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Uruguay: Deep Political Crisis Awaits Lacalle Pou Upon Returning From the US

After meeting with his US colleague Joseph Biden on Friday in Washington DC, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou has a busy agenda ahead of him Saturday back at home after the crisis sparked by the resignation of Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, who was involved in a cover-up following the highly irregular issuance of a passport to wanted drug trafficker Sebastián Marset.

Lacalle discussed with Biden and other leaders from Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Canada, and Barbados, and the foreign ministers of Mexico and Panama the region’s future economic prosperity.

Upon returning to Uruguay on Saturday, Lacalle will meet at the Suárez y Reyes residence with members of the ruling Multicolor coalition, after which he will also welcome opposition Broad Front (Frente Amplio – FA) Chairman Fernando Pereira.

The first meeting is scheduled for 5 pm and Pereira is expected at 6.30 pm, it was reported in Montevideo.

Bustillo testified on Friday before Prosecutor of Economic and Complex Crimes Alejandro Machado in the investigation surrounding the scandal.

Senator Guido Manini Ríos of Cabildo Abierto, a far-right member of the Multicolor alliance, pointed out that the issue was “very serious” and demanded Lacalle’s immediate return to Uruguay. Also involved in the case are former Deputy Foreign Minister Carolina Ache and Presidential Advisor Roberto Lafluf. Manini maintained that Lafluf “did not act on his own” and announced that Cabildo Abierto would wait for Saturday’s talks before deciding “its next steps.”

“First we will listen and then we will say what we think”, said Manini about Lacalle’s summons for the Marset case. “It is essential that we all have clear the reality of the facts and then act accordingly,” said Manini Ríos Friday during a press conference.

“It is a political crisis, it cost the resignation of a foreign minister and it will probably be followed by other removals. I would not speak of institutional crisis because there is still water under the bridge, we have to see how this situation is processed,” he added.

Manini Ríos also pointed out he hoped that all the explanations were going to be “satisfactory” and that there would be a justification for each of the things that were denounced. “There has to be some kind of explanation,” he said.

The Frente Amplio announced Friday that it was “in permanent session due to the institutional crisis that the country is going through.”

Source: Merco Press