Uruguay. According to Countryaah official site, the newly elected President José Mujica’s main political problems during the year were deep cracks in the government coalition Frente Amplio (FA). In August, he presented a nine-point program to bring the parties to the coalition together, and his representative at the presidential post, Tabaré Vázquez (2005-10), simultaneously launched a similar proposal. In the background of the split, there was a gap between Mujica’s Movimiento de Participación Popular (MPP) and Partido Comunista Uruguayo (PCU), but also between the coalition’s left wing in general, represented by Mujica, and its right wing, represented by Finance Minister Danilo Astori.
The disagreement within the FA mainly revolved around the issue of a more radical distribution policy when the country’s economy is doing as well as it does, but also about issues in the mining sector. A subsidiary of an Indian mining company that intends to invest $ 3 billion in iron ore exploitation, which would have become the largest private investment in Uruguay’s history, withdrew from the project after a political quarrel over its utility for the country’s economy broke out within the FA. The critics felt that it was yet another in the series of historical cases where foreign companies utilize natural resources for their own gain. Instead, the government succeeded in agreeing on a proposal for a cautious progressive land tax for landowners with more than 2,000 hectares. The proposal was presented as early as May, but first met with resistance. from Finance Minister Astori, who blamed Mujica for populism. However, it was liked by the coalition’s left wing, which has long called for reform of the landowner structure.
2005 System change. Left wing to power
At the October presidential and parliamentary elections, Tabaré Vázquez of Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría was elected with 50.45% of the vote already in the first round. Partido Nacional (PN) candidate Jorge Larrañaga got 34.3% and President Battle’s party, Partido Colorado (PC), got a historically poor result with only 10.36% of the vote. This is the first time the Left has won the election in the country, and it now sits on an absolute majority in both chambers of Parliament. The move to the left is due to the disastrous civilian crisis policy of the previous years, and the left has been particularly prominent in the province, where the bourgeois parties have traditionally been on almost all votes. The victory triggered joy demonstrations in i.e. Montevideo, where up to 1 million people participated. Tabaré Vázquez will be elected president in March 2005.
In his accession speech, Vázquez pledged: economic restraint in government; extending human rights to all corners of political life; regional integration at the foreign policy level, which included a renewed Mercosur aimed at closer trade relations with the EU and the rest of Latin America; respect for agreements already concluded with international lenders; implementation of a global development plan in parallel with the implementation of a security plan. The latter was an indirect reference to the US security plan. However, a country not mentioned in a single word in the President’s speech. Other important points in the President’s speech include racial equality, gender, children’s rights, information, culture and a safe environment.
In domestic politics, Vázquez’s first step was the adoption of a two-year emergency plan designed to meet the population’s needs for food, health and education. The government expected to be able to change the inequalities through redistributions within the public budgets, and in particular by attracting investment to create new and better jobs.
Foreign policy was one of the president’s first acts of signing an agreement with Venezuela on the import of Venezuelan oil at low prices and on favorable credits. Conversely, Uruguay had to export food to Venezuela. An important part of the agreement was the direct exchange of goods between Venezuelan and Uruguayan products. With Argentina, human rights and emigration agreements were signed. Argentina was also to provide information on Uruguayans who had disappeared in Argentina during the military dictatorship. Finally, diplomatic relations with Cuba had to be resumed after almost 3 years of interruption.