Uruguayan president Jose Mujica expressed solidarity with the Argentine government decision to nationalize the oil company YPF belonging to Spain’s Repsol and said he does not like the “arrogance of rich Europe”. His position however was strongly criticized by the opposition.
Mujica said that the decision taken by Argentina “is in the framework of its sovereignty” and such an initiative “might like or not, but at the end of the day governments can adopt such a decision”.
“In any case the mistake of Argentina was having sold the company, but that is an old mistake and if it mends it or not it is a problem for the Argentine people” said the Uruguayan leader in reference to the privatization process of YPF which took off in the early nineties.
Likewise Mujica questioned the reaction from the Spanish government and the European Union that openly expressed their disappointment with the expropriation of YPF from Repsol and announced reprisal measures.
“Our solidarity in the good times and the bad times. We don’t like the arrogance of rich Europe, because today it is with Argentina, tomorrow it is with us. Watch out: Argentina can commit mistakes as we all do but they also have their reasons; but no bullying, no arrogance”, pointed out the leader.
However Mujica’s solidarity was blasted by opposition leaders.
Senator Jorge Larrañaga leader of the main opposition party and chair of the Foreign Affairs committee said that “we are embracing a jump into the abyss because we are embracing a government that ignores the rule of law and that won’t be a free ticket”.
“Is it possible somebody can think that Argentina picking a fight with Europe, the US and part of the Americas at the same time is on the right track and with a happy ending? Whatever happened with the rule of law and the principle of legality? They are involving the whole of Mercosur unilaterally and in a capricious crusade”.
Larrañaga recalled that later this week Vice president Danilo Astori will be travelling to Spain and I wonder what he will tell his hosts when he climbs down after Mujica’s words”.
The opposition leader said he was not questioning or discussing Argentina’ decision, which is debateable, “but Uruguay can’t commit the mistake of embracing a decision of such characteristics”.
“But yes I am questioning our president, which I believe has committed a serious mistake; we all know most of the rest of America does not support such and initiative”.
“There’s a fight at the street corner and we happily join in. We’re treated as a messenger boy and nevertheless we side in”.
Senator Pedro Bordaberry and leader of the junior opposition party said that “Mujica must not sell the rich heritage and good name of Uruguay in honouring its word and contracts, for the vile price of shared ideology with Cristina Fernandez”.
“Enough submission, why the need to join Argentina? Why not look first at Uruguay and Uruguayan interests before going on your knees for the sake of ideological affinities?
Bordaberry said that back in 2002 when Argentina imploded and Uruguay suffered the spill over consequences, “we all did an enormous effort to maintain and respect for the good name of Uruguay, now Mujica has handed over that good name”.
Former president Jorge Batlle was equally acid.
“I’d say the Argentine president is fleeing ahead of events. First she took over a significant share of farmers’ crops with the export taxes; later she gobbled the private pensions scheme; later the Central bank, then all imports and money exchange operations and now this expropriation of YPF”.
“When a country so enormously rich and capable with an annual crop of over 100 million tons of grains, with ample mineral resources all along the country, heavy industry, state of the art agriculture ends up as a country in horrible conditions, what is going on?, asked former president Batlle.
Another former president also described Mujica’s attitude as a “very serious mistake” and suggested the president must learn “to better manage his silences than his words” because clearly any foreigner might ask, “if he supports the Argentine expropriation is he dumb, or does he think like them?”.
“We had no need to show solidarity with Cristina Fernandez and I think it is a major mistake to join somebody else’s fight”.
With out making speculations about the future, Lacalle said that all facts are indicating Argentina is heading for international isolation: is that what President Mujica wants to support?