Crises in politics do not know about timing. In less than a couple of hours, the president’s long-awaited trip Luis Lacalle Pou to the USA to seal a new path of bilateral relationship was overshadowed.
The shadow came from none other than the person who was, until last night, his chancellor: Francisco Bustillo. And it came hand in hand with a torrid disclosure of audios and messages that included his communications advisor, Roberto Laflufalready a portfolio that is highly questioned in its management, the Ministry of Interiorwithin the framework of the judicial investigation for the delivery of a passport to the drug trafficker Sebastian Marset.
Lacalle Pou had to attend to the implications of the statement of Carolina Ache from Washington. He literally answered them on the phone. That dialogue with Bustillo sealed his departure from the government. It was a quick, surgical response. But insufficient.
Not only the opponent Broad Front (FA) calls for more heads to roll. His own party, National Partygave a name and surname to the bleeding of hierarchs that must continue to contain a scandal of proportions that, according to advisors, could compromise the electoral performance of the ruling party next year.
Luis Alberto HeberMinister of the Interior, and his second in command, Guillermo Maciel, they must leave the Executive, their own and others agree. Advisor Lafluf too, they add.
The Interior Ministry has been at the center of the political scene and scandals for several months. Last week Minister Heber went to the Parliament to give explanations about the implications of employees and police in the case of the former senator Gustavo Penadés, with preventive detention for rape and sexual abuse of minors. An interpellation by the Frente Amplio was scheduled soon. The opposition now says that they hope not to do so, because the development of events would have to force Heber’s departure as soon as possible.
Lacalle Pou witnesses all of this from exactly 8,478 kilometers away. He did not accuse, for now, the effect of the crisis on the government and decided to keep his agenda in USA. will return to Uruguay on Saturday, with the photo with the American president Joe Biden to his credit.
The quote was and is not minor. Uruguay It is part of the APEP (Alliance for Economic Prosperity in the Americas), is the only member of the Mercosur that it was integrated and on the table were issues of relevance to the national economy and the opening policy of the Executive. Basically it is an opportunity to advance in better and more competitive conditions for Uruguayan goods that are exported to USA.
An opportunity to shake up the trade alliance proposed by a group of Democratic and Republican senators in June – which includes reduction of tariffs and elimination of visas – and on which no progress has yet been made.
The shadow of the scandal of former Foreign Minister Bustillo and the Marset case not only hangs over this trip. At the end of the month, the President Luis Lacalle Pou will go to China. A carefully planned tour – with a delegation that includes dozens of businessmen – to unlock the most ambitious of his government goals: a free trade agreement with the second world power.
The Foreign Ministry has been key in the framework of bilateral negotiations for this purpose. Bustillo has also been the face of this agenda of trade opening to the world and, as a consequence, of this administration’s fight against protectionism and the archaic functioning of Mercosur.
It is true that the President of the Republic has overcome other scandals without major costs, such as that of his former security chief. Alejandro Astesiano. It is also true that the implications of that case were minor.
In his first statement since the crisis broke out, Luis Lacalle Pou exalted the strength of the institutions in Uruguay. Allies and opponents await the signals that he will give in that sense in the coming days.