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Wed Oct 2, 2019, 12:20 PM

Uruguay: Presidential candidates debate economy, development

The presidential frontrunners for Uruguay’s upcoming elections - Daniel Martínez for the ruling, center-left Broad Front, and Luis Lacalle Pou for the right-wing National Party - debated Tuesday on national TV prior to the October 27 polls.

The event itself was historic as the first time presidential candidates debated on live television since 1994. The frontrunners debated for an hour on four main topics: economy, security, human development, and productivity.

Martínez, 62, urged Uruguayans to not to go back to the past - referring to the five decades of stagnation that afflicted Uruguay until the election of President Tabaré Vázquez in 2004.

Vázquez, 79, is retiring after serving two non-consecutive five-year terms. Uruguay's economy has grown by 4% annually during the Broad Front era that began in 2005, compared to 1.5% in the previous 50 years.

Martínez highlighted the reduction of poverty from 40% in 2004 to 8.1% currently, as well as improvements in health and education.

“Many older voters remember a different Uruguay - one with high poverty and soup kitchens, where hospitals lacked bedsheets and where the police bought their own uniforms and bullets,” he noted.

“52% of those who now enter university are the first generation of their family. That was not wasteful. It is because there was a commitment to education.”

Lacalle, 46, focused on law-and-order issues, noting that crime increased by 48% and homicides by 54%. Polling in March put crime as the second-most important issue facing the country, after unemployment but ahead of other social issues.

Cautionary tale

Martínez concluded by comparing Lacalle to neighboring Argentina's right-wing President Mauricio Macri - himself running a distant second for re-election amid a severe economic crisis that has in turn pushed Uruguay into recession.

“Listening to Mr. Lacalle reminds me of what happened in Argentina four years ago with Macri - but sadly, we all know what happened: distaster and catastrophe.”

Most polls have Martínez winning in the first round - but potentially losing in a November 24 runoff.

At: https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Uruguay-Presidential-Candidates-Debate-Economy-Development-20191001-0026.html

Nominees Luis Lacalle Pou of the right-wing National Party, and Daniel Martínez of the center-left Broad Front, greet supporters after last night's debate.

Martínez touted the record of economic growth and reduced inequality during the last 15 years under the Broad Front, while Lacalle hammered at rising crime rates.

“A few powerful people seem to dislike the way the country is heading,” Martínez noted, warning that Lacalle might push Uruguay into the same crisis afflicting neighboring Argentina since the hard-right Macri was narrowly elected in 2015.

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Reply Uruguay: Presidential candidates debate economy, development (Original post)
sandensea Oct 2 OP
Judi Lynn Oct 2 #1
sandensea Oct 2 #2

Response to sandensea (Original post)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 03:33 PM

1. Uruguay is having its election the same day as Argentina, October 27. Didn't know until your post!

Martínez is making the indisputable points.

Am so glad to find out about this in time to be more aware Uruguay has a huge date coming this month.

He is right, the country can NOT afford to go back to fascism, and allow it to rule again at the expense of nearly everyone.

Thank you, sandensea, for this important heads-up.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 2, 2019, 04:07 PM

2. One look at Argentina's Macrisis should tell Uruguayans everything they need to know about Lacalle

He and Macri are very similar in both right-wing outlook and that self-important sense of entitlement that bedevils much of the region's upper class, sadly - and indeed the world's.

But inevitably, 15 years of the same party in power tends to create a good bit of voter fatigue - even with as a good record as the Broad Front's is.

Some voters will opt for a change at that point, even for the sake of change - which as you know tends to be a bad idea.

And because the two economies (like their histories and cultures) are so closely interconnected, Argentina's Macrisis has pushed neighboring Uruguay into a mild - but worsening - recession of its own. And that, of course, plays into Lacalle's hands as well.

So the outcome of this one is still very up in the air for Uruguay. As Martínez said in the debate, they're "a small country that's done great things."

Let's hope they stay the course.

Thanks as always for your sharp insights, Judi, and for taking the time. These are definitely tumultuous times - even for little Uruguay.

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