Uruguay is ‘Switzerland in South America’ led by poorest, frugalest President
Uruguay is ‘Switzerland in South America’ led by poorest, frugalest President
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  • 승인 2014.10.21 08:26
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VM Cho extols Uruguay at 50th anniversary of bilateral ties

First Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul of Foreign Affairs said: “Uruguay is a small country but a strong one. As it is called a ‘Switzerland in South America,’ Uruguay is an exemplary country in South America in per-capita GNI, human development index, government transparency, economic growth and contribution to the international community.”

Vice Minister Cho made this statement as a part of his congratulatory speech at a reception hosted by Ambassador Dr. Mrs. Alba Florio Legnani of Uruguay at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on Sept. 23, 2014 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and Uruguay.

Vice Minister Cho’s speech that evening had another passage that came pat to the heart of the Korean people. It was his quoting of a statement by President Jose Mojica of Uruguay, “I do not expect the people to live like I do.

I respect the rights of the people, but at the same time I would like to keep my rights.” Cho then conveyed the world’s recognition of President Jose Mujica as “the poorest and frugalest leader in the world” which is one of the strongest elements of virtue expected by the people in Korea for a President. (See an unofficial English translation of excerpts rendered by The Korea Post from his speech toward the end of this Article.)

Earlier, a welcome speech was given by Ambassador Florio Legnani of Uruguay who said in part: “Relations between Korea and Uruguay have always been excellent and this commits us to take them even further in terms of political dialogue, investments, commerce, scientific and technological cooperation and cultural encounter.” (See excerpts from her speech toward the end of this Article.)

There also was a congratulatory speech by Vice Minister Nelson Loustaunau of Employment & Social Security of Uruguay, who congratulated the growing warm relations between Korea and his country, and stressed the importance of increased cooperation between them.

It was an international buffet dinner but one where the guests had their food and beverage seated before their table, which was much more comfortable than the normal ‘standing buffet’ where the guests had their food and drinks standing?although some may have preferred the latter in that they could freely move and enjoy the different companies they preferred.

As if to add justice to the choice of ‘seated buffet’ that evening, there was a beautiful presentation of songs by noted Uruguayan Tango Vocalist Monica Navarro with Horacio di Yori at piano, which, of course, would not be enjoyed by the guests if they had to listen to them standing.

They presented a total of 12 numbers for more than an hour which was both a surprise to the audience (for their energy) and rare treat to the ear and eyes. The repertoire consisted of: And to Me What; Bitter Fruit; Nothing; After; Sasha Sissi and the Baba Circle; Old Gringo; Cambalache; Road; Influenza; Mother, I want a Boyfriend; Dad, Take Me to Downtown; and Take it Easy, Old Man, Easy!

Among the guests in attendance from the Korean side, besides Second Vice Minister Tae-Yul Cho of Foreign Affairs of Korea, were Director-General Jang Myung-Soo Jang Foreign Affairs for Latin America & Caribbean Affairs, former Korean Ambassador Yeon-Chung Choi to Uruguay, Publisher-Chairman Lee Kyung-sik of The Korea Post and Deputy Editor Chang Ik-kyung of Hankuk Kyungje (WOW) TV.

From the Diplomatic Corps in Korea came many mission chiefs who included Ambassadors Ceferino Adrian Valdez Peralta of Paraguay, Edmundo Sussumu Fujita of Brazil, Konstantin V. Vnukov of Russia, Hocine Sahraoui of Algeria, Khalil Al- Mosawi of Iraq, Hernan Brantes Glavic of Chile, Michel Idiaquez Baradat of Honduras, Omar Al-Nahar Jordan, Nicolas Fabian Trujillo Newlin of Ecuador, Tomasz Kozlowski of E.U., Krzysztof Ignacy Majka of Poland, Albino Malungo of Angola, Natallia Zhylevich of Belarus, Grecia Fiordalicia Pichardo Polanco of Dominican Republic, Vasyl Marmazov of Ukraine, Manuel Lopez Trigo of Costa Rica, Nikoloz Apkhazava of Georgia, Calin Fabian of Romania Antonio Quinteiro Nobre of Portugal, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Jaime Pomareda of Peru, Guadalupe Palomeque De Taboada of Bolivia, Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Calderon of Guatemala, Uri Shraga Gutman of Israe,l Jorge Jose Alberto Roballo of Argentina, Elisabeth Bertagnoli of Austria, Hernani Filomena Coelho Da Silva of Timor-Leste, Hany Seim Labib of Egypt, Tito Saul Pinilla Pinilla of Colombia, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Yadira Hidalgo de Ortiz of Venezuela (CDA), Jason Manuel Castro Olivares of El Salvador (CDA), Elizabeth Nicol of Ghana and Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaizan.

