Monday, December 01, 2014

New President elected in Uruguay, Argentine politicians welcome the choice

Tabaré Vázquez has just elected the new President of Uruguay as the candidate of the current President José Mujica's left-leaning reformist Frente Amplio. Vázquez previously served as President 2005-2010. The Uruguayan Presidential term begins in March, so his new term is for the 2015-2020 period.

Here is a Spanish-language video report from Visión 7 - Uruguay: Tabaré es el nuevo presidente TV Pública argentina 12/01/2014

BBC News reports (Tabare Vazquez wins Uruguay's run-off election 12/01/2014):

Uruguay's leftist candidate Tabare Vazquez has easily beaten rival Luis Lacalle Pou in a presidential run-off.

Final results gave Mr Vazquez, from the governing Broad Party, 52.8%, compared with 41% for Mr Lacalle Pou, of the right-wing National Party.

Mr Vazquez, 74, is a cancer doctor who served as president from 2005-10. ...

Mr Vazquez has pledged to boost social spending and keep the economy in its current good shape.

He also wants to reform the education system and fight crime - two of the weakest points of Mr Mujica's government, the BBC's Ignacio de los Reyes in Montevideo reports.

Outgoing Uruguayan President José Mujica was noted for his austere lifestyle as well as for his popular-democratic politics. Here is a 2012 interview with him, Entrevista exclusiva al Presidente de la República José Mujica Daniel Castro YouTube Channel 11/23/2012:

BBC News provides a Uruguay profile of Mujica 12/01/2014:

Like his predecessor, Tabare Vazquez, Mr Mujica belongs to the left-wing Broad Front (Frente Amplio) coalition, and promised to continue President Vazquez's policies.

He was a co-founder of the left-wing Tupamaros urban guerrilla movement during the 1960s, and was imprisoned during the 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

Mr Mujica played a key role in transforming the Tupamaros group into a legitimate political party. Though he is popular with working-class Uruguayans, his rebel background alarmed conservatives, and while running for the presidency he was at pains to stress that he had left his militant past behind.

On being inaugurated as president, he said it was important to look to the future, and insisted that he bore no grudge against Uruguay's armed forces. [my emphasis]
Reaction from Argentine President Cristina Fernández and her Peronist Partido Justicialista was favorable. This is notable, because Cristina's predecessor, husband and political partner Néstor Kirchner had fairly tense relations with Uruguay when the now Vázquez' previous presidency in Uruguay overlapped with Néstor's in Argentina. The main dispute was over Uruguay's authorization on the construction of two paper factories (pasteras) in binational waters of the Uruguay river shared by Uruguay and Argentina. Néstor's government took Uruguay to the International Court of Justice over the dispute, which had to do with the pollution the plants could produce. It was eventually resolved by a bilateral agreement for pollution monitoring. But the dispite did spill over into Cristina's first Presidential term.

Página/12 reported in 2012 (Uruguay suma otra pastera 02.09.2014) that the dispute over the pasteras was "uno de los mayores conflictos diplomáticos de la historia entre Uruguay y Argentina" ("one of the biggest diplomatic conflicts in history between Uruguay and Argentina").

Here is a TV Pública argentina report on Cristina's congratulations to Vázquez, Visión 7 - Cristina felicitó a Tabaré, presidente electo de Uruguay 12/01/2014:

Jorge Capitanich, the head of Cristina's Cabinet and often a public spokesperson for her government said, "La presidenta Crtistina [sic] Kirchner) se comunicó con Tabaré Vázquez para felicitarlo por las elecciones en la República Oriental del Uruguay y, en la exposición, el mismo Tabaré Vázquez manifestó que el tema de las pasteras es una cuestión del pasado." ("President Christina [sic] Kirchner communicated with Tabaré Vázquez to congratulate him on the elections in the Western Republic of Uruguay and, in the discussion, Tabaré Vázquez himself put forward that the theme of the pasteras is a question of the past.") ("La relación bilateral será auspiciosa" Página/12 01.12.2014)

La Nación, traditionally the main press organ of the anti-Peronist oligarchía and bitterly anti-Cristina, reports that two possible 2015 Argentine Presidential candidates, the Peronist Governor of Buenos Aires province, Daniel Scioli, and the neoliberal Socialist Party leader Hermes Binner, were present at Vázquez' headquaters on Sunday as the votes were coming in. (Daniel Scioli y Hermes Binner, presentes en el bunker de Tabaré Vázquez 01.12.2014) Another potential 2015 Argentine Presidential candidate, the Peronist Jorge Enrique Taiana, a Buenos Aires legislator who served as Foreign Minister in both Nésto's and Cristina's cabinets, was also present in Montevideo. (“Un nuevo triunfo democrático” Página/12 01.12.2014)

Taiana resigned as Foreign Minister (Canciller is the official title) after a reported dispute with Cristina over how the Uruguayan pasteras would be montiored, which his supporters apparently claimed was all a big misunderstanding. (Fernando Cibeira, Cambio de mando en el Palacio San Martín Página/12 19.06.2010) His father, Jorge Alberto Taiana, served in Juan Perón's Cabinet during his Presidency of 1973-4 and also served as Perón's doctor. (Taiana, un "hombre del Presidente" La Nación 28.11.2005)

Another possible Peronist candidate for 2015, Defense Minister Agustín Rossi, hailed Vázquez' win as one in a recent string including the re-elections this year of Presidents Dilma Roussief's in Brasil and Evo Morales' in Bolivia as a progressive reform trend which he predicts will be repeated in 2015 with the Peronist electoral alliance, the Frente para la Victoria (FpV).

Cristina will be attending a meeting of the South American alliance UNASUR this week in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Vázquez is likely to show up there, though his actual Presidential term doesn't begin for three months.

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