Uruguay lucky to have China's support: Luis Lacalle Pou
Updated 15:32, 21-May-2021
Luis Lacalle Pou

Editor's Note: Decision Makers is a global platform for decision makers to share their insights on events shaping today's world. Luis Lacalle Pou is Uruguayan president. Opinions expressed in this video are his, and not necessarily those of CGTN. 

Below is an edited transcript of CGTN's interview with Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, who shared his insights on global cooperation in containing COVID-19 as well as China's crucial role for the developing world. 

CGTN: What's the progress on COVID-19 vaccination in Uruguay? 

Luis Lacalle Pou: We have already administered the vaccine to more than 30 percent of the Uruguayan population. Around 10 percent of them have received both doses, and we are happy with the progress. People working in vaccination centers and all the logistics did a great job.

People are very, very glad to receive the vaccine here in Uruguay. It's not compulsory. People can get vaccinated if they want. There are lots of Uruguayans already decided to do so. We are facing a tough time, but the vaccination is moving forward as planned.

On Monday, I will have my second dose. I am 47 just now. My turn got in the fourth or fifth group, and the people in the health system are very kind and executing their duty professionally. 

 The percentage of people willing to get vaccinated is growing very fast. People trust these vaccines. When we started the vaccination drive over 30 percent of people were willing to get the vaccination. And now we are reaching out to the remaining 70-80 percent of people to get this vaccine.

CGTN: What kind of cooperation has been finalized between Uruguay and China for COVID-19 vaccines? 

Luis Lacalle Pou: Last September, I was sitting just here, and I made a phone call to President Xi Jinping. He promised to distribute the Chinese vaccines as a global public good. That was a very nice surprise. And he told us it would be available to people in every country besides China. That was a very good message by President Xi Jinping.

We are confident that China will supply more vaccines to Uruguay and other Latin American countries. They have already sent a large quantity at the right time. This bilateral and multilateral mechanism is working with China, and we are very grateful for that. We are ready to upgrade our bilateral cooperation in the area of health.

I would consider it very firmly to a new stage. This is done in the context of a strategic partnership because we come increasingly comprehensive for us. We're living a in a good time of our relations with China.

Yesterday morning, I can tell you that the minister of health and the secretary of the presidency paid a visit, very important visit, to the ambassador of China here in our country. And on that occasion, my representatives stressed the importance that my government gave to Sino-Uruguayan health cooperation, and in particular, conveyed our urgent needs to continue receiving the vaccine from China.

That cooperation between Uruguay and China over the COVID-19 vaccine can be tremendously beneficial. I can tell you that honestly, that we are very grateful once again and happy of this cooperation we're having together.

CGTN: How do you see global governance on the issue of COVID-19 vaccines and nationalism surrounding it?

Luis Lacalle Pou: There is a big failure of the international bureaucracy related to health. We started with the COVAX that we should be receiving some vaccines. Time went past, and as you have said, powerful countries have a large inventory of vaccines. Developing and smaller countries weren't able to bargain.

So today, I was talking with a few presidents from Europe and the Americas. That was a criticism that I made, and we have to learn from this pandemic. We have to learn. We have to learn to be aware of other countries, our people. We have to be prepared, generous and also think about others.

And we cannot be once again in this competition where the strongest can win in the road of getting these vaccines, so I'm not happy about that. Uruguay was lucky because of China's support, was lucky because the government delivered.

CGTN: What do you see as the way forward?

Luis Lacalle Pou: Countries like Uruguay have a need greater than ever for a strong multilateral system in which international law prevails. That for us is the main issue. In a time like this, we are most mindful of the relevance of these principles, which are the core of our foreign policy tradition.

We're committed to an ambition where Uruguay can become a magnet for people from all around the world. Our Chinese friends are also very welcome to explore opportunities of setting up in Uruguay. Our country welcomes foreigners with open arms. That's part of our history.

It is true that we live in a world where geopolitics play a very important role. In this context, Uruguay wants to be more a center of excellence, a hub of innovative companies for Latin America. We're working on that strongly. We also want to make our rivers and ports and free zones and airports most efficient. That's a gateway in South America for Chinese, American and European countries.

We are ready to work with the Chinese government. We are ready to work, respecting differences, embracing, understanding and cooperating.

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