How to treat a hero

Categories Uruguay

José Gervasio Artigas Arnal is the national hero of Uruguay, predating political divisions which rendered such universal accord mostly impossible. Artigas’ story is complex, involving Spain, England, and Portugal, and eventually banishment in Paraguay. But hero he is, and it seems every town in the Oriental Republic has a street named after him. There’s a departamento (state) called Artigas. You can find his statue in Washington, D.C., New York, Caracas, Athens, Mexico City, Newark, New Jersey, and Quito, Ecuador .

And in Pando:

There, screen-printed plexiglas panels proclaiming tolerance, peace, union, family, and love shield waterworks that are – can they be described any other way? – pissing on his monument.

The pigeon temporarily perched on his head adds a further bit of indignity.

Maybe I read too much into it? I guess I have this design thing.

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