Pepe Mujica: “We must develop the complementary economy in Latin America”

Pepe Mujica He describes himself as a social and political fighter. Crowds of co-religionists, journalists and intellectuals visit him at his house in Montevideo to make inquiries. He is also a regular visitor to Buenos Aires. The former Uruguayan president arrived in the Argentine capital accompanied by Lucia Topolansky, vice president of the country. The leader receives Page 12 in the house of the ex-consul Lilian Alfaro, in the Colegiales neighborhood, after a meeting with the former vice president of Bolivia, Álvaro García Linera.

The historical reference of broad front he always has some folksy word at hand, which springs from his rural life long before he became a guerrilla, when at the age of 14 he sold flowers to help his mother. mujica He talks about the crisis of the nation state, the siren songs heard by a desperate voter, and the antidote he found for the Latin American people: integration. “Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru have to get together and establish a common policy to defend lithium“, he maintains. The veteran left-wing politician, an avid reader, has been studying the history of China and the ideas of Confucius for months, aware of the geopolitical importance of the Asian giant.

This year there are elections in Argentina. To what do you attribute the fact that after Mauricio Macri’s bad experience, the most extreme macrismo and the ultra-right of Javier Milei have a chance of winning?

I am not a sociologist, just a social and political fighter. I think that the argentine people have suffered a lot and lives a very strong crisis of hope. There are people who dream of magical solutions, because that is how human behavior has been throughout history. Let’s remember what happened in Germany in the 1930s, when Hitler deceived an important part of a people who were desperate, because the conditions that were imposed with the Treaty of Versailles they were unbearable. The same has happened with other towns.

People fall in love with siren songs. I know that in life the impossible costs a little more. I know that Argentina will get ahead because the prize and misfortune is the abundance of natural resources. But what happened to the France revolutionary? A whole series of old parties were on the brink of disappearance, Emmanuel Macron arrived and, soon after, there were the yellow vests. Tomorrow will change, because there is a civilizational crisis at the base, the nation state is in crisis and this is a brutal epochal change that is shaking us. We ask them to account, but this State has less and less power because international powers have appeared that are more and more important.

And that they want a smaller state…

They took power away from the State and now with the digital civilization, even more. Any monster like Facebook or multinationals has more power than the State. The large financial circuits, international banking and trade groups take power away from it. We ask our State to account, to which we have passed the saw. Some believe that this is the last stage of history. I don’t. This is going to have institutional changes.

For now, the parliamentary democracy we know is the best crap we could come up with, I agree with Churchill. But it is full of failures and it is not only the institutions, we are the humans who fail. Humans are not gods, we have to deal with our flaws. This is going to change. The society of the future has a crisis of representation. The world of education, industry, law, I think that governments in the future will be made up of many other governments and central governments are going to be moderators, deciding what not to do. That outlook is still very green.

How do you achieve regional integration if each country is dealing with internal storms? Lula da Silva suffered a coup attempt; In Chile, the extreme right was in charge of the constituent process…

I don’t see the integration. I’m thinking about what will happen in 25 or 30 years and we have to learn to bear ourselvesthose of the left and those of the right. We have to learn to cooperate in order to compete with the world. If we start to consider it in terms of right or left, we are going to come together in the year of the goalkeeper. We have to unite interests and defend them. The peaks are exaggerated. Other things have to be built slowly.

Do you agree with promoting a common currency?

Yes, but in the long term. Before we have to start trading with the perchenta currencies that we have and that the central banks do the arbitration. And if we can’t do it with the coins, do value barter. Do not depend on currencies that are from another side. We have to standardize the customs requirements that we have for food, have the same parameters throughout America to facilitate it. we must build complementary activities. We are not going to have an automotive industry, but we can make brake pads. To do this we have to make sure that they buy it from us and guarantee that we also buy instead of buying cars in Korea.

Must unify our universitiesIt cannot be that an Argentine engineer cannot go to work in Uruguay or Brazil. We are crazy! We are captured by intelligence from Europe and the US. We have to connect our electrical energy in all border circuits, connect our health services for certain types of diseases. We have to have our own mechanism. Integration is a long-term policy. With a name, a symbol and a date, so that all the schools in Latin America teach that above the countries we make up a community with common interests. We do not have a day in which we celebrate the Latin American community.

Portuguese has to enter teaching and in Brazil, Spanish. We have to understand each other. If we are going to an international conference, first we have to talk to each other and take a joint position. If a Latin American moves for something we have to support him together. Don’t be rams, we stepped on the hose! There are things that are relevant, like lithium. I believe that Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru have to get together and establish a common policy to defend the mineral without being controlled. It doesn’t matter if the government is left or right. The key is to defend ourselves, not compete. Bring together research and universities. Political will is needed for that. In Montevideo we have the Development Bank of Latin America and it is working.

So are you committed to strengthening Mercosur and Unasur?

Of course. Complementary economy circuits must be developed. The smallest countries intervene in small things that serve to feed the industrial chains of more complex things in larger countries. But in turn we buy. We can manufacture some things for Argentina and Brazil, but we have to buy from them later, pool the interest. You have to win and win.

In Uruguay, the far-right Cabildo Abierto party is part of the government of Luis Lacalle Pou. That is, there is already a local version that was launched…

It is a nationalist conservative party. It’s not like Milei, I think it could be more like Bolsonarismo.

Cabildo Abierto supported initiatives of the National Party such as the retirement law. Do you consider that it represents a setback of rights?

From the point of view of social distribution, it is indeed a setback. Salaries do not match those of 2019. During the 15 years of the Broad Front government, salaries were adjusted to inflation and a little more, especially the lowest ones. Retirements are adjusted by the evolution of the average index. If salaries go up, pensions too. There was a pretext: the pandemic. But as of 2022, the exports were brilliant and nothing was done. In the long term, the pension reform is serious. We think we have to change it. The president used an interesting phrase, he said that with the last trouble they had to approve it, they added water to the milk. We think that you have to put a lot of milk but from a jersey cow. Need to get more taxmore resources.

Next year there are presidential elections in Uruguay. The president of the Broad Front, Fernando Pereira, spoke of recovering the soul of the Front. Match? Why do you support the candidate Yamandú Orsi?

I have known Yamandú for at least 25 years. He was almost a kid. The city of cannelloni It’s like a summary Uruguay in small It has all the problems and possibilities, it has livestock, a lot of farms, orchards, vineyards, industry, spas, marginal neighborhoods and cities. He was general secretary of the mayor’s office and mayor of Canelones for ten years. He has generated the capacity to govern. We will see which candidate the Broad Front chooses. Whoever you choose we will accompany you. It’s up to ourselves to regain enthusiasm. But the impossible costs a little more, you have to keep fighting.

June 27 marks the 50th anniversary of the coup in Uruguay. What is his reflection from his own story?

They are 50 years in which a society tries to build its destiny and suffers the problems of a long dependency. We are descendants of two feudal countries, we achieved political independence but we paid the price of economic and cultural dependence. We are struggling to be ourselves. We have suffered history. We are very young countries. I have been studying the history of China, that’s 5,000 years of unwritten history and 5,000 years of written history. We have to deal with that world that is coming upon us.

Do you think that more progress is needed in Memory, Truth and Justice?

Yes, little progress has been made. There is a pact of silence from the military and also from civil society. We have to create the material, spiritual and ideological conditions to sustain the never again.

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