The Economist: “Uruguay is losing its reputation as a success story in Latin America”
“The Economist” published an article on Thursday stating that Uruguay’s reputation as a success story in the region is diminishing. Initially, the British media outlet referred to Uruguay as a “model country” and highlighted its achievements, such as obtaining 95% of its electricity from renewable sources, legalizing same-sex marriage, and allowing residents to buy cannabis from pharmacies. Uruguay was also recognized as the most peaceful and least corrupt country in South America.
However, the text published today suggests that the shine of this reputation has been dulled by various issues. Firstly, it briefly describes the so called Astesiano case, where Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou’s security chief (Alejandro Astesiano) was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for selling false birth certificates to Russians to obtain Uruguayan passports.
The article questions the President’s attitude of ignoring Astesiano’s potential involvement in illegal activities, despite knowing him for 20 years and being aware of his history of alleged fraud and theft.
Moreover, the article highlights an increase in crime, which challenges Uruguay’s position as a law-abiding exception in a violent region. The Economist also mentions the resignation of the former Minister of Tourism, German Cardoso, due to accusations of corruption, which he denies. The publication further reports the resignation of the former Minister of Environment, Adrian Peña, after falsely claiming a title he did not have.
Furthermore, the article mentions drug trafficker Sebastián Marset’s escape from Dubai with the help of Uruguayan authorities granting him a new passport. The article claims that Marset played a significant role in positioning Uruguay as a hub for international crime and that illegal fishing fleets were taking advantage of lax controls in the free port of Montevideo, the capital. The publication states that the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Carolina Ache, resigned due to this case.
At the end of the publication The Economist states that Lacalle Pou can probably recover from these recent scandals. And it states, following statements by the director of Opción Consultores, Rafael Porzecanski that corruption in Uruguay is not endemic.
Lacalle Pou cannot run again, but the scandal could jeopardize the Conservatives’ chances in next year’s elections, the article concludes.