Jorge Batlle, a veteran politician who was the fourth member of his Catalan immigrant family to be president of Uruguay, died a day before his 89th birthday. A centrist leader of the right-wing Colorado Party, he sought closer ties and free trade pacts with the United States during his 2000-2005 presidency that was also marked by one of the South American country’s worst-ever financialcrises.In 2002, Uruguay broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba after Cuban leader Fidel Castro called Batlle a “lackey” of the United States for backing U.S. criticism of rights abuses under his communist government.
The name of the Batlle political dynasty abounds in the South American country – on streets signs and squares and in its history books.
Previous presidents in the family were Lorenzo Batlle (1868-1872), Jose Batlle (1903-1907 and 1911-1915) and Luis Batlle (1947-1951), Jorge Batlle’s father.
Steeped from birth in the family tradition of politics, he spent his childhood in the gardens of his great uncle, Jose Batlle, who was known as the father of modern Uruguay for his reforms giving women the vote, providing free education and introducing an eight-hour working day.
Do you know?
Uruguay is a South American country known for its verdant interior and beach-lined coast.
The capital, Montevideo, revolves around Plaza Independencia, once home to a Spanish citadel.
It leads to Ciudad Vieja (Old City), with art deco buildings, colonial homes and Mercado del Puerto, an old port market with many steakhouses.
La Rambla, a waterfront promenade, passes fish stalls, piers and parks.
Currency: Uruguayan peso
President: Tabaré Vázquez
Official language: Spanish