Home World Uruguay: a crowd mobilized against the government of Lacalle Pou

Uruguay: a crowd mobilized against the government of Lacalle Pou

The streets of Montevideo plebiscited the year and a half of government of Luis Lacalle Pou. A strike with mobilization – the third against the coalition led by the president – was felt this Wednesday in the capital. It was summoned by the PIT-CNT workers’ union with the substantive conflict raised by the Urgent Consideration Law (LUC), “the flagship” of the Executive Power, as it told PageI12 the ruling deputy Pedro Jisdonian. From the box that stood at the corner of Avenida del Libertador Brigadier Antonio Lavalleja and La Paz, the general secretary of the union, Marcelo Abdala, summoned another Uruguayan hero, José Gervasio Artigas, to summarize the slogan of the act: “ So that the most unhappy are the most privileged ”.

The traditional means of communication that runs into the Legislative Palace at the intersection with Avenida de la Leyes, was filled with mobilized people around noon. Thousands of workers stopped, concentrated and listened to the speakers of a day that Lacalle Pou defined as “politics”. Fernando Pereira, the president of the PIT-CNT replied: “Yes, it is politics, it is against the labor policy, against the wage policy, against the policy promoted in the LUC”. The crowd was confused with a hundred horsemen who came from the interior and who again summoned the protector of the free peoples: “As Artigas said, at the foot of the pingo.” They were protesting against a government decision that plans to use funds earmarked for the National Colonization Institute (INC) to transfer them to a trust that seeks to eradicate the settlements. The march on horseback was called by the National Union of Salaried, Rural and Related Workers (Unatra).

Lacalle Pou from Expo Prado

The countryside and the city united against the measures of the government that took office on March 1, 2020. The president made statements from Expo Prado, an exhibition similar to the one held in Rural de Palermo: “I was reading the harangues or the PIT-CNT strike platforms. They are within their rights. Uruguay simply needs to work more, it needs to make an effort, we are emerging from a pandemic. This is a clearly political strike ”. Lacalle Pou also said that it was made against the LUC.

The Broad Front deputy Gabriel Otero, consulted in his office in Congress by this newspaper, commented: “The LUC, although it is not the first time it has been approved in the country, touches 35 or 40 more laws, as if it were a column vertebral. It is very ideological and tends to right-wing everyday aspects of our life, and, ergo, right-wing society. Because considering in Uruguay after one hundred years the right to strike, the recognition of unions, that mobilizations and pickets, everything that workers in a conflict do, be declared illegal, is a step that goes against all trade union freedoms . And I give an example: in fifteen years of the Broad Front government, some four hundred new unions were born and from 130 to 140 thousand workers affiliated with our only central, we went to 400 thousand. That was a state policy. The LUC is the opposite. He came to plant an agenda, something that the right always does faster than the left ”.

The deputy Jisdonian of the National Party thinks very differently: “This law was raised in the electoral campaign. More than 270 articles were modified and the constitutional mechanism of the LUC was also used in the past by the Frente Amplio. We seek with it to give dynamics to the government, and there is no point in the law that can surprise anyone. Its first draft is from January 2020, it was not voted overnight. The Broad Front was very wounded by the defeat at the polls and installed this issue with the signatures meeting for the referendum. Nobody wants people to be bad, we all seek the same thing ”. Otero and Jisdonian are members of the same commission of Labor Legislation and Social Security of the Lower House.

About ten blocks from where the Legislative Palace Annex works, Abdala was enthusiastic about the mobilization capacity of the PIT-CNT: “We are going to have to enlarge Avenida del Libertador because it is too small for us ”. And he asked that the crisis “not be paid by the workers.” Uruguay’s social problems are perceived in the humble neighborhoods of Montevideo and also in the streets of the center. There are too many people on the street or asking for money on Avenida 18 de Julio or in the Old City. Lacalle Pou described a different reality at Expo Prado. He mentioned that during his government the number of Uruguayans who collects unemployment insurance fell. And he compared it with the immediate antecedent of the last government of the Front: “There were more than 47 thousand Uruguayans in unemployment insurance and the pandemic took it to a hundred and long. Today we are with 38 thousand Uruguayans in unemployment insurance, less than when we assumed ”.

For the mobilized opposition, these figures do not match reality. Nor with the poster that a protester raised: “I’m starving,” it said. While the chords of the International and the Uruguayan anthem descended from the box, a very hearty image completed the civic day. Former President Pepe Mujica and his wife, Senator Lucía Topolansky, followed the event sitting on folding chairs.

The Avenida del Libertador towards the Legislative Palace that rises in the neighborhood of La Aguada had been transformed into a multicolored mosaic and at the same time compact. The images of Mario Benedetti, Juana de Ibarbourou and Alfredo Zitarrosa observed from a mural near the Congress painted on the Plaza Michelini – Gutiérrez Ruiz square. This remodeled public space pays tribute to the two Uruguayan legislators assassinated in Buenos Aires in 1976 in the framework of the Condor Plan. It is part of a cultural corridor that surrounded the mobilization, the most important in a decade called by the Uruguayan workers’ union.

Signatures for the referendum

Social tensions in Uruguay are on the rise. The LUC is a watershed that will end its journey in the first months of 2022. The nine members of the Electoral Court are analyzing the 796,526 signatures that the opposition and different expressions of society gathered to submit the law to a referendum. A survey by the consulting firm Cifra maintains that the LUC is supported by 44% of the population, 34% reject it and 22% remain undecided. A week earlier the same company had reported that the approval of Lacalle Pou as president dropped ten points in a year. “Management judgments deteriorate, slowly but consistently, since July 2020,” the study says.



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