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Daniel Martínez, the relay of Vázquez and Mujica that seeks to give 20 years of government to the Uruguayan left

November 22, 2019

With less charisma but a reputation as a good manager, he promises to “do better” than his predecessors


Daniel Martínez competes in the presidential elections held this Sunday in Uruguay as a candidate of the Frente Amplio (FA), the left-wing coalition that has been in power for 15 years thanks to the governments of Tabaré Vázquez and José Mujica, so he has the mission to get another five more, something that seems complicated.

Martinez met the forecasts for the first round and on October 27 he won (39 percent) but did not exceed the 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to proclaim himself president-elect, so this Sunday he will have to measure himself with Luis Lacalle Pou, of National Party (PN), which was the second most voted (28 percent).

Daniel Martínez, the relay of Vázquez and Mujica that seeks to give 20 years of government to the Uruguayan left
Daniel Martínez, the relay of Vázquez and Mujica that seeks to give 20 years of government to the Uruguayan left

In this scarce month, Lacalle Pou has made a center-right alliance with four other parties – the National, the Colorado, the Independent, the People's and the Open Cabildo – which has allowed him to climb in the polls on the intention of I vote to the point that they take their victory on the ballot for granted.

Thus, the task entrusted to Martinez by his colleagues in the Broad Front in the primary held nationwide in all political parties last June becomes almost heroic.

He weighs the backpack of fifteen years of government of the FA, ten with Vázquez and five with Mujica, in which the Uruguayans have passed from the reformist euphoria, after the twenty years of government of the right – between the National Party and the Party Colorado– that followed the civic-military dictatorship (1973-1985), to the tiredness.

To this is added the lack of charisma, something that has weighed even within the Broad Front. Martínez began his militancy in the Socialist Party at age 16 but is not one of its main leaders, unlike Vázquez, who captained the Socialists, and Mujica, leader of the Popular Participation Movement, the largest sector of the FA.

“He can't stop being an engineer,” Mujica said about Martinez in a recent interview with BBC Mundo. “Whether or not it may be a new leadership, that is resolved from the bottom up and never from the top down,” he added.


Despite this, he prevailed in the FA primaries by discarding ministers Carolina Cosse and Mario Bergara and the communist leader and unionist Oscar Andrade. “With this vote we show that the Frente Amplio has an incredible capacity to generate changes, transformations and have renewal along with unity,” he said then.

Martinez, 62, was born in a middle-class family in the capital district of Pocitos. He is married to English teacher Laura Motta, a member of the Central Board of Directors of the National Administration of Public Education, a position he resigned for the election campaign, and is the father of three daughters and “proud” grandfather of seven grandchildren.

He began his political career in the Socialist Party and reinforced his left-wing militancy during his university stage, which led him to found the union of the state-owned National Administration of Fuels, Alcohol and Portland (ANCAP) in the twilight of the military regime.

He worked as an industrial engineer in the private sector until Vázquez recovered him during his first term (2005-2010) as Minister of Energy. Shortly afterwards he would win a seat in the Senate and, later, the Mayor's Office of Montevideo, since he raised it.


“His specialty is not the dialectic, but the management and concrete commitment to the problems, that is very valuable,” said Mujica.

As mayor of the Uruguayan capital, he sanitized public accounts and focused on technological development. In fact, he tried to create a Silicon Valley in an old railway station, although it was a great failure.

Now, he proposes a national science, technology and innovation plan with which he wants to boost technical education and generate 80,000 non-university professionals a year to cover labor demand. “Two out of every three children born will now work in jobs that currently do not exist. We need to adapt to change,” he says.

In terms of public security, one of the central themes of the electoral campaign in a country where crime went off 46 percent last year, has promised to attack the growing insecurity with video surveillance and patrols and at the same time reduce the prison population with social reintegration policies.

In addition, he has promised to work on “the built”, taking chest for the fifteen years in which the FA “distributed wealth and not poverty”, compared to the “fundamental recipes” of Lacalle Pou who, as he warned in his closing of campaign, “forget that the role of the State is to be the bell of the weakest to provide equal opportunities.

However, the official candidate, in an attempt to get rid of the mistakes made by the governments of the Broad Front, has also promised to focus on “the important challenges that lie ahead.” “Do not lose the good” and “do better” is your watchword.

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