In the run-up to the troubled ninth Summit of the Americas taking place this week in Los Angeles, Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, whose center-right government has been one of the most consistently aligned with U.S. policies in the region, strongly criticized the Biden administration, asserting that it lacks a vision for Latin America and mistakenly sees the hemisphere’s diverse countries as all having the same problems and needs.
Lacalle Pou’s candid remarks demonstrate the principled consistency of a government that is often overlooked by, but increasingly important to Washington, at a time when Latin American governments are increasingly turning to partners that are less aligned with the U.S., particularly China.
The March 2020 inauguration of Lacalle Pou, who leads Uruguay’s center-right National Party, ended 15 years of government by the Frente Amplio, or Broad Front, coalition, which had pursued generally center-left social democratic policies. The new government’s foreign policy, spearheaded by Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, has focused on advocacy for democratic governance and resistance to nondemocratic regimes, both in Latin America and around the world. This is complemented by a diversification of Uruguay’s economic relationships, including an embrace of trade with China, on top of Uruguay’s historical trading relationship with its neighbors in the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur, and to a lesser extent the European Union.