Uruguayan President Supports Peruvian Idea of Reducing Military Spending in Region
By Dialogo January 27, 2011
On 25 January, at the end of a state visit, the first by an Uruguayan
president to Peru in twenty-five years, Uruguayan President José Mujica said that he
“will take very much into account” the proposal by his Peruvian counterpart, Alan
García, to reduce military spending in South America.
Mujica, who was traveling on to Venezuela the following day, was received
with military honors at the Government Palace in Lima, where he signed a joint
declaration with García and where they were present at the signing of eight
bilateral cooperation agreements.
“Our countries need resources in order to address the needs of populations
that are in situations of poverty,” the Uruguayan president said, after his Peruvian
colleague asked him to “take up the banner of peace and disarmament among our South
“The president is doing a good thing, that we should stop being idiots and
spending money on arms when we have to spend a lot of money on other things and
raise up so many people who are still left behind, crushed, subjected, and ignored,”
Likewise, “I thank the president, and I’m going to take his advice very much
into account,” he declared.
García said that he was sure that “Uruguay’s voice, in the person of Mujica,
will have profound consequences in the Union of South American Nations” (Unasur,
which is made up of twelve South American countries).
“I’m sure that the call that we cease our suspicions and that peace reign in
our countries will be heard,” he added.
The demand for reductions in military spending is one of the central
foreign-policy aims of the Peruvian president, who maintains that some governments
in the region, Chile and Venezuela among them, spend excessive amounts of money on
the acquisition of sophisticated weapons.
The two presidents met for an hour in the presidential palace, where they
reviewed the state of bilateral relations and discussed items on the international
Following the signing of a variety of cooperation agreements, Mujica showed
himself to be in favor of improving Peruvian-Uruguayan relations in a meeting with
He invited Peruvian entrepreneurs to invest in his country. “There’s room for
entrepreneurs, there’s room to live. We’re almost empty; we have three and half
million inhabitants and a fertile land.”
“The Americas are one; don’t just stay in Argentina and Buenos Aires, take a
little side trip,” he noted.
Mujica was characterized by García as a “fighter for democracy and social
justice, someone looked to as an example in Latin America.”
In a note of modesty, the Uruguayan president said that he did not deserve
“so much noise, because the pigeons get frightened,” in allusion to the
twenty-one-gun salute that startled the pigeons in the Plaza Mayor, where the seat
of government is located.
He also denied that the fourteen years he spent in prison for his
revolutionary activities make him a hero. “Sometimes we need to behave heroically
because there’s no other choice, but we’re just like any guy from the neighborhood,”
Subsequently, at a meeting with businesspeople at the Lima Chamber of
Commerce, upon receiving a decoration from the business group, Mujica said, “I’m a
country boy; I don’t deserve this decoration.”
Eight cooperation agreements on issues of migration, ports, health, trade,
and diplomatic training were signed in connection with Mujica’s visit to
Mujica was also received at ceremonial sessions of the Lima municipal
government and the Congress.