Right-wing Uruguayan president assumes office amid protests

Uruguayan social movements criticized the new president’s stand against the progressive governments of the region

March 02, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
“Get out genocidal Piñera” and “Get out Yankees from this country”, read the posters. Photo: Federico Gutiérrez T/Resumen Latinoamericano

Luis Lacalle Pou of the right-wing National Party assumed the presidency of Uruguay on March 1 for the period of 2020-2025 and was welcomed with massive protests outside the Legislative palace in Montevideo where his swearing in was held. Hundreds of protesters mobilized to reject the presence of fascist, genocidal and repressive leaders of the region and the new Uruguayan government that invited them to the country.

The protesters raised slogans against Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, Colombian president Iván Duque, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, Spanish King Felipe VI as well as against the self-proclaimed Bolivian president Jeanine Áñez and the secretary general of the Organization of American States Luis Amargo, who were complicit in the civic-military coup against the democratically elected socialist president Evo Morales.

“Repressors of Latin America, Uruguayan people condemn you”, “Get out genocidal Piñera”, “Piñera you are a culprit, your hands are covered with blood”, “Long live the struggle of the Bolivian people”, “Get out the coup plotters from this country”, etc. were some of the posters and banners held by the protesters, expressing their solidarity with the people of Bolivia and Chile in their struggle.

Mural in Montevideo “Get out coup supporters!”

The Communist Party, social movements and trade unions of Uruguay, who gave the call for the protest, also criticized the incoming government for not extending invitations to the socialist and progressive presidents of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela and said that the protocol ceremony was “not a family party or a private event.”

Another massive mobilization was held at the Liberator Avenue, organized by the Mothers and Families of the Detained and Disappeared Uruguayans. Hundreds of relatives of the people detained and disappeared during the years of last civic-military dictatorship demonstrated with placards having photographs of their loved ones, to demand the truth and justice, anticipating that the investigation would be hindered during the rule of the new right-wing government.

Hundreds of relatives of the people detained and disappeared during the years of dictatorship in Uruguay demonstrated with placards having photographs of their loved ones at the Liberator Avenue in Montevideo on March 1. Photo: Federico Gutiérrez T/Resumen Latinoamericano

During his city tour, after his investiture, when Lacalle Pou passed through the Liberator Avenue with other government officials, the people greeted them with the slogan “Never again, never again.” The protesters also shouted slogans against Bolsonaro, Duque and Piñera.

Lacalle Pou won the second round of presidential elections, held in the country on November 24, against Daniel Martínez of the former left-wing government of Frente Amplio (Broad Front) with a slim margin of 1.5% of votes. The assumption of this conservative government ended the rule of the Frente Amplio coalition after 15 years in power during which Uruguay saw economic stability and growth, as well as significant social gains such as the legalization of abortion, same-sex marriage and the expansion of transgender people’s rights.