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Posts Tagged ‘The Economist

Uruguay in Latin America: Voted the Best country this year

How many Reasons do you You Need To Move To Uruguay?

Looking for a new adventure? Maybe you should head down south.

, BuzzFeed Staff, posted this December 10, 2013

1. They have the BEST President ever.

They have the BEST President ever.

Andres Stapff / Reuters

This is Jose Mujica, better known as Pepe.

He’s considered the ‘poorest President’ because he donates 90 percent of his salary to those in need.

Here’s Uruguay, right next to Argentina and Brazil.

Here's Uruguay, right next to Argentina and Brazil.
gibgalich/gibgalich

Home to 3.3 million awesome Uruguayans.

He's considered the 'poorest President' because he donates 90 percent of his salary to those in need.

Handout / Reuters

He even drives his own car, an old light blue Volkswagen Beetle.

He and his wife are super chill.

He and his wife are super chill.

Oscar Cassini / Via fusion.net

And even pose to passersby during their vacations.

His speeches are always pure perfection. youtube.com

To live you need freedom, and to have freedom you need time.

No, really, he’s the coolest President.

No, really, he's the coolest President.

Handout / Reuters

Here he is being all happy with a guitar signed by Aerosmith.

2. It was once dubbed “the Switzerland of America,” mainly for its banking stability.

It was once dubbed "the Switzerland of America," mainly for its banking stability.

Vepar5/Vepar5

So your savings will be safe!

3. Education is free and secular.

Education is free and secular.

4. Same sex marriage is legal – and celebrated.

Same sex marriage is legal - and celebrated.

5. So is marijuana legal

So is marijuana.

JeremyNathan/JeremyNathan

6. It is one of the VERY few countries in Latin America where abortion is legal.

It is one of the VERY few countries in Latin America where abortion is legal.

AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

7. The opposition to the abortion law wanted a referendum but less than 10% of the population supported it so the law was maintained.

The opposition to the abortion law wanted a referendum but less than 10% of the population supported it so the law was maintainted.

AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

8. Its beaches are one of the best kept secrets in South America.

Its beaches are one of the best kept secrets in South America.

fotoember/fotoember

Very very very nice beaches.

9. But there’s more to see than just sand…

Uruguay is one of the leading meat producers in the world, as that is its main industry.

But there's more to see than just sand... Uruguay is one of the leading meat producers in the world, as that is its main industry.

ToniFlap/ToniFlap

10. It’s estimated that there are 3.5 cows per every person in the country.

It's estimated that there are 3.5 cows per every person in the country.

Tobias Schwarz / Reuters / Reuters

Which means you can either have a bunch as pets or eat a lot of meat.

11. You will hardly ever be stuck in a traffic jam.

You will hardly ever be stuck in a traffic jam.

12. They have a replacement for coffee: It’s called mate and it will amp you up when you drink it.

They have a replacement for coffee: It's called mate and it will amp you up when you drink it.

13. There’s a little town called Cabo Polonio where there’s no electricity ON PURPOSE. Perfect place to get over your Instagram addiction, huh?

There's a little town called Cabo Polonio where there's no electricity ON PURPOSE. Perfect place to get over your Instagram addiction, huh?

joaowendel/joaowendel

14. But if you’re looking for less silence, Punta del Este is considered one of the best party cities in the world.

But if you're looking for less silence, Punta del Este is considered one of the best party cities in the world.

15. Their music will get you out of any chair. youtube.com

Hit play and test yourself.

16. And they definitely know how to party…

And they definitely know how to party...

17. They not only hosted the first World Cup but also won it. And they’re hoping to win again next year.

They not only hosted the first World Cup but also won it. And they're hoping to win again next year.

Pablo La Rosa / Reuters

They have so much confidence they’ll win that when they qualified they made fun of Brazil. youtube.com

Because why not?

18. It’s a fantastic place to buy cheap and beautiful antiques.

It's a fantastic place to buy cheap and beautiful antiques.

19. Uruguayan men are a very well kept secret. Just look at Forlan’s abs…

Uruguayan men are a very well kept secret. Just look at Forlan's abs...

Kevin Granja / Reuters

20. And so are Uruguayan women, like Natalia Oreiro.

And so are Uruguayan women, like Natalia Oreiro.

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

21. But above all, they’re considered the nicest and warmest people in South America.

But above all, they're considered the nicest and warmest people in South America.

The Economist published this Dec. 21, 2013:

Country of the year: Uruguay in Latin America

HUMAN life isn’t all bad, but it sometimes feels that way.

Good news is no news: the headlines mostly tell of strife and bail-outs, failure and folly.

