José Mujica – A Different Kind Of President

José Mujica is the president of Uruguay. An old, modest man, and a dreamer. He does not have much, since, he declares, he does not need much. He lives in a farm with his wife, just outside the capital of the country Montevideo. He has a tractor, a three leg dog, and he donates 90% of what he makes to charity.
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José Mujica is a social-democrat. In his youth, he was part of the guerrillas of 1965 and 1966 as a liberator of the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement (MLN-T). In the context of 1973, where the country was ruled by a false democracy that had turned into a military dicatorship, José Mujica, who was on the rebels side, got shot six times and spent 15 years of his life in prision, most of the time in isolation.
He came to power as president of Uruguay on October 29, 2009, winning with a percentage of more than 52% of the votes, defeating his opponent Luis Alberto Lacalle. He has been dubbed by the international press as “the poorest president in the world”. “I’m not poor” Mujica says, “poor are those who always want more and more, those who never have enough of anything. I chose this hostile lifestyle. I chose not to have many material belongings, so I have time to do what I like. ”

Another reason for which Mujica became internationally famous is his proposal to legalize marijuana in his country. Mujica proposed this in order to “end the illegal trafficking of this drug, and thus curb crime.” However, this proposal was halted due to the lack of support from Uruguayan people since, according Mujica “society is not mature yet to accept this proposal.”

He has been said to be “the best president in the world.” His speeches are motivational yet sort of utopian. It is important to take into consideration his lifestyle, unlike other presidents in the world, who need a large deployment of security wherever they go, and who aim to become ridiculously rich as soon as they get to the presidency. However, a president is competent or not depending on his actions, not his lifestyle, whether modest or extravagant. Of course, this criteria is applied to presidents all around the world – which demonstrates that a president is not better or worse depending on his wealth, as even the richest ones are worse presidents and more cynical than Jose Mujica.

This man is no ordinary president, and he shows it by breaking the established patterns of how a president should be by, for example, driving a blue beetle car to work every day, and talking about happiness and free time at the United Nations, and telling them that they are no use, that “our world needs less global organizations of all kinds, which organize conferences and forums that only hotel chains and airlines make use of”.
And as an example of how international organizations reflect the interests of those who created them, Uruguay contributes with the peace missions with 14% of its military forces, that is barely 2500 soldiers. Nothing compared to the 33 thousand troops that the U.S. sent to Japan, but a lot if we consider the size of Uruguay. “We have been there for years, we are always in the places assigned to us, however, where the decisions are made and the resources are distributed we don’t exist even to serve the coffee.” replied Mujica in front of an -almost- empty room, where hours before people flocked to witness how President Barack Obama declared the absence or death of U.S. imperialism. Nevertheless, there was enough space in the press for Mujica’s “philosophical” speech.

Ironically, during my research about this subject, I came across this video called: Talk to Al Jazeera – Jose Mujica: ‘I earn more than I need’ but I could not watch it because it has been blocked in the United States.

José Mujica – Un presidente distinto

José Mujica es el presidente de Uruguay. Un hombre mayor, modesto y soñador. No tiene mucho, ya que según él no lo necesita, y es su elección. Vive con su esposa en un granja a las afueras de la capital Montevideo. Tiene un tractor, una perra coja, y dona el 90% de su sueldo a obras benéficas.
Foto: http://www.presidencia.gub.uy/
Mujica es socialdemócrata. En su juventud, formó parte de las guerrillas de 1965 y 1966 como libertador del Movimiento de Liberación Nacional Tupamaros (MLN-T). En el contexto de 1973, donde el país vivía una democracia con aspiraciones golpistas, ya que dicha democracia se tornó en una dictadura militar, José Mujica fue herido de seis tiros y estuvo encarcelado durante 15 años, la mayoría del tiempo en aislamiento.
Llegó al poder como presidente de Uruguay el 29 de Octubre del 2009, con un porcentaje superior al 52% de los votos, derrotando a su oponente Luis Alberto Lacalle. Ha sido calificado por la prensa internacional como “el presidente más pobre del mundo”. “Yo no soy pobre” declara Mujica, “pobres son los que siempre quieren más y más, los que nunca tienen suficiente de nada. Yo escogí este estilo de vida hostil, escogí no tener muchas pertenencias materiales para poder hacer lo que a mí me gusta”.

