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LatinNews Daily - 24 September 2020

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URUGUAY: Gov’t confirms foreign policy shift on Venezuela

On 23 September, the Uruguayan government expressed its support for the extension of the mandate of the United Nations (UN) investigation into human rights violations in Venezuela, signalling an expected foreign policy shift under President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou.


Uruguay’s support for the UN investigation in Venezuela, which has already provided damning reports on the human rights situation there, represents a marked change in tone from the non-interventionist approach favoured by the previous leftist Frente Amplio (FA) coalition governments (2005-2020). Lacalle Pou’s government had already taken a critical stance against the Nicolás Maduro government in Venezuela, turning a page on years of hand-wringing from the FA as to how to respond to the increasing authoritarianism of its former ally. The issue goes beyond mere foreign policy, however; Uruguay’s opposition to the Maduro administration in an international forum could harm the country economically given the close economic ties forged with Venezuela under the FA. It notably risks complicating efforts to negotiate the repayment of some US$33.7m owed by Venezuela to two Uruguayan cooperatives, Funsa and Conaprole.

  • Uruguay’s foreign ministry issued a statement yesterday saying it “supports the resolution presented by Peru on behalf of various members of the Lima Group in the United Nations Human Rights Council, which extends the mandate of the fact-finding mission investigating human rights violations in Venezuela”.
  • On Twitter, Lacalle Pou added that “where the Maduro regime is concerned we have had a clear stance of condemnation, and that will remain the same in all areas”.
  • The foreign ministry has kept the issue of Venezuela’s outstanding debt in mind, holding a meeting with Uruguay’s Instituto Nacional del Cooperativismo (Inacoop), a body that advises the government on policy relating to cooperatives in late August to discuss it. At the time, Inacoop president Martín Fernández had stressed that “commercial trade and international relations are one thing, and ideological affinities are another […] If it came down to ideology, we wouldn’t have had trade with the US for the last 15 years.”

Looking Ahead: Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo had previously said he will explore all lines of dialogue to help Funsa and Conaprole recoup their dues, while Fernández had acknowledged the complexity of the situation – now made more difficult by Uruguay’s siding against Venezuela in the UN.