Digging up the revolution
Montevideo Travel Blog› entry 34 of 86 › view all entries
Monte video is small but it's history is one of many wars and political conflicts; The aboriginal people faught the spanish, later the spanish faught the protugese and after independence internal struggels devastated the country. Recently Uruguay is recovering from years of political violence which coliminated in a cruel military dictatorship (1973-1984) and a crippeling financial crisis (2002-2003). A left wing government seems to have managed to stabilize the country and improve standards of living somewhat. Now in old Montevideo, if you leave the main street and it's grand architecture a calm and modern-feel city with low colonial buildings and cosy eateries opens up. It's ancient cobbled streets are lined with tall trees, leaving a pleasant lightgreen shade during the hot afternoons. Sipping coffee in a cafee you could think you were in western europe.
However the past is still to be found in the hundrets of ancient bookshops. Various versions og Bernhard Black (Black Books) house behind dusty desks behind even dustier piles of old left wing litterature and art books. I browsed these shops for hours alone, in search of someone explaining Marx in english, until i came into Rauls shop. He looked his shop and took me into a building full of creaky lifts and dark corridors. "Don't go with strangers" my childhood knowledge protested. But i can't always go everywhere with Daren so i did. "Don`t go with strangers that declare undying love!" later sense chipped in as Raul did just that. But luckily i did go with Raul because behind all the closed locks and doors even more books lived their dusty lives and after rooting for ages we found what i was looking for!
If the Army in the 70ties and 80ties or the government before that had known of these books Raul would have been arrested. well aware of this he and many others continued to fight for a better life during 30 years were all left wing parties were banned and family gatherings had to be granted permission. During years were Uruguay became known as "the torture chamber" of south Amerika and people dissappeared unaccounted for. But the people carried on plotting and in 84 demokracy made a slow, tricky return.
Now the old revolutionaries rest, playing guitar whilst declaring love to young women in old shops. But they are the ones who have made Uruguay what it is today. The secret rooms and abundancy of once illegal litterature are a testemony of their dreams and courrage and Uruguay today, with a proud demokracy, stems from their fight for freedom.