Friday 9. Some hours before Bush's arrival. I live and work in Montevideo's downtown, here known as "El Centro", and there was some nervousness at the office. It was not directly related to the president of the U.S. arriving to Uruguay in a couple of hours, but it had more to do with the two demonstrations that were going to take place and pass by la plaza cagancha, against Bush, imperialism, the states, etc, etc.
The first demonstration, called by the unions association PIT CNT, didn't worry us since we knew it was of a peaceful mood. The second one, on the other hand, called by the anti imperialist coordinator (la coordinadora antiimperialista), made some of us bit uneasy, since it involved some of the more radicals members of the uruguayan left, along with some special guests from argentina.
The company didn't took any preemtpive measure, demonstrations in Uruguay are 99% of the time without violence.
I took off at six, I had to make it somewhere in El Parque Rodo. I took the 117 bus, the route wasn't the usual but still I arrived on time. After an hour I had to return to El Centro, I took the same bus on the way back, and this time it had to take Pablo de Maria, which is a detour of around five blocks in narrow streets with jammed traffic, horns, waits, and an old lady in the seat by my side telling me what a lack of respect was all that turmoil for receiving a president we had invited. The type of conversation you find yourself nodding no matter what the old lady says. The bus took twice the time, maybe the same if I had walked.
Later that night I've found out that for the most part the demonstrations went on without violence but there had been some incidents. Some shops had it windows smashed, like MacDonalds in 18 y Gaboto, and a Brazilian Pentecostal telepreachers church place (pare de sufrir, ex trocadero cinema) and even some violence against journalists. With an outcome of around 20 arrests.
Some friends told me also about a couple of puppets being carried in one of the marchs, portraying the relationship between U.S. and the states, where Bush was the groom, and Tabare Vazquez the bride, pregnant with an FTA.
Saturday 10. Beautiful day. Bush was all over the media, tv, news, and radio shows. Both presidents appeared always smiling as usual.
I catched part of the presidential press conference from La Estancia Anchorena, the uruguayan version of camp david. I would sum it up as a lot of good will talk but I have to agree with chuck there was little of substance in both speeches. Among the topics touched there was trade for the most part but without references to an FTA. Inmigration was also present. The one remarkable thing is that Bush said something like: "if you have any problem, you grab the phone, and give me a call". Now, what does that mean?.
Sunday 11. I wake up and the guy was already gone. Still newspapers, and tv shows only talk about his visit, the misfits that played havoc in El Centro on friday, and the way the police had failed to repress, intentionally or not, the incidents.
Today, It came out, that last saturday they took Bush to dinner to ciudad vieja, undercover, and he discovered the taste of Uruguayan Milanesa.
On and all, I think it was a rather regular weekend for the most part of uruguayans....