated by the state of Israel, they have not lifted a finger with regard to the reported genocide of Christians committed by the jihadi Islamic State (ISIS), being carried out in Iraq and Syria.

The leader of the Chaldean community in the United States, Mark Arabo, has reported that ISIS beheads Christian children, and rapes and murders their mothers. Arabo claims entire Syrian cities are “purified” through the use of shootings, decapitations, and public crucifixions in the middle of the city.

All of this shows us that nothing has really changed in the souls of the guerrilla fighters of the past — including Uruguay’s current generation of governmental officials. Their words and actions indicate that “human-rights violations committed by ‘adversaries’ are bad, but violations committed by ‘those who think like me’ are not.” And for them, ideology is more important than both reality and morality.

In conflicts like the one one being fought between Israelis and Palestinians, it is important to understand how things really are. As Seregni correctly said, the creation of a state of mind conducive to the search for well thought out solutions in each and every case is essential.

But if the Tupamaros have not yet been able to recognize that they committed “heinous acts” in the past, can we truly expect a fair judgment from them?

Translated by Alex Clark-Youngblood.

Hana Fischer Hana Fischer

Hana Fischer was born in and resides in Uruguay. She serves as a writer, researcher, and international affairs columnist in different media outlets. A specialist in philosophy, politics, and economics, she has written several books and received honorable mentions. Follow her @hana_fischer.