Otro de los motivos por los cuales saltó a la fama es su propuesta de legalizar la marihuana en su país. Mujica realizó esta propuesta para “acabar con el tráfico ilegal de esta droga, y así frenar la delincuencia”. Sin embargo, esta propuesta fue frenada debido a la falta de apoyo por parte del pueblo ya que según Mujica “la sociedad no esta madura todavía para acoger esta propuesta”.

Hay quienes califican a este hombre como “el mejor presidente del mundo”. Sus discursos son motivacionales pero algo utópicos. Hay que considerar el estilo de vida que lleva este presidente, a diferencia de otros presidentes del mundo, quienes necesitan un gran despliegue de seguridad allá donde van, y no pierden un minuto en enriquecerse de manera desproporcionada en cuanto llegan a la presidencia. Sin embargo, un presidente se vale por sus acciones, no por su estilo de vida, ya sea modesto o derrochador. Por supuesto, este criterio se aplica también a presidentes de todo el mundo -lo cual demuestra que por muy pobre o rico que el presidente sea no le hace mejor en la presidencia ya que incluso los que más se aprovechan de la riqueza presidencial son peores y más cínicos que José Mujica.

Este hombre no es un presidente convencional, y lo demuestra rompiendo con los moldes establecidos, conduciendo un escarabajo azul al trabajo cada día, y plantándose en la tribuna de las naciones unidas para hablar de la felicidad y el tiempo libre, y para decirles que no sirven para mucho que “nuestro mundo precisa menos organismos mundiales de toda laya, que organizan foros y conferencias que sólo sirven a las cadenas hoteleras y a las compañías aéreas”.
Y como ejemplo de que los organismos internacionales reflejan los intereses de quienes los crearon, Uruguay aporta el 14% de sus fuerzas armadas a las misiones de paz, apenas 2500 soldados. Nada comparado con los 33 mil efectivos que Estados Unidos tiene en Japón, pero mucho si consideramos las dimensiones del país sudamericano, “llevamos años y años, siempre estamos en los lugares que nos asignan, sin embargo donde se decide y reparten los recursos no existimos ni para servir el café”, replicaba el Pepe frente a una sala casi vacía, en la que horas antes se agolpaba la gente para ser testigos de cómo el presidente Barack Obama declaraba la inexistencia o la muerte del imperialismo estadounidense. Aún así hubo suficiente espacio en la prensa para el discurso “filosófico” de Mujica. (Santa Cruz, 2013)

También es algo irónico, que durante mi búsqueda de información sobre el presidente Uruguayo encontré este video titulado Talk to Al Jazeera – Jose Mujica: ‘I earn more than I need’ y no pude acceder a él ya que curiosamente está bloqueado en Estados Unidos.

Body Image: A creation of media.

This video called “Media’s Effects on Teen Girl’s Body Image & Self Esteem” talks about the problems usually girls have today with their body image. Nobody seems to be satisfied. If you ask a group of girls if they are satisfied with their body, no more than 15% will raise their hands. We are always trying to get slimmer, look prettier, if we have straight hair, you try to curl it to give it volume, if you have curly hair, you spend 30 minutes in the bathroom every mornig ironing to make it look straight.
What causes this behaviors? Of course, the media. Through the magazines we read the TV shows we watch and commercials we see, we build up this idea in our heads of how the perfect body has to be, how do we have to look and even how do we have to act -to be a perfect woman.

