Latin America has not enjoyed a season of serious leaders.
Unfortunately, there’s been too much populism and just sheer demagoguery, from the Castros in Cuba, to Chavez in Venezuela or the corruption in Brazil.
It has not been a time of serious leadership in Latin America.
One serious man died yesterday in Uruguay. I am talking about former President Jorge Batlle who was 88.
This is from The New York Times obituary:
After another unsuccessful run in 1994, Batlle finally won election in 1999 and took office in 2000.
In 2001, Uruguay was hit by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that forced the country to suspend all exports of meat, a backbone of the economy. Shortly after that, Uruguay was dragged down by an economic crisis in its neighbor and major trading partner, Argentina.
By 2002, Uruguay’s foreign reserves had dived and unemployment reached 20 percent.
Batlle used his good relation with U.S. President George W. Bush to help obtain $1.5 billion in credit to stave off default.
Battle broke diplomatic relations with communist-led Cuba in 2002 after a war of words with Fidel Castro following Uruguay’s decision to condemn Cuba’s human rights record in an annual U.N. vote in Geneva. Relations were restored in 2005.
Naturally, his presidency was overshadowed by the aforementioned economic crisis. Nevertheless, he dealt with it responsibly and free of scandal.
It’s been a tough period for Latin American politics. Too many demagogues and not enough statesmen.
RIP Sr. Batlle, a statesman in our time.