2013 has witnessed glory as well as calamity. When the time comes for year-end accounting, both the accomplishments and the cock-ups tend to be judged the offspring of lone egomaniacs or saints, rather than the joint efforts that characterise most human endeavour.

To redress the balance from the individual to the collective, and from gloom to cheer, The Economist has decided, for the first time, to nominate a country of the year.

But how to choose it?

Readers might expect our materialistic outlook to point us to simple measures of economic performance, but they can be misleading.

Focusing on GDP growth would lead us to opt for South Sudan, which will probably notch up a stonking 30% increase in 2013—more the consequence of a 55% drop the previous year, caused by the closure of its only oil pipeline as a result of its divorce from Sudan, than a reason for optimism about a troubled land.

Or we might choose a nation that has endured economic trials and lived to tell the tale. Ireland has come through its bail-out and cuts with exemplary fortitude and calm; Estonia has the lowest level of debt in the European Union. But we worry that this econometric method would confirm the worst caricatures of us as flint-hearted number-crunchers; and not every triumph shows up in a country’s balance of payments.

Another problem is whether to evaluate governments or their people.

In some cases their merits are inversely proportional: consider Ukraine, with its thuggish president, Viktor Yanukovych, and its plucky citizens, freezing for democracy in the streets of Kiev, even though 9 years ago they went to the trouble of having a revolution to keep the same man out of office.

Or remember Turkey, where tens of thousands protested against the creeping autocracy and Islamism of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister-cum-sultan. Alas, neither movement has yet been all that successful.

Advertisement?

Definitional questions creep in, too. One possible candidate, Somaliland, has kept both piracy and Islamic extremism at bay, yet on most reckonings it is not a country at all, rather a renegade province of Somalia—which has struggled to contain either.

As well as countries yet to be, we might celebrate one that could soon disintegrate: the United Kingdom, which hasn’t fared too badly, all things considered, since coming into being in 1707, but could fracture in 2014 should the Scots be foolhardy enough to vote for secession.

And the winner is?

When other publications conduct this sort of exercise, but for individuals, they generally reward impact rather than virtue. Thus they end up nominating the likes of Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khomeini or, in 1938, Adolf Hitler.

Adapting that realpolitic rationale, we might choose Bashar Assad’s Syria, from which millions of benighted refugees have now been scattered to freezing camps across the Levant.

If we were swayed by influence per head of population, we might plump for the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) islands, the clutch of barren rocks in the East China Sea that have periodically threatened to incite a third world war—though that might imply their independence, leading both China and Japan to invade us.

Alternatively, applying the Hippocratic principle to statecraft, we might suggest a country from which no reports of harm or excitement have emanated. Kiribati seems to have had a quiet year.

But the accomplishments that most deserve commendation, we think, are path-breaking reforms that do not merely improve a single nation but, if emulated, might benefit the world. Gay marriage is one such border-crossing policy, which has increased the global sum of human happiness at no financial cost.

Several countries have implemented it in 2013—including Uruguay, which also, uniquely, passed a law to legalise and regulate the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. This is a change so obviously sensible, squeezing out the crooks and allowing the authorities to concentrate on graver crimes, that no other country has made it.

If others followed suit, and other narcotics were included, the damage such drugs wreak on the world would be drastically reduced.

Better yet, the man at the top, President José Mujica, is admirably self-effacing.

With unusual frankness for a politician, he referred to the new law as an experiment. He lives in a humble cottage, drives himself to work in a Volkswagen Beetle and flies economy class.

Modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving, Uruguay is our country of the year. ¡Felicitaciones!

From the print edition: Leaders

Are Islam, democracy and soldiers Egypt’s tragedy?

The official “census” is about 85 million, give or take 10 million: More are being born without identity, and no one care to keep counting and officially feeding.

There were periods when Egypt was at war (Sudan, Yemen…) and soldiers and workers were displaced overseas to support their extended families.

There are no more burial grounds and caves for poor Egyptians to dwell in and settle among the departed.

When Muhammad Morsi was elected president of Egypt a year ago, The Economist was wary.

As fervent supporters of liberal democracy,The Economist’s guidelines are uncomfortable with the belief of the Muslim Brotherhood party, that politics are subsidiary to religion, and are downright hostile to the attitudes towards women and minorities that pervade the Islamist movement.

“We would have preferred the secularists who led Egypt’s revolution to have won. Yet we recognized that Morsi’s 52% of the vote—a stronger endorsement than Barack Obama got five months later—gave him the right to rule. And, most of all, we were delighted that after 30 years of dictatorship, Egypt was on its way to becoming a democracy….”

