Uruguay. According to CountryAAH, major public holidays in Uruguay include Independence Day (August 25) and New Year (January 1). A difficult diplomatic dispute with Argentina dominated the year in Uruguay. It was the plans to build two cellulose factories near the town of Fray Bentos on the Uruguay border that caused protests in Argentina. Among other things, environmental movements highlighted ecological risks with the project and locals on the Argentine side initiated a long-standing blockade of the border bridges with devastating consequences for Uruguay’s economy.
A minor political crisis hit the government when Finance Minister Danilo Astori proposed a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, which Foreign Minister Reinaldo Gargano rejected. Also Brazil and Argentina, which together with Uruguay are part of the South American free trade organization Mercosur, said that a separate agreement with the US would be in conflict with Mercosur’s principles and cause Uruguay’s exclusion. The dissatisfaction with the dominance of the two major countries within Mercosur has been around for a long time.
President Tabaré Vázquez’s relations with the military were also strained. In September, eight former military and police officers were brought to trial for human rights violations during the military dictatorship 1973–85 despite a current amnesty law. The following month, Vázquez dismissed Army Chief Carlos Díaz because of a secret meeting he held with opposition leader Julio María Sanguinetti, who during his time as president introduced the amnesty law and opposes it.
2002 Argentina’s deep economic crisis spreads to Uruguay
In January 2002, 15,000 people from all over the country went to the exclusive seaside resort of Punta del Este to protest economic policy. The star demonstration paralyzed a significant part of the country and some cities in the inner part of the country. A number of public meetings were conducted within the framework of the partial general strike called for by the national organization PIT-CNT. The government banned the demonstration from reaching the seaside resorts on the Atlantic coast, and placed a 5-km-long iron ring around Punta del Este.
Uruguay had entered the third year of economic decline, imposing a special duty of 20% on all goods from Argentina. It was feared that the industry in Uruguay would not be able to compete with Argentine industrial products after falling 50% as a result of the devaluation of the Argentine peso in 2002. In March, the IMF approved a loan of $ 443 million. US $ to help Uruguay and to protect the country from the economic collapse in Argentina. The economic program referral projected a 1.7% decline in output, but also forecast a 3% increase in 2003. Uruguay pledged to reduce its budget deficit to 2.5% in 2002 and 1.5% in 2003, with the perspective of balancing in 2004. Finally, the IMF demanded that the government privatize the state monopolies in energy, oil,
The Argentine judiciary confirmed on March 19 that a young Argentinian was in fact Simón Riquelo, son of Sara Méndez, a Uruguayan woman arrested under the Argentine military dictatorship in the 1970’s. The affidavit set the stage for the 25-year search for the child who was removed from the mother on the night of July 13, 1976, immediately after being born. A large number of Uruguayans celebrated the mother’s reunion with her child. Méndez found that she had not received any support from the Uruguayan state during her long search for her child.
In April, Uruguay presented a condemning resolution of Cuba due to the human rights situation in the country. The resolution led to a serious deterioration in relations between the two countries. The Cuban government in particular attacked President Batlle, and it ended with the severing of diplomatic relations. Despite the outbreak, Habana continued to send free meningitis vaccine to Uruguaya as promised after the outbreak of a minor epidemic.