Now, five years later, various political parties are protesting the law, arguing that the ‘mandatory’ part of their government’s ‘financial inclusion’ law contradicts Uruguay’s fundamental values of liberty. In April 2019, two groups battled against time to collect the 260,000 signatures needed to challenge the law before the General Assembly.
One petition comes from the CRECE (Cámara Regional de Empresarios y Comerciantes del Este) association. The other, and perhaps the most important, comes from the Green party, led by Dr Gustavo Salle Lorier.
"The problem is in it being mandatory"
CRECE's campaign seeks to repeal the entire law and proposes a "return and guarantee" for the citizenship whose "rights are being violated. "
Ernesto Talvi, an economist and presidential candidate from the liberal party, says he has not signed the petition because he intends to change the legislation himself if voted in.
Critics of the Financial Inclusion law, introduced half a decade ago, under the promise that pushing the country into a more cashless system would eliminate or reduce crime. Instead, Uruguay, ‘long famed for being a peaceful haven in South America’, has seen a record-breaking 46% increase in homicides.
Adelante Iafigliola, a new campaign that defines itself as social-christian party, lists four reasons to end the mandatory banking law:
- It makes it impossible for someone to exist unbanked, leading to economic enslavement.
- Having no option but to conduct transactions via banking systems violates the public’s right to privacy.
- Banks should not profit off every single transaction.
- It would mostly be in the interest of Point-of-Sale Terminal businesses.
Whatever the critics' methods, the imposed cashless policy is being met with resistance on all fronts.
“We say yes to the financial system, we say yes to the cards, we say yes to the banks….We say no to the obligation.”
Key to Salle’s campaign, is the aim to amend the final article 52 in The Oriental Republic of Uruguay’s Constitution that prohibits “any form of mandatory banking”. Uruguayans, you can sign the petition here!
He argues that it is not right that the government prohibit businesses from using cash, and that it is hypocritical when buying state-owned marijuana can only be done in cash.
On April 18th, 2019, Salle stated on Telenoche that they had collected 210,000 signatures but needed a further 50,000 by April 26th to present them before the General Assembly in Parliament.
However, both campaigns failed to meet the deadline. Luckily, Salle’s Green party secured an extension until November, confident in their ability to collect the remaining signatures.
“Maybe the necessary signatures aren’t collected, but this is a sign, and we’re committed. Many presidential candidates have publicly committed to these legislative reforms.”
On April 23rd, regret over the failure of both petition to gather enough signatures before the deadline injected regional headlines. Gustavo Salle told Montevideo Portal that the government, the financial sector and the PIT CNT was working against him and unfortunately, the Uruguayan 'woke up late' on the issue.
Former president Julio María Sanguinetti from the Liberal Party (Partido Colorado), has also criticised the law. While the National Party’s (Partido Blanco) Jorge Gandini Astesiano submitted his own petition with 12,000 signatures.
Historically, the Latin American country has earned a forward-thinking reputation for protecting free speech and freedom of press, social security systems and liberal social laws. With its "exemplary" multi-party system, it is appropriate that Uruguay is fighting against mandatory cashless laws with a multi-pronged approach, united in appreciation of the freedom, independence and privacy that cash guarantees.
Centre for Financial Inclusion: Financial Inclusion Backlash in Uruguay
Citizens are circulating a petition because of a national financial inclusion policy requiring all businesses to accept electronic payments and switch to electronic payrolls.
Montevideo Portal Proyecto para eliminar la “bancarización obligatoria” no prosperó y no habrá plebiscito
Gustavo Salle dijo a Montevideo Portal que tuvo al Gobierno, al sistema financiero y al PIT CNT en contra, y que el uruguayo “despertó” tarde.
El Paiz Dos carreras contrarreloj contra ley de bancarizaciónEl tiempo para la recolección de firmas para habilitar un plebiscito que derogue o prohíba determinados artículos de la ley de “Acceso a la población a servicios financieros y promoción del uso de medios de pago electrónicos”, más conocida como “ley de bancarización”, se agota.