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A Shameful Witch Hunt against Uber Has Started in Uruguay

By: Priscila Guinovart - @PrisUY - Sep 15, 2016, 8:47 am
(Posta) Uber
A reward of more than US $5,000 will be given to those who expose Uber drivers in Uruguay. (Posta)

EspañolThe reasons Uruguay is a “little country” have nothing to do with its size. It is mostly a way of thinking, a way of perceiving the world and everything that composes it.

Uruguay is numb, anesthetized, slow. It is hard for us to react. If something bothers us, at most, we protest with some pots and pans. But that’s about it. Our passivity is almost absolute.

We never demanded, as we should, the resignation of a Vice President who led a state-owned monopoly to a historic ruin. A Vice President that, when it comes to his academic formation, is no more than a vulgar liar.

Our lethargy is, at the moment, one of our most deeply rooted characteristics. It turns out that Walter de León, Legislator of the Movement of Popular Participation (MPP), wants to teach us another questionable virtue: to snitch. De León expects Uruguayans to denounce Uber drivers because, he says, “the problem is beyond justice.”

There are just a few things that seem as serious as a national legislator seeking to encourage a real witch hunt that would only result in another clash between Uruguayans.

This proposal would mean that María, a resident of New Helvecia, would be paying with her taxes to José, in Montevideo, for denouncing Eduardo, a Uber driver, just because the latter made regular taxi drivers feel uncomfortable for offering a service that can only be described as excellent.

The proposal creates the unfortunate label of “repentant user,” though its promoter admits there will be no way to verify if a client premeditated the complaint only to get money.

For those who do not live in Uruguay, I must explain that in this “little country,” Thomas Edison would have died of hunger. Here, the Workers Union of Candle Manufacturers would not have allowed the capitalist invasion the light bulb.

Any attempt at innovation in Uruguay is perceived as an imperialist threat with the possibility of enslaving citizens through consumption. It makes no difference if the product is good.

This way of thinking is precisely what makes us a “little country.” At the very moment in which a society rejects something new (and good!) for ideological reasons, it condemns itself.

Uber works with relative comfort in Uruguay: trade unions stop and demonstrate against it, but despite the lack of political support, the company generally has popular approval.

There have been violent incidents from taxi drivers against Uber drivers, but Uruguayan courts have ruled in favor of the latter. Perhaps that is why de León asserted this is a “problem” that is “beyond justice.”

The left in Uruguay — and in the world — do not forgive success. Actually, it incites people to socioeconomic resentment, envy and “bad blood.”

Socialism is undoubtedly the philosophy of failure; a guarantee of economic and intellectual poverty. Yet Uruguayans remain crestfallen, resigned and doomed to be a “little country.”

Priscila Guinovart Priscila Guinovart

Priscila Guinovart is an Uruguayan teacher and writer. She has written for outlets in Latin America, the U.S., and Europe. While in London, she wrote her book La cabeza de Dios. Follow her: @PrisUY.