Luis Lacalle Pou, Uruguay’s President With a Plan
(Bloomberg Businessweek) -- Lacalle Pou, the son of a former president and heir to one of Uruguay’s oldest political dynasties, might have assumed he’d get a honeymoon period after taking office on March 1. But within two weeks of starting, his government detected the first Covid-19 cases in the country of 3.5 million people, and he declared a national emergency. His decision to quickly close borders and institute widespread testing and contact tracing is credited with preventing a major outbreak. Rather than impose a lockdown, Lacalle Pou appealed to Uruguayans’ “responsible exercise of liberty,” as he calls his promotion of voluntary social distancing and hygiene.
Economists expect Uruguay will suffer its deepest recession in two decades, with gross domestic product contracting 4% in 2020. But Latin America’s economy could shrink 7%. Investors have taken note, with Uruguay’s bonds returning more than 14% year-to-date through mid-November compared with -0.93% for the region. Even so, Lacalle Pou faces the challenge of containing Covid-19 and reviving an economy that’s had slow growth.
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