National Day of Uruguay
Celia Olivia and the Ambassadors of Argentina, Pedro Villagra Delgado, Ecuador, Raul Gangotena, El Salvador, Manuel Gutierrez Ruiz, Uruguay, Alberto Fajardo, Mexico, Beatriz Lopez Gargallo, Peru, Luis Quesada and Cuba, Pedro Monzon. Photo: Lyn Mills
Uruguay is a thumb print on the map of South America squashed between Argentina and Brazil with a small population and a colourful history of struggles for independence from those all conquering Spanish.
But their big claim to fame in modern history is a famous sea battle, the first of the World War II when their neutrality had the captain of the Admiral Graf Spee scuttle his pocket battleship rather than limp back to Germany with a purported armada of British ships waiting for him and his stricken ship off the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
It’s a movie, Battle of the River Plate, with Peter Finch as the captain of the Graf Spee but another Australian connection of the real thing was quietly sipping his drink at the national day reception when his daughter pointed me in his direction with a hint of a story.
Luis Mayne is not entirely a South American sounding name and Luis said it wasn’t for him growing up as a youngster in Uruguay either, but his mother assured him he was born in California.
Eventually he went looking and found that some of the prisoners who were crew on the Admiral Graf Spee were initially interned in Argentina but later made their way back to Montevideo and his daddy was one of them. Of course, there’s more to the story, but that’s for Luis to write about one day.
Uruguay is part of the Latin American boom, and for tourists, the beaches are lovely, their beef is beautiful, and the wine worth investigating.
But maybe you didn’t know same sex marriage was legalised a couple of weeks ago which will be a boon to tourism, and a bill to legalise marijuana has passed the lower house with the government stepping in to regulate the production, distribution and sale.
Two disparate laws, but a case of if you can’t beat it find a way to make money out of it.