…an american profile in courage…

…to adapt the title of that work by the late John F Kennedy and we have a first snapshot of the fact and the fiction of leadership and substance…

We start in Latin America. And we have a timely article, which assumes the context is well known, from, yes, The Guardian, from which we have this excerpt,

The president is a former member of the Tupamaros guerrilla group, which was notorious in the early 1970s for bank robberies, kidnappings and distributing stolen food and money among the poor. He was shot by police six times and spent 14 years in a military prison, much of it in dungeon-like conditions.

So, from this open secret, now even widely divulged to the Western world, The Guardian gives an insight into, a better understanding of the distinction between courage and ‘courage’ (that PR fabricated reality).

This describes the current President of Uruguay, José Mujica. And in this profile we see a leader, a persuasive leader, not a charlatan. Moreover, Uruguay would be the country that recently took the bold step to end the cynical but lucrative ‘War on Drugs’, a discredited policy so destructive in many societies, as the country legalised the production, sale and use of marijuana with regulations in place.

Though Brazil does remain squeamish about the law, President Mujica’s bold move has attracted praise from many quarters, even in the US. Among the plaudits comes one from The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins who is effusive in his praise for action to squelch the lucrative programme of death and destruction that defines the ‘War on Drugs’. Yet his recommendation for a Nobel Prize for Peace is invalidated by the very meaning of the award and the anomaly of two high profile US recipients.

Not surprisingly, it would take a functionary of the United Nations, quite likely in a bid for self-promotion or a move later through some revolving door, to heap public criticism on the Uruguayan government, yet avoid doing so to a likely paymaster. (What is puzzling in this is that in a few countries cannabis was once considered the intoxicant of the poor, the very poor who could not afford alcohol.)

To be recalled is that such initiatives have been in train in several states of the US. Now if we remember the coca leaf used for over a thousand years by inhabitants of the altiplano of South America, and remember its fate at the same UN because of discovery of its commercial potential and its chemical transformation by the ‘civilised’ North for a Western market economy, we recognise the ‘invisible hand’ in the decision making – until Evo Morales. Money laundering has not been highly lucrative enterprise to the peasant growers of the altiplano, has it?

Though in many ways remarkable, Mujica does have company who do share, with varying intensity,  that vision of leadership and social conscience. In the never ending fight for independence, in the real meaning of the word, other names appear. We have the Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, and, soon and again, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and, of course, the late Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who had earlier come to the fore at the time of the infamous caracazo of February 1989. There is also the former President of Brazil, Lula, of very humble origins, who never failed to focus on alleviating the plight of the poor and in establishing the framework and implementing social programmes for a more just society.

Briefly, but not unimportantly or comprehensively, we also have Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua. And in today’s Venezuela, there is the ‘former bus driver’, ‘ex-bus driver’, as characterised by the MSM, Nicolás Maduro, who, while addressing Venezuela’s many challenges, still works at continuing his country’s initiatives to aid many economically-challenged Caribbean countries. (And the US MSM would remain very silent on the results of the recent elections in Venezuela.)

Yet the success and popularity of such leaders of the ‘backyard’ have come in spite of significant obstacles such as near total control of the domestic media by their respective country’s oligarchs and the derogatory fabrications by the more ‘established’ corporate US MSM, and, of course, despite that pesky activism from abroad.

As the saying goes, ‘By their fruits (deeds) ye shall know them’. And that repudiates incessant rhetoric that is seldom ever matched by deeds that are for the health and welfare of society, and civilisation at large. José Mujica, President of Uruguay, by his deeds does stand as one admirable American Profile in Courage.