I managed to walk through a political rally whilst I was visiting Montevideo.
It wasn't really a protest or manifestation but just Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, the popular president of Uruguay, reading out favorable statistics from his term - a form a crowd pleasing which I'm sure was aimed to boost his self-image.
Vázquez is also a physician - an oncologist by training - and he has recently lost popularity after opposing the legalization of abortion, of which the majority of the Uruguayan parliament is in favor. Vázquez has repeatedly voiced his opinion on the matter and has come under criticism for vetoing the bill - which had been approved by local government.
Currently it is illegal to have an abortion in almost all of South America. Under current Uruguayan law, women who have abortions, other than if they have been raped or their lives are in danger, face up to nine months in prison. Those who carry out the procedure face up to two years in prison.
Also no doubt to his medical influence, Vázquez has implemented some of the strictest smoking laws in the world. On March 1, 2006, Uruguay became the first smoke-free country in the Americas. It is now required that all tobacco products sold in the country carry graphic images and health warnings on half of each of the main faces of the packaging. These messages are among the most innovative in the world. Many of them focus on the harm caused by secondhand smoke, reinforcing the smoke-free law which forbids smoking anywhere with 3 walls - meaning bars, restaurants, night-clubs, the workplace, etc.
Vázquez's leadership on tobacco control in Uruguay has won him the World Health Organization Director General's Award.
[Below] I walked into a convenience store and saw these graphic, anti-smoking images at the front counter. All I wanted was chocolate.
[Below] In South America, wherever there are people, there are other people selling food on the street nearby. This was my first taste of a pastelito - pastry and sugar. Hence the chocolate was no longer necessary. Yay! :)