By Sam Roberts, The New York Times
Jorge Batlle, the brash scion of a political dynasty who had been groomed to be president of Uruguay since he was a teenager, got elected to the post on his fifth try and then audaciously presided over a pro-American administration that survived a brush with bankruptcy, died on Monday in Montevideo. He was 88.
As could be expected soccer was not absent from the Argentina-Uruguay presidential summit in Buenos Aires on Monday. Mauricio Macri has been president of Boca Juniors, one of the two strongest and most popular Argentine sides and steered the club to reach several regional and continental cups.
Argentine president Mauricio Macri promised his Uruguayan peer Tabare Vazquez to look into the draft of a Uruguay/China free trade deal, and expressed their deep concern about political events in Venezuela suggesting that under the current circumstances the Nicolas Maduro government cannot be considered a member of Mercosur.
Former President Jorge Batlle, an extroverted and irreverent politician who was a force in Uruguayan politics for half a century and led it during one of its worst economic recessions, died on Monday.
Uruguay and Argentina, and their cabinets will be meeting this Monday in Buenos Aires to address a bilateral agenda, which was agreed long before hand, but the real issue will not necessarily be trade, dredging canals, pulp mills, customs or facilitating people's movement, but rather the negotiations for a free trade agreement which supposedly Uruguay is about to begin discussing with China.
Uruguay figures among the ten best national teams in the world according to the FIFA rating and has players in some of the top European teams, but back home things are quite different: a Sunday first league match was suspended at half time following shootings among hooligan gangs in one of the stadium's toilets, according to the first official reports.
Uruguay is expecting some 150 cruise calls this coming season 2016/17 which begins next month and represents some 300.000 visitors, according to Tourism minister Liliam Kechichian who nevertheless admitted that growth prospects are somehow behind schedule because of the high costs of reaching and operating in the port of Buenos Aires.
Tensions inside Mercosur can be attributed to the fact that Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay share a development economic model which distances them from Venezuela, and are prepared to advance in trade negotiations with the European Union, and even with the Pacific Alliance. Venezuela on the other hand has as its main priority putting the deteriorated economy back on the growth track, according to the UN regional economic commission ECLAC, chair Alicia Barcena.
Two Uruguayan young scientists are on board Ice Patrol HMS Protector en route to the Falkland Islands and Antarctica and will be participating in a research program on human impact on the Antarctic marine environment including pollution mainly by plastic made products. Federico Weinstein and Carolina Rodríguez belong to the Faculty of Sciences and represent the resumption of long standing links between the Ice Patrol and Montevideo.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Uruguay’s President Tabare Vazquez on Tuesday warned against non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular ailments, cancer, diabetes and chronic pulmonary pathologies, which he said are the main causes of death particularly in low- and middle-income countries.