The Economist published on July 3, 2013 “Muhammad Morsi was incompetent, but his ouster should be cause for regret, not celebration

That is why we regard the events of the past few days with trepidation. Mr Morsi’s ouster by a combination of street power and soldiers sets a dreadful precedent for the region. The army, which is in part responsible for the situation, must start Egypt on the path towards new elections as swiftly as possible, or the prospects for the country will be bleak.

Post-Morsem

Mr Morsi’s rule started unraveling when crowds massed in the streets of Egypt’s cities on June 30th, the first anniversary of his time in power. The protests turned violent; the Brotherhood’s headquarters were burned; 48 people have died.

On July 1st, the army gave Morsi 48 hours to resolve his dispute with his opponents. Mr Morsi responded by defending his legitimacy and refusing to step down. On July 3rd, the chief of army staff, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced that the constitution had been suspended. Mr Morsi was taken into military custody.

Most of the blame for the disaster that has befallen Egyptian democracy lies with Mr Morsi. The very size of the protests—some estimates claim that as many as 14m took to the streets—shows that his opponents were not a small bunch of discontents.

Most of the country seems to have turned against him. One reason for that is his incompetence. He did nothing to rescue the economy from looming collapse. The Egyptian pound and foreign exchange reserves have both dwindled, inflation is rising and unemployment among those under 24 is more than 40%.

The IMF has despaired of agreeing on a big loan that would have opened the way to others. In the broiling summer heat, electricity cuts have become maddeningly frequent. Queues for petrol have lengthened. Farmers are often not being paid for their wheat. Crime has soared—the murder rate has tripled since the revolution.

The Brothers’ failure to include a wide range of views in its first government was even more foolish. Egypt, at the best of times, is hard to govern because society is polarized.

Secular-minded and better-educated Egyptians generally want the country to be dragged into a modern, pluralistic and outward-looking world. A more conservative and religious stratum looks to political Islam rather than socialism or capitalism as the answer to centuries of injustice, inequality and corruption. In addition, Egypt has a large and nervous minority of Christians, perhaps a tenth of the populace of 84m, along with a much smaller minority of Shia Muslims, both of whom have been rattled by an Islamist government.

Instead of trying to build up the independent institutions—the courts, the media, a neutral civil service, army and police—that check the power of government in mature democracies, Morsi did his best to undermine them.

He legislated through a senate that was elected by only 10% of the voters. He made false, inept or cowardly choices at every turn, finagling constitutional issues, pushing fellow Brothers into key appointments and feeding the secularists’ fears that his brethren were determined, by hook or by crook, to Islamise every aspect of society.

He stayed silent when bigots and thugs threatened and attacked religious minorities. He allowed foreigners working for advocacy groups promoting human rights and democracy to be hounded, prosecuted and convicted (most of them in absentia) on patently false charges.

That so many Egyptians should wish to get rid of Morsi is therefore entirely understandable. That they have succeeded in doing so could well turn out to be a disaster, and not just for Egypt.

The precedent that Morsi’s ouster sets for other shaky democracies is a terrible one. It will encourage the disaffected to try to eject governments not by voting them out but by disrupting their rule. It will create an incentive for oppositions all over the Arab world to pursue their agendas on the streets, not in parliaments. It thus will reduce the chance of peace and prosperity across the region.

It also sends a dreadful message to Islamists everywhere. The conclusion they will draw from events in Egypt is that, if they win power in elections, their opponents will use non-democratic means to oust them. So if they are allowed to come to office, they will very likely do their damnedest to cement their power by fair means or foul. Crush your opponents could well be their motto.

How to make it less bad?

That damage is done, and cannot be undone.

But there are better, and worse, ways for the story to unfold. If the army holds on to power, then Egypt will be back where it was before Hosni Mubarak was ousted—but without the hope that prevails before revolution has been tried and has failed.

If the army announces a timetable for elections and sticks to it, then Egypt has a chance. The soldiers will need to make credible promises to the Islamists that if they win (which, given their performance over the past year, the Brothers are unlikely to) they will be allowed to take power. Persuading them of that will be hard: holding an election quickly would help.

Egypt’s army played a pivotal role in the revolution, standing by while people power pushed Mr Mubarak out. It still has the trust of many Egyptians, who are still inclined to turn towards it in times of crisis. If the generals are to repay that trust, they must get the country back on the path towards democracy as swiftly as possible.

Note: The other Moslem Brotherhood parties in power such as in Turkey and Tunisia have voiced their outrage for military coup against legitimate elected president. Tunisia has extended its emergency laws till next October.

