One month ago was the 40th anniversary of the coup in Uruguay, which ended representative democracy and liberty for 12 years. During that time of the dictadura, the dictatorship, many Uruguayans left the country, often for the USA, as the best choice for them and their families for freedom. We know several who came back afterwards. Others stayed and resisted, and still others simply went about everyday life as best as they could.
Al-Jazeera ran this column last month, about the desire of many Uruguayos to make 27-June a national day of commemoration.
We don’t sugarcoat the truth here at Uruguay Expat Life. Yes, this is a country that only a generation ago, had widespread surveillance and spying, secret courts, prisons without hope of appeal or release, torture of those who were deemed to be enemies of the state.
Perhaps one of the reasons Lisa and I are comfortable with life and liberty in Uruguay now, is that only that one generation ago, Uruguay resisted and recovered its freedom. Thus Uruguayans, whether socialist, communist, centrist, right-wing, atheist, religious, or anything else, are aware that freedom can be easily lost and are committed to prevent that from happening ever again.
Some countries believe that their freedom can never be lost. Thus, as they embark on surveillance, spying and reporting on neighbors and co-workers with propaganda campaigns like “If you see something, say something”, exaggeration of risk of terrorism to allow militariztion, turning police into miltary-like units with army-like weaponry, suppressing dissent, secret courts, detention without hope of appeal or release, their citizens mostly still believe “We are the greatest country in the world and the beacon of liberty” – thus do nothing to stop the descent into tyranny.
If the description of a country in the paragraph just above sounds familiar, it’s because it is a reasonably objective description of my home country, the United States of America. The US has not gone as far as Uruguay did in the 1970s quite yet – but certainly is on a similar path. I make very little political commentary here; that’s saved for my Facebook, Google+, Twitter feed, and other sites which you can find from my author profile here. But in the context of this important anniversary in my new country of Uruguay, I feel it important that my country of origin, which I still very much love and want to help improve, becomes aware of where its current path could lead.
Perhaps tiny little Uruguay, which fell into dictatorship and oppression, has a lesson to teach the USA.