Uruguay

Uruguay’s social movement organizations, as well as a powerful union movement and dozens of NGO’s, work hand-in-hand with a welfare state that is able to meet the needs of the country’s sparse population.

Movements seek their place in a welfare state
“A middle-class culture predominates [in Uruguay], one that trusts state institutions as guarantors of labor stability and individual progress, while offering frameworks for negotiation that are seldom exceeded from below. The Uruguayan welfare state [has been] very important, both materially and subjectively.
“Since the great economic and financial crisis of 2002, which left 40 percent of the population poor, the marginal sectors have grown exponentially and at certain times have managed to organize themselves. However, in 2005, when the Frente Amplio took office, the new Ministry of Social Development attended to their most crucial demands and needs, making major efforts to address poverty.
“The trade union movement continues to be the backbone of the popular movement in Uruguay, which is not the case in other Latin American countries, where the poorest sectors have been able to create new movements of indigenous people, landless peasants and city dwellers.
“This does not mean that there are no organized popular sectors in Uruguay outside the state-centered trade-union logic, but they are weak, consisting of garbage recyclers, housing cooperatives, community radio stations, unemployed people from the country and people living in illegal urban settlements.
“It is likely that in the coming years, when the impact of the global crisis is felt in this part of the world, that these sectors called “marginalized” because they are at the margin of the formal economy and of welfare benefits, will make their voice heard louder than that of the institutionalized trade unions.”
—Raúl Zibechi, from his introduction to the Uruguay chapter of Until the Rulers Obey

IWD: Women playing the traditional Afro-Uruguayan candombe drums at an International Women's Day march in Montevideo, 2006. Photo by Clifton Ross.
IWD: Women playing the traditional Afro-Uruguayan candombe drums at an International Women’s Day march in Montevideo, 2006. Photo by Clifton Ross.

Until the Rulers Obey features two interviews from Uruguay:

Helios Sarthou, ex-senator, member of the Frente Amplio
“Debt generated under a dictatorship has to be considered invalid.”
Interview and translation by Clifton Ross, March 2006

Gustavo, Pablo and Noelia, Galpón de Corrales community center
“The solutions have to come from the people.”
Interview and translation by Clifton Ross, March 2006

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *