Sean Penn visits President Mujica, while demonstrations against bridge take place in Lake Garzón, and new funds for investment trigger internal disputes in the Government.
Sean Penn on Uruguay’s role in Haiti
Sean Penn, Haiti’s itinerant ambassador, visited Uruguay this week after defending Argentina’s posture in the Malvinas conflict in Buenos Aires. As in the neighbour country, he had a meeting with the President on Tuesday.
At a press conference, Penn highlighted the crucial role that Uruguay has in the reconstruction of Haiti. He expressed that “within all the countries that contribute to Haiti’s development, Uruguay and its President have sound knowledge on a crucial thing for Haiti: agriculture”. As a final remark, he stated that Uruguay was a model of stability to follow.
Meanwhile, the United Nations yet again called to bring to justice the reports on sexual abuse committed by members of the Peace Corps. Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador in the UN, said they were “taking very seriously the cases of sexual abuse and violence”.
Five Uruguayan members of the Peace Corps have been processed for the alleged rape of a young Haitian. Penn seemed not be aware of this issue, which complicates the image of Uruguay’s role in Haiti.
Manifestation against bridge in Lake Garzón
Around 200 people gathered in the Lake Garzón region. They carried out a protest against the construction of a bridge which would join the departments of Maldonado and Rocha.
They called the manifestation “Abrazo surfero a las balsas” (Surfer hug to rafts). This name refers to the rafts which are used to translate the cars from one side to the other in three minutes. During the manifestation, the surfers formed circles around the rafts.
People from the area reject the construction of the bridge as they believe it goes against the environment. The political opposition is against it too because they consider that the only beneficiary will be Eduardo Constantini, who will finance the building work.
José Carlos Cardoso, national deputy for Rocha, said that “by approving this construction, the government is doing a favour to the businessman Costantini”. He suggests that the departments should be joined by a motorway which surrounds the lake.
The President declared that he was not subject to any kind of pressure from any businessman. He then brought up the importance of the bridge for Rocha’s development, in particular for job creation.
Eduardo Costantini visited Uruguay this week. He believes the critics against him are unfair and the whole issue is unnecessarily taking a political turn. In an interview with the newspaper El País he stated that he never had any type of contact with Mujica, or ever pressured him to support the project.
Disagreements on State’s new investment funds
Uruguay’s state currently holds a sum of US$140 million as a result of the reduction of the fiscal deficit. This money has created an internal dispute among the Frente Amplio (Broad Front – FA) governing coalition.
Mujica intends to take some time to study a proper distribution of the funds. Yet, he stated that he felt more inclined to give priority to railways and energy investments.
“There are many options going in many directions. I think that is good, but from our point of view there is no rush to spend the money”, he added.
Daniel Olesker, Minister of Social Development, has already requested US$100 million to finance different plans that are carried out by his department.
Francisco Gallinal, national senator, expressed his concern on the internal differences among the government and the Frente Amplio. “This should not be like this because they are dealing with incomes which belong to everyone”, he highlighted.