Uruguayan president Jose Mujica left on Tuesday for a ten day visit to Europe that will take him to Sweden, Norway, Germany and Belgium, where he is expected to promote trade, investments and economic development.
Mujica who took office March first 2010 so far has only travelled to Spain last November on a private business trip supposedly to meet with business people, football players’ contractors and potential investors.
The official delegation includes Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro, Industry, Mining and Energy minister Roberto Kreimerman among other officials. Uruguay has become a magnet for the global pulp industry since two major international corporations are already involved and there are also several major mining projects.
But Uruguay is short of infrastructure (highways, bridges, ports, railways) and power to provide for these new enterprises as they begin to expand and is anxious in attracting non renewable energy producing corporations taking advantage of the abundant wind, sun and sea tides.
“Even when Europe is distracted with major domestic problems, we have to learn to be patient and to wait until they overcome their problems. In the new world balance following the crisis Germany will play a crucial role”, anticipates Mujica.
Mujica, 75, a former urban guerrilla spent from 1971 to 1984 in jail when an amnesty law on the return of democracy set free all prisoners incarcerated by the military regime. Since then he has spent his time in a small farm and creating the Popular Participation Movement, MPP, a political force that was decisive in the 2004 presidential election when Socialist Tabare Vazquez took office and five years later it was Mujica’s turn.
According to Mujica the trip to Sweden is very emotional since he will express to the Swedish government and people the gratitude of the Uruguayan people for having accepted so many political exiles during the military regime, 1973/1985. It is estimated over 2.000 guerrillas and support groups moved to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries in the seventies.
Following the return of democracy in Uruguay, and given the minimum trade and economic links, the Swedish government closed down their embassy in Montevideo. All business is now managed from Buenos Aires.
Another possible emotional leg of Mujica’s trip is a personal visit to the Basque country where his family came from originally.