Uruguay: mass march against militarization

Some 60,000 marched in Montevideo Oct. 22 against the "Vivir sin Miedo" (Live Without Fear) campaign, an anti-crime initiative that will go before the voters in this week's national elections in Uruguay. The referendum, being pushed by Sen. Jorge Larrañaga of the right-wing National Party, would create a new military police force, the National Guard; allow security forces to carry out night raids; and impose mandatory life terms for serious crimes. The group Madres y Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos, made up of survivors of those "disappeared" during the years of military rule in Uruguay, issued a statement warning that approval of the initiative could be a step back toward dictatorship.

Incumbent President Tabaré Vázquez of the leftist Broad Front is barred by term limits from re-election, and his party's candidate, former Montevideo mayor Daniel Martínez, is facing a tough challenge from the National Party's Luis Lacalle Pou, with polls anticipating a second round. The Broad Front is a coalition of leftist movements that in 2005 broke the long duopoly of the National and Colorado parties, both formations of the right. Crime and insecurity have emerged as key issues in the race. (MercoPress, Nodal, BBC News, France24, La Izquierda DiarioEl Pais, Uruguay)

Police state measure defeated in Uruguay

Uruguayan voters narrowly defeated the Vivir sin Miedo measure in the Oct. 27 elections. However, the presidential race will go a second round, with Luis Lacalle Pou of the conservative Alianza Nacional in the lead. (La Diaria, La Diaria, El Pais)