Former president looking for votesThursday, June 12, 2014
Vázquez turns on charm for Uruguayans in Buenos Aires
Vázquez, who sailed through his party’s recent primaries, is after every vote he can get ahead of Uruguay’s October 26 elections, as he seeks a win against the unexpected winner of the conservative National Party (Blancos) primaries, Luis Lacalle Pou.
Uruguayan voters living in BA are key targets in the election. In fact, Juan Castillo, Frente Amplio vice-president, told the Herald that in Vázquez’s previous electoral victory in 2004, it was Uruguayan residents in Argentina who helped him gain the much-coveted 50th seat at the 99-seat Congress that gave him a parliamentary majority. Vázquez clearly wants to repeat that performance and he came to BA to convince his fellow countrymen to make the pricey trip across the pond to Uruguay to cast their valuable votes.
There are approximately 130,000 Uruguayans living in Argentina, according to the last census. But Jorge Andrade, Broad Front delegate for South America, who left Uruguay in the 1973 military coup, told the Herald that there are closer to 200,000. He said around 30,000 travel to their motherland to vote.
Uruguayans are not permitted to vote from Argentina — something Vázquez said he was seeking to change, if he becomes president.
The guiding thread of the former president’s energetic speech, which lasted for an hour and a half, was a comparison between the grey Uruguay from the past and the new more developed country it now is. He also described the pillars of his political programme, touching on human rights, economic growth with social justice and the decentralization of political parties.
Most of the attendees were senior citizens, many of them drinking maté and wrapped in blue, red and white flags of the Frente Amplio. “Bravo Taba,” they cheered as he spoke.
Vázquez was happy to play to the crowd. Ten minutes into the speech, one of the few young attendees interrupted, shouting “Thank you Taba.” The former president invited him on stage and even let the dreadlocked young male take a selfie.
Asked about his country’s troubled relationship with Argentina, Vázquez said that relations between governments have their ups and downs and that sometimes countries must defend their interests. However, he stated that Uruguay and Argentina have a “fraternal relationship” based on “dialogue and understanding.”
Vázquez also told the media that, if elected, he would tap Danilo Astori, current vice-president, to be his economy minister. Earlier in the week, Raúl Sendic, the former president of state oil company Ancap, was announced as his running-mate. Castillo told the Herald that Sendic’s candidacy will most-likely be ratified in this Sunday’s plenary session.