With polls open in Uruguay today, voters will choose between Jose Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter, or Luis Lacalle, a former president. So far, Mujica leads by six points in opinion polls.
Mujica is a farmer and former agriculture minister as well as senator. After being jailed for 14 years for staging an armed revolt against the democratically elected government in 1960s and 1970s, Mujica says if elected, he will continue with policies which have expanded the economy for the past six years.
Although Uruguay’s current president and first socialist leader, Tabare Vazquez, is barred from seeking another election, Mujica has vowed to maintain Vazquez’s moderate policies.
“It’s going to be the same dog with a different collar,” Mujica said.
Mujica also said as a member of the Tupamaros Marxist guerrilla movement in the 60s and 70s, he was shot six times and once kept in solitary confinement in a deep well by security forces. He was imprisoned for Uruguay’s military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985.
Lacalle, a lawyer from the National Party, has pledged to fight crime, reduce taxes, and reduce size of government. After acting as president from 1990 to 1995, Lacalle said he would also leave economic policy intact.
Despite competition between candidates, Uruguayan officials are taking precautions to ensure that all voting citizens are able to exercise their right. After the severe flooding in the north and west of the country a week ago, ballot boxes and voting documents are being sorted out in flooded areas to ensure a fair election.
Also, thousands of Uruguayan citizens from abroad are returning home for the weekend to vote since casting a ballot from outside the country is not permitted.
Polls close tonight at 7:30 pm.