Andreas Campomar

How Uruguay held out against South American socialism

Of all the epithets for Latin America, the most frustrating and demoralising must be the ‘forgotten continent’. Latin America is not so much forgotten as overlooked. Part of the reason for this may lie in its cultural proximity but geographical distance to the West: what Alain Rouquié, the French political scientist, called ‘far-western’. Familiarity, even

Barça’s golden age and its ruling triumvirate

Even against our better judgment we tend to imbue our sporting heroes with characteristics they may not possess. This can often lead to disappointment. What passes for fluency on the pitch is seldom matched with any articulacy off it. Lionel Messi, arguably the best player of his generation, is no exception. The Argentinian’s inability to

In the Zone

There is nothing new about Latin America’s fractious relationship with her northern neighbour. In 1900 the Uruguayan writer José Enrique Rodó published an essay in which he pitted the spiritual in the form of Latin civilisation (Ariel) against the utilitarianism and materialism of the United States (Caliban). Ariel may have been an overblown image but,

Cricket in Buenos Aires

For most Latin Americans, who are themselves no strangers to sporting eccentricity, cricket remains a baffling proposition. The game is dismissed as being far too English (for that read ‘bizarre and snobbish’) and is often confused with croquet. Ignorance, however, does not preclude peculiar theories on how the game is played. I remember a Uruguayan

Voices of exile

During the military dictatorships of the 1970s, exile for many Latin American writers was not so much a state of being as a vocation. Some were given early warning of what might befall them if they stayed. The polemicist Eduardo Galeano remembered receiving an evening telephone call from the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance: ‘We’re going to

Marvellous, murderous city

When Stefan Zweig first arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1936, he was overwhelmed not only by the city’s magnificent landscape but also by its ordered architecture and city planning. This encounter he would later describe as being ‘one of the most powerful impressions of my whole life’. In his Brazil: Land of the Future,

The early corridors of power

Long after I had any need of it, I discovered one of the best pieces of advice on surviving one’s schooldays. Of course, it came from Cyril Connolly, though not from Enemies of Promise. I found it while at university in Connolly’s brilliant pastiche Where Engels Fears to Tread: In every group there are boys