From the international community in Korea came many senior business executives and their spouses, who included President & CEO Sergio Rocha of GM Korea, President Luis Xavier Rojas of Zoetis Korea and Vice President Hector Villarreal of GM Korea. There also were many lady guests from international community in Korea. Among them were Mrs. Lorenzo di Loreto, Hector, Luis Rojas and Rainer Gaertner.

In a brief interview with The Korea Post, President Rojas of Zoetis Korea said: “We are very happy to be living in Korea. It is a very developed country and it has many wonderful cross-cultural activities such as this Uruguayan event.”

On the performances presented by Uruguayan Tango Vocalist Monica Navarro and Pianism Horacio di Yori, Rojas said: “We enjoyed Tango and great Uruguayan food that brings us closer to home in our different countries in Latin America. We are very pleased to have received the invitation of Her Excellency Alba Florio, Ambassador of Uruguay in Korea, as well as all the great planning and kindness of all members of the Uruguayan Embassy team.”

Excerpts from the speech of ambassador Alba Florio of Uruguay:

Welcome, thank you again for coming tonight, it is a pleasure for us to welcome you to this Dinner Tango Show, in which we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Korea.

Relations between both countries have always been excellent and this commits us to take them even further in terms of political dialogue, investments, commerce, scientific and technological cooperation and cultural encounter. In short, the objective must be to make our people to get to know each other, induce them to know from each other and for that we should make all our efforts.

Uruguay is a small country in terms of territory and population, a faraway country, but rich in humanistic values and close to Korea in terms of friendship.

Our countries have an enormous potential for complementation, even though we are located at the opposite corners geographically, both countries are open to the world, surrounded by larger neighbors.

Uruguay has much to learn from the “Korean Miracle” of the recent years. We understand the past as a reconstruction done from the present, contemplating the future, and we are looking attentively the process of this country, from this context.

In these days, it is said that we need, not only great projects or large amounts of money to make a great business or investment, but, also, a great deal of confidence. And the confidence is built on the basis of knowledge and friendship relations between the parties concerned.

And that is what we have been trying whole this year, to bring our people closer through cultural manifestations on either side, and allow us to understand and get to know each other.

We are doing that again today through music, in this occasion the Tango, and gastronomy, meat, cheese, wine.

We are doing that again today through music, in this occasion the Tango, and gastronomy, meat, cheese, wine.

I would like to welcome the presence of Mr. CHO Tae Yul, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea, as well as Dr. Nelson Loustaunau, the Vice-Minister of Labour and Social Security of Uruguay, who are both here tonight.

Excerpts from the speech of Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul (an unofficial English translation by The Korea Post):

It is a great pleasure that I have this precious opportunity to speak on the relations between Korea and Uruguay on the meaningful occasion of the 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Korea and Uruguay are geographically located opposite from each other on the globe and I would like to look back on the development of bilateral relationship and friendship forged between the two countries for the past 50 years overcoming the geographical distance and picture the bright future of the bilateral relations for the forthcoming other 50 years.

In 2007, I visited Uruguay in my capacity as the head of Korean delegation to the Korea-Uruguay Joint Economic Committee meeting. I had vaguely imagined that Uruguay was the most prosperous and advanced country in South America 100 years ago and that she would still remain much restage of such a country even today. As soon as I entered the street of Montevideo, I realized and saw with my own eyes that I had not been wrong.

Meeting with His Excellency the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, my Uruguayan counterpart, and other leaders of the Uruguayan government, I realized why it was Uruguay, and not any other countries, where the country was a gateway to South American, and a venue where the multi-national trade meeting and various other international political and economic conferences yielded good results.

Even today, I cannot forget the warmest hospitality I was accorded to in Montevideo and other places in Uruguay during my 2-night-3-day stay there.

Uruguay is a small country but a strong one. As it is called a ‘Switzerland in South America,’ Uruguay is an exemplary country in South America in per-capita GNI, human development index, government transparency, economic growth and contribution to the international community.

I must not go without mentioning the generosity, openness and practicality on the part of the people, which also add to the strong points of Uruguay. Last year, the Economist magazine of the United Kingdom chose Uruguay as the ‘Country of This Year’ as it obviously highly appreciated the national traits of the political leaders and the people of Uruguay who practiced social generosity.

“I do not expect the people to live like I do. I respect the rights of the people but at the same time I would like to keep my rights.” So said President Jose Mujica who is the poorest and most frugal leader in the world. This statement clearly shows the wisdom of the people of Uruguay. I am wondering if the Uruguayan people have not developed this wisdom throughout their history of Uruguay against the backdrop where they had to seek harmony and balance for independence and survival sandwiched between powerful countries. The Uruguayan people gravely chose generosity and openness as a means to outlive such a situation.

