Untitled Document
Taking a Closer Look at the Stories Ignored by the Corporate Media
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact

NEWS
All News
9-11
Corporatism
Disaster in New Orleans
Economics
Environment
Globalization
Government / The Elite
Human Rights
International Affairs
Iraq War
London Bombing
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism
Miscellaneous

COMMENTARY
All Commentaries
9-11
CIA
Corporatism
Economics
Government / The Elite
Imperialism
Iraq War
Media
Police State / Military
Science / Health
Voting Integrity
War on Terrorism

SEARCH/ARCHIVES
Advanced Search
View the Archives

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
-

Leftist Chief Is Installed in Uruguay and Gets Busy on Agenda

Posted in the database on Wednesday, March 02nd, 2005 @ 21:07:41 MST (1393 views)
by Larry Rohter    New York Times  

Untitled Document MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, March 1 - Culminating a long and divisive struggle, the left took power on Tuesday for the first time in the history of this small South American nation as Tabaré Vázquez, a 65-year-old physician, was sworn in as president.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the streets here to celebrate the sharp break with the past, many carrying Uruguayan flags or banners of the triumphant Progressive Encounter/Broad Front/New Majority Coalition. Until Dr. Vázquez, a Socialist, won a narrow victory in balloting last October, two traditional parties that had become increasingly difficult to distinguish from each other had alternated in power for more than 150 years.

"We promised change, and we will make changes, starting with the government itself, in its attitudes and its actions," Dr. Vázquez said in a 25-minute inaugural address. He said he would emphasize economic and social policies, "especially to the benefit of those who need them to achieve a life with dignity."

As his first official action, Dr. Vázquez announced a sweeping "Social Emergency Plan" that contains food, health, job and housing components. The program, whose cost is estimated at $100 million, is to be aimed at the hundreds of thousands of Uruguayans who have fallen below the poverty line as a result of economic crises of recent years.

Dr. Vázquez's inauguration came exactly 20 years after the restoration of democratic civilian rule in Uruguay. From 1972 through early 1985, this nation sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina was ruled by a right-wing military dictatorship that killed, jailed, tortured or forced into exile thousands of Uruguayans in order to fight off what it described as a Communist threat.

In an act that was laden with symbolism and offered an example of the "political maturity" that visiting heads of state praised, it was Senator José Mújica who presided over the swearing-in ceremony in his role as the titular head of Congress. A founder of the Tupamaro guerrilla movement that sought to lead a socialism revolution here, Mr. Mújica was jailed for virtually the entire period of the military dictatorship and was also tortured.

Offering an aside from the dais, overcome with emotion, Mr. Mújica, now committed to the parliamentary democracy he once dismissed as "bourgeois," offered his "thanks to life for having reached here." Other aging leaders of the Uruguayan left were seated in the benches reserved for members of Congress, with their eyes glistening or wiping tears from their faces.

Dr. Vázquez alluded in his inaugural speech to the widespread abuses of that era, saying there are still "dark zones in the area of human rights" that his government intends to investigate. "For the good of all, it is possible and necessary to clarify" such issues, he said, so that "the horrors of past eras never happen again."

The new president's second act in office was to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. Ties were broken in 2002 as a result of a dispute that began when Dr. Vázquez's predecessor, Jorge Batlle Ibáñez, suggested that human rights observers be sent to Cuba to document abuses there.

Fidel Castro had been expected to arrive here today to mark the resumption of relations with a series of rallies, speeches and other public appearances. But Dr. Vázquez said Monday that the Cuban president had decided not to come "for medical reasons," presumably related to injuries he suffered in a fall last year.

In his inaugural address, Dr. Vázquez vowed that Uruguay would adopt "an independent foreign policy," in contrast to the closer ties with the United States that Mr. Batlle had sought. He said his government condemned "all forms of terrorism," favored nonintervention and peaceful resolutions of conflicts, and would insist that international financial institutions recognize "the necessity and the right to development of Uruguayan society as a whole."

"We will tolerate no outside interference in our internal affairs," Dr. Vázquez said to thunderous applause.



Go to Original Article >>>

The views expressed herein are the writers' own and do not necessarily reflect those of Looking Glass News. Click the disclaimer link below for more information.
Email: editor@lookingglassnews.org.

E-mail this Link   Printer Friendly




Untitled Document
Disclaimer
Donate | Fair Use Notice | Who We Are | Contact
Copyright 2005 Looking Glass News.