Uruguayan president Jose Mujica decided to advance Monday's ministerial cabinet for Saturday so that he can fly to Brazil and Venezuela where he is scheduled to meet with Dilma Roussefdf and later Nicolas Maduro. Mujica on Friday al last moment cancelled his trip to Brasilia but will be meeting Rousseff in the southern city of Porto Alegre.
The agenda with the Brazilian president includes Mercosur and the coming round with the European Union for a free trade and cooperation agreement; bilateral trade; integration issues; wind farms; Uruguay's planned deep sea port close to Brazil; the withdrawal of the peace contingent in Haiti, and most probably officially denied but significant Argentina's latest measures harming Uruguay's exports and ports' activities.
Regarding Venezuela, there is growing concern over the delay in payments for Uruguayan exports, and this is crucial for Mujica since Venezuela is in the short list of best clients for dairy produce, grains, beef, chicken and chemical products.
Likewise Maduro could request some advice from Mujica, since he is facing municipal elections next December and there is a growing disenchantment with his administration because of the endemic shortage of food and basics in Venezuelan stores and supermarkets. Besides inflation in Venezuela has rocketed to over 54% annually.
The situation is very delicate since Venezuela is a full member of Mercosur and currently chairs the group and is expected to host this half year's summit be it in December as planned or late January, depending on the medical condition of Argentina's Cristina Fernandez.
At domestic level Mujica could not avoid the cabinet meeting because last week the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional three articles of the law which dissolved the country's flag air-carrier Pluna opening the way for a cataract of compensation demands, plus the possibility of losing the Canadian built Bombardier aircraft, assets which had been protected from injunction. Demands could reach over 300 million dollars according to Uruguayan legal experts.
Another issue refers to recent police incidents probably the worse the killing of an 18 year old, who ignored a checkpoint and was shot several times in the back. The neighborhood reacted setting up road blocks and tires on fire plus attacking police forces. Apparently the police later 'planted' a gun in the teen ager trying to involve him in an armed robbery of a small store which triggered the whole tragic incident.
For a government that promotes absolute respect for human rights, the shootings of an alleged 'trigger happy' police have caused rifts in the ruling coalition and questioning of ministers.