Korea and Uruguay have trodden more or less a similar way in the past 50 years in terms of the effort to secure a way for economic development, political democratization and overcome the international financial crisis. However, there have not been many opportunities to come closer together to each other.

However, this situation, paradoxically means that there is that much potential for the two countries to increase their cooperation in the future. It is my fixed conviction that the two countries will sagaciously overcome their political and economic challenges and will each become a precious partner to each other as a strong small-medium country in Northeast Asia and South America.

Before the end of this year, I hope to visit Uruguay once more, confirm such potential, seek to promote various projects and realize the potential. I will try to provide my unreserved support to help Her Excellency Ambassador Florio of Uruguay in realizing all the efforts and projects she has been promoting as a good Korean friend of Uruguay.

I offer my toast in celebration of the 50th anniversary diplomatic relations between Korea and Uruguay and for the friendship and trust of the two countries in the next 50 years to come.


Excerpts from the Spanish-language text of congratulatory speech by Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul:

Palabras de Felicitaciones por el cincuenta aniversario de las relaciones diplom?ticas entre Corea y Uruguay

Es un gran placer para mi pronunciar, en nombre del gobierno y del pueblo de la Rep?blica de Corea, mis palabras de felicitaci?n en este significativo evento que conmemora el cincuenta aniversario de las relaciones diplom?ticas entre Corea y Uruguay.

Espero sinceramente que el evento de hoy sirva como una preciosa oportunidad para rememorar los pasos de amistad y de confianza que hemos dado juntos en los ?ltimos cincuenta a?os, superando la distancia geogr?fica de dos pa?ses que se encuentran en las ant?podas del mundo. Confio, asimismo, que ser? una valiosa oportunidad para esbozar el futuro de un nuevo medio siglo que iremos forjando conjuntamente.

Se?oras y se?ores,

Afortunadamente, tuve el privilegio de visitar Uruguay como jefe de nuestra delegaci?n de la Comisi?n Econ?mica bilateral en el a?o 2007.

Emprend? el viaje con la difusa impresi?n de que el pa?s retendr?a herencias de su pasado de hace cien a?os como uno de los pa?ses m?s avanzados de Sudam?rica. Mientras me dirig?a al centro de Montevideo, pude comprobar con mis ojos que mi impresi?n no era incorrecta.

A trav?s de encuentros con mi par, el vicecanciller, y otras altas autoridades del gobierno uruguayo, pude comprender por qu? Uruguay es la puerta de entrada al Cono Sur, y por qu? importantes acuerdos internacionales, tanto pol?ticos como econ?micos, entre ellos los acuerdos multilaterales de comercio se han llevado a cabo en no otro pa?s que Uruguay.

Quedan grabados en mi coraz?n esos tres d?as de extraordinaria hospitalidad en Montevideo y Punta del Este.

Uruguay es un pa?s peque?o, pero fuerte. Conocido como la Suiza de Sudam?rica, es un modelo ejemplar en la regi?n en muchos aspectos como el producto nacional per c?pita, desarrollo humano, transparencia del gobierno, crecimiento econ?mico y contribuciones a la comunidad internacional. Adem?s, ha adquirido el apodo de “sede de reuniones de Sudam?rica” como anfitri?n de numerosas conferencias internacionales.

La tolerancia, la apertura y el sentido pr?ctico del pueblo tambi?n constituyen una parte indispensable de la fuerza de Uruguay. La raz?n por la que la revista The Economist eligi? Uruguay como el pa?s del a?o en 2013 estriba en que valor? altamente al car?cter nacional y a sus l?deres pol?ticos quienes llevan a la pr?ctica el principio de la tolerancia social.

“Yo no pretendo que los otros vivan como yo. Quiero respetar la libertad de los otros, eso s?, defiendo mi libertad.”

Estas palabras del Presidente Jos? Mujica, el l?der m?s humilde y modesto del mundo, expresan muy adecuadamente la sabidur?a del pueblo uruguayo. Creo que esta sabidur?a se habr? incorporado en el car?cter uruguayo a lo largo de su historia.

Obligado a buscar la harmon?a y el equilibrio entre las grandes potencias para su independencia y supervivencia, el pueblo uruguayo opt? con resoluci?n por la tolerancia y la apertura como su soluci?n.

Distinguidos invitados,

Nuestros dos pa?ses han recorrido un camino similar en el transcurso de las ?ltimas cinco d?cadas; el esfuerzo por abrir paso a una prospera econom?a, el trayecto hacia la democratizaci?n pol?tica y el doloroso proceso de superaci?n de la crisis financiera internacional. Sin embargo, no hemos tenido a?n muchas oportunidades de acercarnos estrechamente.

Esto, al mismo tiempo, significa que existe un gran potencial de cooperaci?n hacia el futuro. Conf?o en que nuestros dos pa?ses como potencias medianas en sus respectivas regiones que han superado sabiamente diversos retos pol?ticos y econ?micos pueden ser importantes socios.

