Friday, August 25, 2006

La Noche de la Nostalgia

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Nostalgia party Uruguay Every 25th of August Uruguay celebrates the Declaration of Independance. It's one the five non workable holidays in the year, meaning the night before it's a good time for partying, just like a friday, or saturday.

Something like twenty years ago, sponsored by a local am radio, someone invented "La Noche de la Nostalgia" (the nostalgia night), to name a party where only "old hits" would be played. This party's idea spread along the years, like a virus, and now the night of the 24th it's a national phenomenon, that's even been passed as a law (LEY N° 17.825 ????).

Custome party UruguayThis particular night moves as many people as the night of the 25th, or 31st of december. Some even say that it beats those nights, becoming THE night of the year when most people go out partying in Uruguay. It appeals to all ages, I know some old couples that only go out dancing that night in the year. There is a great variety of things to do, parties of all types and sizes, public, and private. Some people organize thematic custom parties. It's just different.

The whole thing is based in "the good all days" concept. The night of the 24th kinda celebrates the idea that former days of our lives will always be better than present ones, which sounds pretty much like a tango, if you think about it (todo tiempo pasado fue mejor). Here in Uruguay, nostalgia is culture.

It's speaks a lot about Uruguay's idiosyncracy. It's the yearly instance to remind us that we were once the champions of the world, we were called the switzerland of south america, and so on and so forth.

When it started old hits were music of the sixties and seventies, and now oldies mean eighties and ninties hits. If you go out you may listen to stuff like: Barry White, Barry Manilow, Air Supply, Billy Joel, Aha, Sui Generis, Los Shakers, Billy Idol, Queen, Beatles, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, The Police, The Ramones, etc. There are also anti nostalgia movements, which organize rave parties to celebrate all the contrary, for those that cannot bear to live in a country that tends to look backwards, or that just want something different from that night.

The stay in the mood, I leave you now with an oldie...


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Monday, August 14, 2006

To free trade with USA, or not to free trade, that's the question

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For some time now the rumours about Uruguay consolidating a free trade agreement (aka FTA, or TLC in spanish) with the United States of America have been going on (and on, and on).

The former government started negotiations to establish this agreement with the number one world power, and the foreign affairs office of the current government continued to work in the same direction.

After years of negotiations it now seems that the the situation, and the mood in the states are favorable to this kind of agreement, but now that everything is given to lock the deal, looks like our government is not like really really sure it'd be the best, or at least not everyone.

There have been a number of contradictory declarations coming from members of the government. Contradictory to the point of being funny. You would hear about a ministry saying that a FTA is not within the president's agenda, right after attending a meeting with the president and the rest of the ministries, and more or less at the same time read the president talking about the need to strenghten our relationship with the states. Just so that you know, the president Tabare Vazquez, is in favor, as is the ministry of economy, Daniel Astori, but others like Gargano, the ministry of foreign affairs, and the ministry of social development are not.

The president referred to this opportunity in terms of: "sometimes the train only passes once".

To understand the core of the contradiction, you should know that our current administration (which I voted), is formed by a leftist coalition, that ranges in the political spectrum from center to the extreme left, including ex guerrilla members (some say trained in cuba). Not so long ago, when they were opposition, they wouldn't tolerate, and critisized, any hint of negotiation with the states, but now the tide has changed, they are government and opinions are divided. How do this guys match old enemies, and ideals, with current economic needs?

Some related, interesting facts:
  • Every country that has signed a free trade agreement with the U.S. has seen profit out of it (mexico, chile)
  • The U.S. is Uruguay's biggest buyer
  • Today Uruguay pays tons to the U.S. only in taxes, for every product exported there.
  • Out of ten uruguayans, six are in favor, three are against, one just doesn't care.
  • The other two uruguayan important political parties are in favor of the FTA
  • The Mercosur as it is right now, is incompatible with this sort of agreement, made out of the block
  • There's nothing confirmed yet between Uruguay and the U.S.
Makes me wonder to what extent do old ideals prevent the current administration from making smart moves?

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