A well-known Uruguayan entrepreneur in business circles, co-owner of the English football club “Sunderland” and the son-in-law of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, Juan Sartori, intends to participate in the presidential race in Uruguay. Many American media were once again able to see the “Russian trace” of the Kremlin in this whole story. What are the chances of a young candidate? Could Sartori, without experience in government positions, “break into” big politics?
The elections of President of Uruguay will take place in October 2019, but in order to become a candidate for them, 38-year-old Juan Sartori (Spanish – Juan José Sartori Piñeyro) will first need to win on the primaries in the opposition “National Party” held on June 30 (Spanish – Partido Nacional, PN). At the end of June, Sartori will take part in the intraparty preliminary race (primaries), where he will have to beat five opponents. To achieve the cherished goal of Sartori, it will be necessary to overcome five party comrades, including the mayor of the city Maldonado – Enrique Antia (Spanish – Enrique Andrés Antía Behrens). The authoritative Portuguese edition “El Observador” notes that the novice politician is subjected to “constant attacks” by his main opponenets. For example, they criticized his proposals to create 100,000 jobs (there is no specific plan) and distribute free medications to pensioners and social benefits owners (according to opponents, such a measure would worsen the already complicated current situation with drug trafficking, which, including from commercial medicines).
It should be noted that for Sartori this will be the very first step in politics. Prior to that, he did not hold public office, however, by the age of 38, he established himself as a successful entrepreneur. Juan Sartori is a Harvard graduate, and he also studied at the economics department of the prestigious University of Lausanne. He met the daughter of the famous Russian businessman Rybolovlev, Ekaterina, in Lausanne, in 2015 the couple got married. The wedding the newlyweds celebrated in the circle of close friends and family members on the Greek island of Scorpios, where 47 years before, the Greek billionaire Aristotle Onassis and the widow of the ex-American President, Jacqueline Kennedy were married. At the moment, the couple have two children who live with their father and mother in Uruguay.
Today, a 38-year-old businessman owns assets in various business areas, including the largest agricultural holding in Uruguay. In 2013, when the authorities of Uruguay legalized marijuana under the government of the President José Mujica (Spanish – José Alberto “Pepe” Mujica Cordano), the “ICC” holding received a license to sell cannabis in the state, however in 2015 Sartori sold the Canadian company “Aurara Cannabis”. Then Sartori estimated the size of the marijuana market at $ 6 billion and prophesied his subsequent growth.
By the way, the interests of Juan Sartori are not limited to the agricultural sector. According to preliminary data, the businessman belongs to the agricultural group “Union Agriculture Group”, and in addition to other companies in the energy and construction sector of South America. Part of the oil and gas division of the “Union Group” (UOGG), the portfolio of the “Union Oil and Gas Group”, also includes oil exploration blocks in Paraguay and Bolivia. In addition, this corporation is engaged in the construction of housing and commercial real estate in Peru and Uruguay. And, of course, Rybolovlev’s son-in-law is a co-owner of the English football club “Sunderland”.
What are the chances of Juan Sartori becoming a president of the South American Republic? Juan Sartori officially announced his own presidential ambitions for the first time in early December 2018. As leading political consultants in Latin America note, Sartori is not one of the leading and considered candidates. Most of them believe that the candidate is simply being promoted, developed, and solved some image tasks. However, it is worth noting that he was not involved in any scandals associated with him; there were no major cases.
Now the election race is at a preliminary stage of “primaries”. Sartori is running from the conservative “National Party”. Within the party itself, among the comrades-in-arms, the businessman has a chance of winning, because his main competitors have already been able to “dirty” their reputation. Every month, Juan Sartori is becoming increasingly popular according to the principle: a young candidate – new ideas and fresh proposals. If we speak in figures for the preliminary intraparty stage, now the Senator Luis Alberto Lacalle (Spanish – Luis Alberto Lacalle de Herrera) is the favorite with a rating of 50%, Juan Sartori – 23%. Luis Alberto Lacalle – an Uruguayan lawyer and politician who served as president of Uruguay from 1990 to 1995. But a well-known businessman in a few months managed to launch a large-scale information campaign and make his debut in politics on such a scale, so the results of the voting are becoming little predictable.
The main candidate for the presidency of Uruguay is now the ex-leader of the South American Republic, José Mujica, who this year celebrated his 84th birthday. In 2010-2015 he was president of Uruguay, and before and after he was senator and minister of agriculture. Mujica became famous for giving 90% of his salary to the president for charity, living on a farm instead of a residence, and driving an old “Volkswagen Beetle” car. He later refused the senator’s salary. The world community dubbed him the most “even and modest” president of the world.
As for the “Russian trace” noticed by the Americans in this whole story, Rybolovlev does not comment officially on Sartori. Of course, Rybolovlev is aware of the son-in-law’s presidential ambitions, but does not sponsor the election campaign and does not participate in it in any other way. According to official statements, the Perm billionaire has no interests in Uruguay.
The current president is an oncologist, 79-year-old Tabare Vázquez (Spanish – Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas), who returned to power in Uruguay after a 5-year hiatus. In the elections in 2014, he managed to win 53.4% of the vote. By the way, it was he who in 2004 secured the historic victory of the ruling left-wing coalition “Wide Front”, which succeeded in ousting the country’s traditional right-wing political forces — the Colorado Party and the National Party (Spanish – Blanco ).
How events will develop in the most prosperous country in the region will be shown in the near future. Whether the young candidate will be able to “break in” into big politics with his innovative ideas and become one of the candidates for the presidency will become clear already after the results of the “National Party” primaries on June 30. However, international observers, are inclined to believe that despite the advanced age of the former leader of Uruguay, José Mujica, he has quite a high chance of winning. After all, for the entire period of his work in government positions, Mujica was able to “gain the trust” of the population and prove his intentions in practice.