Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas ( born January 17, 1938) is a Uruguayan politician who has been President of Uruguay since 2015. He previously served as President from 2005 to 2010. A physician (oncologist) by training, he is a member of the leftist Broad Front coalition.
Vázquez was first elected President on October 31, 2004, took office on March 1, 2005, and relinquished the office on March 1, 2010. Josè Mujica was then elected, serving from 2010 to 2015. Vázquez was re-elected to take office for the second time in 2015.
Born in the Montevideo neighbourhood of La Teja, Tabaré Vázquez studied medicine at the Universidad de la República Medical School, graduating as an oncology specialist in 1972. In 1976, he received a grant from the French government, allowing him to obtain additional training at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Paris.
From 1990 to 1995, Vázquez was the Frente Amplio coalition’s first Mayor of Montevideo. In 1994, he made an unsuccessful run for president as the Frente Amplio candidate, receiving 30.6% of the vote. In 1996, he was elected leader of the Frente Amplio, replacing the historic leader of the left-wing coalition, Liber Seregni. He ran again in 1999, receiving 45.9 percent of the vote in the runoff election, losing to Jorge Batlle.
Vázquez is married to María Auxiliadora Delgado and has three biological children with her (Ignacio, Álvaro and Javier) and an adopted son (Fabián).
President of Uruguay, 20052010″]
In the 2004 elections, he won 50.45% of the valid votes, with 1,124,761 votes on the first ballot–enough to win the presidency in a single round. To date, he is the only president since the institution of a two-round system in 1999 to win without the need for a runoff.
He took office in early 2005. He became the first Uruguayan president from a left-wing party, and thus the first one who did not belong to the so-called “traditional” parties, the National (Blanco) and Colorado parties.
With his own Broad Front holding a majority in Parliament, Vázquez was thought to have few obstacles to start with. He also had the support of the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, likewise a centre-leftist.
Policies and governance
Among the most complex issues that have dominated his administration is an ongoing conflict with Argentina over potential contamination from pulp mills being built on the Uruguayan side of the Uruguay River.
Vazquez has tried to create new commercial and cultural links outside the region. Vazquez was the first Uruguayan President to visit New Zealand and South Korea, and has established contacts with other countries in Southeast Asia. While he maintained cordial relations with the United States, hosting U.S. President George W. Bush, Vázquez did not sign Bush’s failed Free Trade Area of the Americas.
This visit attracted a measure of censure from the Uruguayan Opposition, from Pedro Bordaberry and others, who were critical of Vázquez for having chosen to be in Cuba during a commemoration which Vázquez himself initiated for the victims of the 19731985 dictatorship; Bordaberry’s father, Juan María Bordaberry, established the dictatorship with a 1973 decree dissolving Congress.
Military hardware trade controversies
Arms from Iran controversy
In 2007 the loading of Iranian arms onto a Uruguayan Navy vessel visiting Venezuela, in contravention of a UN-sponsored arms embargo, provoked international comment. Internal controversy regarding this event was centred on protests to Vázquez’s Government from the Uruguayan opposition National Party.
Diversion of Malaysian-owned jet engines
In February 2010 the Vázquez Government was cooperating with an investigation to explain how two Northrop F-5E jet engines valued at many millions of US dollars had surfaced in Uruguay (See: Royal Malaysian Air Force#Engines diverted to Uruguay ).
Support for delisting coca as a dangerous drug and relations with Bolivia
In June 2009 President Vázquez, who had been courting diplomatically the Bolivian President Evo Morales, announced his support for the delisting of coca leaves from the category of a ‘dangerous drug’.
President Vázquez began his tenure with a 77% approval rating; but according to an Equipos/MORI opinion poll his approval had fallen to 44% by April 2007, a level below the electoral support he received in the 2004 elections. His approval later recovered, however, reaching 80% by his last term in office.
