Cablegate: Uruguay: President-Elect Mujica's Cabinet Taking Shape


DE RUEHMN #0758/01 3551419
R 211418Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Uruguay: President-Elect Mujica's Cabinet Taking Shape



1. (U) President elect Jose Mujica has buckled down to the business
of appointing his cabinet. Mujica's selection process was
complicated slightly by internal unrest within factions of the
ruling Frente Amplio (FA) coalition, but those problems were
resolved quickly. Although the announcement of the final cabinet
is still pending, the most likely configuration sees Mujica heading
a broad team that accords with each faction's electoral results and
is dotted with loyalists. End summary.

Putting the Pieces in Place


2. (U) Mujica has spent the time following his November 29 runoff
victory forming the team that will comprise his cabinet. Cabinet
positions will be distributed roughly in line with the first round
election results. Accordingly, ""Espacio 609,"" a collection of
factions that includes Mujica's own Movimiento de Participacion
Popular (MPP) group and which received more votes than any other
group, will take four ministries, thereby doubling its presence in
the cabinet. Vice president elect Danilo Astori's ""Frente Liber
Seregni"" (FLS) will hold three, including (as promised by Mujica)
the Ministry of the Economy. The Socialist Party will hold two
while the Communist Party and the Pensamiento-libertad (Free
Thinking) Party (CAP-L) hold one each.

Mujica's first crisis?


3. (U) The often fractious arrangement of the various parties and
factions that make up the FA meant the appointment of Mujica's
cabinet was bound to hit a few bumps. One cabinet pick, Ernesto
Agazzi, an MPP stalwart loyal to Mujica, publicly refused the
position of Minister of Culture and Education, claiming that not
only had he not been consulted in the matter, he knew next to
nothing about either subject. Mujica, who is hoping to push
through significant educational reform, wants a close ally to hold
the education portfolio. He worked hard, but without success, to
persuade Agazzi to accept the post, and it now appears the most
likely candidate will be the present mayor of Montevideo, Ricardo

4. (SBU) Mujica's biggest headache, however, came from within the
ranks of vice president elect Danilo Astori's FLS. The faction,
which has only been in existence since August 2009, is composed of
the three parties that supported Astori in his unsuccessful attempt
to gain the FA presidential nomination: Astori's own Uruguayan
Assembly (AU), the Progressive Alliance (AP) and the ""New Space""
party (NE). Friction arose after Fernando Lorenzo, a member of the
NE and close ally of Astori, was appointed to head the economy
ministry. This appointment upset Rafael Michelini, the ambitious
head of the NE, who was hoping to occupy the NE's allocated cabinet
space. He argued that Lorenzo's appointment should not be counted
as part of the NE's quota of cabinet positions, since Astori had
selected Lorenzo directly and without consulting Michelini. It
appears that Michelini's arguments have fallen on deaf ears, that
that Lorenzo will receive the position. There is some speculation
that the situation may be ameliorated by the creation of a long
planned Ministry of Science and Technology, with Michelini in the
top spot. Alternatively, Michelini indicated that he may be
placated by an ambassadorship.

The probable line-up


6. (U) Below is Mujica's likely team as he begins his presidency.
Some of the deputy ministers remain to be named:

Ministry of the Presidency


7. (SBU) This position, comparable to that of a Chief of Staff, is
a new post to be created by Mujica that will be filled by his
closest advisor Eduardo Bonomi. Bonomi is expected to begin his
time in cabinet as Minister of the Interior, shifting to the
Ministry of the Presidency a few months after Mujica's inauguration
and becoming, in effect, Mujica's alter ego. Sixty-one year old
Bonomi joined the Tupamaro guerrilla movement in 1970. He spent 13
years in prison, having originally been sentenced to serve until
2012. After his pardon with the restoration of democracy in 1985,
Bonomi worked for 15 years in the fishing sector. He belongs to
Mujica's MPP faction, is a member of the Frente Amplio Coalition
Board of Directors, and was Minister of Labor and Social Welfare
from 2005 to 2009. Bonomi is a keen and able soccer player, is
married to Congresswoman Susana Pereira and has three children.

Minister of Economy and Finance


8. (U) Forty-nine year-old Fernando Lorenzo will be the new
Minister of Economy and Finance. Between 2005 and 2008, Lorenzo
was the director of the Ministry's Macroeconomic and Financial
Consultant's office while Astori was minister and remains a close
confident of the vice president elect. Lorenzo is well travelled,
having worked as professor of economics in Paraguay, Cuba and
Spain. He speaks French.

