Former Tupamaro Revolutionary José Mujica’s
Presidency will Likely Follow the Incumbent’s
On November 29, 2009, José “Pepé” Mujica of the left-center coalition, Frente Amplio (Broad Front-FA), won the run-off election in Uruguay with 53.2% of the vote compared to the 42.7% of his opponent, former president Luis Roberto Lacalle. Mujica’s win represents a consolidation of power for the FA, as the incumbent Tabaré Vázquez was not only the coalition’s first elected president, but also the first left-leaning leader since before the era of military rule, which lasted from 1973-85. Vazquez’s near 70 percent public approval rating paved the way for Mujica, who has promised to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by continuing his moderate social and market-friendly reforms, with little focus on foreign policy.
Overview of the Tupamaros and the Frente Amplio
The National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros originated in the 1960s as an urban guerrilla group seeking to propagate its agenda of political and social change. It was established to rebel against the highly bureaucratic government in Uruguay, at a time when the country was experiencing high unemployment and inflation, as well as a steep decline in its standard of living. The Tupamaros’ initial acts of resistance included robbing banks and businesses, and then distributing the stolen funds to the poor. Eventually, the political movement culminated in increasingly violent acts such as political kidnappings and assassinations. In 1973, a military junta began to exercise power behind-the-scenes, with the fraudulently elected president, Juan María Bordaberry, acting as a figurehead leader, but by 1976 the military had removed Bordaberry from office. The repressive military regimes specifically targeted the radical Tupamaros, murdering and imprisoning many of their leaders on charges of being leftist insurgents.
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Elizabeth Benjamin