Uruguay profile

Jose Mujica President Mujica is known for his down-to-earth style

Former leftist guerrilla Jose Mujica took up office on 1 March 2010, after having won a run-off election against conservative former President Luis Lacalle in November 2009 with about 53% of the vote.

Like his predecessor, Tabare Vazquez, Mr Mujica belongs to the left-wing Broad Front (Frente Amplio) coalition, and promised to continue President Vazquez's policies.

He was a co-founder of the left-wing Tupamaros urban guerrilla movement during the 1960s, and was imprisoned during the 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

Mr Mujica played a key role in transforming the Tupamaros group into a legitimate political party. Though he is popular with working-class Uruguayans, his rebel background alarmed conservatives, and while running for the presidency he was at pains to stress that he had left his militant past behind.

On being inaugurated as president, he said it was important to look to the future, and insisted that he bore no grudge against Uruguay's armed forces.

Mr Mujica is known for his modest lifestyle and plain-speaking manner, and has said that he models himself on former Brazilian president Lula Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a left-leaning former trade unionist known for a centrist approach.

The president's victory was seen as largely the result of his predecessor's popularity and the economic growth Uruguay enjoyed during President Vazquez's four-year term. Mr Vazquez was barred from standing for a second term.

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