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Uruguayan Ex-President Mujica Is No Saint, But a Politician with 1,000 Faces

By: Hana Fischer - @hana_fischer - Nov 2, 2016, 12:58 pm
(Venetuit) Mujica
Pepe Mujica’s popularity is based in certain striking factors of his personality, such as his simple way of life while he was the President of Uruguay. (Venetuit)

EspañolA wise old saying asserts that “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Or to put it another way, eventually the inconsistencies and contradictions of a lie will come out — and that’s exactly what’s happening now with former President of Uruguay José “Pepe” Mujica, who served from 2010 to 2015.

Mujica was popular during his time in office in part due to his personality, his simple way of life and his controversially progressive stance on gay marriage and marijuana legalization. He preached about his contempt for material goods, and for working less hours so as to enjoy life.

Undoubtedly, there was a mass of people who viewed him as a near-prophet.

That was one of the many faces of Mujica: the spiritual guide — especially for individuals of the richest countries — who no longer know who they are or what they are looking for; they are lost in this world.

We have seen several individuals of this nature drag large crowds behind them. However, the problem arises when they take advantage of their charismatic leadership, and use it inappropriately. That is, they start to become a symbol of something and then, using the new “halo” around them, obliquely support debatable causes.

That’s when another face appears: that of the deceiver. A man who says one thing in words, but contradicts himself in practice. The main problem comes when these attitudes are given in a context where essential ethical principles are involved, such as the repeated violation of human rights, degradation of the republican-democratic system of government, the existence of political prisoners and corruption. When the consequences of certain attitudes fall on ordinary citizens, they get involuntarily trapped in the issue.

Perhaps Mujica’s true essence — what defines him — relies in the causes he defends.

The most striking of his actions is his unconditional support for the dictatorial government of Venezuela, which began with the late Hugo Chávez, and continues until today. He has put his international prestige at risk by holding this flag — along with the defense of the Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva.

Mujica did not do this openly. Rather, he carefully chose what words to use in order to seem “wise.” That is the same kind of “philosophy” that captivates his audience and fan clubs. However, this cheap small talk is not founded in anything substantial. In fact, it contradicts other causes he claims to defend.

At a time when the dictatorial regime in Venezuela is more fragile than ever, there has been widespread condemnation of Chávez by the international community. But Mujica stated:

“I appeal to silence because what is happening now is not the best for the Venezuelan people. It is better to respect (Venezuela’s) sovereignty and let Maduro face what may come … There’s too much media noise with Venezuela. I recommend not to intervene much from the outside, because that will generate a coup, and damage things even more. It is always preferable to stay with the current situation than to end up with a military rule.”

In a recent interview on CNN, he forcefully said: “I learned a lesson not to intervene from the outside. It only makes things worse.”

Upon hearing this, one cannot help but wonder, Is this the same Mujica who campaigned for Daniel Scioli — Kirchner’s heir and candidate — in Argentina’s 2015 elections? At the time, he shared the stage with Scioli, an act the Argentinean media interpreted as a sign of complete support for his nomination.

The same Mujica that openly campaigned on Colombian territory in favor of the peace agreement negotiated between President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC?

And so? Is it that the intervention in the affairs of other nations and media pressure is correct in certain situations, and not in others? On what does it depend? Personal sympathies, ideological and political objectives in common?

What is Mujica’s predominant face? That of the preacher and guide for those stranded in the existential void, or that of the Viejo Viscacha?

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.