Yes, the media is to blame for this, but type in on Youtube “media’s influence on teenagers” and a million videos pop up about how bad the media is, how evil, how is hurting us and hour kids.. But I ask myself: Is it all medias fault?
It is too easy critizise the media and blame everything on “how media falsely portrays society” and without being hypocritical (since my older post “The Axe Efect – Women Depiction” critizises how media depicts women), I would like to take a stand on favor of the media.

Although I agree with the fact that media influences us, and specially teenagers, who are more vulnerable, we all contribute to this. We are stupid enough to still think that the media way is the correct way, and we believe everything they say. A lot of parents, when their kids are todlers, show them to play with “the right” toys. They buy their little girl a doll for her birthday, and they tell their boy to not play with her because he is too agressive, and he has to take care of his sister. Most of the times parents don’t even realize, they learned when they were young and unconciously teach their kids the same values.
Also, boys are taught from an early age that they have to be the ones to ask out a girl if they like her. And in high school they are the ones who ask girls to prom. What would happen if it was the other way around? Ha ha. That girl would be made fun of for the rest of her high school life. Guys flirt with girls, and girls act like their innocent, girls – in general terms- plan their weddings, not their fiancees. And it is usually because they are taught to like planning it.

Also, everybody LOVES to criticise. We all criticise everything, from politics decisions to that girls outfit today, or how the teacher graded my paper. Why? I don’t know. But it for sure would be very interesting to learn why. There are probably some sociologic studies out there that explain human behavior and why we love to criticise everything we can.

So even though I agree with this video, and I think the media has a huge power over the public – which is very easy to convince – our behavior, our perception of beauty, and the perception parents transmit to their children all comes from the society and from our own personal values. The media is just who spreads it out globally.

IS CHRISTMAS HERE ALREADY?

So yes, there are still 29 days left for christmas. But it is not surprise to anybody to walk into any kind of stores -from local stores to national chains like Target or Walmart-. and find christmas products everywhere, from christmas trees to candy cones. Of course, everything is ON SALE (Like always). And the TV is bombrded with sale Christmas commercials. Sale here, sale there, buy early and get 10% off, get $3 off your next purchase if you buy a Christmas tree now, get the Christmast lights early…

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Companies are trying to do whatever they can to make more with less. Make the consumer spend in advance, just so they can make him spend even more when Christmas actually comes. In fact, the “Christmas shopping time” starts on November 1st, right after people have gotten done shopping for Halloween. The point is spend. Spend, spend, SPEND.

ImageThe funny thing, is that besides the companies urge to sell out Christmas stuff before the actual season. Thanksgiving is in between. So guess what.. More ads, more sales and more spending! Because of course, it is crucial to buy everything beforehand in order to save more money. And again we’re back to the endless circle of saving while spending — contradictory huh?

But in case it was not enough for companies trying to make profit in advance, they came up with Black Friday. A great ocasion to spend more money but get the best deals. It is the night right after thanksgiving, where the stores have huge deals, people line up in front of grocery sotres and malls, hours before they open, out in the November cold, just  to be the first ones to get thos amazing deals.

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Surprisingly, for those who think this “crazy shopping trend” is a 21st century invention, early shopping dates back to the victorians: The Victorians also discovered the value of starting the Yuletide shopping season before Thanksgiving. It was only a short leap from ad copy to in-store blowouts. A Nov. 16, 1888, event by the Kansas City, Mo., emporium Bullene, Moore, Emery & Company saw a preholiday rush that “packed every square foot of the store,” while promotions for an 1893 “Early Christmas Event” by one Salt Lake City retailer almost reads like a ransom note: “This is no joke. We mean it. We will do it … MONDAY, MONDAY, MONDAY.”

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Spying Scandal on European Leaders. Two Sides of the Same Coin

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The spying scandal of some of the leaders of the most important countries in the occidental world, including Germany, the UK and France, by the National Security Agency (NSA) came out on the news this past October 6th. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose personal phone was hacked, said the allegations had shattered trust in President Barack Obama’s administration and undermined the crucial trans-Atlantic relationship.

