The Frente Amplio experience



Considerations on a conversation with Pepe Mujica and Lúcia Topolanski

“Luis Ernesto envelops him in his tentacle affection \ like a rat like a good thief of silent cinema \ sure that he is faithful to a dying homeland \ ojalá vivas marcos \ and gets lost in the well”. (Mario Benedetti, 1971).

Dear comrade Daniel Caggiani, Senator of the Frente Ampla in Uruguay, calls my wife Sandra Bitencourt on his cell phone and informs us that former President Pepe Mujica would like to receive us, at the end of the afternoon, to talk more calmly than we did in a previous day's event. It was a meeting of a group of political leaders, former ministers, human rights activists and intellectuals, scheduled at the same time as the Brasília event, in which Lula would talk – the following day – with the South American presidents about the democratic issue in South America. South and the resumption of our integration process.

52 years ago, on February 5, 1971, an original experience of political unity between democratic socialists, historic communists, Christian Democrats, progressive democrats from various strands of political republicanism in the country - including blancos e red – had founded in Uruguay the Frente Ampla, whose enviable unity, political capacity and consensual discipline, lasts until the present. Nothing like Uruguay, therefore, to host a meeting of that nature.

At our “support” event for the Brasília meeting, the day before – whose initial session was attended by Mujica and Lucía, his wife, a former senator of the Republic – I debated with the participants the directions for integration and the gas station unity of the democratic field , against the new dictatorial dreams of the Latin American extreme right. The meeting was formed through an articulation of more than a year of meetings and debates, both in person and over the internet - organized by Instituto Novos Paradigmas, Fundación Chile 21 and Fundación Seregni, with the participation of former presidents Mujica, Ernesto Samper and former -Minister Celso Amorim.

Carlos Ominami (former finance minister of the first Concertación government in Chile), Monica Xavier (former senator of the Republic in Uruguay) and professor Javier Miranda (former president of the Frente Ampla), plus Pepe Dirceu and Paulo Abrão, from Brazil, were fundamental to the success of the meeting, whose final document was presented at the meeting in Brasilia by President Alberto Fernández, of the Argentine Republic.

Our political front in Brazil is a contingent and necessary experience, in a country where regional oligarchies are stronger than parties, where parties – as a rule – look at the nation from its regional political space, whose “superior” interests ” – for them – will one day come together to form a national state. What decisively interferes in the formation of our democratic governments, after the 88 Constitution, is much less the strength of parties of any origin and much more the oligarchic-regional forces that, whether or not they pass into the parties, in dependence on the advance of civility of the politics installed there.

Former president Pepe Mujica says, in my view correctly, that the forces of the right unite for their immediate interests and the forces of the left and center-left separate for what they want for the future. Hence his conclusion that the left must work with “short times” – as Pepe Mujica says – for no more than five years, to govern with consistency predictability, scarce “commodities” in Brazil, where presidents form its precarious parliamentary base , after winning the election, with scraps of inconsistent parties, which always end up surprising the winning party in the majority election.

We were all proud of our political undertaking on that day of Pepe Mujica's invitation, which especially for me had a strong political meaning. It closed a “long time” of political militancy, through two personal milestones of my trajectory: I was in Uruguay, in 1971, when the Frente Ampla was founded and also when Pepe Mujica got out of prison – through a tunnel, in Punta Carretas –dug in a nearby place where we were having lunch when the call came from Caggiani. The same Pepe Mujica, whom I had received as governor of Rio Grande do Sul at the Piratini Palace, as president of Uruguay, and who I also visited – during my term as governor – at the Presidential Palace in Montevideo.

It was a time of a “long time”, which at that very moment of the invitation became “short”: the long time became, in the spirit, an ascending and long straight line – before tortuous and unexpected – that memory now transformed into a short time. , a unified space of pain, struggle and also the celebration of life.

On the 30th of May, Tuesday, at 19.45 pm, more or less 25 km from the center of Montevideo in the farm-residence of Pepe Mujica and Lucia, in the place called “Rincón del Cerro”, we ended – Sandra Bitencourt and I – the long conversation with Pepe Mujica and his wife Lúcia Topolanski. It was when I affectionately hugged the old and dear fighter and said a little parting phrase to him: “Take care of yourself!” Which he answered me with a “until ever brother“. His moving farewell immediately reminded me of Giovanni Arrighi, of his The long twentieth century, which – in turn – made me appear in the memory The Age of Extremes, the Short Twentieth Century, by Eric Hobsbawm”. The long and the short: long times and short times were there, merged into two Latin American generations, if we consider that times are short; or a single generation, if we consider that the centuries continue to be long. At the end of our conversation, without the conscientious recording of Sandra Bittencourt, Pepe Mujica opens a brief memory of his “long time” in the dungeons of the dictatorship.

We ended a long conversation about the responses of liberal democracy to the dictatorships of the 1970s, the relations of solidarity between the countries of South America, the exemplary experience of the Frente Ampla in Uruguay and the frustrated revolutionary attempts, in the “short” or “long” period. 1914th century, when the unfathomable enigma of time returns – through the voice of Pepe Mujica. “Short”, if we consider – like Hobsbawm – its historical beginning in 1991, at the beginning of the First World War, and its end in the fall of the Russian Revolution, in XNUMX; but that is "long", if we put ourselves in the perspective of Giovanni Arrighi, who assumes that there is a permanent discontinuity-continuity, in historical time, whose flexibility is expanded in the world space in the face of the evolution of the imposing rules of the market.

But Pepe Mujica's "long" time refers directly, not to the market, but to a dungeon, where for more than 12 years the Uruguayan dictatorship intended to annihilate him as a human being, through silence, imposed fear, physical and psychological torture . And the dictatorship lost.

Then Pepe Mujica spoke with the grandiose tranquility of suffering men of all times, with the greatness produced by them in all the dungeons where they were thrown by the fate they chose, speaking for all those who survived and thus won. But also for all the sad, the defeated and the dead, whose traces are in both the long and short times, where only conscience survives and the spirit returns again to disturb, build and build a future for Humanity.

He's just a roadmap, which is just a path that will never be found. But that is only the tireless and stripped human dignity itself: “in the moments of greatest exhaustion in the dungeon I looked – he said – more in anthropology than in philosophy, some answers that made me survive. It is about the search for the 'hard disk' that must be at the center of the subjectivity of all human beings and that must, one day, unify us to seek a common destiny. It is a utopia”.

I think she is present, both in the short periods of our lives and in the long periods when we disappear into the dust of history. On the short paths of our entire lives or on the long paths of all generations, who never tire of fighting for a better life for all human beings.

*Tarsus in law he was governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil. Author, among other books, of possible utopia (Arts & Crafts).

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