Three days before the referendum against 135 articles of the Law of Urgent Consideration (LUC) and two days after referendums from the Front presented their arguments in favor of the repeal in that same venue, leaders of the government coalition made their defense of the Law 19,889 at a breakfast organized by the Association of Marketing Directors of Uruguay, at the Radisson Hotel in Montevideo. The president of the Honorable Directory of the National Party, Pablo Iturralde; the general secretary of the Colorado Party, Julio María Sanguinetti; Senator Guido Manini Ríos from Cabildo Abierto and Labor Minister Pablo Mieres, who –unlike their opponents– received applause from the audience on several occasions throughout their speeches.
Iturralde began his presentation by criticizing the actions of the opposition throughout the government; not only by adopting the decision to accompany the referendum but also by questioning it during the coronavirus pandemic, with “caceroleo, quarantine and lies”. He considered that “it is striking” that they oppose a LUC that includes a series of norms with which the government has committed itself “during the entire electoral process, in all instances; In other words, we are being questioned for fulfilling the commitment of these five parties. It is our right and our obligation to carry out those changes with which we committed ourselves”, he argued.
The white leader referred to some specific contents of the regulation that are in question, such as the changes in the adoption regime, and assured that one of the points criticized by the opposition is “the regime to reduce the lapses through which the adoption of a child was achieved, which lasted between seven and eight years and which is now lasting two or three years”, although the articles that are in dispute are 403 and 404, which do not refer to the deadlines but to the participation of the Justice and the Institute for Children and Adolescents of Uruguay in the selection processes of adoptive families and the integration of children and adolescents into families. Iturralde added that according to the promoters of the Yes, the changes adopted in the LUC “were going to promote the trafficking of children’s organs.”
Iturralde also rejected that the FA alleges that it was legislated “on the run”, because in his opinion they “forget” that “for 15 years they stopped at the Huella de Seregni, on Colonia and Ejido streets, and left in down to the Legislative Palace solutions for legislation and we could not touch a comma. While they had an absolute majority, all the opposition was held hostage by people who did not allow us to discuss any of the laws, they voted for them as they wanted, when they wanted”, he stated.
Sanguinetti: the referendum must “ratify” the “conduct” of the government
Sanguinetti, meanwhile, assessed that the campaign for the referendum has been “degraded” by “those who have preferred misrepresentation, falsehood, and who now no longer discuss the law, they talk about other things.” He defended the contents on security, which in his interpretation “are the rescue of public order”, an issue in which the FA was wrong due to its “ideological conception”, he maintained. “It is necessary to understand that his actions in this matter were not the result of chance, but of a mistaken vision of society, in the conviction that in the crime the responsibility was all of society, and that as a consequence the policy would not have to be defending society, but only to seek the guarantees of the criminal”, reflected the former president. The Colorado leader said that these guarantees are guaranteed in the Constitution and will continue to be, “but in that balance before those who attack and the rights of a society to be defended from aggression.” This statement earned him applause from the audience.
For Sanguinetti, “behind all these apparently different, apparently very concrete or particular norms” there is “something much stronger, much more important, which is the rescue of essential values, the substantive reaffirmation of the ability to govern.” In reference to the words of the president, Luis Lacalle Pou, in his press conference on Wednesday, he pointed out that “the president said yesterday, because it is his duty to say so, that the next day [al referéndum]whatever the result, the government will continue to walk. But one result is not the same as the other: we have to ratify the leadership of the government. We have to ratify the effectiveness of their action”, he analyzed, and considered that “on Sunday Uruguayan society is going to demonstrate not only that it upheld a law and the march of a government, but also that it ratified the eternal values of our democracy”.
For Manini, voting Yes is “going back to that Police with their hands tied”
Manini Ríos described Sunday’s election as a “historic day” and said that in this electoral instance “much more than 135 articles of a law are at stake.” Along the same lines as Sanguinetti, he considered that it will be defined “if the country is going to continue along the path of changes that, we understand, it is essential to go through once and for all, or we are going to continue anchored, paralyzed, in the photo March of the year 2020”. He focused on the content on education, and in this regard he assured that “no one can doubt that Uruguayan public education is in crisis” and that the LUC establishes “tools” to begin to reverse it.
“We are sure that in terms of security it is not the solution either; It is not a magical law,” Manini pointed out, but he pointed to it as a first step and indicated that it must be “complemented with many things: with instruction and training for the Police, with equipment and salary, with good leadership, with good command.” In line with what the Secretary of the Presidency, Álvaro Delgado, stated in the last act of the coalition, he asserted that those who seek to repeal the articles want “to return to March 2020, to that Police with their hands tied, to that Police so often humiliated , stone run in neighborhoods of Montevideo; insulted or spat on”.
The head of Labor responded to the query of the journalistic panel regarding whether it is possible to review the mechanism to set fuel prices even if the norm is maintained, taking into account that the value in two years increased 36% and since it was incorporated the import parity price formula in the LUC, rose 13%. Mieres replied that “the problem of rising fuel prices is also part of global inflation” and stressed that “the procedure established in the LUC to increase fuel prices was approved unanimously.” “Unusually, the FA, which participated in the drafting of the article, then includes it in the list of articles that it is going to repeal, and, I would say, opportunistically, takes advantage of the international situation we are experiencing to mark it.”
The leader of the Independent Party defended the modification, and argued that “in the previous period and until the LUC, arbitrariness prevailed in setting the price of fuel. It was a variable that the government used with interest based on, even, cash needs”. Although he said that “we are not going to go backwards” on “the path of transparency and of taking out of the hands of the government itself the ability to set the price of fuel according to what it wants,” Manini assured that “all the articles of this law and all laws can be improved” and was open to “tomorrow” making “another law that establishes another parameter”; as long as “there are national agreements”.
Also in the final round of questions, the guests were asked about the financing of the campaign. The one who took the floor was Iturralde, who assured that it has been carried out “with the party’s own funds and with collections that the party has been making” and that “each of the parties has done it in the same way.” “Let’s not forget that the political parties in Uruguay are financed by the State, which they receive every month according to the number of votes they have had. It also collects, naturally, from its members, of which we have a few thousand, and from those who hold government positions. It is an important sum that allows us to tackle a campaign like this”, he indicated.