Uruguayan president Jose Mujica said that Mercosur “is not moving forward or backwards” but is certainly working much better than the European Union where old experienced nations “made a mess of it”. Nevertheless, Uruguay will not stay put “licking its wounds”, it will look for other trade links.
Although upholding an integration speech calling on all Latin American countries to have closer links and strengthen as a region, Mujica did not hide his disappointment with the functioning of Mercosur and relations with its two senior members.
“We’ve been in Mercosur for many years, it’s not moving forward or backwards; we have our difficulties, but we are not going to remain licking our wounds”, said Mujica who is currently on a two day visit to Mexico where he met with members of the Uruguayan colony.
However, the situation in the EU is far worse. “You travel to Europe and the big brains there, from nations with a long tradition and experience, have made a mess of the whole thing, signing piles of documents and good intention statements. So one says, yes we in Mercosur have serious problems, but not as serious as those of the EU lying about documents signed and making budgets with false numbers, until they were caught”.
“We stand for Mercosur; we struggle to try and improve it in spite of all the defects” said Mujica who nevertheless underlined Uruguay “is not going to renounce or grumble about Mercosur but we are certainly not going to remain put licking our wounds without trying to look for other alternatives in trade relations with the world”.
In recent weeks Uruguay has publicly expressed its disappointment with some trade and political measures adopted by its senior Mercosur partners, Argentina and Brazil. They refer mainly to tariffs and obstacles to bilateral trade which are hurting Uruguayan exports and market access to its two neighbours.
And in spite of understandings which allegedly have normalized the situation, in Uruguay remains the suspicion that both countries could adopt further initiatives, ahead of the threatening world situation, to ensure healthy trade balances and surpluses which fringes with protectionism.
“Uruguay must play its own game; we’re not a gossipy country or on its knees pleasing ‘gringos’ but we are also determined not to be the country that pays the bill, lest because of standing up for others we end not defending the basic interests of Uruguay”, pointed out Mujica.
However, in spite of Mercosur shortcomings the Uruguayan president insisted in the need to strengthen relations: “we either integrate or we don’t, that is the main challenge we have ahead. Atomized we won’t have any political clout. Globalization is not the same as justice, equality or fairness. It’s simply that the strongest build policies and try applying them to the benefit of their interests”.