Hope for humanity – Pepe Mujica´s Speech at UNASUR

Here is another translation by a wonderful speech by Mujica. Enjoy and live well. Dream good dreams, and fight for them.


Dear compatriots, presidents, gentlemen, foreign affairs ministers, colleagues of these years of vicissitudes, I have to thank you infinitely.I am a rough kind of peasant and the only merit I have is being a little Basque, stubborn, tough, insistent, constant, and that’s why I survived prison, but I’m nothing extraordinary.

Actually I was canned all those years because they caught me, what I lacked was speed.I never wanted to be a hero.I do have a kind of fire inside, I resent social injustice, class differences.

I believe man is a gregarious animal, who has spent 90% of his history on the planet in families, in family groups.He is a strange kind of ape who cannot live alone, he needs others and that is his “hard drive.” Aristotle is right: man is a political animal, and that is because he is not a feline, he needs society whether he is aware of it or not.

But history, that 10% of human history on the surface of the Earth, not the other 90%, is responsible for our civilization, which has given us beautiful things. After all, in our century, we live 40 years longer than the average human did 100 years ago. After all, I know there is hunger, but we have twice the population and twice the amount of food. It is a shame that we throw away almost 30% of the food we produce, we don´t even feed it to dogs, let alone poor people.

Those are the contradictions of our civilization, laid bare, clear-cut, aggressive. They give us reason to charge our batteries and keep fighting.

Man never had as much as today. Never much knowledge. I never tire of repeating and remembering the millions of dollars per minute spent in the world, the millions of dollars per minute spent on military budgets worldwide.

To say that there is no money in this world for a gigantic Marshall Plan that can traverse the entire Earth in favor of the poor, to integrate into human life millions of poor people and enlarge demand in this world, whoever says we have no resources has no shame. When they tell us the owners of the second largest fortune in the world would have to live for 220 years spending one million dollars a day in order to spend it all, and yet they could never do it, because with an interest rate of 2 to 3% annually, they earn four million dollars per day…if we say that in this world there is no money, it is because we have the political cowardice of not charging them, not asking them, reaching inside their pockets of those who can afford it, and then stitching them up.

That is why we are in politics, that is why we struggle in politics, because in the end, to put it simply, it is all about slicing the bacon a little bit thicker for the weakest, because politics has to do with choices, and choices that favor some and may harm others, and you’re either with the majorities or with the minorities, there is no middle ground, one cannot be neutral, we have to take sides.

But apart from this, my fellow Latin Americans, there is another thing, there is another thing that is more important, and that is justice. Some of us were educated to live in a world that was a valley of tears so we could go to heaven later, I do not buy into that. Paradise is here, or condemnation is here, this is the life in which we must fight for people to live better. No middle ground.

This makes sense if we talk about crucial, elementary and forgotten things.

I do not buy the tribute thing. After this, I will continue to be the same old man that I am. What makes sense is to think, because there are many young people, and if you’re young you have to know this: life escapes and flies away minute by minute, and you cannot go to the supermarket to buy life. So, fight for living it, fight to add meaning to your life.

The difference between human life and the other forms of life is that you can, to a certain extent, give an orientation to your life. You can, in relative terms, create the path of your own life. You are not a vegetable that lives simply because it was born.

After birth, you can add meaning to life or not. Or you can sell your life, let the market buy it, and you spend a lifetime paying credit card bills and buying junk, and you keep going, and you end up as old as I am, full of rheumatism and ailments, and you kick the bucket, and what have you done in this world?

But if you had a dream and fought for a hope and tried to pass that on to those who remain, maybe there will be a breath of air blowing among the hills, in the seas, a pale memory that is worth more than a monument, a book, a hymn, a poem; human hope which will be realized in the new generations.

My fellow Latin Americans, nothing is worth more than life, fight for happiness! and happiness is to give meaning to life and direction to life and not let it be stolen. There is no recipe for that, it is up to your conscience, whether you use the wonderful opportunity of being born, which is almost miraculous.

Moreover, a second piece of advice to young people: the impossible takes a bit longer and losers are only those who lower their arms and give up.You can stumble a thousand times in all areas of life, in love, at work, in the adventure of what you are thinking, the dreams you plan to realize, but a thousand times you were created with the strength to get back up and start over, because what matters is the journey.

