In a vibrant celebration of history, culture, and diplomatic ties, the Embassy of Uruguay in the Netherlands recently hosted “Uruguay Week” to commemorate the 198th anniversary of Uruguay’s Declaration of Independence. This week-long extravaganza, held in Utrecht, The Hague, and Voorburgh, showcased the rich tapestry of Uruguayan heritage, complete with cultural, academic, and diplomatic events. The event was not just a reflection of Uruguay’s national pride, but also an opportunity to strengthen international connections.
Diplomatic Roots of Uruguay Week
At the heart of this week-long celebration was the spirit of diplomacy. Uruguay, a nation known for its commitment to international law and cooperation, used this occasion to further solidify its diplomatic relationships with the Netherlands and the broader international community.
His Excellency, Álvaro González Otero, the Ambassador of Uruguay to the Netherlands, played a pivotal role in organizing each of the activities, ensuring that the essence of Uruguayan culture and history was conveyed to the Dutch and international community.
Literary Enlightenment: Celebrating Three Literary Giants
The week kicked off with a literary Seminar in collaboration with Chile and Argentina. Titled “Three women, three countries, one language: Alfonsina Storni, Gabriela Mistral, and Juana de Ibarbourou,” this seminar held in The Hague set the tone for the week. Ambassadors from Argentina and Chile, Mr. Mario Oyarzabal and Mr. Jaime Moscoso, joined Ambassador Gonzalez Otero in presenting opening remarks. The event celebrated the literary giants shared by these three Latin American nations and marked a historic occasion as the first simultaneous event of this kind hosted by three Latin American embassies in The Hague.
The joint seminar aimed to explore the profound impact of three remarkable women on the literary landscape of their respective countries and the world. Argentinian Professor María de los Angeles “Cuca” Esteves, Chilean academic Ricardo Cuadros, and the Uruguayan writer Dra. Sylvia Puentes de Oyenard were the featured speakers. Their presentations delved into the works, lives, and legacies of Alfonsina Storni, Gabriela Mistral, and Juana de Ibarbourou. They helped to set in Latin America a new era related to women´s rights and development, as much incentivized international environmental concerns
Adding a melodious touch to the event, Ilein Bermudez, a Venezuelan musician, graced the gathering with his music. The room was filled to capacity, and attendees engaged in vibrant discussions with the participants, fostering an environment of intellectual exchange and cultural appreciation.
Science Meets Poetry in Utrecht
The literary journey continued in Utrecht with a conference on “Science and Poetry” by Dra. Sylvia Puentes de Oyenard in association with the Cervantes Institute. This event was a testament to Uruguay’s dedication to intellectual pursuits and the arts. Dra. Puentes de Oyenard’s lecture explored the intricate interplay between science and poetry, offering attendees a unique perspective on how these seemingly distinct disciplines can harmoniously coexist and estimulate each other.
Given the diverse audience, simultaneous translation from Spanish into English was provided, ensuring that the message reached all attendees effectively. The Embassy further delighted the audience by offering traditional Uruguayan empanadas and wines, allowing participants to savor the flavors of Uruguay while engaging in intellectual discourse.
The literary presentations came to a close on August 31 in the city of Voorburg with a symposium on the renowned Uruguayan authors: Juana de Ibarbourou and Mario Benedetti. The Hispanic Association of The Hague, led by Edith Bergansius, played a crucial role in bringing this cultural event to life. The audience consisted of Dutch individuals who are Spanish speakers, as well as expatriates residing in the Netherlands.
The symposium was enriched by the presence of the accomplished soprano, Sara de los Campos. Her captivating performances of two poems by Juana de Ibarbourou and Mario Benedetti, “The Orange Seller” and “I Love You,” were met with enthusiastic applause. This 19-year-old Uruguayan singer demonstrated immense talent and garnered admiration from all in attendance.
The one-person conferences by Dr. Sylvia Puentes de Oyenard and her participation in the symposium were met with high praise from a diverse and knowledgeable audience. The symposium served as a fitting conclusion to the literary component of Uruguay Week, underscoring the significance of these literary giants in Uruguayan and Latin American culture.
Diplomacy and International Law: Ratification of a Convention
Friday, September 1, marked a significant moment in Uruguay’s history as the country ratified the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This reaffirmed Uruguay’s commitment to international law and its role in the global legal landscape. The act not only bolstered Uruguay’s reputation for respect and contributions to international law but also highlighted the country’s commitment to cooperation and adherence to international legal principles.
A Grand Celebration of Independence
At 6 o’clock that evening, the celebration of Uruguay’s 198th Anniversary of Independence began with a diplomatic reception at the Uruguayan residence. The event was attended by a diverse group of dignitaries, including ambassadors, Dutch officials, representatives from international organizations, such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC), and the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Prominent Dutch business executives, members of the academic and cultural community, and members of the Uruguayan community also graced the occasion.
The national anthems of the Netherlands and Uruguay were performed live, setting the stage for a night of celebration. The highlight of the reception was the enchanting performance by soprano Sara de los Campos, who left an indelible mark with her captivating voice. Attendees commended her remarkable talent and heartfelt rendition of the national anthems.
This was a combined event, as right after the diplomatic reception at 8 o’clock, the first “Fiesta de la Nostalgia” ever celebrated in the Netherlands took place. The attendees embraced the Uruguayan “Night of Nostalgia” with music, dancing, and a sense of camaraderie, replicating the spirit of Uruguayan Independence Day celebrations.
A Taste of Uruguay
Uruguayan cuisine took center stage during the celebrations. The menu included grilled meat sandwiches with chimichurri (Uruguayan steak), spinach empanadas, canapés, miniature desserts shaped like the country’s map, dulce de leche and coffee mousse, portions of chajá dessert, and a selection of Uruguayan wines. The attendees were captivated by the rich flavors and unique culinary offerings, with the grilled steak emerging as a standout favorite.
Participants praised the national cuisine and beverages served during the prolonged celebration, recognizing the effort to provide a truly Uruguayan experience.
A Night to Remember
Attendees joined the Uruguayan “Night of Nostalgia,” enjoying music, dancing, and camaraderie until late into the night. Ambassador González Otero recreated the Uruguayan tradition that takes place every year on the celebration of the country’s independence.
In Uruguay, the night of August 24 holds special significance as it precedes the Declaration of Independence holiday on August 25. This evening is known as “Noche de la Nostalgia,” and it is marked by an explosion of festivities across the country. Discos, nightclubs, and tents come alive with the melodies of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Through a carefully curated playlist of international music, authentically incorporating elements from diverse cultures, and specially selected traditional oldies, the attendees danced for several hours.
Their joy, energy, and affection contributed to the success of the event and highlighted the values of friendship, respect, and the much-needed pursuit of peace.
A Remarkable Conclusion to Uruguay Week
The commemoration of Uruguay’s independence and the inaugural “Night of Nostalgia” in The Hague marked the conclusion of Uruguay Week. It was a week that exceeded all expectations, serving as a testament to the enduring power of culture, diplomacy, and international cooperation.
Uruguay Week showcased the unity of nations through literature, music, diplomacy, and gastronomy, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of Uruguay’s cultural heritage.