The United States
Although Uruguay was critical of unilateral United States military intervention in Latin America and elsewhere, bilateral relations during the 1985-90 period were excellent. The United States, which had expressed deep concern about the human rights situation beginning with the administration of Jimmy Carter, strongly supported Uruguay's transition to democracy. In March 1985, Secretary of State George P. Shultz attended Sanguinetti's presidential inauguration. As a member of the Contadora Support Group, Uruguay participated in meetings on Central American issues in 1985-86, particularly United States support for the anti-Sandinista resistance guerrillas in Nicaragua. The Sanguinetti government regarded United States aid to the antiSandinista Contra rebels in Nicaragua as an obstacle to peace in Central America. It also opposed the presence of United States troops in Honduras.
Despite his government's criticism of United States military actions in Honduras, in Nicaragua, and against Libya in April 1986, Sanguinetti received a warm welcome at the White House during an official five-day state visit to the United States in June 1986, the first by a Uruguayan president in more than thirty years. During the visit, which was dominated by trade discussions, Sanguinetti criticized United States protectionist policies, such as the decision to subsidize grain exports to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he departed Washington satisfied that the administration of President Ronald W. Reagan had adopted a more flexible policy toward Uruguayan exports. Shultz again paid an official visit to Uruguay on August 5, 1988, for talks with Sanguinetti, Barrios, and several opposition leaders. The official talks centered on trade issues.
Although Uruguay's relations with Panama at the time of the United States military intervention there in December 1989 were at their lowest possible level--without an ambassador-- Sanguinetti was again critical of the United States. He characterized the United States military operation as a "step backward."
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