Uruguay will be handed the rotating chair of Mercosur this Monday in a brief summit ceremony to take place in Paraguay. Attending will be Brazil's Michel Temer, Uruguay's Tabare Vázquez, the host Paraguay Horacio Cartes and in representation of Argentina, vice president Gabriela Michetti. President Mauricio Macri is in the midst of a cabinet reshuffle and waiting for market reaction this Monday following the naming of a new Central Bank chairman.
After several days up in Argentina, the devaluation of the Argentine peso and the rise of the US dollar have had some impact on the other side of the River Plate, where the exchange houses of downtown Montevideo marked on Wednesday the value of the currency up to 31,70 Uruguayan pesos per dollar, a rise of 2.08% compared to Monday —the highest in five years—. For the Uruguayan government, the country follows the global trend and calls for calm, beyond the noise generated in Argentina, which is beginning a dialogue between the Finance Minister, Nicolás Dujovne, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.
The plenary of the leftist coalition Broad Front concluded on Sunday with a motion that postergates de decision over the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Chile, defining to leave the decision on whether or not to support the agreement, delaying the debate to a future plenary whose date is not yet defined. The decision was voted after counting an erroneous sum of the votes in the first instance in which the motion to debate the issue in the plenary had won. However, the votes of the Communist Party of Uruguay (PCU) had been put on the wrong side.
It has been a long standing consensus-secret in the Uruguayan political system that when you are elected or have been nominated to a political post, you must not forget the family or friends particularly if they are in distress. This means in practical terms that the generous Uruguayan state will incorporate you to the burgeoning bureaucracy be it at national or regional level.
Uruguayan farmers with their tractors, harvesters, trucks, vans and on horseback took to the roads to protest the cost of fuel, power, increased taxes and an over bloated national budget and bureaucracy which they blame for making several farm activities unprofitable, and have had an overall negative impact for the different camp activities.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro seems to have blown up the last bridge to Mercosur when he launched a barrage of accusations against Uruguay's foreign minister which triggered an immediate reaction from president Tabare Vazquez, who demanded evidence of the charges or a public retraction from the embattled Maduro. But the conflict has also openly exposed the deep rift inside the Uruguayan ruling coalition regarding the Bolivarian revolution “anti imperialist” regime.
Unemployment in Uruguay in October fell to 7.1% and marked the lowest monthly record of the year, according to data published on Tuesday by the National Statistics Institute (INE). In September this index was at 8.4% and a year ago, in October 2015, at 8.5%.
President Tabare Vazquez confirmed on Monday that Uruguay will continue as “coordinator” of discussions between Mercosur and the European Union to reach a wide ranging trade agreement.
Uruguay's emergency committee reported on Thursday another death and over 10.000 people displaced because of widespread floods that followed a tornado and several days pouring rain. The ninth victim is a farmhand who fell off his horse while trying to cross an overflowed canal. A few hours before the body of a missing farmer was found kilometers down a river that sucked him while he was trying to save cattle.
The strong 16 pages long letter sent by OAS (Organization of American States) secretary general Luis Almagro to Venezuelan electoral officials calling for transparency, international observers and freeing political prisoners, ahead of December 6 legislative elections, triggered an immediate furious insulting reaction from Venezuela's strongman Diosdado Cabello, but also again exposed a growing rift in the Uruguayan government.