The NSA has been secretly spying millions of citizens all around the world, including countries such as France, Germany, Spain and the U.S. But this new scandal is not that recent since it has been going on ever since Bush’s administration. This scandal was uncovered by CIA agent Edward Snowden, who revealed that the Government of the United States used a certain spying programme to watch the communications of millions of people around the world. Right now Snowden is hiding in Russia and will never be able to come back to his home country. While the U.S media shows him as a traitor, in other countries he is seen as tragic hero and many have lost the trust in Obama and the U.S.

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Meanwhile, Obama assured he was not aware of the NSA’s spying on European countries as well as the american citizens. But after several months of denying his knowledge -and approval- of the spying operation, and lying Angela Merkel on the phone, the Economic Times writes the “high-ranking” NSA official declared that the president, “not only did not stop the operation, but he also ordered it to continue.” Apparently, President Obama found out about the spying operation 3 years ago, and reports say hat Angela Merkel’s personal phone has been hacked since 2002, when she was a member of the opposition in Germany.

This is a big issue for the government of the United States. Spying his allies could cost the U.S more than they think in terms of international relations, political agreements, economic deals and so on. So their strategy is to make this issue a minor deal by using the media. There is a noticeable difference between how European media tells the story and how the United States media does. For instance, Spanish headlines were some such as: “The United states spied the cell phones of 35 worldwide leaders”. On the other hand video was posted on the HuffPost Politics online newspaper informing what Senator Marco Rubio said to all European leaders: “Everyone spies on everybody”.  This way, the American newspaper gave the issue little importance.

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The first attempts made by the government to handle the story were not really effective. Lying about such an obvious case brought nothing but suspicion by the American citizens as well as the European allies. So the next  strategy the government is trying is make the spotlight move from this story to distract people. Like my professor used to say: “Who controls the media controls the population”. The government has the power of distort or twist the reality, without technically lying about. And of course people believe it.

I wonder what the consequences are going to be for obama and the U.S now. We probably won’t know the real story until decades from now. And maybe European leaders are showing their indignity on a public level, but lets be realistic, with The United States being on of the most -if not the most- powerful and influential country in the world, and European leaders need to look after their own countries, so they will probably not take the risk of breaking off their agreements and international ties with the United States. However, on a private level, they will make the U.S pay.

This satiric video by Marta Cillero shows the friendship of President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

a friendship story

 

The Creation Of Adam. The Advertisement

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I was in the train the other day when I saw this advertisement for the Epic Burger restaurant in Chicago. It is a fast-food restaurant that serves burgers like McDonald’s or Burger King, but they try to give an image of having a little bit more quality. The photo called my attention, because, for those who don’t know it, the two hands are part of the original Michelangelo’s painting The Creation Of Adam. It is located in the sistine chapel, and it was completed my the painter in 1511.

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At first I didn’t know wether to be scared or amused. I can’t deny it is a different way of doing marketing. Most commercials nowadays are dumb, rather disappointing and not funny at all – even though they use talking potholes, burger holders, or Dorito goat eaters-. I suppose the person who came up with the idea of this commercial had a little more creativity. However, The Creation Of Adam is one of the most majestic and famous paintings ever painted. And my question is: Is it disrespectful bringing this great piece of art down to the level of simply trying to sell a fattening burger?

On the other hand, it is kind of funny. But again, sadly a lot of people don’t know what this painting is and where it comes from, so what is the point of doing this? Did they really think they would really get more customers by mocking Michelangelo’s piece of art?

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We are used to media trying to call our attention everywhere we go, any second of the day. This photo put up in one of the CTA trains of Chicago might make me a little dissapointed at a personal level with what media is capable of to call somebodies attention (Even though we have all seen innumerable examples of this). The thing is that it did catch my eye, however, it caught my eye for a different reason than it was suppossed to. It was not the burguer, but the “painting” what called my attention. I am sure it has called the attention of a lot of other people. So technically the company got what they wanted, being thought of.