[Marxism] Meet Uruguay's Charismatic 'Robin Hood' President | VICE News
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Sat May 10 07:08:04 MDT 2014
On the morning of October 8, 1969, José Mujica woke up and got dressed
for a funeral. He and nine other young men — nephews of the deceased —
piled into a Volkswagen van and waited on the side of a two-lane road
that led from Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, to the small city of Pando,
about 14 miles east. Six other cars and a hearse — rented from the
fanciest funeral home in the country — drove past, and the VW joined the
cavalcade, rumbling through the flat green cattle pastures that hug the
South American nation’s coastline. The journey was somber and quiet,
until about three miles from Pando, when the mourners subdued the hired
drivers of the cars and stuffed them into the back of the Volkswagen.
In reality, there was no funeral to attend, no corpse, and no mourners.
The Pando-bound people were members of the Movimiento de Liberación
Nacional — also known as the Tupamaros — a Marxist guerrilla group that
wished to install a Cuban-style dictator in Uruguay and rid the country
of its supposedly kleptocratic government. Mujica, who at 35 years old
was one of the group’s earliest and most charismatic members, got into
the backseat of one of the cars and clutched the wooden handle of his
Spanish-made Z-45 submachine gun. When he arrived in Pando, a sleepy
industrial city of 12,000, he and his small battalion robbed its banks
and tried to take over the local government, killing a police officer
and one civilian in a brazen, chaotic shoot-out in broad daylight.
Four decades later, at 74, José Mujica donned Uruguay’s blue-and-white
executive sash and became its president after his left-wing coalition
party won the country’s 2009 election. Although his hair had grayed and
his belly had expanded, Mujica looked over the crowds gathered at the
capital’s central square for his inauguration with the same olive-pit
eyes that had scanned the road to Pando back in 1969. The crowd looked
back at him admiringly, as he delivered a fiery oration in front of a
Jumbotron screen bearing his image.
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