28 de mayo de 2020
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Lacalle touts political, economic, security change in Uruguay at inauguration

(Update 1: Adds details, foreign leaders present, ceremony to transfer power)

(Update 1: Adds details, foreign leaders present, ceremony to transfer power)

Montevideo, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- Luis Lacalle Pou, of the center-right National Party (PN), was inaugurated as Uruguay's president on Sunday on a slogan of political change, the same theme the leftist Broad Front (FA) used 15 years ago when it came to power for the first time in the tiny South American country.

The former senator took office as president 30 years after his father - Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera (1990-1995) - did so despite the fact that the new leader at one time touted himself as a "rebellious son" and wanted to distance himself from his family surname in his election campaign and just present himself to voters as "Luis."

In addition, he selected the green 1937 Ford V8 Cabriolet that belonged to his great-grandfather, the great politician from the late 19th century Luis Alberto de Herrera, and was the vehicle he had used to parade through the streets of Montevideo as well as being the same vehicle used by the new president's father when he had assumed the presidency in 1990.

Political change, improvements in education and the economy and better mechanisms to combat insecurity were the main points emphasized in his inaugural address by Lacalle Pou after he was sworn in at the Legislative Palace on Sunday.

"I, Luis Lacalle Pou, promise on my honor to faithfully execute the office that has been entrusted to me and to protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic," the new president pronounced upon taking the oath of office.

The policies of Lacalle's center-right National Party (PN) do not deviate much from what the 46-year-old candidate said during his presidential campaign and at his public appearances after he was proclaimed the winner of the election last November, in which he defeated Daniel Martinez, the Broad Front candidate.

"This time the citizenry gave us a clear and resounding message. The people said that a change is necessary, but a change accompanied by agreements. So, it's time to fulfill the popular will. The time for speeches is over," said Lacalle Pou, who will govern until 2025 in a coalition with the support of four other parties.

The president said that "If the people chose change, it is to take action," although he said he did not intend "to wipe the slate clean" in taking office.

"We don't deny that this phase will be to exchange one half of society for the other. Unity is what we ask of Uruguayans and so we're here to continue with what has been done well, correct what has been done badly and to do what wasn't considered and what people didn't want to do in recent years," he said.

The president acknowledged that "this is the first time in history" that a coalition of so many parties will govern the country and that "just like everything new, it creates uncertainties and opens up new paths."

The Uruguayan interior, which figures only marginally in the daily life of Montevideo and in the country's institutions, was a huge and fruitful fishing ground for votes for Lacalle Pou in November and he wanted the region represented on Sunday for his inauguration with more than 3,000 horseback riders from different parts of the country taking part in the so-called "Voice of the Countryside" march.

Outfitted in their "gaucho" - or cowboy - gear, the riders escorted Lacalle Pou and his vice president, Beatriz Argimon, to Independence Plaza in the inaugural parade during which the many thousands of people who turned out for the event shouted "Mr. President! Mr. President!" although some others booed.

At Independence Plaza, President Tabare Vazquez awaited the new leader to present him with the presidential sash, a symbolic moment during all ceremonies in Uruguay where power is passed into new hands.

Vazquez, wearing the presidential sash for the last time, took Lacalle Pou's arm and they walked together for several yards to the stage at the foot of the statue of historical figure Jose Artigas, where the former leader passed the sash to his successor.

Later, Vazquez left the plaza alone after receiving military honors but before the 13 ministers of the new government - seven from the PN, three from the center-right Colorado Party, two from the Cabildo Abierto and one from the Independent Party, among the members of the new government coalition - took their oaths of office.

Only the Party of the People, a rightist group and the fifth coalition party, does not have a ministerial post in the new government.

Once the ceremony was concluded the 120 international delegations present for the assorted events greeted and congratulated the new president and Foreign Minister Ernesto Talvi inside Artigas Palace, the former seat of the government.

Spain's King Felipe VI and the presidents of Brazil (Jair Bolsonaro), Chile (Sebastian Piñera), Colombia (Ivan Duque), Paraguay (Mario Abdo Benitez) and Bangladesh (Abdul Hamid) were the six heads of state who had traveled to Uruguay to attend the inaugural events.

Other foreign officials who were present in Montevideo on Sunday were Costa Rican Vice President Epsy Campbell, Ecuadorian Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, Ibero-American Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan and several representatives from other governments around the world.

The Latin American left was not represented at the express wish of the new government. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega and Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel were not invited.

The new president of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, was also not on hand - albeit because of the opening of the ordinary session of the Congress in his country - but he sent his foreign minister, Felipe Sola, in his stead.

EFE

Contenido relacionado

Lacalle touts political, economic, security change in Uruguay at inauguration

Montevideo, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- Political change, improvements in education and the economy and better mechanisms to combat insecurity were the main points emphasized in his inaugural address by Uruguay's new president, Luis Lacalle Pou, who was sworn in at the Legislative Palace on Sunday.

