Thursday, December 27th 2012 - 02:38 UTC

“Uruguay needs leaders in government, not demagogues” says transport businessman

The country “needs leaders in government, not demagogues” said Juan Carlos López Mena a leading businessman of Uruguay’s tourism and transport industry who is also investing heavily in agriculture and an incipient regional airline.

Lopez Mena The government seems intent of replacing private sector companies that work efficiently with state funded inefficient companies

Argentine born but long established in Uruguay, Lopez Mena owns the ferries that link Montevideo and Colonia with Buenos Aires and is now involved in an airline BQB with a couple of turbo aircraft that fly between different cities in Uruguay and Argentina and beginning next year Paraguay.

“The government seems intent of replacing private sector companies that work efficiently with state funded inefficient companies” pointed out Lopez Mena who is involved in a dispute with the Uruguayan government over the huge connectivity ‘black hole’ for Montevideo, which has meant closing down six months ago the country’s money losing flag air carrier Pluna. After several frustrated attempts to re-launch the airline with the private sector the Uruguayan government has finally supported the idea of a cooperative with the redundant staff.

López Mena was interested in taking over some of the regional lines of Pluna but a messy transition and repeated allegations of corruption ended with a situation worse than six months ago.

“If there are private companies that risk their capital, apply their know-how, innovations, which function with no subsidies and are efficient, very efficient, such is our case, why then replace them by companies created by the state which are inefficient and funded with millions and millions of dollars from government?” asked Lopez Mena in an interview with a local broadcasting stating that has great echo in Buenos Aires  
“This is something which really discourages private investors” underlined the Argentine-Uruguayan businessman.

That is why “we need leaders in government, not demagogues, this is very important because we are in an open world and nowadays if you miss your target with bad results, the bill you will have to pay later will be very expensive”, continued Lopez Mena. 

For business people the rules are very clear: “there’s no going back: or they make it or they go bust and lose everything. That is why they will also fight to the very end to defend their company and their investment”.

Lopez Mena which has had a fluid relation with all Uruguayan governments no matter their political colour, was invited by Uruguayan president Jose Mujica to get involved in the auction of Pluna’ Bombardier aircraft, routes and other assets.

However he desisted arguing that the price for the aircraft and conditions of the auction were out of touch with the world market. The President Mujica administration did not like his reaction and allegedly two top officials, including the Executive legal advisor visited Lopez Mena at his office and cautioned that his attitude “could have consequences for his businesses in Uruguay”.

Since the closure of Uruguay’s flag carrier Pluna was so sloppy and prone to suspicion and despite legislation to the effect approved by the ruling coalition majority in parliament, many aspects of the case have ended in the courts with several ministers, former private associates of Pluna and even Lopez Mena summoned for questioning.

“Companies must be rich and businesspeople must be poor, that is why in many cases we even have to put our homes as collateral for our businesses and I believe it is the State’s job to watch over that, but business people must also be protected, but certainly not with subsidies, as this government seems to be intent in doing so”, emphasized Lopez Mena.

“I believe businesspeople are the icons of any community. They must be respected; they are entrepreneurs that are born with that gift: there is not one university in the world that can give you a degree of ‘successful businessman’, of efficient businessman that accomplishes without subsidies”.

Finally Lopez Mena complained that in Argentina and Uruguay, “businesspeople don’t have a good press. And the truth is that they are the true revolutionaries because they help countries not to have poor people and don’t promote the rich”.

“It’s very easy to eliminate the rich: I expropriate all they have and in 24 hours I make everybody poor, but what is really difficult is to make everybody a rich person. What does it mean to be rich? That people have a good living standard; that they live in private estates,…that is something tough, it’s not easy, that’s why businesspeople are the true revolutionaries”.

“To be a true revolutionary means a lot of hard work, a lot of planning, distribute with intelligence, not demagoguery or cheap talk”, concluded Lopez Mena.

