Friday, March 07, 2014

No “Patria Grande” for Latin America: the Uruguayan example

Maria Celina is a long time reader of this blog who I ask to send me a note about how the rest of Latin America, Uruguay in her case, plays dumb with the Venezuelan crisis. 

By Maria Celina McCall (@mvdsister)

Former president Julio Maria Sanguinetti of Uruguay, on a radio program this morning, described as cynical bordering sarcasm the attitude of our Government and Foreign Affairs minister, Nicolás Almagro towards the Venezuelan situation.

He, together with former presidents Luis Alberto Lacalle (on the right) and Jorge Batlle (left) had issued a statement last night alerting that the dramatic events in Venezuela “hurt the democratic conscience of the hemisphere”.  According to them, the peaceful protests that are taking place in Venezuela, mainly by students “were violently suppressed even though they were the predictable result of a progressive reduction of freedoms, as well as inflation and shortage, both incompatible with the standard of living in a contemporary society”.  

 Finally, they conclude that these state of affairs, requires all countries in Latin America, all democratic organizations that call themselves democratic to “help the Venezuelan people to have peace again but based “indispensably in the exercise of unrestricted freedom of assembly and expressions”.

This statement was being issued while a group of union workers, Federation of Uruguayan University Students (FEUU for its initials in Spanish) and other social organizations were having a rally to defend the “democratically elected president Nicolas Maduro against the vile attack of US imperialism against a brother nation”.  The Venezuelan ambassador to Uruguay was present.

According to them Venezuelan protesters and students are “reactionary”.  The press and mass media were also criticized for “altering reality”.  They affiliate to the thesis that there’s a coup d’état going on in Venezuela to oust Maduro.  They also accused the above-mentioned former presidents of “representing the most rancid right-wing and domineering bourgeoisie”.  Of course when the students where Chileans against Piñera, they had a similar rally to applaud and support their movement. The leader was of course a registered Communist.  

(Julio Chirino, Venezuelan ambassador in red at the center of picture.  The sign reads: Yankees Out of Venezuela and Latin America).

Meanwhile, the Uruguayan Foreign Affairs Minister had traveled to Bolivia and Paraguay, accompanying Elias Jaua who is presently in Argentina and expected tonight in Uruguay, in a trip to give the Bolivarian version of what is happening and asking for the support of these countries should an assembly take place to discuss Venezuela at the Organization of American States.

The minister traveled to Bolivia on Tuesday right after attending a special session of Parliament where he was called by the opposition to explain the lukewarm communiqué by the Foreign Ministry where Uruguay supports Maduro but “repudiates all kinds of violence and intolerance that attempts against democracy and its institutions”. 

“How many times do I have to tell you that we don´t support violence?” shouted Almagro while the opposition insisted that these was clear that violence was one-sided: “While one side carries guns, the other side carries stones”.   He said the opposition had a "completely Manichean" view of the situation, only looked at the Venezuelan’s opposition side.  “Both sides have used firearms” and that “when one person dies, it´s the death of everyone” and “we've never had a double standard with regards human rights as you did.”   Of course, accompanying Jaua in his efforts to gain sympathy only shows who the real Manichean and hypocrite is.

Not at one moment was the third party mentioned: that of the so-called “collectives” such as the Tupamaros.   Of course, Tupamaros is a word that recalls old grievances in this country, bringing a divide especially now that its president was head of the urban guerrilla of the same name, apparently a source of inspiration to the Venezuelan namesakes.  He was elected with a little over 50% of the votes.
He has become a counselor and referral to Maduro due to these credentials, especially after the death of Chavez, as Arotxa a Uruguayan cartoonist shows:

Uruguay is, like other countries in the region, equally divided into two halves that are beginning to hate each other.  There´s an ambivalence of ruling a capitalist country with a leftist vision and very slight majorities which is beginning to corrode the dream of a Patria Grande, or a Broad Homeland, as dreamt by Bolivar and San Martin.

The more the intent of bringing both sides together the more they move apart.  It doesn't help when one side calls the other fascist because they think differently.


  1. Thank you very much for this very sad but educational note. Sorry about the delay in publishing it, but stuff is going on here.

