Uruguay Interior Minister Resigns Amidst Passport Scandal


Updated: 5:44 PM, Sun November 05, 2023

Uruguay Interior Minister Steps Down Following Passport Scandal

Uruguay’s Interior Minister, Luis Alberto Heber, has resigned amidst a passport scandal that has plagued the nation. President Luis Lacalle Pou announced on Saturday evening that Heber, along with a cabinet undersecretary and a chief adviser, would no longer be part of the coalition government starting Monday. The move comes as investigations continue into how an alleged drug trafficker, Sebastian Mares, obtained a Uruguayan passport while in custody in the United Arab Emirates back in 2012, using forged documents. Mares was eventually released.

The scandal has not only brought down the Interior Minister but has also led to the resignation of Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo, who stepped down earlier in the week. Bustillo’s resignation followed the release of a phone call from November 2022, in which he appeared to suggest that his undersecretary withhold evidence relating to the passport investigation.

Bustillo, during a lengthy news conference on Friday, denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he was unaware of Mares’ identity when the passport was issued. He asserted that the responsibility for the document lie with the interior ministry rather than the foreign ministry, adding that the correct procedures were followed in its issuance.

President Lacalle Pou, speaking about the scandal for the first time after his return from a meeting with US President Joe Biden, admitted that it was concerning for a drug trafficker to possess a passport. However, he highlighted that the passport’s issuance was in line with the country’s existing laws. Lacalle Pou voiced his belief that officials like Heber and Bustillo had no legal responsibility regarding the passport issue, but stated that they could defend themselves in court if necessary.

The investigation into the passport scandal revolves around the question of how and why Sebastian Mares, a wanted individual in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, and the United States on drug charges, was granted a passport. The case has raised concerns about the nation’s passport issuance process and could potentially have wider implications for the government’s reputation.

Concerns over the involvement of government officials have prompted calls for a thorough and transparent investigation to determine any potential wrongdoing. The resignation of key ministers is seen as an attempt to address the fallout from the scandal and restore public confidence in the government.

As Uruguay braces for the repercussions of the passport scandal, the focus now rests on upcoming investigations and any legal implications that may arise. The government’s ability to handle the situation effectively and rebuild trust will be paramount moving forward.

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Siddharth Mehta
Siddharth Mehta
Siddharth Mehta is a dedicated author at The Reportify who covers the intricate world of politics. With a deep interest in current affairs and political dynamics, Siddharth provides insightful analysis, updates, and perspectives in the Politics category. He can be reached at siddharth@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

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