By Iolanda Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In recent weeks, young Uruguayan entrepreneur Juan Sartori has been rising in the polls and gaining on front-runner Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou for the position of National Party presidential candidate in the primary elections to be held on June 30th. Sartori is said to be an admirer of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro and trusts that the populist winds will also blow in Uruguay.
In January, Sartori met with Bolsonaro at the Davos Economic Forum. “Get the left out of Uruguay,” allegedly recommended the Brazilian president.
Juan Sartori is the president and founder of Union Group, a private equity investor that holds significant interests in businesses spanning the agriculture, energy, forestry, infrastructure, minerals, oil and gas, and real estate sectors in Latin America.
The company has grown to become the largest agricultural company in Uruguay and one of the largest in Latin America, with a subsidiary listed on the Montevideo Stock Exchange.
He is also one of the main shareholders of an historic English football team, Sunderland, which he acquired together with a consortium of partners in 2018.
The businessman received a Bachelor Degree in Business and Economics from École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Lausanne (HEC) in Switzerland and is the husband of Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev.
As of April 2019, Rybolovlev is ranked 224th on Forbes’s list of billionaires with a net worth of US$6.8 (R$27) billion.
“I was outraged by what’s happening in Uruguay, so I decided to go into politics. I do not see politics as something ugly, because I do not carry the weight and the vices of traditional politicians. I don’t want to remain in any position. For me, politics is a
precious and noble activity. That’s why I decided to leave the business world,” he said.
Although he is not a traditional politician, Sartori does not scrimp on promises. During the campaign, he said he would create 100,000 jobs — perhaps an overstatement for a country of 3.5 million people — cut taxes, and reduce the price of gasoline and electricity, which he said will attract new investment to the country.
One of the main contributors to Sartori’s campaign is Venezuelan Juan José Randón, a Latin American version of Steve Bannon, known as the “King of Black Magic” for his alleged experience in conducting shady poliical campaigns.
Randón has advised candidates from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, among other countries. His clients include former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.
When the Venezuelan’s involvement was disclosed in a report by the Uruguayan weekly
Búsqueda, Sartori’s campaign was quick to say that Randón had not been hired to carry out
attacks on his enemies, but to avoid offensive actions against him.
(Source Estado de S. Paulo)