We are an open meeting space

We have every reason to be proud of ORU Fogar’s meeting in Montevideo, Uruguay, hosted by the Congreso de Intendentes. On the occasion of our Executive Bureau, we organised a seminar on regional and cross-border policies that gathered intendants of Uruguay and governors of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.  It was a perfect example of what must be central to our organisation: the exchange of experiences among intermediate governments from all over the world.  

We had the opportunity to hear José Ivo Sartori, governor of Rio Grande do Sul, expressing his will to work together with the Uruguayan intendants in their long common border. Mario Varela, governor of Caaguazú, Paraguay, spoke of the importance of building bridges between his region and Brazil as well as of his will to trade with Argentina. For his part, Ángel Mario Elías, representative of Santa Fe, Argentina, explained their desire to establish trading between the Port of Rosario and the Port of Montevideo, without this affecting the sacred sovereignty of their respective countries. 

I was surprised – to a certain extent – to see that representatives of countries that traditionally had had old disputes among them, today not only spoke without a nationalist sentiment, but spoke of cooperation, integration and common projects. Maybe the times are changing, but also I believe that the regional perspective provides a picture of reality that pushes more towards solving problems than towards waving flags. 

At the reception organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, it was heart-warming to hear Sergio Botana, President of the Congreso de Intendentes and Intendant of Cerro Largo, claiming that the border walls should be brought down so that citizens on both sides can work freely and jointly.  Similarly, the Vice-President of the Congreso de Intendentes and Intendant of Rivera, Marne Osorio, spoke of the need for giving and receiving support of your neighbours. He stated that in order to meet the dynamic needs of the citizens at the borders; it is more effective to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission to the national authorities. 

However, the exchange of experiences was not limited to governors of the Southern Cone. ORU Fogar allows for the exchange of experiences and policies from different continents. On this occasion, we brought together the Latin American cross-border policies and the European ones. I can do no other than thank our Basque members for sharing their euro-region experiences with Aquitaine, as well as our members from Champagne-Ardenne for explaining their policies with Wallonia and Mr. Martín Guillermo-Ramírez, Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions for his speech. 

I would finally like drawing attention to a fact that could go unremarked. In the Seminar’s opening panel, there were intendants from the three leading parties in Uruguay: Intendant Botana from the National Party, Intendant Osorio from the Colorado Party and Daniel Martínez, Intendant of Montevideo, from the Frente Amplio Party. This displays in a graphical way ORU Fogar’s openness to political pluralism.


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