The governments of Uruguay and Argentina have decided to ignore the controversy born out of statements from former President Tabare Vazquez who said that during the Botnia-UPM pulp plant conflict, back in 2006/07, he did not discard a “war hypothesis” given the aggressive attitude of Argentina and for which he had requested support from the Bush administration.
The former president was strongly criticized by Argentine and Uruguayan officials following his reiteration of circumstances in 2006/07 when taking advantage of a trip to Washington for the discussions of a trade agreement, he informed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of the situation with Argentina and requested the message reached President George W Bush.
Vazquez said the reply was positive since “the US considered Uruguay a good friend and a reliable partner”.
However according to reports in the Buenos Aires press, Foreign Affairs ministers Hector Timerman and his Uruguayan peer Luis Almagro had a fifteen minutes phone conversation when it was agreed that both sides “would not follow” on Vazquez’ game.
“If we speak out and say what we think about those statements we’d be playing into Vazquez game. It would be senseless”, said an Argentine diplomatic source, which added that the instruction “not to reply” was also geared to thwart the political figure of the former president, who has deep differences with President Mujica regarding the 2014 election and possible candidates.
Vazquez stepped down from office (2005/2010) with strong support and is considered a natural candidate for a re-election bid in 2014, which he does not deny.
From Government House in Argentina the statements were considered part of a campaign to smear President Cristina Fernandez re-election next October 23.
This is based on a double argument: Vazquez and former president Nestor Kirchner never got along and repeatedly clashed over the Botnia-UPM pulp mill dispute, and this attitude convinced the Uruguayan leader to appeal for US support.
Secondly the Uruguayan leader recently visited Argentina in support of Socialist presidential candidate Hermes Binner who figures a distant runner up for October 23.
Furthermore Vazquez political advisor, Esteban Valenti, is working for the Binner campaign and apparently was the link for the Uruguayan leader to campaign for the Argentine Socialist candidate.
However Valenti strongly rejected the claims saying they were absolutely false.
“Binner and Vazquez met but their discussions were not linked in anyway to Argentine politics”, said Valenti who added that as the rest of the people “he had been surprised by Vazquez statements and his later decision to give up politics”.