“Vote and See”: A look at political participation in the U.S. through the eyes of José ‘Pepe’ Mujica
A new book seeks answers from the former Uruguayan President on topics such as democracy, politics, liberty and voter participation.
MORE IN THIS SECTION
Amid troubling rates of political participation in the U.S., publisher Enrique Moras and investigative journalist Darío Klein have taken a unique approach to addressing the situation.
In their new book, “Vote and See: A Conversation with Pepe Mujica”, they turn to former Uruguayan president, José ‘Pepe’ Mujica, for insight into such topics as democracy, politics, liberty and voter participation--in the U.S.
“Mujica fit very interesting parameters,” Moras told AL DÍA. “His administration generated some love and some hate. He’s clearly a left-wing politician, but something that was never in doubt was his honesty, and we think honesty is a very interesting element.”
Mujica served as president of the South American country of 3.5 million people from 2010 to 2015. Formerly a guerrilla rebel who was imprisoned for 13 years during the 1970s and ‘80s when the country was under military rule, he is best known for his progressive actions in office to legalize marijuana, abortion and gay marriage, as well as his humble approach to the office. Instead of moving to the presidential palace, he remained living in his small home on his farm. Mujica also donated 90 percent of his salary while president to those in need.
“We thought of having a conversation with him--not so much, ‘tell us about the U.S.’, but ‘tell us about politics, the role you see for politics, how politics has evolved.’ And then mixing in questions about the U.S.,” Moras explained.
Moras and Klein, who are both Uruguayan themselves, hatched the idea for the book around March of 2017, and they visited Mujica on his farm in October of last year for the interview.
“At 83 years old, and after having suffered torture and jail in solitary confinement for 13 years, it is inspiring to hear a man who holds no resentment or disillusion. His optimism for the future, and his constant search for global solutions is inspiring. His passion for politics as the key to a better future is something worth reflecting on,” Moras said.
“In the U.S., it is understandable that people take democracy for granted. They have not experienced any other form of government since their independence. For Latinos, it is different. Many know first hand what lack of democracy looks like. Even second generation immigrants can understand it well through the stories they heard from their parents," Moras continued.
"Mujica underlines the importance for all citizens to reflect, appreciate and care for a healthy democracy. He shares his thoughts about understanding that politicians have never been, nor ever will be, ideal or perfect. Yet politicians and candidates are never "all the same". Of all the available options, there's always one who's a better fit for our worldview. It’s a central idea of the book.”