The policies of Lacalle's center-right National Party (PN) do not deviate much from what the 46-year-old candidate said during his presidential campaign and at his public appearances after he was proclaimed the winner of the election last November, in which he defeated Daniel Martinez, the candidate of the leftist Broad Front (FA).

"This time the citizenry gave us a clear and resounding message. The people said that a change is necessary, but a change accompanied by agreements. So, it's time to fulfill the popular will. The time for speeches is over," said Lacalle Pou, who will govern until 2025 in a coalition with the support of four other parties.

The president said that "If the people chose change, it is to take action," although he said he did not intend "to wipe the slate clean" in taking office.

"We don't deny that this phase will be to exchange one half of society for the other. Unity is what we ask of Uruguayans and so we're here to continue with what has been done well, correct what has been done badly and to do what wasn't considered and what people didn't want to do in recent years," he said.

The president acknowledged that "this is the first time in history" that a coalition of so many parties will govern the country and that "just like everything new, it creates uncertainties and opens up new paths."

The imminence of a reform of Social Security to transform it into a "sustainable system" was one of the main economic elements discussed by Lacalle Pou in his inaugural address, and he promised to call together "all political parties, civil society and experts" to deal with that task.

He also mentioned unemployment, high production costs and Uruguay's fiscal deficit, which - he said - "is the highest of the last 30 years."

The only aspect of international policy he alluded to was specifically related to the economy, speaking about the need to implement the agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur - which includes Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil - signed last June, quite apart from "ideological questions" among the member nations.

Lacalle Pou once again insisted on the need to "flexibilize" the regional market so that each Mercosur partner can seek agreements with third parties.

Lack of security, which was one of the main concerns mentioned by Uruguayans during the election campaign, was another of the issues the new president discussed, expressing his firm intention to bring "crime and drug trafficking" to a halt.

"We're not ready to give up ground to crime and to drug trafficking. We're going to regain control of every corner of our homeland, including in the prisons," he said.

Lacalle Pou and his vice president, Beatriz Argimon, were both sworn in on Sunday at the Legislative Palace.

EFE

Uruguay's new president brings historic name to modern age

By Santiago Carbone

Montevideo, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- With two surnames steeped in Uruguay's political history firmly on his shoulders, Luis Lacalle Pou, 46, on Sunday will become the South American nation's youngest president since its return to democracy in 1985 and the first to harness the power of social media.

The center-right National Party (PN) politician broadcasts his messages on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, a world away from his forebearers.

Lacalle Pou is also a lover of surfing, his passion for the sport taking him around the world.

His vehicle of choice for the parade to the Legislative Palace, where he will take oath, and to Independence Square, where he will greet his predecessor Tabare Vazquez, is less modern.

He has selected a 1937 Ford V8 that belonged to his great grandfather, Luis Alberto de Herrera, a towering figure in the country's political history.

It is the same vehicle used by the new president's father, Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera, when he assumed the presidency in 1990.

Throughout the election campaign, Lacalle Pou toured all of Uruguay's 19 regions in a Toyota SW4 truck, taking a page from his great-grandfather's book during his own period campaigning as the head of the PN, a period of history in which the political ideology known as "Herrerismo" was born.

Herrera traveled everywhere in his Ford V8.

Former President Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera (1990-95) told Efe that his grandfather drove the vehicle until he died and had plans to work on it when he served as a government adviser from 1955-59.

"Sometimes he would drive on the wrong side of the road," Lacalle Herrera said, recalling his grandfather's notorious car drives through Montevideo.

Following in those footsteps - or tire tracks - is Lacalle Pou.

So far, only two presidents have governed Uruguay in the social media age, Vazquez (2005-10 and 2015-20) and Jose Mujica (2010-15). Neither of them had personal or official social media accounts.

The current government opted instead to set up an official Web site and used traditional press conferences to update the country's media.

This is set to change.

Throughout the transition period since the November elections, Lacalle Pou has been disseminating important information online.

He arrived on Twitter in 2010 and at first found it hard to keep his messages down to just 140 characters.

"I had to set up an account since some idiot or ill-intentioned person did it for me. We'll see if I get used to it," he tweeted, evidently irked that someone had set up an account in his name.

Over time, however, he adapted and nine years later he had sent out some 26,000 tweets and garnered more than 210,000 followers.

Social media has also become a space where he can interact with other world leaders and politicians.

On Nov. 28, 2019, the day of his election victory, he exchanged messages with Jair Bolsonaro, Juan Guaido, Mauricio Macri, Alberto Fernandez, Martin Vizcarra, Mario Abdo Benitez, Salome Zourabichvili and Mike Pompeo.

Lacalle Pou has used Instagram throughout the years to share photos of family meetings and political rallies, and he once shared a Venezuelan flag in support of Guaido, the self-declared interim president of that crisis-struck country.

If the past is any guide, it is virtually certain that Lacalle Pou will rely significantly on social media during his upcoming term, which will last until 2025.

EFE

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