Uruguay had to stand up to a world power and deny dock access to a Royal Navy vessel on its way to the Falklands/Malvinas to retain good relations with Argentina, admitted the Uruguayan President Jose Mujica in Guadalajara where he met with members of the Uruguayan colony in Mexico.
“I had to deny England access to any war ship, access to Uruguayan territory. I had to confront Her Majesty from Great Britain, why? Because we have the question of the Malvinas Islands”, said Mujica.
And our neighbours “don’t want any Uruguayan port to be used as support for Navy vessels coming and going to the Malvinas Islands and that was the least I could do to please Argentina and foster good relations”.
Mujica said Uruguay has many issues pending with Argentina and we must adopt a neighbourly attitude, “in spite of all” since they are vital to the country’s economy.
The Uruguayan president said “the British were polite with me when I told them about the HM vessels, but I know they wrote my name in their little black reminder book: they must be crazy about me”.
The mention refers to the incident with HMS Gloucester, on South Atlantic patrol, which on September 2010, in spite of previous authorization, when she was less than a couple of hours away from Montevideo was informed the authorization had been cancelled.
Likewise Mujica, who is supported by a left-wing coalition, argued that Uruguay needs Armed Forces: “we must have an Army for our borders, and to support UN, we need an Air Force with a few aircraft, helicopters and radars to check our air space and the same goes for out territorial waters”.
The president said Uruguay is not ever going to declare war but “we can’t have a foot-Air Force or a shore-Navy: they need aircrafts, patrol vessels, communications systems to combat the drugs trade and protect our maritime and fluvial resources”.
Mujica also gave a strong public support to his Interior Secretary and the Police which have been involved in blitz operations to prevent crime but have been much criticized by human rights groups.
“We know crime basically has social roots, but we are not going to allow ‘no-go’ areas or rough neighbourhoods where law enforcement officers have to move in armoured vehicles as we have seen in most of Latin America and also in developed countries”, said Mujica.
“I have given instructions for these raids into areas where crime is rampant or where criminals take refuge and have their own ghettos which they dominate”, added the president.
Mujica said the raids have the support of the courts with search orders and when the Police have political support, “in Uruguay they can be efficient and quickly solve crimes and find the culprits”.