- Title: URUGUAY: RESIDENTS CELEBRATE LATIN AMERICA'S LONGEST CARNIVAL
- Date: 26th February 2004
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BELGIAN BUSINESSMAN JORS THYS, SAYING: "Excellent. It's the Uruguayan character. We're Belgian and feel very connected." (SOUNDBITE) (English) BELGIAN BUSINESSMAN FERNAND HUTS, SAYING: "It's fantastic. I think the Uruguayans have a lot of influence in Brazil, because I think the Brazilians learned a lot from Carnival here in Uruguay."
- Embargoed: 12th March 2004 12:00
- Location: MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY
- Country: Uruguay
- Topics: Entertainment,Quirky,Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA1074PEGMDB81K7SSPA8MWLLOR
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: It's carnival time in Uruguay where residents celebrate Latin America's longest Carnival with their own Afro-Uruguayan traditions.
Thousands of Uruguayans poured into the streets of Montevideo to kick off the opening of Carnival festivities with a parade that celebrates the country's traditional Afro-Uruguayan culture.
Down the parade route in Montevideo, hundreds of participants danced and performed for crowds on the inaugural night of the 45-day-long Carnival, Latin America's longest Carnival.
Until mid-March, Uruguayans from all classes and professions will paint their faces, pull on their costumes and gather on the capital's streets to celebrate the pre-Easter season.
The 127-year-old Carnival includes acting groups and satirists and celebrates a tradition of drumming slaves that dates back to colonial times.
"This is a party with enormous tradition that very much represents the identity of the Uruguayan people and, especially people from Montevideo. There's a long history of processions of Blacks and Lubolos (white people painted as black people)," said Montevideo's director of tourism Lilian Ketchichian. "African descendants (slaves) communicated among themselves by playing the drum. In these past few years, there's been important growth; in every neighborhood, there are drums."
At the end of the 19th century, the tradition began to take the characteristics it has today with participants dressed as characters like 'Mama Vieja' (Old Mama) and 'Gramillero' (the witch doctor).
Carnival performer Graciela Rodriguez said for one night, everyone is Black.
"It's a way for us to identify with our race," said Rodriguez. "That's why it's 'Lubolo' (why people painted themselves Black)-- because there are many of us who are white but Black in our hearts."
Before the acting groups became a mainstay of the Uruguayan Carnival, the celebration included water games and masquerade balls.
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