Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Uncle Sam is coming to Uruguay

Everybody is talking about two things this week in Uruguay. The first one is Argentina's 2007 edition of Big Brother, the reality show, and the way Nadia was kicked out :) The second one, is the fact that Bush is arriving this friday to Uruguay along with Condolezza Rice, and all the turmoil this is generating.

I'd have to agree with southron, when he says it looks like an american invasion, since the number of americans walking by 18 de Julio this week has tripled, word of mouth is Uruguay has earned around 1 millon dollars with this visit, more than what's raised in eastern week with tourism.

People are talking about a couple of helicopters that were brought, and assembled here in Uruguay, and all the security devices and policies that will be enforced during mr danger's visit.

Tabare Vazquez and Bush will meet in the presidential countryside residency "La Estancia Anchorena", and an FTA is expected to be among the topics discussed. Opinions about the convenience of this are strongly divided in Uruguay's government. My opinion is Uruguay should open, and establish as many trade routes, and agreements as possible, not only with the states, but with China, and Chile, and the rest of the world. Recent years have proved that we can't expect much from our direct neighbors. Like Artigas said, nothing we can expect, but from ourselves.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Dubya's visit is bringing some money into your country, but be very wary. My country has a track record of ignoring any aspect of a trade agreement that is to its detriment, while strictly insisting upon the enforcement of any aspects that benefit it. Before you know it, we'll be dumping hormone-laden, mad-cow infected beef in your country and destroying your cattle industry.

Anonymous said...

how is tourism (invasion?) that brings money to uruguay's economy turmoil? just curious how those are connected.

gabouy said...

hi jenny, nice observation. I guess that's maybe more related to my lack of vocabulary in english than anything else, I guess turmoil is maybe not the best word to describe what's happening, since there is a negative cognotation to it, I doubted when I wrote it, but for some reason I left it.

One example of what I meant is, due to bush's visit they hired 110 tourism vans, of all the tourism operators that provide this type of services. It's an overflow of demand for some particular service areas. The consequence of this is that cruises that arrive this same week will have problems hiring this same services. Another example is, that they will close part of the city as a security measure while he is here, and bus routes will change, and the people that live in this area will experience annoying security checks to access their homes. This is most unusual for uruguay.

thanks for your comment,

gabouy said...

jenny, no to mention, all the demonstrations against Bush visit, from anti capitalism, anti imperialism, anti...whatever political groups, that are being organized for this weekend, and that will take place, hopefully without violence, but not without noise and maybe...turmoil? ;)

Anonymous said...

well, i think that your english is very good!

i see what you are saying, but it seems that just for a few days of unusual activity or inconvenience would be worth the opportunity to have the fta meeting.

Anonymous said...

i just now saw your previous comment about the *possible* demonstrations, i missed that one!

of course if they result in violence, then i don't see how president bush is to blame for that! if turmoil is caused, no one is forcing people to get violent! (who's mister danger now?) and maybe then there is a justification for all this security, :)

i don't understand why you would want to focus on the immediate discomfort that *might* be brought in a weekend compared to what this could mean for uruguay as a whole.

let's think even beyond people getting past security at their homes or rented tour buses for a few days and say that even in the span of a few years, or even a decade of change and possible discomfort would be worth it. some may lose their jobs immediately, but in the end, more would indefinitely be created.

seems that a country who's economy has had such hardships would want an opportunity to create a better place for the generations to come, just my .02 of course!

gabouy said...

>of course if they result in violence, then i don't see how president bush is to blame for that!

Can't you see? Really? Don't you see any connection with the fact that the states has attacked Iraq without UN approval, under his leadership.

Or with the fact that thirty years ago Uruguay's government was a dictatorship, as it were almost all countries in south america. Dictatorships bred, sponsored, and economically supported by the US.

Can Bush go anywhere outside the US without generating turmoil?

Do you think this kind of agreement comes with no long term cost for Uruguay? Why do you think he is coming?

