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The Uruguayan Experience - A Letter to Civil Society and the UN

At a time when inequality is growing across the globe, Uruguay has managed to dramatically reduce poverty and inequality over the past decade.  It now has the most equal income distribution in Latin America.

The country is also working to generate 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020.

Social Watch coordinator Roberto Bissio writes that the Uruguayan experience shows that "there are, indeed, viable alternatives to the classical neoliberal formulas" which can be models for the Post-2015 agenda.

Following the 2002 economic crisis, Uruguay chose not to follow the austerity path recommended by multilateral institutions and instead promoted decent work and a social safety net through

  • emergency cash transfers
  • active state participation in the economy to promote growth
  • collective bargaining that led to salary increases and
  • enforcing labour rights for rural and domestic workers.

Instead of repelling investors, Uruguay's Labour Minister told a recent global gathering of civil society activists in Montevideo that the policies boosted economic growth and coincided with a peak in foreign greenfield investment.

By the way, Uruguay's progressive social policies also led The Economist to name declare Uruguay its first 'Country of the Year'.

Social Watch meanwhile is warning the United Nations that the growing tendency to empower corporations in international development processes "weaken(s) the responsibility of states" and "erode(s) our own possibilities as citizens."  It recommends that the UN take a cue from many of its members, by defining 'lobbyists' and requiring them to register.  

In a letter to the UN and civil society activists participating in a recent meeting convened by CIVICUS in Istanbul, Social Watch also recommends that joint civil society actions focus on 

  • the goals and commitments of Northern countries
  • changes to consumption and production patterns
  • structural issues like the global financial, investment and trade systems.

You can read the full text of Roberto Bissio's letter -- addressed to the UN and civil society activists participating in a recent meeting organised by CIVICUS in Istanbul -- here.

And here's an infographic highlighting the Uruguayan experience and inequality trends in Latin America.

incom inequality1 Infographic: Uruguay Has Lowest Income Inequality in Latin America
Courtesy of: Nearshore Americas
The Uruguayan Experience.pdf445.94 KB