In an interview with the BBC, Lacalle was consulted on various issues of geopolitics and also national politics.
In this regard, he referred to MERCOSUR and its interest in opening markets outside the region. He said that Brazil and Argentina are not willing to open as fast as Uruguay wants and needs. “We belong to MERCOSUR. We do not accept the argument that we have to do it all together. You can interpret the rules in different ways. A few months ago, Brazil and Argentina took a measure that did not meet with our approval. So, we are trying to convince Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay”, he said.
“We want to move forward and we will move forward. We are trying to agree with China, with Turkey. This invitation from the British Prime Minister for us was a very good moment to talk about trade with the United Kingdom, and we will continue to move forward”, Lacalle stressed during the interview.
He quoted Lord Palmerston who said that “countries have no permanent enemies, no permanent friends. They have permanent interests.”
Lacalle stressed that 37% of Uruguayan exports go to China and he is willing to expand markets.
“If the only option is to sell the products for a good price to China or not to sell them, what would you do? I sell. If we open more markets, if the United States opens more markets for us, the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe, Turkey, whatever, we will sell. If I can choose, I will not put all my exports in a single country”, sentenced the president.
He questioned that today the United States government is not looking to the south. “I am not in love with the FTAs. We want to sell our products, our services and our intellectual creations. That’s what we want. And so far, this Joe Biden administration has not looked at our country.”
He stressed again that one thing is trade and another is human rights, ideology or whatever.
Lacalle was consulted by the government of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro. “I think Maduro is not willing to call free elections. He is not willing to have a democracy in Venezuela.
When asked if “Do you see him as a dictator?”, Lacalle replied: “Of course. It is. He entered MERCOSUR because our previous government had strong relations with Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, then they fell out when they left MERCOSUR. It was not logical to have Venezuela in MERCOSUR, but that is another story”.
In another order, the BBC journalist consulted Lacalle about the increase in homicides in Uruguay.
“We are receiving a lot of pressure from drug trafficking. And the violence has increased. In this month of May, before the middle of May, we had more homicides than last May. We were recording the homicides. If you look at the long story from five or six years ago, the results were fine until the last three months,” she detailed.
He rejected the statements of the UN special rapporteur who concluded that some of the measures he wanted to take in terms of security did not comply with international human rights standards, and he questioned that his government is launching an attack against unions, he also said that he did not the reports of the Center for Archives and Access to Public Information (CAINFO) that refer to a setback in freedom of expression in Uruguay are true,
The journalist told Lacalle that in 2014 he declared that he was against the state producing and selling drugs and earning money in this way, and yet he has done nothing to stop it. “And he tells me that you’re trying to tackle drug crime in his country and that drug-related violence is a big problem. Don’t you see a connection there?
Lacalle replied: “I see a connection and I will explain it to you. First, I voted for part of this bill because if I think you have to be able to have your marijuana legally and not illegally, then I should vote for that. Second, I believe that the State does not have to be in plantations and selling drugs. In fact, we are putting money in, because we have to put in some money monthly, annually, because the production is not sustainable,” he stated.
“We are trying to change some things. I don’t believe in states growing and selling marijuana. I believe in people, cannabis clubs or whatever we have, that produce their own marijuana and can have their own circles of marijuana consumption and not the State, “said the president.
“We made a mistake. That’s why I didn’t vote for it at the time. Now we have the system working. So we can change it, but we can’t change it overnight, all at once. I do not agree that the system was betrayed. We have cooperation with other countries, we are working together, we exchange information. Drug trafficking is an international crime, we work with different agencies, with other countries, so no, we are far from betraying international policies”, he pointed out.