There is no finish line, there is no triumphal arch, there is a paradise that welcomes us, no harem will come to welcome you because you died in the war. No, you´re toast, and that´s it. No, what exists is something else, it is the beauty of living life to the fullest, loving life, in all circumstances and fighting for it and trying to pass it on, because life is not only about receiving, it is more than anything about giving some of what we have. No matter how screwed you may be, you always have something to give to others.

Compatriots, I was a kid in a country people used to call the Little Switzerland of America. People went to study there in the 40s from all over Latin America, we had been the privileged bastard children of the British Empire and it worked pretty well, just like Argentina, which was stood proudly among the great powers of the world.

Río de la Plata was something different to the rest of Latin America, we seemed almost European, and at times we thought we were, but that was a mirage, it passed, the world was rearranged. After the war came the new trade terms, we began to owe the IMF and that was the country of my youth. Something that was very tall and beautiful and was falling apart.

There is nothing more stubborn than someone who falls to pieces after having been well off. He who is used to doing poorly resigns himself easily, but someone who has done well and has fallen…. that is why I belong to a movement that hit the wall and went out to try to change the world … we were beaten to a pulp. We cherished our dreams. Those were times when we believed the dictatorship of the proletariat was an important explanation of the class struggle, and naturally each generation has its vicissitudes, but that old fire that we had was inside was so great that it allowed us to reach today, being aware of the mistakes we made, but being aware of the enormous generosity with which we embraced life.

When we see a world full of material things, money, resources, my god … it seems that lending you a car, helping a beggar, or feeding a stray dog will tear up their soul, what do I know I haven´t seen a stingier world as the one we are living in today, I miss the open-hearted youth which mistakenly gave and gave it all, and did not keep anything for itself.

What am I trying to convey to you?

I don´t deny the past, nor disown our errors. Life is a continuous learning and it is full of dead roads and footsteps, but the old causes that pushed us are present in the world in which we live.

We have never seen such concentration of wealth, there has never been so much inequality in a world with so many resources and so few possibilities.

I believe and I trust that man is capable of building infinitely better societies if we have the courage to look in the direction of the oldest societies which are in the background of the history of mankind, not in order to return to the caveman, but to learn the generosity implied in the defense of life, to understand this, to understand the elementary, the simplest thing: in order to be happy we need the lives of others. Individuals are nothing alone, as individuals we depend on society, and it is the progress of society that allows us to constantly enrich and improve our lives. Therefore, the collective cause must be upheld, and in this story, and in this time, that has a name in Latin America: it is the struggle to get closer, the struggle for integration, to recreate a culture that respects diversity but can express that deep and hidden “us” that comes from the making of our own history. We can and we must do this, but it will only be possible if there is a political will, if there is commitment.

To young people: if you want to live happily, uphold an idea you can believe in, live to serve that idea and do not let yourselves be enslaved by the market!

The world we shall have will be the one we manage to achieve. Latin Americans have to be, for having begun late and being behind, a reservoir of the best of human civilization, a continent of peace, justice, a continent of solidarity, a continent where it is beautiful to live and die, a continent that says yes to justice, a continent without hatred, without revenge, a continent that dignifies human existence on Earth, like an animal that takes care of the marvel that creation has meant on this boat of life we call our planet.

Give meaning to existence, because if yo do not do it consciously, meaning will be the fee you will have to pay each month for the latest piece of junk you have to buy, and so on, or chronically, until the end of your days. Until one day the bones stop moving and goodbye, nothing remains of you, not even a memory or breath. Isn’t that so, (President) Correa?

There is only one youth, the youth on the outer surface. There are other things besides youth, the irreverence of looking in the mirror and engaging with reality. In order to do that, one may be young, old or middle-aged. We must not divide the world into male, female, black, yellow, that´s not the way.We must divide it into two categories: those who make a commitment and those who don´t, and committing is embracing a cause.

So I know it will soon be time for me to leave, at any given moment, the referee yells fault, outball, and you are toast. So it is. I still haven´t managed to believe in the afterlife or in God. I respect all religions. Do you know why I respect teligions so much? Because I’ve seen, in a hospital room, the tremendous service they lend to helping people die well, that is why though I cannot believe, I do not laugh religions, I respect them.

They have made ??me think of their endurance through time and in all the ages and in every corner throughout the history of man upon the Earth, because man has always believed in something. There is no creature more given to utopia than man, for that reason because he is able to build the need for something beyond, i love man, I admire and respect religions, but I know that one of these days I will be less than dust. Maybe some dove will remain turning around in someone’s head.

Thank you, Ecuador, I embrace you all.



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