FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Compromise and Celebration in Uruguay

“The donkey is an intelligent animal because it never forgets where it can eat.”

– Farmer, Ex-Guerrilla and current Uruguayan President José “Pepé” Mujica, in an interview with La Brecha.

The smell of fried food and sausage sandwiches filled the Montevideo air as José “Pepe” Mujica assumed the presidency of Uruguay on Monday, March 1st. Street vendors lined the inauguration parade route selling Uruguayan flags to the boisterous crowd which cheered, “Olé, olé, olé, Pepe, Pepe.” Mujica, a former Tupamaro guerrilla who was imprisoned and tortured under the country’s dictatorship, stood in front of the multitude with his wife and vice president as he led the crowd in singing folksongs that were outlawed during military rule, La Nación reported.

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano told Página/12 the period opening up with the inauguration of Mujica “is born blessed with the enthusiasm of the people, the fervent hope of the people, and this is something to take care of, to be very careful to not defraud. It is a day of celebration but also of compromise.”

Among other campaign platforms, Mujica has promised to focus on the development of new housing projects for the country’s poor, reactivate the train system, expand the access and quality of education, and participate actively in regional integration with other South American nations. Presidents from Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela attended the inauguration.

Mujica lives with his wife outside the city at a farm where he grows vegetables and flowers. María del Rosario Corbo, a 44-year-old neighbor of Mujica, spoke to IPS News of the new president, “He’s just an ordinary guy: you see him on his bike, his motorcycle, working among his flowers… He’s going to strengthen the focus on the poor, giving them a helping hand.” The president will also be donating most of his presidential salary to a program for homeless people.

Mujica appointed two other former imprisoned guerrillas in his government including Luis Rosadilla as the Minister of Defense and Eduardo Bonomi as the Minister of the Interior. The bloody Uruguayan dictatorship lasted from 1973 to 1985.

Manuela Nieves, a housewife present at the inauguration with her daughter, told Página/12, “because of the all the years of suffering, we now deserve that the left continue to be in the government. Mujica represents the people. He will continue on the path of [former president] Tabaré but with a different heart.”

The new president pledged to get rid of extreme poverty in the country and focus on Uruguay’s neglected rural areas; 93% of the population live in urban areas. At the same time Mujica emphasized that he wants to strengthen the private sector, increase wealth and attract investment to the country. Uruguayan political science professor Juan Andrés Moraes told IPS News, “Mujica says his government will be more like [Brazilian President] Lula’s than the administrations of Evo Morales or Chávez. Basically, Mujica himself sees the differences clearly.”

Mujica said since becoming a politician years ago has learned to “embrace serpents,” making compromises in order to get things done in politics. The fact that the the vice president is Danilo Astori, the former finance minister under previous president Tabaré Vazquez, indicates that economic policies are not likely to change significantly with the new administration.

For all of the new president’s charisma, populist persona and leftist background, his presidency is likely to be characterized by moderation. In a recent gathering with businesspeople from Uruguay and Argentina, Mujica described himself as a “wild cat that has turned into a vegetarian.”

BENJAMIN DANGL is currently based in Paraguay and is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia” (AK Press) and the forthcoming books: Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press) and, with co-author Chris O’Brien, Bottoms Up: A People’s Guide to Beer (PM Press).Email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.

 

More articles by:

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
January 29, 2020
Jefferson Morley
Weakest Link: Impeachment and National Security
Peter Lackowski
Venezuela, January 2020: Hardship and Resistance
Kenneth Surin
BoJo Johnson’s Brexit Fantasies
Ron Jacobs
The Swamp That Trump Built
Scott Corey
A Different Impeachment
Peter Cohen
How to Survive this Election
Manuel García, Jr.
Mutually Assured Madness: Immunity to the 25th Amendment
John Kendall Hawkins
Soviet Hippies: The Grass is Greener on the Other Side
Chandra Muzaffar
The International Court of Justice and the Rohingyas
John Grant
Iran is Not Responsible for US Deaths in Iraq
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The World Demands Us Out of the Middle East
Shawn Fremstad
Marital-Status Discrimination Reduces Fertility in China
Lawrence Wittner
Could the Climate Crisis be “The Good News of Damnation”?
Tom Engelhardt
The Fate of the Earth (See Page Five)
Myles Hoenig
Why the Green Party isn’t the Problem
January 28, 2020
Patrick Cockburn
China’s Coronavirus Outbreak Reminds Me of the Irish Polio Epidemic I Survived
P. Sainath
Making Rebellion Attractive: Why the Establishment Still Hates John Reed
Geoff Dutton
Where Was Rudy Giuliani When Democrats Needed Him?
Sam Pizzigati
The Evolution of “Davos Man” into . . . Trump Fan!
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Truth a Major Casualty of Impeachment Hearings
Michael Welton
Autobiographical Roots of Habermas’ Thought
Greta Anderson
Remove the Livestock, Not the Wolves
Nick Pemberton
Sorry Chomsky and Friends, The Green Party isn’t the Problem
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s Feeble Phase 1 China-US Trade Deal
Mike Garrity – Jason Christensen
Natural Gas Pipeline Corridor Threatens Imperiled Species and Inventoried Roadless Areas
Daniel Falcone
Make America Radical Again: A Conversation with Harvey J. Kaye
Binoy Kampmark
Split Hearings: the Assange Extradition Case Drags On
Eric Toussaint
Greece: a Chronology From January 25, 2015 to 2019
Nino Pagliccia
An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau on Venezuela
Robert Hunziker
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
Jeffrey St. Clair
Who Cares If It Leaks? An Afternoon at Hollyhock House
January 27, 2020
Peter Harrison
Adani and the Purpose of Education
Dean Baker
Can Manufacturing Workers Take Many More of Trump’s Trade “Victories”?
Robert Fisk
Trump in Davos: US isolationism is Reaching Its Final Narcissistic Chapter
Ariel Dorfman
The Challenge for Chile and the World
Victor Grossman
The Misuses of Antisemitism in the UK and the USA
Thomas Knapp
Bernie Sanders, Joe Rogan, Human Rights Campaign, and Truth in Advertising
Fred Gardner
NewsGuard Can Save You From Putin!
Lawrence Wittner
A Historian Reflects on the Return of Fascism
Rose Miriam Elizalde
Cuba: a Matter of Principle
Bob Topper
The Better Moral Creed
George Wuerthner
Giving Cover to the Abuses of Big Ag
Christopher Packham
This is Really Happening
Negin Owliaei
Americans Need to Hear More From Iranians, Here’s Where to Start
Ted Rall
Corporate Crap That Doesn’t Kill Bernie
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail