Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Leftism Done Right

Uruguay's José Mujica, a real leader.
During recent years, leftists have come to power across much of Latin America. They include the centrist, pragmatic rulers of Chile, Peru and Brazil. And also the populists, including the leaders of Ecuador, Venezuela, Argentina and Nicaragua, who seem more interested in concentrating power, suppressing opposition and perpetuating themselves in power than making real policy changes.

And then there's  of Uruguay's Pres. Jose Mujica.

While Hugo Chavez and other populists boasted about 'revolution', but did little more than grabbing more power, Mujica has actually accomplished things. He's legalized abortion, created the hemisphere's most progressive marijuana policy and approved same-sex marriage. In contrast, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega - an ex-guerrilla leader like Mujica - actually banned abortion in all cases in order to buy the support of the Catholic Church.

It all makes one ask whether the power-hungry populists of Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua are really leftists at all - or only what they appear to be - power-hungy populists.

Mujica, in contrast, is a breath of fresh air. Agree with him or not, give him credit for accomplishing
Hugo Chavez: leftist, or just a bully?
things. While some other 'leftists' buy themselves private jets and live like kings, Mujica drives an old car and lives on his small farm outside of Montevideo. Mujica also rejects the idea of reelection (altho, at age 78, that's a limited option for him, in any case), while other self-proclaimed 'leftist' leaders perpetuate themselves in power. Mujica, incidently, also has lots of character. During Uruguay's dictatorship, Mujica was shot by police and imprisoned for 14 years, including two years at the bottom of a well, where he talked to insects to maintain his sanity. Yet, like Nelson Mandela, Mujica has not given in to bitterness.

I can't leave out Bogotá's own Mayor Gustavo Petro, who it seems to me has accomplished little relative to what he might have, while generating so much controversy that he's getting himself kicked out of office. Petro obviously lacks Mujica's political acumen.

For a person like myself, who considers himself a leftist, the behavior of many 'leftist' leaders has been a great embarrasment.

So, Mujica, with his humility, sincerity and willingness to to take real actions, is a huge relief.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comment:

Stuart Oswald said...

Doubt leftism can ever be done right. And am sure it can never achieve enough good to make up for all the misery it has caused mankind trying.