Anonymous said...

no, i don't see what connection an fta meeting in uruguay this weekend has to do with 1) the war on iraq, and 2) the past dictatorships of south american countries? if it's *the war* that uruguayans want to protest when he visits, then i understand any turmoil that might cause, sure. marches, protests, rallies and the like happen all the time in and out of the states. sometimes they break out in violence, sometimes they don't.

uruguay is used to political protests though, from my perspective they happen a lot more in mvd than in the states. students in the us don't seem to be as actively involved with politics compared to uruguayans. just look at the graffiti. while an artist is busy feeding his ego somewhere in california, you have a student painting the walls of montevideo with what referendums to vote for or whatever. so i don't see why this is such a problem in light of the bigger picture. i thought we were talking about the fta, and the economy, but i see that you want to talk about the war.

and i would be really interested in hearing what long term "costs" you see in the fta agreement. if you think that an fta agreement meeting has any connection uruguay's past dictatorships, (?) then i would really like to hear something to back that up because that is quite the reactionary statement to make!

there is some truth in saying that the states were not helpful during the horrible military regimes of the past. but every country looks out for it's own self interest, and from my perspective, the us was in part choosing between the lesser of two evils, if you understand what america stands for. i think they should have stayed out of it. but the us is not to blame for every setback on the road to free-market democratic governance in latin america. every since the regimes ended and democracy was restored in the south, there of course has been hardship. so how is this not a positive step towards progression for uruguay? i see the opportunity in the fta as an extension from the states, simply wanting to advance their interests and support other countries with the trade preferences that they believe to be critical to an economic future. they want to help, not breed and support a dictatorship.

i hope we can continue to discuss this too, i'm genuinely interested in what you think, since you are from uruguay. it would be refreshing to be able to just talk about this without it quickly turning into an angerfest about bush and the war. it's always the same thing, people who are against the war cannot see through their anger and completely close their minds to everything and anything that the states or bush does. i think that is a very unfortunate mindset and an easy way out. so please prove me wrong!

Anonymous said...

Do us all a huge favor when Bush comes to visit: Keep him!

Analía said...

I agree with all the invasion feeling. I live next to the airport and those huge planes and helicopters are huge!! I've never seen or heard something like that before. Quite scary I'll say.
Take care

gabouy said...

jenny, first of all I'd like to point out that I'm also up for discussion without anger.

I don't see a connection either between the fta and the demonstrations and I'm not trying to establish one. I only related turmoil, to demonstrations, and the latter to the foreign policy the states has applied in this region in the seventies, the scars it has left, and to the unfounded war in iraq in last couple of years.

what long term "costs" do I see in the fta agreement for Uruguay? Well, for starters we'll be negotiating outside the Mercosur block draining power from it, maybe the biggest regional integration initiative. Isolated, south american countries remain easier to control. Second, this agreement won't come for free (nothing is free in this life), since it represents no economic benefit to the states, it would come with conditions. Conditions like avoiding any kind of negotiations with...say....chavez, or maybe backing up a U.N voting to attack somewhere. Third an uncontrolled economic agreement may finish what's left of our industries, if not carefully analyzed. But hey it's politics, it's the way it is.

Still I'm in favor of an agreement of the sort, I think it's a good opportunity, but knowing it represents a tradeoff.

Saying "the states were not helpful during the horrible military regimes" is imho an understatement to say the least, tell this to Allende supporters in chile. Uruguayan militars were trained in torture methods by americans, for example. The U.S encouraged and supported all the regimes as a counter move to genuine soviet sympathies in the region, and that's the source of a lot of anger here, and believe me, I'm not one of those who blames the states for our shortcomings, but I think this is very important if you want to understand the south american mindset.

You say about the U.S. "they want to help", and I disagree, and I'd like to be wrong. I believe like you said they are looking out for their own self interest, and, if you ask me, the only reason Bush is paying this much of attention to south america is because there's a power vacuum in the region, and Chavez speech against the U.S., and against Bush in particular, is gaining strength in the whole world, and south america is establishing ties and agreements with not very american friendly economies, like china, and iran, or at least venezuela is, and this makes Bush&co very nervous.

I hope I proven you wrong.


Anonymous said...

Well said Gabo!

(by the way, I've never commented here, but I really have enjoyed reading your blog)

Anonymous said...

hi gabo,

i have just a minute - i'm so glad that you are willing to talk without anger (so refreshing) i would like to understand the south american mindset, and i think i do to some extent! ;) but i am willing to understand it more and that's why i like to talk about things like this, hopefully to gain more insight.

obviously part of that mindset is all the grievances that (justifiably so!) linger against washington for backing the milit dictatorships - i'm glad to hear that you are not among those who blame the us for your country's shortcomings but without denying the cia's involvement in the spread of torture, what about france? operation condor, the dirty war - the french had a huge impact and role in instilling torture methods that argentines used. and france *always* receives less attention for this, latins never fail to call out the cia but i rarely hear even the faintest mention of the french secret service.

if i were president of the us, i would see that i had a big opportunity to make good with the south. bush said he wanted to do this when he first got into office, but there are a lot of things that he said. also, 9/11 happened, etc and well, that is just a bit distracting. (obviously we can agree to disagree right away about whether the war was unfounded or not. you think big airplanes simply flying near the airport by your house is scary...what about them crashing into your world trade centers?)

