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Uruguay turns left

 
 
fbaezer
 
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 12:48 pm
Edit [Moderator]: Moved from International News to South America.

Uruguay just elected new President.
After many years of trying, the left wing Frente Amplio won.
Uruguay now adds itself to Chile, Argentina and Brazil with left-leaning governments (plus the left wing populists in Ecuador and Venezuela). It looks like a trend.
Here's the note from the NYT:

Uruguay's Left Makes History by Winning Presidential Vote
By LARRY ROHTER

Published: November 1, 2004


ONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, Oct. 31 - Tabaré Vázquez, a Socialist doctor running as the candidate of an opposition coalition that includes former guerrillas, narrowly triumphed Sunday in the presidential election, bringing the left to power for the first time in this South American country.

The victory by the coalition, known as the Progressive-Encounter-Broad-FrontNew-Majority, whose largest faction consists of Tupamaro guerrillas turned politicians, strengthens a trend throughout the continent. As in the last presidential votes in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina, the candidate most opposed to American-supported free-market policies has defeated backers of those policies.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls and early returns indicated that Dr. Vázquez, an oncologist and former mayor of this capital, would win about 51 percent, just above the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Even before official returns were announced, both of his main opponents had conceded and indicated their willingness to cooperate with him.

"Celebrate, Uruguayans, celebrate," Dr. Vázquez, whose five-year term is scheduled to begin March 1, told the throng by his campaign headquarters at the downtown Hotel Presidente, two hours after polls had closed. "This victory is yours!"

Tens of thousands of people, some with faces painted in the red, blue and white colors of the Front, took to the streets here, setting off firecrackers, waving banners, honking horns and pounding drums. "We did it, we finally did it!" shouted Walter Correa, a meatpacking plant worker.

The triumph caps a 33-year effort by the Front to win power by legal means. During the American-supported right-wing military dictatorship that ruled from 1973 to 1985, many Front leaders who were then Tupamaros, as well as members of some other factions, were jailed or forced into exile.

The son of a politically conscious oil refinery worker, Dr. Vázquez visited his father's grave before voting in the working-class neighborhood where he was born and reared. He began his medical and political career in the same district.

"This is a magic night," Dr. Vázquez said at a news conference, paying tribute to Front leaders who did not live to see his victory. He also urged countrymen to "unite our efforts so that all Uruguayans can live better."

For Uruguay's two traditional centrist political parties, the Colorados and Blancos, the defeat was traumatic. Together, they have alternated in the presidency for more than a century, but were outvoted even in some middle- and upper-class neighborhoods that historically have supported them.

"The Front clearly has the best of the packages being offered to us, and Tabaré Vázquez is obviously a balanced and capable leader," said Gonzalo Mendoza, 60, an architect. "This country has been in misery for the past 20 years, but now we will have a government that recognizes that social policy is important and that the economy is not the be-all and end-all of everything."

---

Also yesterday:

Pro-Chávez parties won, by a landslide, 20 out of 22 governorships in Venezuela (the opposition insists it was a fraud).

The Socialists won the majority of municipalities in Chile, with 44.7% of the total vote (against 38.6% of the Conservatives, and the rest for minor parties). The Conservatives barely retained Santiago, and will probably gain Viña del Mar, though.

Lula's Workers' Party lost it's bastions of Sao Paolo and Porto Alegre, where it had governed for 16 years. The government party won only 9 out of the 26 most important cities.
The victors in Porto Alegre were the Brazilian Socialists, a party to the left of Lula. The winners in Sao Paolo were the Social Democrats, of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Now Lula is talking about alliances with the Social Democrats.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 4,896 • Replies: 17
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hingehead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 09:26 pm
Cool.

I used to work in a factory with a guy (big John) who emigrated from Uruguay in the 1970s. My boss was the union delegate, I always remember the big John said to my boss 'You union delegate, in my country a-a-a-a-a-a-' [John makes machine gun noise with mouth and mimes mowing my boss down]

The pendulum swings. How much longer before the US intervenes and destabilises another lefty government?

I actually think that the Lulas and Chavez's are voted in because the people just want a change from endemic corruption and a slow deterioration in their living standards, and that it's not really about socialism vs capitalism.
0 Replies
 
Charli
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 09:35 pm
Shades of Salvatore Allende?
Dare the name of duly elected "Marxist" Dr. Salvatore Allende of Chile be mentioned? Then, came the 1973 "coup," engineered by whom, ending with Dr. Allende's "suicide"? With the advent of Pinochet, every country in South America had a dictator. All supported by whom? Does - will - history repeat itself? Time will tell. Confused
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Nov, 2004 07:55 am
hingehead wrote:
Cool.

