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Uruguay’s leading figures in 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The awarding of the third Cervantes Prize for Uruguayan literature turned Cristina Peri Rossi into one of the main figures of 2021, the year in which Óscar Washington Tabárez’s term at the head of the national soccer team came to an end after almost 16 seasons.

CRISTINA PERI ROSSI, THE “INSUBMISSIVE” CERVANTINA

The year 2021 was special for the poet and writer Cristina Peri Rossi, who at 79 years of age (she turned 80 two days later) won the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious award in Spanish literature, for her “constant exercise of exploration and criticism” in the literary field.

Ranging from literature, science, politics and sports, the most remarkable figures in Uruguay this year. (photo internet reproduction)

Exiled in Barcelona since 1974, the author of “The Ship of Fools,” “La insumisa” or “Evohe” earned Uruguay’s third award, after Juan Carlos Onetti (1980) and Ida Vitale (2018), and was the 6th woman in the historical list the same year she was named an honorable citizen of Montevideo.

TABÁREZ, THE END OF A PROCESS

Uruguay national team manager Óscar Washington Tabárez was dismissed in November, a few days after the team accumulated its 4th consecutive defeat in the South American qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar and after almost 16 years at the helm of the South American team.

Tabarez, 74, first took over the Uruguayan national team in 1988 and left after the 1990 World Cup in Italy. Subsequently, on March 8, 2006, the ‘Maestro’ returned to Celeste, where he led a process that spanned 15 years and 8 months, during which he won 1 Copa America, 3 World Cup qualifiers -including a 4th place at South Africa 2010.

RADI, SCIENCE AT THE FOREFRONT

Biochemist Rafael Radi, the first Uruguayan to be appointed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as an associate foreign scientist in 2016, closed 2021 with the first Grand National Science Award granted by the country’s Ministry of Education and Culture.

Internationally recognized for his cellular research in inflammatory, infectious, degenerative cardiovascular pathologies or the aging process, he gained greater value in Uruguay by leading, between April 2020 and June 2021, the Honorary Scientific Advisory Group (GACH), which helped the Executive in the management of the pandemic.

FOGEL-BZUROVSKI, FOUNDERS OF THE DLOCAL UNICORN

dLocal co-founders Sergio Fogel and Andrés Bzurovski were major economic players in a year in which the company specializing in payment solutions, with offices in Montevideo, San Francisco, São Paulo, London, Tel Aviv and Shenzhen, became the first Uruguayan unicorn to be listed on the Nasdaq index.

Operating in 29 countries in Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, the company has over 300 employees and is led by young Jacobo Singer (president) and Sebastián Kanovich (CEO).

LACALLE POU, TARGETING CHINA AND TURKEY

The emphasis that Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou places on the economy, and specifically on the need to expand exports to other markets and to attract investment to his country, has led him to announce in less than 3 months the intention to negotiate Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and Turkey.

Under the “flexibilization” banner, which he advocates for the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and which led him to block the agreement on the Common External Tariff at the bloc’s last Summit, his Executive began a pre-feasibility study for a potential FTA with China and will analyze alternatives with Turkey in March.

VITALE, AGELESS POET

In September 2021, Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale, at 98 years of age presented her new book, “Tiempo sin claves,” a collection of poems where verses inspired by travels, readings, plants and animals abound, as well as the pain for the absence of her second husband, Enrique Fierro, who passed away in 2016.

Lucid and lively, Vitale expressed her wish that this book would not be “her last” and then set off on a trip to Spain with her daughter, Amparo Rama, where she took part in several events, to end the year with a bittersweet taste: on the one hand, the Gran Premio a la Labor Intelectual, one of Uruguay’s main awards; and on the other, the death of her son-in-law, philosopher and art historian Juan Fló (91 years old).

SUÁREZ, RED AND WHITE CHAMPION AND EFE TROPHY

After leaving Barcelona and in his first season playing for Atlético de Madrid, striker Luis Suárez led the team managed by Argentine Diego Pablo Simeone to win the 2020-2021 League.

The number 9 scored 21 goals in 32 games played, was his team’s top scorer and added a new star to his trophy cabinet, which was enhanced with the award of the Efe Trophy to the best Ibero-American player in the Spanish competition.

SALINAS, THE HIGHEST RATED MINISTER

The management of the pandemic by the Uruguayan Executive found in Minister of Public Health Daniel Salinas its most outstanding figure, making him Lacalle Pou’s best rated cabinet member by the population.

Despite the high figures recorded in Uruguay between April and June, which placed it among the countries with the worst average worldwide, his closeness to scientists and, above all, the organization of the vaccination plan, which has over 75% of the population covered with two doses and 1.5 million of the country’s 3.5 million with a booster dose, left a positive balance in his work.

ANTELO, A POWERFUL INVESTOR IN URUGUAY

Owner of several companies in Uruguay, Argentine Manuel Antelo expanded his investments in the South American country this year with the opening of Decathlon, the French giant specialized in the sale of sporting goods.

A few months later, automotive manufacturer Nordex, which also belongs to the 68-year-old Rosario entrepreneur, began manufacturing Ford Transit vans, marking the return of the U.S. brand to Uruguay after 35 years. This plant required an investment of US$50 million.

DÉBORAH RODRÍGUEZ, OLYMPIC MEDALIST

In her third Olympic Games, athlete Déborah Rodríguez qualified for the semifinals for the first time and ranked among the 20 best in the world.

She also won the gold medal in the 800 meters in the South American Championships held in Guayaquil (Ecuador), which allowed her to qualify to compete in the World Championships in Eugene (USA) next year.

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