The President of Uruguay, José Mujica called on countries to put aside individual interests, address global problems such as climate change, and give more decision-making power to international organizations. Mujica is on a four day visit to Washington and on Thursday visited the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, OAS.
We have multiple multinational organizations, to the delight of the hotel chains and airlines, but we do not let them decide anything, absolutely nothing, because the national state retains all powers” underlined Mujica.
The Uruguayan leader said the international agenda should be the determining factor in this globalized era, but it is in an absolutely secondary level and insisted that the statesmen from the strongest countries must begin to think differently, otherwise bad things are going to happen.
We must have the courage to begin to look at reality from a different perspective, and this does not mean going against the national government, against the power; on the contrary, it means realizing the essence of where our civilization is heading, he added.
Mujica also warned about the challenges of climate change, and in particular, he mentioned the accumulated garbage thrown into the Pacific Ocean and the thaw taking place at the North and South Poles.
There are problems on the planet for which no one takes responsibility. Some of them cannot be overcome by the strongest powers alone, they represent an agenda of global problems that do not fit in anywhere, because governments remain national and they are concerned staying in power, by the fiscal deficit, or because the Senate did not approve such and such reform, or who will win the next election; while nylon bags accumulate in the Pacific Ocean, and the poles will melt, while humanity becomes distracted, he stated.
In this line of reasoning, the Uruguayan leader argued that the problem faced by governments worldwide is not environmental, but political.
I do not agree that there is an ecological crisis, there is a severe political crisis, because the strength of this civilization is so tremendous, the accumulation of science, capital and wealth is of such a magnitude, that human beings have the power to change the fate of life, but we need to fall in love with life and understand that the life of the planet is more important than national issues,” he said.
Mujica defended the economic achievements in the nine years that his party has been in power. In this regard, he noted that a tax reform was performed to make those who have more pay more and prioritized helping lower-income sectors.
Uruguay was always the Latin American country that best shared its wealth. That is no merit of my government, although it is true that we also pushed the issue, because we are not neutral, because that's why elections exist, which you can win or lose, he said.
Likewise he highlighted Uruguay's bid to attract investors to generate wealth and benefit all sectors of society, especially the weakest. This is the art of politics; to make the economy to grow and at the same time share the wealth. This is the path we have chosen together with the people of my country.
To this respect Mujica recalled that ten years ago Uruguay had 39% poverty and today it has 11%; a decade ago there was 5% of indigence and today it is around 0.5%; while unemployment, now stands at around 6%.
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza who welcomed the Uruguayan president highlighted his intellectual honesty and his leadership in the fight against climate change and poverty.
President Mujica is a voice of honesty and openness, which is opposed to the irrationality of the use of the world’s resources, which vigorously defends the rights of the dispossessed and discriminated against, and at the same time is a defender of the values of democracy and defense of human rights,” he said.
The OAS Secretary General praised the international reputation of Mujica and his solidarity with the problems faced by people in other regions of the world. Today he is known worldwide for the generosity with which he has offered asylum to Syrian boys and girls who live in refugee camps, and for offering to help solve the problem of the detainees at Guantanamo, he said.
Likewise Insulza looked back into Mujica's past who was imprisoned in harsh conditions for 13 years for belonging to an urban guerrilla movement during the 60s and 70s.
You have been able to change when you believed you were wrong and when you thought that the surrounding reality had changed. You carry with you, as we all do, joys and sorrows, but you have shown as few others how to do it without rancor, he added.
Following the presentation to the Permanent Council, Secretary General Insulza showed Mujica a mural painted by the recently deceased Uruguayan artists Carlos Paez Vilaró, called Roots of Peace,” that decorates a 162 meter long tunnel connecting the OAS headquarters to the administration building.
The meeting at OAS ends a hectic week of activities for President Mujica which began on Monday with President Obama in the White House; with Secretary of State John Kerry; addressing the US Chamber of Commerce; speeches at the World Bank and Inter American Development Bank and an exchange with students at the George Washington University, plus all the informal meetings and all the activities not included in his official agenda.