I used to work in a factory with a guy (big John) who emigrated from Uruguay in the 1970s. My boss was the union delegate, I always remember the big John said to my boss 'You union delegate, in my country a-a-a-a-a-a-' [John makes machine gun noise with mouth and mimes mowing my boss down]


Yes, it was the Uruguayans, during the Bordaberry dictatorship in the 70s, who invented the phrase "Destierro, encierro o entierro" (Exile, lock or burial). Those were the three choices opposers had.

But no, I don't think we'll see the US direct intervention against democracy as we did in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Not even if the Americans make the worse choice today.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Nov, 2004 12:22 pm
I do hope that this will give Uruguay a peaceful time of 'resettling' the country!

(Interesting for me that the moderators moved this thread from 'International News' to a subcategory of 'Travel & Culture' Sad )
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Nov, 2004 09:53 pm
Oh darn I hadnt seen this thread!

If I'd seen it I wouldnt have translated that whole Volkskrant article about it ...

Then again, this article is more objective. I must admit I liked the one I translated because it was so unabashedly celebratory, it seemed a fitting antidote for the news of the day! ;-)

I'm mixed about the different Latin-American leftists coming up now ... I was cheerful about Lula (and now cautiously optimistic), but Chavez seems an autocratic, corrupt crook.

Could do with more information, especially about the present-day Chilean Socialists, Kirchner in Argentine and this guy, though ...

But it feels good!
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Nov, 2004 10:22 pm
Time to MOAB Uruguay.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2004 01:10 am
From North Korea's news agency:

Quote:
Buenos Aires (VNA) - Uruguay has decided to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba, which was have been interrupted since 2002, under incumbent President Jorge Battle's order, said Jorge Proveto, Vice Chairman of the Uruguay Open Front Party (FA), on Tuesday.

The decision was made after FA candidate Tabre Vazquez won in the Uruguay president election. Over the past 179 years, the Colour Party and the National Party have ruled the country.--


Uruguay was one of the last conservative bastions in South America, and no turned left after about 160 years of conservative ( and centrist/conservative coalition) governments.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2004 01:26 am
The latest about Kirchner/Argentinia in English, from 27-Oct-04:

Quote:
BUENOS AIRES -(Dow Jones)- Argentine President Nestor Kirchner asked Congress Wednesday to extend until the end of 2005 the provisions of the so-called " economic emergency law," which has given the presidency special powers since it was first approved amid the financial crisis of early 2002.

According to a government statement, the draft law cites "the continuation of many internal and external factors" stemming from the "marked crisis" of those times, factors that initially justified the use of those special powers two years ago.

Among other powers, the emergency law allows the government to set public- service utility rates without seeking congressional approval. The law was used by former President Eduardo Duhalde to impose the still operational rate freeze on private utilities. At that time, his action was justified in part by the threat of inflation unleashed by the January 2002 devaluation in the peso.

Notably, the government conceded in its statement that the economy has recovered and that inflation has stabilized since the crisis. However, in its own draft of the law that would extend the special powers, the government also said that "to achieve sustained growth, a sustainable internal framework needs to be assured, taking into account many internal and external factors that constrain economic and social objectives."

The draft also asked for an extension of the so-called "double severance" law, another emergency measure first introduced in 2002. It requires companies that fire employees without just cause to pay them twice what would they would normally be legally entitled to.

The law would stay in place, the draft says, until the official unemployment rate falls below 10%. According to the national statistics agency, or Indec, unemployment was at 14.8% during the second quarter, the last time data were available.

The double severance law has been criticized by the International Monetary Fund for imposing unnecessarily inflexible conditions on employers.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2004 10:47 am
So the Kirchner government imposed state-set public service utility rates and hefty fines on firing people without enough cause, and still the economy recovered, inflation was reigned in?

That would seem to be in contradiction with the neoliberal IMF-type doctrines about what it takes to cure an economy, wouldn't it?
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2004 01:46 pm
nimh wrote:
So the Kirchner government imposed state-set public service utility rates and hefty fines on firing people without enough cause, and still the economy recovered, inflation was reigned in?

That would seem to be in contradiction with the neoliberal IMF-type doctrines about what it takes to cure an economy, wouldn't it?


IMF antinflation recipes work with creeping inflation, not with hyperinflation, as Argentina had.

In hyperinflation it's like when you're at the stadium, everybody is standing up and no one can see... so you start stocking things to climb and look... but everybody else does too, and no one can see yet. The only way to stop the crazy process is to seat everyone down at the same time: that can only be done (by the government) after a basic political agreement between the government, employers and unions.

Happened in Mexico in the late '80s, and we had a so-called "neoliberal" (but not stupidly neoliberal) government.

