Uruguay’s president, José Mujica, said today in his weekly radio address that Argentina’s recent trade measures will hurt Uruguay’s economy and impede efforts at regional integration. Mujica directly denounced Argentina for pursuing what he described as the “politics of confrontation”.
Earlier this week, Argentina prohibited merchandise originating from Argentine ports from transferring ships in Uruguayan ports, threatening to reduce activity in the port of Montevideo by up to 25%.
“Argentina’s insular policies harm regional integration and work to break up Mercosur,” affirmed Mujica. ”We do not share the vision that a country must affect other members of Mercosur in order to defend the rights of its people…We must look for outlets together and cooperate more with each other.”
In response to the provision, Mujica insinuated that the move was retaliation by Argentina in response to Uruguay’s decision to permit augmented production at the UPM (ex-Botnia) pulp mill on the Rio Uruguay.
Argentine officials had previously blocked Uruguay’s request to increase production on grounds that the mill polluted the shared river, and after the production increase was ratified, threatened to take Uruguay to the Hague.
Mujica defended his country’s “painful decision” to increase production, despite the “tension and misunderstanding” that may result.
“We found ourselves between a rock and a hard place and we had to take the action we took with respect to the pulp mill,” Mujica said Wednesday to the daily El Pais de Montevideo. “And now, by coincidence, these things happen.”