Many Uruguayans say the centre-right administration of President Luis Lacalle Pou, which was praised domestically and abroad for its management of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been too slow in its response to this crisis, and too reliant on the hope of autumn rains.
The governmentsays previous administrations, including the leftwing Broad Front coalition that governed from 2005 to 2020, did not invest adequately in water infrastructure.
Before the crisis, Lacalle Pou’s administration had announced a $210m project to take safe drinking water out of the Rio de la Plata, leaving aside another project that had been designed but not started by the previous government.
José Mujica, the president between 2010 and 2015, has acknowledged some responsibility. “We all fell asleep,” he said when asked about the crisis.
Adrián Peña, a former environment minister under Lacalle Pou, said all political parties were responsible for not prioritising investment in water management.
“Whenever anyone raised these issues … the response was: this has never happened,” he said.