Secret Ties to Chávez and Maduro Could Come to Light for Uruguay’s Government

There is a feeling in Uruguay that there are many things that wil be revealed and they will harm the excellent reputation of prominent leftist figures

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Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay. (Photo: Flickr)

Spanish – The outgoing government of Uruguay, headed by Tabaré Vázquez, is nervous. Why? Because since his party, the Frente Amplio, lost the elections, some of his unethical actions may come to light. That fear was heightened when President-elect Luis Lacalle Pou announced that he would be conducting audits” across the length and breadth of the public administration.”

Of all the “dark” issues that have happened during these fifteen years of leftist rule in Uruguay, the most outrageous one is the international protection that Vázquez and José “Pepe” Mujica have given to the Cuban-Chavista dictatorship that is devastating the Venezuelan people.

Suspicions are mounting over the attitude of the Vázquez administration, which prefers to bring itself shame (by disregarding Uruguay’s traditional foreign policy of defending democracy and human rights) rather than “bother” Nicolás Maduro.

Currently, this procedure has become more complicated. During the transition period in the handing over of power, the press – national and international – focuses on Vázquez and Lacalle Pou alternately. The contrast between both positions regarding the Venezuelan situation is so stark that Vázquez has been forced to modify his own stance partly.

The most recent issue that demanded a political definition was the parliamentary coup that Nicolás Maduro carried out through the fraudulent appointment of Luis Parra as the new president of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

The presidency of the parliament, the only power in the hands of the opposition, is crucial because it is the only branch of the state that is not controlled by the Cuban-Chavista dictatorship. Furthermore, according to the Venezuelan constitution, Juan Guaidó was declared interim president of the country in 2019, after his election as head of the legislature. Since then, more than fifty countries have recognized him as such.

The Uruguayan Foreign Ministry issued the following statement in response to this situation:

“The Government of Uruguay expresses its deep concern about the violation of the rights of the deputies of the Venezuelan National Assembly, the highest expression of democracy, and in particular about the action of the Bolivarian National Guard, which prevented the representatives legitimately elected by the people from participating in today’s session where the new president of the body was to be elected.

The attitude of the Venezuelan government seriously damages the efforts of the international community to collaborate with the Venezuelan people, through dialogue and negotiation to achieve the solution to the serious institutional crisis that the country is suffering.

The Government of Uruguay urgently call to all Venezuelan actors (emphasis on all), but in particular to the government, to avoid actions that continue to aggravate the situation and put the stability of the country at risk, and to strictly respect the civil and political rights of all citizens, especially the rights of the legislators who are members of the National Assembly.”

As we can see, once again, Vázquez and his foreign minister, Rodolfo Nin Novoa, are trying to “liquefy” responsibilities by putting victims and perpetrators on an almost equal footing.

Lacalle Pou judged this statement “lukewarm,” although “it goes a little further in the direction of what the international community, with common sense, has understood: Maduro is a dictator. It is so hard to tell Maduro with every word that he is a dictator.” And then he added, “You know what we have thought about why Uruguay is tied up first with (Hugo) Chávez and now with Maduro. There are ideological, personal, and economic issues.”

However, let’s not fool ourselves. Vázquez has not stopped protecting – to the extent of his diminished strength – the Cuban-Chavista dictatorship. Shortly after issuing the press-release mentioned above, he refused to sign another one that was published by the International Contact Group on Venezuela (of which Uruguay is a member), which states:

“The election of Luis Parra cannot be considered legitimate or democratic. We support Juan Guaidó as president of the National Assembly,” says the statement signed by the democratic Latin American and European countries that form the organization. 

Lacalle Pou is right in stating that Vázquez’s “bipolar” behavior concerning Venezuela is due to personal and economic issues. In Tabaré’s case, it seems to us that ideologies only weigh in terms of the political interests of the Frente Amplio.

In terms of the economy, it seems that there are many things that, when they are revealed, will diminish the excellent reputation of prominent figures of the Uruguayan left. We will know some of that when the national authorities change, but the most relevant information will only come to light when democracy returns to Venezuela.

Personally, Tabaré has shown that he does not mind taking advantage of autocracies to make a fortune of his own. He did so during the Uruguayan military dictatorship (1973-1985). And his son Javier, since Vázquez’s first presidency (2005-2010), has played an essential role in million-dollar software businesses with both Chávez and Maduro. The international scandal known as Panama Papers revealed a lot about that. However, these data may be just the tip of the iceberg because if everything were so crystal clear – legitimate commercial businesses – it does not explain such concern on Vázquez’s part not to offend Maduro.

However, it would seem that the “darkest” part would come from “economic aid” to cement a hegemony of power behind a democratic façade. That is, to win elections indefinitely.

The mistrust arises because of the following: if it was Chavez’s usual policy to send “suitcases” or to set up “forged” businesses to support his comrades in the region with money, is it credible that the Uruguayan rulers have remained absolutely unscathed?

As we said at the beginning of this article, the outgoing government is nervous. Consequently, it is logical to assume that they will be taking the necessary precautions to prevent some things from being made public. For example, Chancellor Nin Novoa attempted a maneuver to make access to information about his portfolio more difficult. It is revealing that he took this measure when the feeling within the Frente Amplio was that they would get an unfavorable result in the national elections, as indeed they did.

Nin Novoa limited the freedom that until then had been available to anyone who wanted to investigate the state department’s archives. He imposed a new system of centralized and restrictive access – which depends directly on him – arguing that any document is “subject to reservation.” Since the end of October, people who want to investigate in the public archives of the ministry are asked to file a case, which is then elevated to the head of the ministry. No consultation escapes the control of the hierarchy, which is the one that allows or denies access.

This behavior reminds us of the infamous Joseph Fouché (1759-1820), the fearsome French police minister, who, faced with a change of regime, took advantage of the transition period to burn his private archives, which were very compromising.

Whatever the case, it is clear that the outgoing government is nervous.

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