Among all of the Latin American countries, Uruguay is unique for numerous reasons. Compared to many other countries located in the Americas, Uruguay has a fairly high per capita income. Rates of inequality and poverty are extremely low in Uruguay and extreme poverty itself is virtually nonexistent. Uruguay’s middle class is vast compared to other nations in the Americas. Its middle class makes up more than 60% of the country’s population. Uruguay’s economy has been so successful that back in 2013, the World Bank gave Uruguay the status of a high-income country. Given how successful Uruguay’s economy has been, it seems hard to believe that the country would need any form of aid. However, U.S. aid in Uruguay is prevalent in the country, and it benefits the people of Uruguay and the other nations in the Americas.
The US/Uruguay Relationship
The relationship between the U.S. and Uruguay dates back to 1867. The relationship between the two countries is incredibly strong due to its longevity. Both the U.S. and Uruguay have aligned values. Among these is the importance of democracy, viable economic policies and protection of the environment. Because of the long-existing relationship between the two countries and their similar values, it is less surprising that there is U.S. aid in Uruguay.
The Purpose of US Aid in Uruguay
There are two main reasons the U.S. gives aid to Uruguay. One is to encourage Uruguay to take active involvement in international affairs. The other is to help Uruguay improve security within its borders. Uruguay might be a high-income country, but its military is not fully professionalized. The aid that the U.S. provides can allow Uruguay to develop its military further, which would help strengthen the country’s security. Doing so will also allow Uruguay to help in international affairs. Uruguay has a long history of helping with peacekeeping missions and has provided vast amounts of personnel to peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations (U.N.). These peacekeeping operations allow Uruguay to help its neighbors in the Americas.
Both the U.S. and Uruguay have economic partnerships as well. According to the most recent available data, the U.S. had $1.6 billion of foreign direct investment in Uruguay in 2017. Around 120 U.S.-owned businesses are in operation in Uruguay as well. While Uruguay’s economy is in a healthy state, the economic relations with the U.S. ensure that it can maintain its economy with help from a reliable ally.
US Support of Uruguayan Education
U.S. aid in Uruguay has also come in the form of education. Uruguay has been a full supporter of Fulbright programs for some time. The Fulbright Commission and its programs allow students from various countries to study abroad. The Uruguayan government contributes $500,000 annually in support of these programs. This monetary support allows Uruguayan students to obtain scholarships that will allow them to travel to the U.S. to pursue postgraduate studies.
The Uruguayan government also spends up to $100,000 for English teachers to assist Uruguayan students in learning English. Studying in the U.S. is beneficial for Uruguayan students and any other students as well. Obtaining new knowledge will allow these students to return to their home country and obtain well-paying careers. This, in turn, will be beneficial for the economy of the home country.
The U.S. aid in Uruguay and the economic relationship that both countries share are beneficial for both sides. In particular, Uruguay can strengthen itself and be a servant of peace in the Americas. The economic relationship that Uruguay has also allowed the country to maintain its healthy economic state.
– Jacob E. Lee