February 11, 2016

THE BENEFITS OF A FASCIST INTERLUDE::

Uruguay's Quiet Democratic Miracle (UKI GOÑI, FEB. 9, 2016, NY Times)

With only 3.3 million inhabitants, Uruguay is the smallest nation by population in Latin America. Its giant neighbor Brazil, by contrast, has a population of more than 200 million. But what it lacks in numbers, Uruguay makes up for by ranking as the least corrupt and most democratic country in Latin America -- as well as only one of two, along with Chile, rated as a "high income" country by the United Nations.

Uruguay used to be known as the "Switzerland of South America," in part because of its banking secrecy regulations. But the phrase also speaks to a deep respect for the rule of law.

In a region where democracy is increasingly tested by economic mismanagement, political corruption, drug cartels and environmental crises, Uruguay is the only Latin American country ranked among the world's 20 "full democracies," according to The Economist's 2015 democracy index -- ahead even, by one place, of the United States.

The passionate nationalism prevalent elsewhere, often whipped up by populist leaders intent on clinging to power beyond their allotted presidential terms, is refreshingly absent in Uruguay. It is a preference some of Uruguay's neighbors would do well to emulate.

" 'Nation' is not a word we often use," says the Uruguayan historian Gerardo Caetano. "We prefer republic."

Perhaps because of this, Uruguay scores perfect 10s on the indexes of civil liberties and electoral process, a feat equaled only by Norway and New Zealand. 

Posted by at February 11, 2016 5:43 PM

  

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