While his decision not to sign the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas treaty in 2006 alienated conservative voters, other moves by his administration concerning economic policy have met with resistance from trade unions and the left. Furthermore, many believe that Vázquez’s opposition to legalising abortion and threats to veto any pro-choice legislation passed by the government a position that stands in contrast with the opinions of the majority of his governing coalition have made a modest dent in his public support. (Against this it may also be noted that one of the constituent parties of the ruling Frente Amplio coalition the cohesion of which Vázquez is pledged to maintain is the Christian Democratic Party of Uruguay, which opposes the measure.) In October 2006, President Vázquez was still personally more popular than his government with a 62% approval rating. However, a considerable drop in the government’s popularity was registered by an Equipos/MORI poll in late April 2007, showing that 44% of Uruguayans approved of his administration. A new poll by Factum showed a 57% approval by June 2008, however, indicating a significant recovery from a year earlier.
In January 2008, two members of the ruling coalition, former Senator José Korzeniak and Foreign Secretary Reinaldo Gargano, made proposals to reform the Constitution of Uruguay, focusing on the possibility of the immediate reëlection of the President (forbidden under the present constitution). The central tenet of the re-election clause is based on Vázquez continuing popularity and in order to prevent a divisive succession battle within the Frente Amplio. A reform of the constitution is quite unlikely, however, as all of the opposition parties, as well as some members of the ruling coalition, have expressed their opposition to this idea. Vázquez himself ruled out that he would try to be reëlected in a public address he made in June 2007.
A perceived strength of Vázquez is his ability to hold together in the Frente Amplio ruling coalition figures of greatly differing outlook. After the Mujica-Astori couple were elected in November 2009 as President and Vice President respectively, Vázquez was offered to resume the presidency of the Frente Amplio but he declined. Vázquez went on to be the Frente Amplio candidate for Presidency in 2014.
On December 4, 2008, Vázquez resigned his leadership posts at the Socialist Party due to controversy over his opposition to abortion rights.
Second term as President
Vázquez left office in 2010, at the end of his 5-year presidential term, with an 80% approval rating, a record in Uruguay. He formally announced his candidacy for the 2014 election in November 2013.
Renominated by the Broad Front for the Presidency with running mate Raúl Fernando Sendic on 1 June, he came up just a few thousand votes short of winning the presidency outright in the 26 October election. He was returned to office in the 30 November runoff, defeating right-wing candidate Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou of the National Party by 53% to 41% in the second round.
Vázquez has already nominated his future cabinet:
- Economy and Finance: Danilo Astori
- Foreign Relations: Rodolfo Nin Novoa
- National Defense: Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro
- Interior: Eduardo Bonomi
- Education and Culture: María Julia Muñoz
- Public Health: Jorge Basso
- Tourism and Sports: Liliam Kechichian
- Stockbreeding, Agriculture and Fisheries: Tabaré Aguerre
- Transport and Public Works: Víctor Rossi
- Social Development: Marina Arismendi
- Housing, Territorial Planning and Environment: Eneida de León
- Labour and Social Security: Ernesto Murro
- Industries, Energy and Mining: Carolina Cosse
- Planning: Álvaro García Rodríguez
- Secretary of the Presidency: Miguel Toma
- Deputy Secretary of the Presidency: Juan Andrés Roballo
Honours and awards
|Award or decoration||Country||Date||Place||Note||Ref|
|Order of Merit||Qatar||2 May 2007||Doha||Qatari highest decoration.|
|Grand Collar of the National Order of San Lorenzo||Ecuador||7 September 2010||Quito||Ecuatorian highest order of merit.|
Vázquez was awarded the World Health Organization Director General’s Award in 2006 in recognition of his leadership on tobacco control in Uruguay, which has implemented some of the most stringent tobacco control measures in the world.
|Interior Minister||José Díaz||20052007|
|Finance Minister||Danilo Astori||20052008|
|Defence Minister||Azucena Berruti||2005|
|Foreign Affairs Minister||Reinaldo Gargano||20052008|
|Education Minister||Jorge Brovetto||2005|
|Health Minister||María Julia Muñoz||20052010|
|Employment Minister||Eduardo Bonomi||2005|
|Housing Minister||Mariano Arana||2005|
|Agriculture Minister||José Mujica||20052008|
|Ing. Agr. Ernesto Agazzi||20082010|
|Industry Minister||Jorge Lepra||20052008|
|Transportation Minister||Víctor Rossi||20052010|
|Tourism and Sports Minister||Hector Lescano||2005present|
|Social Development Minister||Marina Arismendi||20052010|
|Secretary to the President||Gonzalo Fernández||2005|
|Budget Director||Carlos Viera||2005|