  2. Boludo Tejano6:39 AM

    Uruguayan Foreign Affairs Minister, Nicolás Almagro:
    “we've never had a double standard with regards human rights as you did.”

    Nobel Prize winning writer V.S. Naipaul would beg to differ with Uruguay's distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, at least as regards Argentina, Uruguay's neighbor.
    In 1972, Naipaul visited Argentina and wrote about his visit to Argentina in the New York Review article The Corpse at the Iron Gate. Naipaul let the leftist double standard on human rights be exposed by simply letting leftists speak.

    When Naipaul wrote the article in 1972 the Dirty War- and guerrilla action in Argentina- was just simmering . By 1976 the Dirty War, when Isabel Perón was deposed, the Dirty War was in full boil. From the article:

    These lawyers had been represented to me as a group working for “civil rights.” They were young, stylishly dressed, and they were meeting that morning to draft a petition against torture. The top-floor flat was scruffy and bare; visitors were scrutinized through the peep-hole; everybody whispered; and there was a lot of cigarette smoke. Intrigue, danger. But one of the lawyers was diverted by my invitation to lunch, and at lunch—he was a hearty and expensive eater—he made it clear that the torture they were protesting against wasn’t to be confused with the torture in Perón’s time.

    He said: “When justice is the justice of the people men sometimes commit excesses. But in the final analysis the important thing is that justice should be done in the name of the people.” ……

    “There are no internal enemies,” the trade union leader said, with a smile. But at the same time he thought that torture would continue in Argentina. “A world without torture is an ideal world.” And there was torture and torture. “Depende de quién sea torturado. It depends on who is tortured. An evildoer, that’s all right. But a man who’s trying to save the country—that’s something else."

    The leftists that Naipaul interviewed had a very plastic attitude towards torture: "Depende de quién sea torturado. It depends on who is being tortured." That is practically a textbook definition of a double standard on human rights. According to those two leftists Naipaul interviewed, torture was good if our guys do it, bad if the police do it against us. Which doesn’t sound very different from the military gorilas’ point of view. Sounds to me as if a lot of the guerrillas and guerilla supporters were brothers under the skin to the right wing torturing military gorilas.

    After reading what Naipaul had presciently written, years before the Dirty War peaked, it is not difficult to conclude that one reason why former guerrillas, once in power, do not protest political repression coming from the left is that the repression gene was imbedded as deeply in some guerillas and guerilla supporters as it was in the miltary gorilas the left was fighting against.

    What’s that old saying, “There are no enemies on the left?” After all, Maduro is one of us. So how can we protest what he does? Solidarity forever, as the old lefty marching song said. Later on, Solidarity and Lech Walesa in Poland gave a new twist to the old leftist chestnut.

    The distinguished Foreign Affairs Minister from Uruguay has forgotten a lot of history when he made the claim that the left had no double standards on human rights. Or, if the distinguished Foreign Affairs Minister from Uruguay has not forgotten a lot of history, he has difficulty discerning the truth.

    [At the same time, Naipaul made some comments about Argentina which were utter nonsense- such as claiming that Argentine women were uneducated. As long as Naipaul let his interviewees talk, and drew conclusions from what they said, he did fine. When he made sweeping generalizations not backed by conversations, he often fell flat on his feet.]

    1. Anonymous1:54 PM

      One must, in the extremist view, break many eggs to produce an omelette. And the ways of governance are too complicated for the ordinary civil person to comprehend. As long as we give our trust, our money, and children to such luminaries, they assure us, all will be happy in Smurfland. Naturally, the correct persons must be tortured, as sacrifices are required.

  3. Maria Celina1:47 PM

    No problem, Dano, the article is still up-to-date, except for "Jaua is presently here", which was of course long ago. Not very long ago, but events are coming so fast, that two days ago is already history!
    Thank you Boludo Tejano for your entry, quite right Naipaul, we only require for them to keep up speaking and sinking themselves. The only problem: only few people care or notice, unfortunately!

  4. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Any move from any government is "injerencia" I think we should let our neighbors clean their mess by themselves. sad but the way we think "if we go and try to mediate then is OK" but if the US intervenes then it is something else. quien entiende al "pueblo"!

  5. Anonymous4:11 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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