Uruguayan President-elect Luis Lacalle Pou’s proposal of attracting Argentine investment has not won the approval of one his predecessors, José ‘Pepe’ Mujica.
The former head of stats rejected the idea of bringing "100,000 cagadores" (roughly translated to "assholes" or "scum") Argentines across the border, saying that it would be more appropriate to instead allocate more resources to repatriate Uruguayan currency found in other parts of the world, rather than granting tax benefits to foreigners.
Lacalle Pou, who will take office on March 1, wants to loosen regulations to attract Argentine businesses and incentivise them to bring their money and perhaps even settle in Uruguay.
Gianfranco Macri, former President Mauricio Macri’s brother, has already expressed interest in moving to the other side of Río de la Plata.
“Instead of 100,000 Argentine cagadores, let’s worry about our own making investment here,” said Mujica in colourful statements reproduced by the Uruguayan site El Observador.
“We have some US$24 million dispersed around the world. Why not try to bring a chunk of that money back into the country?” asked the former head of state and current senator-elect.
The figurehead of the Frente Amplio party said that, even with only a slice of that pie the Uruguayan economy would be stimulated. He went on to defend his initiative that calls for the creation of a fund with public and private capital.
“We need to move toward becoming a state that gives support to successful local enterprises, not as a manager, but in alliance with the private sector,” continued Mujica.
The ex-president's position against Lacalle Pou’s plan is aligned with President Alberto Fernández’s position, with whom he maintains a good relationship. Last November they debated at the Universidad de Tres Febrero about regional politics, debt, showcasing their alignment on these issues as well.
When he was interviewed on the C5N channel, Fernández discussed Lacalle Pou’s proposal and said, “It cost them a lot to shake the nickname of ‘tax haven,’ falling back into that is not a good idea.”
He continued: “The Frente Amplio party, with 'Pepe' [Mujica], [Danilo] Astori y Tabaré [Vázquez], did a prolific job in stopping Uruguay from continuing to be a tax haven and spuriously favouring itself with outside money, that if I were Luis [Lacalle Pou] and he asked me, I would tell him to think twice.”