The Turkish court has turned down the projects of the government in the park that witnessed mass demonstrations last month.

Fairer view on the Palestinian rights and cause: The Economist butts in

On May 17th, The Economist published the article “Here comes your non-violent resistance“. I will repost it with a few editing, and add a few comments.

“For many years, we’ve heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement.  They would say “If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, they’d have had their recognized State long ago”.

Or the American commentators would say: “Surely, no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian national liberation movement, seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination”.

Palestinian commentators and organizers, including Fadi Elsalameen and Moustafa Barghouthi, have spent the last couple of years pointing out that these complaints resolutely ignore the actual and growing Palestinian non-violent resistance movement.

The first intifada, which broke out in 1987, was initially as close to non-violent as could be reasonably expected. For the most part, it consisted of general strikes and protest marches. In addition, there was a fair amount of kids throwing rocks, and a few continuing threat of low-level terrorism, mainly from organisations based abroad. the Israelis conflated the autochthonous protest movement with “terrorism” and responded brutally.  The first intifada quickly lost its non-violent character.

It is not that different from what has happened over the past couple of months in Libya: It shows that it’s very hard to keep a non-violent movement going non-violent, as the government you’re demonstrating against, subjects you to gunfire for a sustained period of time.

In any case, if you’re among those who have made the argument that Israelis would give Palestinians a State if only the Palestinians would learn to employ Gandhi tactics of non-violent protest, it appears your moment of truth has arrived.  What happened on Nakba Day (the day Israel chased out the Palestinians from their villages and homes to seek refuge in the neighboring States) was Israel’s “nightmare scenario”:  Masses of Palestinians marching (from all the bordering States to Israel), unarmed, towards the borders of the Jewish State, demanding the redress of their decades-old national grievance.”

Peter Beinart writes that this represents “Israel’s Palestinian Arab Spring”: the tactics of mass non-violent protests that brought down the governments of Tunisia and Egypt.  The same mass uprising that are threatening to bring down the regimes in Libya, Yemen and Syria, are now being used in the Palestinian cause.

We have an opportunity to see how Americans will react. “We’ve asked the Palestinians to lay down their arms. We’ve told them their lack of a State is their own fault; if only they would embrace non-violence, a reasonable and unprejudiced world would see the merit of their claims”. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of them did just that, and it seems likely to continue.

If crowds of tens of thousands of non-violent Palestinian protestors continue to march, and if Israel continues to shoot at them, what will we do? Will we make good on our rhetoric, and press Israel to give the Palestinians their State? Or will it turn out that our paeans to non-violence were just cynical tactics in an amoral international power contest, staged by militaristic Israeli and American right-wing groups whose elective affinities lead them to shape a common narrative of the alien Arab/Muslim threat? Will we even bother to acknowledge that the Palestinians are protesting non-violently? Or will we soldier on with the same empty decades-old rhetoric, now drained of any truth or meaning, because it protects established relationships of power?

What will it take to make Americans recognise that the real Martin Luther King-style non-violent Palestinian protestors have arrived, and that Israeli soldiers are shooting them with real bullets?”

A few comments:  The first non-violent Intifada pressured Itzhak Rabin to signing an agreement with Arafat, who was residing in Tunisia at the time.  The second Intifada was crushed in blood by Ariel Sharon in 2002.  Actually, Sharon entered the camp of Jenine and the Israeli tanks run over live Palestinian civilians and children.  Sharon finished the job by poisoning Yasser Arafat and imposing a total curfew on Ramallah that lasted 6 months.

On May 15, 2011, Israeli snipers shot to kill in the head and chest Palestinian marchers on the borders.  Over 20 civilian Palestinians were killed, point-blank with real bullets and over 300 were seriously injured on the borders with Lebanon, Syria (the Golan Heights), West Bank, and Gaza.

Palestine was partitioned into a Jewish and a Palestinian/Arab States in 1947.  Is not partitioning a recognition of a State?  Why the Palestinians had to wait till 2011 for the UN to vote in September for a Palestinian State?  Israel occupied more Palestinian lands in 1948, before the UN recognized the State of Israel.  Should people use brute force to occupy lands and demand the UN to recognize new lands captured by force?  What Israel and the UN call the 1967 borders, lands occupied after the 1967 war, are actually forgetting that Israel had occupied lands in surplus of what Palestine had been partitioned initially.

The US, the UN, Israel may wish that the borders of 1967 will satisfy the Palestinians.  Tough luck:  The UN declaration #194 demands the right of Palestinians to return to their lands, all the lands, before 1947.  The Palestinians have the right to return to their original homes, towns, villages, and get remunerated for lost gains and suffering.


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