Uruguay's main opposition candidate for October's contested presidential election was the victim of a Watergate break-in crime at the offices of the agency which is running his surprisingly successful campaign.
Although the extent of the loss for Luis Lacalle Pou and his team has yet to be made public, the offices of the Indias producer-studio and Avisa-IMC agency were literally emptied including the closed circuit cameras plus erasing all records of the security system.
The incident was reported on Thursday and apparently happened sometime in the early hours of the day. The barbed wire of the premise's perimeter was also cut open allegedly to load all the stuff on a truck.
It was a big break-in, they took all they found, computers, hard discs, DVDs and much of the material prepared for what is left of the presidential campaign leading to the 26 October vote, said a member of Lacalle Pou's team.
What is surprising it that they also dismantled and took all the security system both inside and outside the building.
Lacalle Pou, 41, has been the revelation of Uruguay's presidential election which only six months ago was seen as an easy win for the candidate of the ruling coalition and former president Tabare Vazquez.
The young lawmaker and son of a former Uruguayan president, Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera, managed, with the looted agency, to change a 'dejá.vu' attitude for the June primaries and October campaign, which according to all public opinion polls, during most of the run up, considered that it was an easy race for Jorge Larrañaga and presumably for Tabaré Vazquez.
However Lacalle Pou's 'positive campaign”, avoiding confrontation and praising the good things of his occasional rival proved extremely successful. In the primaries of the National party, Senator Larrañaga, a veteran political fighter and former presidential candidate was leading comfortably for months according to the polls with 50% of his party's vote intention, but finally lost by an eight points margin to the freshman.
Lacalle Pou patiently waited for the defeated Larrañaga, --who on the primaries night disaster said he was considering abandoning politics,-- to reconsider and overcome the blow and invited him to join the ticket as his vice-president candidate.
Since then the Lacalle Pou/Larrañaga ticket has been steadily climbing in opinion polls readings while the ruling coalition's presidential hopeful is losing ground and seems unable to recover ground.
In effect for the first time in months, if not years, the Uruguayan opposition parties climbed ahead of the ruling coalition, which not that long ago was considered unbeatable and the political debate was limited to whether a third consecutive government would have the parliamentary majority it has enjoyed during the last ten years.
The National party of Lacalle Pou (30%) vote intention, together with the Colorado (13%) and Independent (2%) parties managed 45/46% while the ruling coalition dropped to 39% for the first time in years.
With these projections (since a 50% majority of votes cast is needed in the first round) a runoff a month later is forecasted between Vazquez and Lacalle Pou, and the difference has been shrinking making the outcome more uncertain.
Much of Lacalle Pou's success is attributed to his youth and fresh attitude which contrasts with Uruguay's long established political system tradition of having mature candidates, (i.e. Vázquez is in his seventies), and thus value the freshman's style rather 'vacuous'. But his marketing is clearly and successfully supported by his 'positive attitude' campaign team, and it is precisely the agency working for him that has suffered a Watergate break-in incident.
The police has recorded the incident as a burglary, one of so many that are reported every day in Montevideo, and the expression 'politically motivated' has been absent from all candidates' statements and the media. After all a ruling coalition Senator was recently shot twice in the leg in a frustrated robbery attempt and two lady lawmakers had their purses snatched during a political rally. And it is unclear how many other crimes go unreported by victims or the same police.