Minister of Foreign Affairs


9. (U) Mujica selected a career diplomat and Uruguay's current
Ambassador to China, 46 year old Luis Almagro, for Foreign
Minister. Almagro was president of the National Committee of
Cooperation for the Prevention of Illicit Drug Trafficking and Drug
Abuse between 1989 - 1991, served as Deputy Director of
International Economic Affairs for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
between 2003 and 2005, and has published on a range of
international relations topics. Almagro served as Director of the
International Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Agriculture,
Livestock and Fisheries during Jose Mujica's tenure as Minister of
Agriculture (2005- 2008) and is perceived as a trusted ally of
Mujica. It is projected that Almagro will play a key role in
future trade negotiations between MERCOSUR and China. Almagro is a
former Blanco Party member, but currently a member of the MPP. He
is from Rocha, is married and has seven children.

Minister of Defense


10. (U) Another Tupamaro and member of Mujica's inner circle, Luis
Angel Rosadilla, a parliamentary deputy since 2005 and the
ex-chairman of the Defense Committee of the House of
Representatives, has been selected as Minister of Defense.
Nicknamed ""The Mouse,"" Rosadilla was born in 1953 and worked as a
professional confectioner from the age of 13. In 1971 he joined
the Tupamaros and was subsequently imprisoned between 1973 and
1982. On release from jail, he founded the radical 26 de Marzo
party and embarked in studies in economics law and macro economics.
Despite the depth of his hard left roots (from 2000-2005, Rosadilla
also served as political secretary to Senator Eleuterio Fern????ndez
Huidobro an ex-Tupamaro leader) Rosadilla is perceived as something
of a moderate amongst extremists. Rosadilla hasn't lost his

confectionary skills: between 1994 and 1999 he ran a pastry shop.
He has six children from various partners.

11. (SBU) Note: In August of 2006, Uruguayan House Defense
Committee members filed transit visa applications to travel to
Haiti via Miami. The purpose of the delegation was to perform a
site visit of the Uruguayan peacekeeping troops' operations on the
island. The Consular section issued the majority of the visas, but
informed that Rosadilla's visa would require additional time for
administrative processing in Washington. Then-Ambassador Baxter
extended formal apologies, but within three days, Rosadilla
withdrew the visa application and publicly denounced the U.S.
Government in the National Parliament for inappropriate treatment
of an elected member entitled to executive rights and privileges.
While the National Parliament did not in the end issue any formal
declaration on the matter, the GOU nonetheless did present a formal
note declaring that the decision regarding the visa had been
received with surprise and concern as Mr. Rosadilla was a
representative elected by the people of Uruguay. Since then, Mr.
Rosadilla has not accepted any invitations from the Embassy, making
specific reference to the visa situation on each occasion. Most
Uruguayans believe his visa application was denied. End note.

Minister of the Interior


12 (U) Eduardo Bonomi will serve as Minister of Interior until he
takes office as the (still to be created) Minister of the
Presidency (see paragraph 7). It is expected that Jorge Vazquez
(brother of present President Tabare Vazquez and current
Prosecretary"" in charge of of the executive emergency response,
counternarcotics programs and money laundering programs) will take
the role of Deputy Minister and is planning to succeed Bonomi as
Minister. Sixty-five year old Jorge Vazquez is four years younger
than Tabare Vazquez and is one of his closest advisors. Despite a
generally low, independent profile today, in the 1970's Jorge
Vazquez's involvement in leftist politics took a much more radical
turn than that of his brother's, and between 1972 and 1984 he was
imprisoned for his activities with various radical groups.
Nicknamed ""The Dog,"" Vazquez is the second-ever male to graduate
from the Uruguayan School of Nurses. His partner is also a nurse
and he has four children.

Minister for Education and Culture


13. (U) As detailed above, Ernesto Agazzi appears to have turned
down running the Ministry for Education and Culture. His
replacement as nominee is likely to be current Mayor of Montevideo
Dr. Ricardo Ehrlich. Ehrlich has a professional background in
Biochemistry and Molecular biology, much of which was undertaken in
exile following Ehrlich's year and half imprisonment for his
political activities with the Tupamaros in the late 60's and early
70's (he was arrested in 1972). He returned to Montevideo in 1987
to work as a professor of biology in the University of the Republic
before becoming director of the University Biology Institute
between 1994 and 1998. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary
doctorate from France's Louis Pasteur Institute. Ehrlich is a
member of the MPP but does not have a seat on the party board. He
dances an impressive tango, cooks well and has two daughters from
his first marriage. He speaks French, and understands English, but
prefers to work with an interpreter.

