In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Uruguay, a small but prosperous country sandwiched between two massive South American powerhouses, Brazil and Argentina. Widely considered one of the most politically stable and progressive countries in Latin America, Uruguay is home to just over 3.5 Million people and almost ten times as many sheep.
By land mass, it is the second-smallest nation in the region. After a four-way struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay declared its independence in 1825. The country then stabilised until the 1950s, when political turmoil ensued.
In more recent years, Uruguay escaped the recession that spread throughout South America in the early 2000s, and has since emerged as a bastion of democracy, progressive policies and free speech.
Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle).
Table of Contents:
[02:12] Intro – Homer Simpson and trampy birds
[08:30] Horny dirty Europeans and laissez faire gauchoing
[15:00] The inevitable British interest
[18:08] Artigas uncontemplative – not a calm guy
[27:23] If you liked Artigas you’ll love many endless wars forever
[33:46] Colorados vs Blancos – mob on mob violence
[40:39] Flores – Warlords don’t like peace, shoot your gauchos
[49:30] Jose Batlle – Mr 20th Century Uruguay
[57:54] WW2 – neutral, until it’s over and then they’re totally against Hitler
[1:06:08] Old timey radio show on Uruguay… is a bit dismissive of poor women
[1:14:46] Pacheqism – NOT to be confused with pacifism, too much torture for that
[1:16:30] Alive – plane crash and things only get worse from there
[1:23:28] South America in the 80s, how do you think it’s gonna go – “Politics is finished, I’m the leader.”
[1:30:38] Modern day – cannabis, football, music and good times
Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:
- Firstly, a link to the discussion on the Uruguay subreddit, and some useful and interesting suggestions made by Uruguayans
- Article in the Journal of Lithic Studies about early archaeological finds in Uruguay
- Some information (in Spanish) on beliefs and customs of the indigenous people, and an article in The Prisma marking the 180th anniversary of the extinction of the Charrúa people
- Early European visitors to the area include: Juan Diaz de Solis, Sebastian Cabot and Governor of Buenos Aires, Henandarias
- An overview of the history of Afro-Uruguayans (by historian George Reid Andrews) can be found on BlackPast.com
- Watch this documentary about “Candombe in Uruguay” to hear this unique style of music and further understand where it comes from
- Guillermo Brown and Peter Campbell are the fathers of the Argentinian and Uruguayan navies, respectively – not bad for two Irish lads.
- “Uruguay” by Leslie Jermyn (from the Marshall Cavendish Cultures of the World series) gives a great overview of the country’s history
- Also, particularly for the various wars, Uruguay: a country study, edited by Rex A. Hudson and Sandra W. Meditz for the US Library of Congress, gives a lot more details than we did
- Significant political figures include José Gervasio Artigas Arnal (father of the nation), Fructuoso Rivera (first Colorado), Manuel Oribe (first Blanco), José Batlle (radical reformer and 20th century leader)
- The US Office of Inter-American Affairs made a number of short films about Uruguay. We mentioned this one, about life in Montevideo, but there was also a video entitled “Young Uruguay” and one that shows gauchos at work
- On the topic of gauchos, read this article in the Telegraph about modern gauchos and the annual gaucho festival in Uruguay
- Uruguay Airforce Flight 571 plane crash in the Andes in 1972 has had movies, books, documentaries and podcasts made about it, more than we could possibly include in our episode; some recommendations: Disaster Area Podcast, Air Crash Investigation Disasters (YouTube), Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado (a book by one of the survivors) and Alive, the famous movie based on the event
- On President José Mujica (the world’s “poorest president”) you can watch this documentary from Vice and also read this article from Mic about the impact of his recent laws to decriminalise marijuana
- And finally, here’s the full clip of Luís Suarez sharing a cup of mate with a young Liverpool FC fan
Some of the music we used in this episode, and other music we recommend:
- A Spotify playlist of Uruguayan music prepared for us by some users on http://www.reddit.com/r/uruguay
- An example of some candombe music
- And another called “Maestros del Candombe”
- Los Shakers were Uruguay’s answer to the Beatles, to such an extent that they dressed like them and sang in English. You heard “Rompan Todo/Break It All”
- Famous artist Rubén Rada plays the well known tune “Candombe para Gardel”
- At the end of the episode, there is a clip from a comedy song “Uruguay is the Best Country”, by by musicians Aleksey Igudesman and Richard Hyung-ki Joo. It opens with the dramatic lyrics “I am going to Uruguay / Because I like the people. / I am going to Uruguay / because the weather is nearly always hot”
Thanks this week to Nick Ison and Eoin Byrne, who backed our Kickstarter campaign. Your t-shirts should be on their way to you already. Thanks to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.
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