----

On an aside, I've visited the "other" site (the Spanish speaking one, the one I visit less), and... golly... all the Uruguayans over there are deliriously enthusiastic, and as corny as usual.

Nimh... the Volkskrant had some Galeano citations... they must have searched hard in his molasses' filled article.
Galeano, "The Open Veins of Latin America" (essay)... Viglietti, "Give Your Hand to The Indian" (song) ... Benedetti, "Juan Angel's Birthday" (poem-novel). You don't know what corny means until you meet some Uruguayan leftists.
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2004 08:30 pm
Though I've spent a good deal of time in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, I have only briefly visited Uruguay (Just Montivideo and Punta Del Este). It looked a bit shabby and rundown, a place that had seen better days about 30 years ago or more.

My impression is that, in Uruguay particularly, the economic stagnation is a result of government ownership of just about everything in the economy. The new government has apparently won by a large margin, commanding a sufficient parliamentary majority for desisive action. However they are self-proclaimed socialists. I have great difficulty seeing how the political outlook of such a party could possibly be beneficial to a country such as Uruguay, which is relatively poor in natural resources, and whose economic neighbors are right now quite preoccupied with their own economic problems (also arising out of the same overinflated government sector). Let us hope they bring some fresh ideas to reward initiative and productivity in Uruguay.

fbaezer,

Please tell me about 'corny'. A national trait? I'm very curious about this small but independent country stuck between jealous giants.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Nov, 2004 01:23 pm
I just read an interview with Rafael Michelini, a newly elected senator, leader of Nuevo Espacio (New Space), one of the several parties of the Ample Front. He says he feels the left has "made something heroic, like when we beat Brazil in [the Football World Cup final of] 1950".
Michelini considers they will not only appeal to "collective rights, but also to individual rights", is not afraid of a rupture within the broad coalition of 6 different parties ("it can happen only in the case of a small left-fringe group with no parlamentary representation") , reminds us that Uruguay is the most indebted Latin American nation in per capita terms ("but if we get more tax revenues, we may diminish the debt"), says they want to boost exports while at the same time keeping the dollar price stable and that they will honor the precendent government's agreement with the IMF: "We are paying them permanently. They can't treat us worse than they do Argentina, we pay and Argentina doesn't".

---
The most notable thing about Uruguay, besides their good meat and football players, is that the economy has been expelling people for decades. They have a more than decent school system, who actually subsidizes other countries.

---
Uruguayans are commonly known as "Argentinians without the superiority complex" in Latin America. They like it.

Another stereotype Uruguayans support, but this time against their will, is that they are "corny" ("cursi", in Spanish). They tend to be lyrical instead of analytical.

For example, the introduction of a books of essays about Latin American dependency and structural problems, written by an Uruguayan is titled: "120 Million Children in the Middle of the Storm".

Former Uruguayan President Julio Maria Sanguinetti was famous for his "beautiful", yet often empty speeches, like the first one I found in the net, it's from 1999, about globalization and says:
"...one day, the day the wall fell, we found out that there were computers and microchips and communication satellites, and the home chimeney was not the ancestral little fire which called the family upon, but the magic screen, from which you could see images all afternoon; and from the family home to the finances, everything had been changed by a technological and economical revolution which we can't, of course, throw rocks to, like many nostalgics of the utopias who never were, or became tyrannies, do, as if you could fight against history. No one can jump outside of his own shadow. This is our world. Let's welcome it".
Weird, isn't it?
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Nov, 2004 07:51 pm
fbaezer,

It was a nice speech - I appreciate the lyric quality.. I think I'll try to learn a bit more about Uruguayans and their culture.
0 Replies
 
fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Dec, 2008 09:34 pm
Just a short update.
Tabaré Vázquez resigned to his Socialist Party affiliation, after receiving an avalanche of criticism within its ranks for his veto to the law passed by the left-wing majority to decriminalize abortion.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2014 04:24 pm
@fbaezer,
Fbaezer, I just read an article I liked with low qualms, just the odd bubbling, and regurgitating, and so did a friend.

I'd like to hear what you are thinking on the article or in general -

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/-sp-is-this-worlds-most-radical-president-uruguay-jose-mujica

fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2014 12:37 pm
@ossobuco,
Long piece, telling.
Pepe Mujica is a great character, lovable in his own way.
He often reminds journalists that Uruguay is a very small country. So small it can afford the luxury of having him as President. A bigger nation can not.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2014 03:54 pm
@fbaezer,
I liked the article and my sense of Mujica from it.
I also liked reading Giles Tremlett again - one of my favorite books is his Ghosts of Spain, at least re my learning a lot I had not really gotten a good picture of before. I'd like to reread it, but the friend gave it away (her book in the first place, that's not a complaint).
0 Replies
 
 

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