Saturday 21 December 2013

Uruguay: Economist Country of the Year


As you will know, I have my doubts about The Economist, but they have partly redeemed themselves by naming Uruguay country of the year. Three things seem to have clinched this for them: gay marriage (a big step in Catholic South America); the legalisation of marijuana (a big step anywhere); and a self effacing President (a rarity everywhere).

Of course, this is not the first time Uruguay has decriminalised a formerly prohibited personal pastime. In 1920 duelling was made legal and José Batlle y Ordóñez, the former President and creator of the modern state (in 1911 social security, separation of church and state, divorce, free education and health) killed the editor of the newspaper El País, in a formal duel fought with pistols. It was still a talking point in the 1930s. For all I know, it improved the quality of journalism.

In a regrettable assault on personal liberty, duelling was once again prohibited in 1992. Ever pragmatic, Uruguayans have now suggested that it be made legal again, on the condition that both parties are registered blood donors.

On your behalf, I will be travelling to Uruguay to see what effect marihuana has on my prose style. I will avoid arguments with editors and politicians or, more precisely, that is what I intend to do in my current un-medicated state.


  1. What a disappointment. I had hoped the youtube would show the country's currently most distinguished citizen, the striker and biter Luis Suarez.