'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Well, according to the paper of record, Uruguay has a socialist president -- its first leftist president in history:

Tabaré Vázquez, a Socialist doctor running as the candidate of an opposition coalition that includes former guerrillas, narrowly triumphed Sunday in the presidential election, bringing the left to power for the first time in this South American country.

The victory by the coalition, known as the Progressive-Encounter-Broad-FrontNew-Majority, whose largest faction consists of Tupamaro guerrillas turned politicians, strengthens a trend throughout the continent. As in the last presidential votes in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina, the candidate most opposed to American-supported free-market policies has defeated backers of those policies.

Surveys of voters leaving the polls and early returns indicated that Dr. Vázquez, an oncologist and former mayor of this capital, would win about 51 percent, just above the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Even before official returns were announced, both of his main opponents had conceded and indicated their willingness to cooperate with him.

"Celebrate, Uruguayans, celebrate," Dr. Vázquez, whose five-year term is scheduled to begin March 1, told the throng by his campaign headquarters at the downtown Hotel Presidente, two hours after polls had closed. "This victory is yours!"

Tens of thousands of people, some with faces painted in the red, blue and white colors of the Front, took to the streets here, setting off firecrackers, waving banners, honking horns and pounding drums. "We did it, we finally did it!" shouted Walter Correa, a meatpacking plant worker.

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