Minister for Public Health


14. (U) Current General Director of Public Health Daniel Olesker is
set to be the next Minister for Public Health. Imprisoned for 3
years for radical political activities in the 1970's, the 57 year
old Oleskar is a member of the Socialist Party, has been a

university professor, a member of the umbrella union PIT/CNT think
tank and is the author of several books and publications. He has
two children, but lost an elder daughter to a car accident when she
was 16. His live-in partner is a professor and education labor
leader and his father served for many years as the President of the
umbrella Jewish Community Organization. He is a supporter of the
local ""Nacional"" soccer team.

Minister for Transport and Public Works

--------------------------------------------- ----

15. (U) The position of Minister of Transport and Public Works goes
to Enrique Pintado, a congressman and close adviser of Astori. A
member of the Communist Party until 1992, he left to help found the
more moderate AU faction. He is a member of the health workers
union and was president of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in
2006. A fan of Uruguayan rock music and good eating, but a self
confessed lousy dancer and lazy cook, the 51 year old Pintado is an
experienced and widely published journalist and has released a
volume of poetry. He is a noted supporter of the Penarol soccer
team and a carnival enthusiast. Divorced with one daughter, he
lives with his current partner.

Minister for Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries

--------------------------------------------- -------------

16. (U) Independent Luis Aguerre, a rice and sugar cane farmer who
has served as President of the Rice Farmers Association (ACA) since
2006, will be the new Minster for Livestock, Agriculture and
Fisheries. The 52 year old Aguerre has a degree in Agricultural
Engineering and is married with four children.

Minister for Tourism and Sports


17.(U) Hector Lescano will retain the Ministry of Tourism and
Sports, having been appointed by President Tabare Vazquez in 2005.
President of the Christian Democratic Party (part of the AP, which
is itself part of the FLS) the 61 year old Lescano is seen as one
Vazquez's most trusted allies. A big fan of Uruguay's 'Liverpool'
soccer team, in 2006 Lescano published a team history in honour of
the team's goalkeeper. He has three sons from a previous marriage
and currently cohabits with his partner. Lescano is a qualified
veterinarian and has travelled in Latin America, China and Russia.

Minister for Labor and Social Security

--------------------------------------------- ----

18. (U) The labor portfolio goes to Eduardo Brenta, the 50 year old
founding member of the moderate ""Vertiente Artiguista"" faction who,
as a formal member of a radical leftist group, was imprisoned by
the military regime for several months in 1973. Brenta was
elected to the Montevideo City Council from 2000-05 and served as
President of the City Council from 2003-04. He was elected to
Congress for the period 2000-05, re-elected for the term 2010-15
and was chairman of the Finance Committee of the House of
Representatives in 2007. He is divorced with one daughter.

Minister for Industry, Energy and Mining

--------------------------------------------- --------

19. (U) Roberto Kreimerman, a professor at the University of the
Republic and holder of a raft of international degrees from

chemical engineering to international trade, is the pick for
Minister of Industry. Kreimerman, who already holds the position
as Deputy Minister of Labor, is a member of the Socialist party and
has a background in the leather industry. Kreimerman is 51 and is
married with three children. He speaks French and basic English.

Minister for Housing and Environment

--------------------------------------------- --

20. (U) Although early rumours had Mujicas' wife, Lucia Topolansky,
in line for the Housing, Environment and Water portfolio, the
cabinet position has gone to Espacio 609's Graciela Muslera, an
architect who has previously worked with Toplansky as an advisor on
housing and land use planning. Muslera has served as the vice
president of the National Housing Agency (ANV) since 2005.

Ministry for Social Development (MIDES)

--------------------------------------------- ----

21. (U) The Ministry for Social Development (MIDES) stays in the
hands of the Communist Party under the care of Ana Olivera, an
ex-Tupamaro and FA board member, who is currently serving as MIDES'
Deputy Minister. Originally trained as a teacher, Olivera directed
the local administration division of the Montevideo municipality
between 1995 and 2000 when she took the role as Director General
for the Department of Decentralization. During her time as Deputy
Minister, she helped in the delivery of the Emergency Plan and
Equity Plan programs. She is single and has a son.

© Scoop Media

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