12 comments Feed

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1 ynsere (#) Dec 27th, 2012 - 10:19 am Report abuse
López Mena is no doubt a very clever businessman. He thought he had the leftist Frente Amplio administrations in his pocket because his ferries provided Uruguayans residing in Argentina with cheap or free tickets to come and vote for the left. This time he's been a bit too clever, got shown up by his erstwhile friends, and is now ranting. However, it's perfectly true that like every other nation on earth we need leaders in government, not demagogues.
2 rylang23 (#) Dec 27th, 2012 - 11:02 am Report abuse
I, a progressive and (in general) a supporter of Frente Amplio, agreed with most of what Lopez Mena said until this: “I believe businesspeople are the icons of any community. They must be respected...“. He may be correct about small business in smaller communities. But, all I had to do was look over my shoulder at what has happened in the United States to see that Lopez Mena is either extremely naive , or as ynsere above says ”a bit too clever” for his own good.
3 redpoll (#) Dec 27th, 2012 - 07:54 pm Report abuse
Something is very rotten in the state of Denmark- er I mean Uruguay. The Pluna fiasco has a lot yet to be revealed and the new cooperative is already asking for more millions of dollars to refloat itself. This type of cooperative always gets bailed out in the end by Juan Pueblo and this saga is by no means over
4 ynsere (#) Dec 28th, 2012 - 04:13 am Report abuse
This may be of interest to those of you who read Spanish:
5 ChrisR (#) Dec 29th, 2012 - 03:24 pm Report abuse
2 rylang23

Remember me? I am the guy you threatened because I dared to tell what I saw as the truth about the incompetence of Pepe' government. You even accused me of being CIA 'and you would be ready to call me out' Prat.

Now we have a serious businessman saying what I and a lot more have been saying. Don't overlook the 7.5 TIMES INCREASE in government fiscal drag.

For moron rylang23 that means they are spending money before they get it. In the real world that would be called stupidity or obtaining credit by deception (a criminal offence in the UK).

It also means that all the Uruguayos on here who work for a living (NOT the government) and ME, because all my money is invested in Uruguay, we will have to pay more in tax to fund this profligate spending.

Mind you, I have to say that with the base rate going to 9.25%, I might just about keep even-stevens.

Anyone without savings linked to the base rate is going to suffer a REAL depreciation in their net worth. This is disgraceful from a government supposedly of the people. For them to threaten someone who won’t fall for their brand of idiocy is criminal, but why am I not surprised?
6 Stevie (#) Dec 30th, 2012 - 12:25 pm Report abuse
What do you know about Uruguayan history? Politics? You been in the country for 4 days, leaving your own country for economical reasons, most surely, and now you are telling Uruguayans how they should run their own country, a country you chose to live in yourself. Maybe you think all wealthy Uruguayans should move abroad in order to avoid taxes for the country to prosper? Or is it “do as I say but not as I do”? You are a hypocrite.
7 ynsere (#) Dec 30th, 2012 - 03:44 pm Report abuse
On the other hand, ChrisR, like the huge majority of bona-fide Uruguayans I welcome you and other thoughtful foreign residents. We need to hear a wide range of opinion. And this is a country where people are allowed to talk.
Stevie has proved himself a sod many times over.
Best wishes for the New Year.
8 ChrisR (#) Dec 30th, 2012 - 04:51 pm Report abuse
7 ynsere

Thank you my friend: you know I have been here for almost two years now and have all my money invested in the country and pay all my taxes.

@6 Stevie (not a wonder)

Why don't you find out about people before (I am about to use your favourite word: are you ready) ‘bashing’ others who live here for health reasons.

But no, that would be the act of a thinking person not a 'sod' as my (Uruguayo) friend ynsere referred to you. Astute comment that.
9 British_Kirchnerist (#) Dec 31st, 2012 - 01:25 pm Report abuse
Pepe IS a real leader, far more so than shallow self serving “business-friendly” careerists like Blair or Cameron...
10 Tobers (#) Jan 05th, 2013 - 05:26 pm Report abuse
And yet could there two more different leaders than Pepe and CFK?

Pepe =humble man that lives a humble life in a humble house and gives most of his salary to charity

CFK = made her fortune taking Argentines homes from them and selling them on at a great profit - in dollars. And runs boutique hotels for the rich. Uses presidential plane to ferry around her children. Owns exclusive property in New York...
11 redpoll (#) Jan 05th, 2013 - 07:00 pm Report abuse
Chris So the govt has a budget deficit from spending on the ni-nis and the wont works. So what do they do? Increase taxes like IRIC and IRAE stultifying cover it
One of the electoral promises of this government was to reduce IVA (Value Added Tax) which hits rich and poor alike from 23% down to 18%. Well they havent Another broken promise from our inept government
12 Tobers (#) Jan 05th, 2013 - 07:29 pm Report abuse
Most governments are shit. Some are worse than others tho. You could be living in Argentina!

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