Uruguay: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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On November 29, 2009, Senator Jose Pepe Mujica of the ruling center-left Broad Front coalition was elected president of Uruguay, a relatively economically developed and politically stable South American country of 3.5 million people. Mujica, a former leader of the leftist Tupamaro urban guerilla movement that fought against the Uruguayan government in the 1960s and 1970s, defeated former President Luis Alberto Lacalle 1990-1995 of the center-right National Party in the countrys sixth consecutive democratic election since its 12-year dictatorship ended in 1985. Mujica was forced to contest a runoff after he failed to win an absolute majority of the vote in the October 2009 first-round election. In legislative elections held concurrently with the first-round vote, the Broad Front retained its majorities in both houses of the Uruguayan Congress. The new legislature and President are to be inaugurated to their respective five-year terms on February 15 and March 1, 2010. Mujica will replace popular incumbent President Tabare Vazquez, who was constitutionally ineligible to run for a second consecutive term. Vazquezs 2004 victory ended 170 years of political domination by the National and Colorado parties. Throughout his term, Vazquez has followed the moderate social democratic paths of the left-of-center governments of Brazil and Chile, advancing market-oriented economic policies while instituting social welfare programs intended to reduce poverty and inequality. The Vazquez Administrations policies appear to have been reasonably successful, as they - along with a boom in global commodity prices - have contributed to several years of strong economic growth and considerable reductions in poverty. Beyond economic and social welfare policy, Vazquez has done much to address Uruguays dictatorship-era human rights violations and expand rights to the countrys homosexual population.
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- Government and Political Science