Uruguay’s ex-president Batlle dies at 88

MONTEVIDEO, Oct 25 :Jorge Batlle, a veteran politician who was the fourth member of his Catalan immigrant family to be president of Uruguay, died yesterday, a day before his 89th birthday.
Battle died at Sanatorio Americano clinic in Montevideo following an operation to treat a blood clot following a fall earlier this month, the clinic said.
A centrist leader of the right-wing Colorado Party, he sought closer ties and free trade pacts with the United States during his 2000-2005 presidency that was also marked by one of the South American country’s worst-ever financial crises.
In 2002, Uruguay broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba after Cuban leader Fidel Castro called Batlle a “lackey” of the United States for backing US criticism of rights abuses under his communist government.
Batlle caused a diplomatic incident with neighboring Argentina in 2002 when he said in an interview that its government was very corrupt and Argentines were “a bunch of thieves.