Uruguayan opposition wants heads to roll over controversial passport issuance to a drug lord
Uruguayan opposition leader Fernando Pereira, president of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio – FA), Tuesday called for the resignation of Ministers Francisco Bustillo (Foreign Affairs) and Luis Alberto Heber (Interior) after high-ranking officials under both of them were allegedly involved in the controversial issuance of a passport to a notorious drug lord.
When these things happen governments have to ask for resignations or ministers have to resign out of shame, Pereira said. There are problems of democratic health and it is necessary to take deep measures, he added.
We are concerned that President [Luis] Lacalle [Pou] is somehow underestimating the problems that exist in terms of democratic health, but if we start to see there is a director of Strategic Intelligence who accuses the Parliament of sabotage for having leaked the document to TV Ciudad and then he cannot prove it; then there is a case called [Sebastián] Marset that the Ministry of Interior and the Foreign Ministry already knew that he was heavy and dangerous, he also pointed out.
If it is known that he was a dangerous drug trafficker and still the steps are taken so that he can have access to the national passport, there is incredible negligence, Pereira stressed.
Earlier this week, a conversation between Undersecretaries of the Interior Guillermo Maciel and of Foreign Affairs Carolina Ache Batlle was leaked to the press. The former pointed out Sebastián Marset’s dangerousness and asked for information about the processing of his passport.
Ache denied any involvement in the speeding of the process granting Marset the document, which finally allowed him to be released from prison in the United Arab Emirates, and insisted that whoever was warning him did so from the place where the passport was printed.
The administration of President Lacalle is under strict scrutiny for the Marset scandal and also for the so-called Astesiano case, a ring issuing Uruguayan passports to Russian nationals reportedly headed by the President’s chief bodyguard Alejandro Astesiano.
FA Senator Mario Bergara insisted: We believe that both the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior should not be in their positions. But with these new chats, at least, it is clear that the undersecretaries should not continue in their positions.
Nobody is speaking ill of the ministers, but they have acted weakening the Uruguayan democratic system and when these things happen governments have to ask for resignations or the ministers have to resign for shame or omission, which is what has happened here. In any case, if the government does not take these measures, it will be in charge of the democratic health that will get worse and worse, Pereira also pointed out.