"We are not going to sign the TLC [Free Trade Agreement] with the United States", Hugo Rodriguez, secretary of the Chamber of Senators and director of the Uruguayan Socialist Party, which is part of the Frente Amplio government, told Green Left Weekly's Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter in a brief interview following a "Socialism in Latin America" seminar in Quito, Ecuador, on May 17-18. "But we are in a difficult situation."
"Uruguay doesn't have oil, only cattle. And, although we are members of Mercosur [the common economic market established in the southern cone in 1995], Argentina and Brazil have locked us out of the meat market, so it is very difficult for small countries like Uruguay and Paraguay. Also, we have a massive national debt — billions of dollars. So the right-wing has launched a massive campaign for Uruguay to join the TLC in the media, on television and radio and so on."
Rodriguez explained that "Uruguay has an economic agreement with Venezuela. We are exchanging cattle for oil. We have agreements for trade in many areas, including communications and the gas pipeline. Together, we are trying to set up an infrastructure throughout all of Latin America that will be difficult to dismantle. This will be our part of the economic integration of the whole continent."
From Green Left Weekly, June 14, 2006.
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