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IDWF Congress: Speech by Uruguay President Mujica

IDWF Congress: Speech by Uruguay President Mujica

by IDWFED published Oct 28, 2013 06:09 PM
2014 Oct 26-28 Speech by Uruguay President Mujica
Oct 26, 2013 to Oct 28, 2013 (Universal / UTC0)
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President Mujica’s Speech
Delivered at the closing of
the IDWF Founding Congress
Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo
(Montevideo City Hall)
Montevideo, Uruguay

(The original speech is in Spanish. This is a transcript of the simultaneous interpretation provided at the Congress.)

Dear Friends,
I feel very proud of my small country because [of] this kind of meeting, a meeting of domestic workers, who have been eternally neglected, eternally postponed by human kind. They are taking these steps, in order to organize to be able to fight for their given rights.  You come from so many countries.

They come to a small country to meet. I am really proud, because we are used to people coming and holding conferences, you knowing people coming from the economy, people who come from the field of medicine, others who come to this exotic season resort called Punta del Este, but I like it a lot more when we have workers […].  
That is why it is very difficult in a small country.  You should know that our country is mainly based on cattle raising.  Because, before there were people here, there were cows. And cows made it possible for everybody to leave their boats and build a life here after defeating indigenous people. 

We have a national history of over 200 years, always revolving around cattle raising. However, it took us almost 100 years until the 8-hour working day would reach our workers, but also always forgotten. We succeeded in doing this.  
We have also managed something else, very recently, really very recently—that service workers and domestic workers, you can find them by the thousands, and they started to have rights as any other worker does. We started to worry about the social welfare, and what would happen to them in this very complicated life. It wasn’t easy. 

The workers that managed to be acknowledged, always close to the money and banks, and close to decision making, those who cleaned floors and washed dishes were far away.  Their rights could not be recognized.

Why? Because there are social classes in the world. That is very clear. And those who work with their hands find it very difficult to be recognized.  It has always been like this.  In our country, there is no discrimination like there is in other countries.  But if you are very poor, you are actually discriminated [against]. Isn’t that right? [claps]  
We don’t have to get tired of fighting because in the end, only those who stop fighting are defeated.  This does not mean that we have the solution right around the corner only because we fight. Nobody will give us anything; we have to win it. And the poor people, even more so poor workers, do not have another tool other than getting together, united, to learn that struggles are collective, and that for them to be collective, we have to learn to bear with each other.

Sometimes we have differences, sometimes we have comings and goings, but if you are alone, we don’t have the strength.  Our biggest strength is the number because the poor people are highest in the number.  We have to understand what is the strong point, and what is the weak point.  The strong point is within us. The huge difficulty of working collectively in big teams. 

Friends, we have had to bear with the hardest part.  Please receive a warm hug from my small country. And shout to poor people in the world.  Tell them that when they feel cornered, they have to look at this country. I will not receive them with a piece of cake.  But we do not chase, frankly, we do not prosecute people, and this country is empty, so we still have work for thousands and thousands and thousands of people.

Know that we are a small nation, coming from ships, most of our grandparents and great grandparents are refugees, most of them came running away from Europe, from wars, from conflict, from political persecution. But this array of pain gave birth to our nation, to our deepest identity, to our deepest malady, a melancholic [outcome] because it shows the sadness of immigrants. We did not have these kind of phones to talk. 

When sending a letter was so hard, and when emigrating was practically knowing nothing else about those you loved.  We even have a feature of sadness and melancholy in our culture.  This is why the African faces that I see here, remember that this brave and beaten Africa, our doors are open to you.
And it is good to say these things in a whisper, things that are not said by the media. This country needs people, this country needs arms, working arms, and this country needs hope, and people, who are brave enough to have children.  So to you, [because you have poor backgrounds] I dare to speak to you this frankly.

This is a land of refuge. It has a beautiful coast, the beach, where people with money come to sun bathe and enjoy the beach. But they come and they leave, they go. My country thanks you. Please remember this.  And please remember this as well. 

We only live once, and it is almost a miracle that we are alive. It is a miracle that we are alive.  It is worth to give our lives content. And it is worth to fight for a little bit of happiness. Also fight for people and for the children of poor people.

And I would say that this is almost an obligation, don’t forget this. Don’t feel ashamed of being poor because you live from your own hands.  And you share with Uruguay thanks to the people of your class and the various communities of the world.

This is a country with many [faces], with many classes, but profoundly we are a country where nobody is more than any body.  This is why we welcome you with open arms and thank you for this meeting, for this Congress, thank you.

(Acknowledgement: We'd like to thank Jennifer Fish for the transcript.)

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