As with all good things, we start with the logs:
mircea_popescu: diana_coman, montevideo arguably worth viewing, for a week or two.
mircea_popescu: not because of what's there, but becauswe of what isn't.
Many things are lacking to the point "faltar", the verb for having a lack carries substantial heavy lifting in the language as it is used locally. Are you close to your destination? Falta poco? The local idea of comedy doesn't involve jokes or joking. It's stricly comiserating, sharing their misery with each other. The misery is almost always rooted in the various faltas.
One of the most profound local lacks is the absence of any sort of medium sized enterprises. Businesses are either very small or very large. The small stick to very well defined structures with little variation. Restaurants might try out gimmicks, Kioskos will try out genuflection towards
Mecca Miami in their naming. stores of the same type will carry the same products bearing the same maker's marks, and businesses serving other businesses will stay very narrowly within their lane.
On result of this is a collection of computer parts stores narrowly serving the DIY Nintendo crowd, a rackmount goods store without servers, and every "respectable" office will have their Wifi network's hardware rackmounted as a mostly performative act. This means a local market for rackmount servers can't exist. The few customers who need them import expensively on a one-off basis and don't appear interested in buying without mountains of warranty paperwork and extended service plans handled by a small, occasionally local, business acting as the branch office of a large foreign business.
This has other effects:
- Substantial investments are made promoting excellent Ovine genetics in the local wool producing herds. A good ram on the local market can carry five figure USD valuation based on reporting in the local rags generated on occasions where such rams have been stolen.
- For all of the investment that goes into the quality of Ovine agriculture, the most value ever added to the wool locally is occasionally washing and still less frequently combing. More frequently, it gets exported in the grease.
- Most pharmacies carry generic tubs of petroleum jelly labeled "vasolina" while none carry lanolin.
- There is no appreciable sign of an active textile industry.
- Whatever finished wool products make it into Uruguay get hit with punitive tariffs
It is hard for me to see this situation as anything other than some seriously interalized colonial mercantilism where the locals seem to want a foreign daddy to fuck them good and hard. The model that wore England's colonies into expelling the King's men is what Uruguay explicitly seeks in trade relations. "We have land, pretty please let us send you raw materials so you can add value and sell us back some of the finished product at a premium." Then they try to make a living in the space between the ample bounty of raw material they sell and their very modest demand for finished products. Now, capital investment in a commodity market is dangerous, but... the evidence anyone here thought to ever try entering the competition with the hefty local tarriff regime on their side is lacking.
Uruguay has a lot of cows. Uruguay kills lots of cows to provide beef to local and international markets. With that beef comes substantial potential leather. There's an embattled tannery in the city that does/did finished leather for export to automotive industry customers. It shutdown, reopened, and may or may not be operating at this time. With 100-200 employees it is the rare business of medium size. For the tannery having navitaged tax and labor laws aligned against it, the local labor cartel/shadow government calling itself PIT-CNT has decided it must jump through still more hoops or die. The bulk of the country's leather gets exported after sufficient processing to make it stable enough to survive boat transport, or it gets finished in cottage scale operations. A very large swath of the Feria Tristan Narvaja is reliably filled with carts full of tanned leather waiting for someone who wants to work the leather into finished products.
There are no great sausages in Montevideo. The very large Frigorificos which for their size are the rare local businesses with employees that don't fear PIT-CNT, they seem to have used their weight to lobby an assumption of unsafety in small scale sausage production into the local Bromatology regime. Back in my corner of old country, any rural town of note had a meat processor making excellent fresh sausages. There are small, rural producers of sausage in the interior of Uruguay, but they can't sell in the city. The local carnicerías, temples of cleanliness that they are, appear to face more downside risk getting caught making sausage than they do for any actual sanitation problem. I expect this cultural excision is unrecoverable. If city carnicerías could make sausages... how would anyone doing the making know what makes a sausage good? Hay una falta.
This exploration of the what and why of Uruguay's various faltas should be taken as illustrative rather than definitive. The space of faltas is too great for enumeration.
Bonus: A Timeline Of Socialism In Uruguay
- José Batlle y Ordóñez, president 1903 - 1907 y 1911 - 1915 during his second presidency decided to make Uruguay a "model state" experiment. Being of the urban Colorado Party, this "model state" involved the productivity of the countryside being used to subsidize free shit for the city. This took the form of a handful of state enterprises and the adoption of ideas considered "enlightened" and "fashionable" in Europe.
- The scope of the experiment kept creeping through the 1950's fueled by the occasional boom following periodic decisions in Europe to blow everything up.
- By the 1960's the commodity fueled boom years Uruguayo planners had been banking on to continued indefinitely stopped. Leftist militias including Pepe Mujica's Tupamaros did the Robin Hood1 flavored terrorism thing.
- 1971 - Golpe de Estado. The Red Colorado party stays in power in partnership with the military. Pepe goes back to jail after a shootout with the police.
- 1972 - General Liber Serengi2 births the Frente Amplio with the goal of uniting Uruguay's left parties, to the exclusion of the Tupamaros
- 1980's Dictatorship ends. Other faction of the Red Colorado party takes power. By the end of the decades, the Tupamaros intergrate into the Frente Amplio which of born of a desire to exclude them.
- 2002 - 2010, Argentina shits the bed. Uruguay gets sick. Frente Amplio wins its first election leading to the first Vasquez administration. Daniel Astori and a small faction of the Frente Amplio breaks rank to join with the opposition and prevent Uruguay from defaulting on its debt. The combination of a recent crisis, honoring the external debt, and increased government spending leads to the impression of Vasquez being a miracle worker bringing Uruguay into a new era of prosperity.
- 2010 - 2015, Pepe Mujica is president. Stagnation starts setting in. Cannabis legalized though implementation didn't effectively begin until late 2017 or approach meeting local demand until late 2018 well after Pepe left office. Pepe's presidency generally regarded locally as a failure outside of dedicated leftists not working in government who all left other Frente Amplio sectors for Pepe's MPP
- 2015 - 2019, Vasquez gets a second term as president and the Frente Amplio gets a third consecutive legislative majority on the strength of fond memories of the post crisis recovery. Stagnation continues. Vasquez recognized as a hack who fell into a lucky situation his first time around. Frente Amplio loses its legislative majority for the next government to be sworn in March 2020 with 39 percent of the vote. The National Party's Luis Lacalle Pou will be elected President this upcoming Sunday, also to be sworn in March 2020.
A century into the experiment, Montevideo's best architecture all happened in the 1920's and 1930's. The current national history fed to students appears to treat the dictatorship years with the gravity more typically reserved by particular groups for past genocides attempted against their own population. Ultimately the dicatorship served to keep Mujica from coming to power in the 1970s as a young active man aspiring to be a Tito/Castro/etc strongman to instead take power in 2010 as a humble old Nordic woman.
- If there was a Robin Hood, he pointedly was not some sort of "rich suck, poor rule" derp. He would have been an active man challenging a weak sovereign. That he allegedly redistributed wealth would pointedly not have been because doing so, on its own, is good. It would have been because doing so was an attack, however expensive, on sovereign he wanted to beat. [↩]
- His name is on the Plaza in Cordon, which I misidentified as being in Tres Cruces, during which some bum not quite completely fallen into Pichidom was saved from his ideas by his "brother" on February 9th, 2018. [↩]