Me estoy proponiendo visitar Uruguay una vez m?s este a?o para confirmar este potencial y explorar diversos programas de acci?n para realizarlo. Tambien es mi prop?sito, como amigo de Uruguay, brindar mi pleno apoyo para el ?xito de todas las actividades y proyectos que impulsa la Embajadora Florio.

Manifestando mis sinceras felicitaciones por el medio siglo de los lazos diplom?ticos entre Corea y Uruguay, propongo un brindis por la amistad y la confianza entre nuestras dos naciones por el pr?ximo medio siglo.


Ten reasons why you cannot help

loving President Jose Mujica?

A leading Korean-language media, NEWSIS, and an American Media, Counter Punch, have published the reasons why people around the world as well as in Uruguay cannot help loving President Jose Mujica of Uruguay.

Many people complain that after they elect politicians they lead a luxurious life that is far from their expectations. However, we should not indulge in generalization because not all politicians are the same.

President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, 78, who is the poorest Head of Government of the world is a good example.

President does not live in the Presidential Mansion provided by the State but at a farm house on the outskirts of Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, with his wife. To live like the common people of his country, he closed the official residence of the President.

The only protection provided to the President by the State consists of two policemen and one dog that has lost one leg.

The monthly pay for the President in Uruguay is US$12,775. However, President Mujica receives only US$775 a month which is the average wage of an Uruguayan worker and donates the reminders (US$12,000) to the society for the poor people.

Statistics show that in Korea people in the upper 10% group make an average of 170 million Won while the lower 90% make an average of only 22.8 million won. This indicates that the upper 10% get 60% of the total amount of income while the remaining 90% have to share the remaining 40%.

For the Korean people, the majority 90% of the people have a much stronger cause to love President Jose Mujica than other countries where the income gaps among he different strata of people are not that bad.

1. President Jose Mujica of Uruguay focuses on redistributing his his country? wealth, claiming that his administration has reduced poverty from 37% to 11%. “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so that workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” he told businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. “It’s no mystery--the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.” His government’s redistributive policies include setting prices for essential commodities such as milk and providing free computers and education for every child.

2. He lives in a one-bedroom house on his wife’s farm and drives a 1987 Volkswagen. He spent 17 years in prison for his involvement in Marxist activities. When he is reminded that he is the poorest president in the world, Mujica says he is not poor. He says, “A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don’t live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There’s very little that I need to live.”

3. He supported the nation’s groundbreaking legalization of marijuana. “In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It’s time to try something different,” he said. So this year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the legal production, sale, and consumption of marijuana.

4. In August 2013, Mujica signed the bill making Uruguay the second nation in Latin America (after Argentina) to legalize gay marriage. He said that legalizing gay marriage is simply recognizing reality. “Not to legalize it would be unnecessary torture for some people,” he said.

5. He’s not afraid to confront corporate abuses, as evidenced by the epic struggle his government is waging against the American tobacco giant Philip Morris. A former smoker, Mujica says that tobacco is a killer that needs to be brought under control. But Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for $25 million at the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the country’s tough smoking laws that prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces and require warning labels, including graphic images of the health effects.

6. He supported the legalization of abortion in Uruguay (his predecessor had vetoed the bill). The law is very limited, compared to laws in the US and Europe. It allows abortions within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and requires women to meet with a panel of doctors and social workers on the risks and possible effects of an abortion. But this law is the most liberal abortion law in socially conservative, Catholic Latin America and is clearly a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive rights.

7. He’s an environmentalist trying to limit needless consumption. At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, he criticized the model of development pushed by affluent societies. “We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means--by being prudent--the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction,” he said.

8. He has offered to take detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo. Mujica has called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a “disgrace” and insisted that Uruguay take responsibility to help close the facility. The proposal is unpopular in Uruguay, but Mujica, who was a political prisoner for 14 years, said he is “doing this for humanity.”

9. He is opposed to war and militarism. “The world spends $2 billion a minute on military spending,” he exclaimed in horror to the students at American University. “I used to think there were just, noble wars, but I don’t think that anymore,” said the former armed guerrilla. “Now I think the only solution is negotiations. The worst negotiation is better than the best war, and the only way to insure peace is to cultivate tolerance.”

10. He has an adorable three-legged dog, Manuela! Manuela lost a foot when Mujica accidentally ran over it with a tractor. Since then, Mujica and Manuela have been almost inseparable. Mujica’s influence goes far beyond that of the leader of a tiny country of only 3 million people. In a world hungry for alternatives, the innovations that he and his colleagues are championing have put Uruguay on the map as one of the world’s most exciting experiments in creative, progressive governance.

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