Uruguay is a country that has long lived in the shadow of its two larger neighbors, Brazil and Argentina. Like other Latin American countries, Uruguay has suffered dire economic hardship lately as the prosperous nineties have yielded to the grim realities of unemployment, poverty, and despair.
Virginia Brown, a writer living in Uruguay’s rural north, has recorded the effects of this phase in her country’s history in carefully observed scenes of daily life. “Joint Venture” (Spanish text) is a quick sketch of an incident that takes place on a rainy city street. The characters represent different stages in Uruguay’s spiraling social drama, and Ms. Brown brings them together in a compassionate vignette that explores the emotional process of coming to terms with one’s fate.
Another ongoing reality throughout Latin America is war. In "The Mine" (La mina) Virginia Brown writes about different kinds of collateral damage that are a direct result of armed conflict. In Uruguayan Spanish the title can be interpreted in three ways: two of them are mentioned in the story, but “mina” is also a street-wise slang word for “woman” that might loosely translate as “broad” or “chick.” All three are involved in this snapshot view—as vivid as it is brief—of how countries and people sometimes have to do whatever it takes to survive.
Copyright 2014 Tony Beckwith. All rights reserved.