Sunday afternoon. Buenos Aires. Book fair. The sun is shining. Enter Jose Pepe Mujica for property. The former president of Uruguay walks slowly, with a slight wobble and a slight stoop. 87 years. Many recognize him, others greet him with respect. He comes to deliver Seeds to the wind. And a few behave in the worst way.
“Get out, old man!”, “Juira, bug!”, “Dirty, go away!”, “Race fear!”, yelled the elders, mostly men, thirty, forty or fifty years younger. . They say they are liberals or libertarians, but they are accused of intolerance and fascism, while “Long live freedom, dammit!” they exclaim, an unusual phrase that seems to contradict their verbal aggression.
Mujica, who has a lot of extreme experiences, reacts in a very intelligent way. ignores them. Surrounded by relatives and security personnel who stand between him and the madmen, he continues on his way. And then yes, before press conference, The Pepe would explain what happened with height: “I consider it a crisis of faith.”
“Humans are utopian animals”, abundant. “In 200, 300,000 years of history human groups haven’t found something magical to believe in and then they’ve made it crazy. There’s no going back, that’s how we are”.
Thus the incident surpasses the incident itself. It mirrors the level of tolerance we enjoy in Argentina and other countries from Peru to Spain. An intolerance is often reflected in antisocial networks and sometimes spills over into the streets. We have examples of meetings in the US Capitol and the Brazilian Planado.
This incident represents a very sad contrast with the reality that they live on the other side of the Río de la Plata. Uruguayans have their own set of problems – and Pepe later warned of “signs of cracks” he felt in his country – but far from the confrontational and aggressive levels of our Bombays. Suffice it to remember that Mujica also stars in another book – as its subtitle – the result of his “noisy” conversations with Julio María Sanguinetti, the former president of Uruguay. Could something like this happen in Argentina? Are there two leaders with opposite political identities who can share a stage in our country or in many Latin American countries? What does this say about our societies? What does that inability reveal about us?
To make matters worse, Javier Mille, the leader of the place that condemns the madmen who insulted Pepe Mujica, also did not deny what happened. “I don’t support that kind of thing,” he quickly downplayed. He said it was “part of Argentinian folklore” and the invaders “feel very attacked”. Because? As he described these episodes as victims of the double standard of those who criticize them, others either tolerate or remain silent, he gave an example, “Burn photographs with my face in demonstrations.”
Miley’s lack of denial isn’t scandalous, even in Argentina. Because in our country – like many others – we normalize the exceptional. We can recall that in 2011, Kirchnerist intellectuals questioned the participation of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa, and a year earlier, other madmen exploded in a book exposing the authorities’ blunders. Statistics on government-promoted inflation by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Also, we will deal with some legislators and Together for Change activists who stand out for intolerance and verbal aggression on the Congress premises or in anti-social networks.
All this happens when the economic and social panorama worsens every day, to add more pathos to the equation. Six out of 10 Argentine children and adolescents are poor and a third of them eat less than a year or two ago, according to the respected social debt watchdog of the Catholic University of Argentina (UCA). Meanwhile our politicians? With primary elections in August and general elections for the presidency in October, many — not all — are looking at their navels.
That navel-gazing and unquestioning conclusions from the political class explain, at least in part, why Miley appeals to growing segments of the electorate. He presents himself as a nemesis of the politicians who have ruled in the past decades. With that, he seems to have plenty to compete with.
Mujica may be right when he made his diagnosis in our days after the attack he suffered at the exhibition: “There is a crisis of faith, because on the ground, in the depths of history, we are entering a new civilization. Many will suffer”.
Subscribe to the EL PAÍS América newsletter here and get all the latest news on the region.