MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez met on Monday with representatives of the rural agricultural sectors to announce measures “to be implemented immediately” that will begin to resolve the conflict with farmers that erupted in early January.
After meeting behind closed doors at the presidential residence for some 90 minutes, Vazquez announced, among other policies, extended fuel price reductions for small and medium-sized farmers to address “the main relevant difficulties” being suffered by dairy, rice and fruit and vegetable producers.
“These measures will be complimented with the establishment of a working group ... to analyze other potential actions in the medium and long term (regarding) structural public policies,” the president said.
Vazquez said that the working group will include representatives of the rural unions, as well as the so-called “autoconvocado” group, who have been leading the protests to improve agricultural competitiveness and lower their costs.
The president decided to invite the group to meet with him after the massive demonstration on Jan. 23 by thousands of people in central Durazno province to prepare a proposal for the government.
Specifically, for the dairy sector, an electric rate reduction of 15 percent will be extended until March, after which it could increase, and a fund will be created to help producers reduce their high debt.
The rice sector will also enjoy an extension of the 15 percent electricity reduction, whereas the fruit and vegetable sector will see an overall 18.03 percent fuel price reduction.
Vazquez said that no alteration in the country’s exchange rate vis-a-vis the US dollar was being contemplated, despite the farming sector’s demand, because doing so would harm the bulk of Uruguayan society.
He also said that “the government has acted with complete honesty and transparency, is permanently open to dialogue and to seeking solutions to the problems the country has with the participation of all actors.”