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  HOME | Uruguay

Former Guerrilla Takes Oath as Uruguay’s New President

MONTEVIDEO – The new president of Uruguay, one-time guerrilla fighter Jose Mujica, said Monday upon assuming office that his aim at the country’s helm will be to seek consensus with the opposition, businessmen, unions and other social sectors, a road that is “more correct than that of conflict.”

The president remarked thusly in his first speech in Montevideo, minutes after promising in the presence of his wife, Sen. Lucia Topolansky, that he will obey the constitution.

In an address lasting more than an hour and which he ended with the words “the fatherland for all and with all,” Mujica also said that his government will “generate transformations in the long term, 30 years with state policy.”

“I would like to believe that this (session) today is the inaugural session of a government of 30 years, not mine or that of the Broad Front, but of the system of parties, which is wise and powerful and able to generate internal tunnels that cross through the internal presidencies” of those groups.

Mujica inherits the country’s top office from his coalition colleague Tabare Vazquez, who in 2005 became the first leftist head of state in the history of the small South American country.

The new leader, who received a resounding ovation upon taking office and at the conclusion of his speech, said that his main concerns are the country’s infrastructure, culture, energy grid and public safety.

As a political, economic and social model he set forth “other small countries like Denmark and New Zealand,” which he said combine agriculture, intelligence, tourism and logistics.

Present at the inauguration ceremony were the presidents of Brazil and Colombia – Luiz Inacion Lula da Silva and Alvaro Uribe, respectively – as well as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

Also attending the ceremony were Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Mujica, minister of agriculture in the Vazquez administration, was a member of the Tupamaros urban guerrilla group that battled a succession of Uruguayan governments, including the 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

He spent a total of 13 years in prison for his insurgent activities.

After the reestablishment of democracy he joined the country’s democratic life by means of the Popular Participation Movement, one of the 20 groups making up the Broad Front. EFE
 

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