In a Chicago Global Family visit to Niagara Foundation, the consul general of Uruguay, Dr. Nury Bauzan de Senes, discussed the state of the internal and external Uruguayan populations. These events are casual, informal exchanges between the Niagara Foundation staff and prominent Chicago global leaders. The goal of these events is to build upon our existing relationships with the Consuls General, and other Chicago global leaders, through engaging in dialogue on various topics of social, religious, political, and cultural relevance.
Dr. Nury Bauzan de Senes is based out of Chicago and has territory over 13 states in the Midwest. There are approximately one thousand Uruguayans in Chicago and four thousand registered in the Midwest region. Yet since registration is not obligatory, it is difficult to know exactly how many Uruguayans are in the Midwest.
According to Bauzan de Senes, 13 percent of the Uruguayan population is currently living outside the country. Many citizens chose to live abroad due to political struggles within Uruguay.
“In the 70’s, there was a dictatorial government and most people that were involved with the opposition went abroad,” Bauzan de Senes said.
Economic struggles in the early 2000s also contributed to the high population living abroad.
“At the turn of the century, Uruguay suffered because of the economic crisis in South America, especially in Argentina,” Bauzan de Senes said. “Our trade is very related to Argentina.”
The internal population of Uruguay is 3.4 million, with about half living within the capitol of Montevideo. This densely concentrated population has caused a government initiative to decentralize job opportunities and disperse them through the country.
“Everyone goes to the capital to find work,” Bauzan de Senes said. “They are giving tax incentives to companies if they go to an internal part of the country.”
In addition to creating a more diverse internal economy, the Uruguayan government is expanding its external economy as well.
“We have diversified our main export destinations,” Bauzan de Senes said. “We now have 163 countries we export to.”
Especially crucial to the economy, 64 percent of meat produced in Uruguay is exported. Gauchos, traditional South American farmers, still contribute to the meat industry.
Also crucial to economy and culture, football, or soccer in the United States, is a favorite hobby and professional sport to Uruguayans. It has provided an outlet for diplomacy through friendly competition and dissolving political barriers. As Bauzan de Senes said, “it is more than a sport; it is a culture.”
A hopeful World Cup is not all that Uruguay has in store for the near future; elections are to be held in October of 2014. As current president Jose Mujica’s term ends, primaries will begin in a matter of months to determine the next president of this democratic republic.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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