Former Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez died on Sunday morning aged 80 from lung cancer, which he had been suffering from since 2019, in the final stretch of his second presidency. His successor, President Luis Lacalle Pou, announced three days of national mourning.
The two-time president (2005-2010 and 2015-2020), a medical oncologist, suffered a relapse in the last week as a result of a thrombosis in the lower left limb and a kidney failure.
The death was announced by his son, Álvaro Vázquez, who reported that his father had died at home and surrounded by his family. There will be a ceremony reserved for his family and there will be no wake due to the health emergency, according to the family and his party, the leftist coalition Frente Amplio.
Vázquez was a moderate left-wing politician, who brought the coalition of left-wing parties to power little by little. In 1989, a few years after the return of democracy to the country, he led the Frente Amplio for the first time to the Montevideo mayor's office and broke with the hegemony of the traditional parties – the Colorado and Nacional parties – by becoming president for the first time in 2005.
Tabaré Vázquez. Presidente de Uruguay 2005-2010, 2015-2020. pic.twitter.com/qcItKLC7tu— Comunicación Presidencial (@compresidencia) December 6, 2020
President Lacalle Pou, who received the presidential sash from Vázquez in March, greeted the family of the former president at midday on Sunday after expressing himself on Twitter. He faced his last battle with courage and serenity. We had instances of personal and political dialogue that I value and will remember. He served his country and on the basis of the effort he obtained important achievements. He was the President of the Uruguayans. The country is in mourning. RIP President Tabaré Vázquez, wrote the President on the social network.
Former President José Mujica, who governed Uruguay between the two presidencies of Vázquez, remembered his fellow party member as a son of the workers who could never let go of his social commitment.
Vázquez announced in August 2019 that he had been diagnosed with a lung nodule with very firm characteristics and that it could be a malignant tumour. He then underwent an operation which confirmed that the tumour was cancerous and in December, the Executive reported the remission of the tumour and considered the President cured.
That same month Vázquez travelled to Argentina to take part in the presidential inauguration of Alberto Fernández.
One of his most important political battles was the fight against tobacco, to the extent that he promoted legislation against cigarette consumption in Uruguay that earned him a million-dollar lawsuit from Philip Morris before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In 2016, the Centre ruled in favour of the country and forced the tobacco company to pay the costs of the process.