my north american mindset is very compassionate about human rights, and the results in the past dictatorships are incredibly tragic to me. i have friends in uruguay that i have talked about this with and they say that well yes, it was tragic, but there are two sides to the story. you had horrible things happening with the tupamaros committing murders from the other side. it takes two to tango, if you ask me, they were both wrong and committed horrible acts, but one was *far* more out of control in the end - the military. i wish that none of it had ever happened.

with bush coming, i think the bottom line is that south america has had a love hate relationship with the united states ever since it was born. (waaay before the 70s!) let's face it, being a world superpower the states are always going to cause smaller countries to have feelings of envy, hatred, etc. because of all the power they have and how they use it, especially when it's not how they would like it. seeing them as "imperialist america" things get worse when the states goes to defend itself against terrorism and leaders like chaves (who are friends with the likes of castro and we know how the states feel about castro) openly call bush the devil at the un, sends subsidized fuel to poor americans and use ethanol diplomacy in the south.

our countries just have different interests, different ideas of what makes a good government and different "mindsets" :) no leader has been perfect, the past is not perfect. so i think it would be awesome if the two could work together to work out something that would benefit both, and i hope that happens!

best, jenny

gabouy said...

>i think it would be awesome if the two could work together to work out something that would benefit both, and i hope that happens!

cool! so do i!

Anonymous said...

ps, gabo, i just found out that there were something like 2500 soldiers brought in for his visit! haha! that's a bit overdoing it, (another understatement ;) if you ask me, haha. i had no idea it was that many.

and moving dumpsters and closing down the rambla is...well...funny!

have a nice weekend - thanks again for your blog.

gabouy said...

yup, I've heard the same thing.chuck comments on it. He says the air power brought by the U.S outdoes our whole air force...hehehe

Anonymous said...

not all americans share Jenny's view.

Carlos said...

hay olor a azufre!


Anonymous said...

amanda, of course they do. but wait - by americans, you mean north or south americans? and if you mean north americans, that include canadians too? hehe.

gabo, i heard bush had asado while he was in mvd. i think he might want to stay after a taste of it! i also heard he had a lamb from a princesses ranch specially prepared for him. :)

gabouy said...

yeah, he had asado, and a specially prepared lamb. Word is they were even going to fish together with president Vazquez, since they both like the sport. I don't know if they finally did it.

Regarding the press conference held by both they didn't mention an fta specifically. They talked about commerce, software, migration, and mentioned the pulp mills issue with argentina.

Liz said...

Dear Jenny
In a country like the United States with its vast territory and resources a foreign presidential visit might even pass unnoticed. Obviously this is not the case in Uruguay that is not only a small country but for the most part politically aloof. Though it’s obvious that Gabo did not mean a literal invasion of Uruguayan territory you must admit that it must feel like one when you take into consideration all the resources and personnel utilized for this visit.

Anonymous said...

"Uruguay that is not only a small country but for the most part politically aloof"

how very kind of you to point out liz.

Anonymous said...

no really, what do you mean? your comment seems to be coming out to defend "little uruguay"...but then you call it politically aloof? maybe it's obvious to everyone else but me that you aren't literally meaning aloof, but something else? ;)

how long have you lived in uruguay?

Anonymous said...

Uruguayans seem pretty aloof to me. You can't expect much resistance from a populace with the political sense of the average anarchist demo in the US with none of the venom, and self-narcotized on yerba in the bargain. Uruguayans were all happy to get Vasquez and the leftists because they've no association with any right-wing sentiments, concerning which the average Uruguayan is exceedingly and irrationally hypochondriac. This is what they get: "liberal democracy" and its moronic little dictator coming to herald a new age of alienation, American product and the highest possible prices.

Either Uruguayans grow up and oust the leftists or shut up about the Yankee Caligula because that's EXACTLY what a weak government welcomes.

Uruguay's a great little country. Good people, but not politically fit. Lest my harsh words confuse anyone, it breaks my heart that it is now on the path to poisonous American interference. Look for a US military base sometime in the future. Once this country's claws are in, you can't take them out.

-Marshall Lentini

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny

I,m the son of a former Tupamaro, and I watched my farther dragged out of our house in Montevideo by the military police, this memory is still vivid to me even after 30 years.
As you seem like a reasonable person, you can understand how I find your statement "the lesser of the two Evils" in your reasoning for Americas support of South Americas murderous Dictators let it be in Uruguay, Chile , Argentina ect ect lets say, somewhat simplistic and lacking any depth of understanding with all due. respect.


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