Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Uruguay and nonalignment, one year later

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote about how Uruguay seemed to be part of a new non-aligned movement. Not much has changed since then, which is all good for Uruguay.

Hugo Chávez was just there visiting, and announced that Uruguay would have continued access to Venezuelan oil and gas reserves. He also discussed how to help the country expand its one oil refinery. (There was also the obligatory insult, saying Bush is Dracula—I don’t think I’ve heard that particular reference before). In return, Uruguay offered its support for Venezuela’s entrance into Mercosur, which is being blocked by the Brazilian and Paraguayan legislatures. Meanwhile, on Friday the Uruguayan ambassador to Cuba talked about the relationship between the two countries are at their “best moment in history.”

Yet at the same time, in the first half of 2007 Uruguay was the fastest growing market in Latin America for U.S. goods. President Bush was in Uruguay earlier this year, discussing free trade and investment with President Vázquez.

I know that the Frente Amplio is split on whether to pursue a free trade agreement with the U.S., but I would imagine Vázquez can use that to his advantage when talking to U.S. officials. For now, he gets attention from Chávez and more access for Uruguayan goods in the United States (even, at least for now, without signing an FTA).


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