Finding Hope in Rambleras

Para la versión en español, clickea aquí

Synopsis

Rambleras (2013) tells the story of three women of varied ages who are each struggling with love and loneliness. Through their shared friendships they are able to find happiness and learn about themselves.

The Rise of the Frente Amplio

Batllismo

As the more traditional and conservative parties lost support from the urban population in the 1990s, the Frente Amplio grew significantly among Montevideo’s working class, and in 2004, in the aftermath of the economic collapse of 2002, the FA grew almost evenly across all three social strata. The FA became the interpreter of Batllismo, as traditional parties promoted state reforms and economic liberalization. Batllismo owes its name to Jose Batlle y Ordoñez, a Colorado Party leader who presided over the country during the first two decades of the twentieth century and sought to create a model country by pursuing a social democratic model based on the creation of a strong state and impressive levels of social welfare.

It was one of the world’s first advanced democracies – including the extension of free, mandatory, and secular education at the end of the 19th century, divorce in 1917, and the granting of the right to vote to women in 1927. The election of Tabare Vazquez, the former mayor of Montevideo, cemented their success and more actual, tangible change after the end of the dictatorship and a return to Batllismo. Of all the governments of the so-called pink tide that transformed the social and political scene of Latin America over the last two decades, the Uruguayan case is also one of the least debated internationally and only one that has received praise both from the progressive camp and from the main institutions of the world’s political and economic orthodoxy. 

Mujica at Home

One of the most symbolic elements of the first government of the Frente Amplio was the installation on the banks of the Uruguay River, of a cellulose production plant run by the transnational corporation Bothia which consolidated the expansion of the industrial forestry. An increase in soybean plantations indicated that the Frente Amplio had adopted the same extractivist development model applied in the other countries of the region regardless of the ideological profile of their governments. Frente Amplio’s second period in government began with Jose Mujica. A former Tupamaro who was one of the imprisoned depicted in La Noche de Doce Años, he became famous for being the world’s poorest president because he donated 90% of his salary and his no-filter personality became a huge topic of discussion. In the Frente Amplio’s time, they have legalized marijuana, gay marriage, and abortion. Uruguay has also positioned itself as the country with the lowest inequality in Latin America. In the educational field, Uruguay launched the Ceibal Plan, becoming the first country to give a free computer or tablet to all students and teachers of primary and secondary schools. The party has also responded to the long-postponed demands for truth and justice around human rights violations during the military dictatorship, including the search for the remains of desaparecidos in army barracks. Though inequality in housing still plagues the country, the Frente Amplio has been a significant aid to the country’s development past the era of secrecy and economic inequality.

Female Solidarity on La Rambla

Rambleras

For those who are unaware of the Montevideo landscape, la Rambla is an avenue that runs along the coastline of the city for 13.7 uninterrupted miles, making it the longest continuous sidewalk in the world. It is a popular spot to hang out and drink mate for many residents, including the characters in this film. For these women, la Rambla isn’t just a hangout spot but the great equalizer of the city. Women of all ages and backgrounds can come to this place and enjoy a mate amongst friends. Having a peaceful day on La Rambla is a dream for each of them. Though, it also represents the challenges life brings. For the older woman, Ofelia, physically getting to la Rambla is difficult and requires her to let go of her fears of going it alone since her sister and roommate has died. For Jacqueline and Patricia, la Rambla represents the ability to free yourself from life’s doubts and tribulations. La Rambla is a democratic and feminine space for the characters. Throughout the film, Patricia and Ofelia who have become reluctant roommates, struggle to say a nice word to each other. When Patricia sees Ofelia struggle but succeed to cross over to la Rambla, she leaves her bad feelings behind. It’s a pacifying presence that encourages female solidarity as well as self-fulfillment. It’s important to note that la Rambla is where Ofelia finally lets go of her old memories of her sister and starts to enjoy the day. When talking to Patricia, she utters the phrase “back in my day” and Patricia stops her. Isn’t this also her day? She realizes she’s right. When Patricia leaves, Ofelia takes her headphones and begins to enjoy her surroundings without trying to fill the void with empty talk. She’s happy.

Men & La Rambla

Rambleras

Unlike the women of this story, the men are rarely seen at La Rambla. As I have said, la Rambla is seen almost as an exclusively feminine space. Though they are virtually absent from la Rambla, they are not absent from their lives. Juanca, Jacqueline’s boyfriend and Patricia’s boss is never seen there but is a constant presence in their life. He represents a type of individualistic rigidity. He selfishly makes plans that suit him and not Jacqueline and is angry when Patricia can’t do her job exactly the way he wants her to. Someone like that could not possibly understand or appreciate the solidarity of la Rambla. Others who do show up at la Rambla, show their real worth. Throughout the film, Patricia is dating a man who is all but finished with his girlfriend. Near the end, she sees him at la Rambla arm in arm with his girlfriend. On the other hand, Patricia’s friend Guille whom she has feelings for also hangs out at la Rambla without incident. He is a benevolent figure, ready to share his food with any friends who happen to walk by. It’s clear that not all men are prohibited from the spiritual “Rambla”, but you have to be a certain type of man. You have to respect and understand women. After all, you’re a guest in their space.

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