In the last two years I have had the privilege and immense pleasures of visiting both Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina, and Puerto Vallarta (PV) – a resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
I wrote previously about my biggest takeaway from Ushuaia. Branded the ‘end of the world’ as its southernmost city, its cultural biennale proclaims that ‘when you have reached the end of the world, you have to believe in and work for a better one.’ Ushuaia’s sentiment is surely right.
Puerto Vallarta’s branding is as ‘the friendliest city in the world’. I don’t know whether it is, but the 1/4m population in this resort (or at least those I met) are certainly welcoming. The city itself is attractive, feels very safe, and delivers an authentic Mexican and Jalisco-an culture within a contemporary context.
For me, PV and Ushuaia throw considerable light on FKaUK’s self-destruction and what we have lost by our embrace of Trump/Johnsonian dystopias and little-Englander xenophobia.
Both Ushuaia and PV position themselves as positive contributors to global progress – suggesting some responsibility for promoting a better and friendlier world respectively. The comparison with ‘Global Britain’ priorities of endless trade deal negotiations and restrictions on free movement is as sad for FKaUK as it is an abdication of our genuine considerable powers and influence.
This blog has periodically celebrated Latin American magic realism. It provides a necessary surreal antidote to the jaundiced alienation that characterises too much of post-industrial muddling-through experience for those outside the obscenely wealthy elites. PV and Ushuaia seem to embrace this as one of their continent’s most potent USPs, whilst FKaUK seeks to divorce from our continent’s – a pan-national consensus-building EU, rejecting the war-based solutions of the early 20th century. Going with the grain of the best of our continent, and perhaps also embracing some of Latin America’s ‘magic’, offers a way for FKaUK to reject the lies, criminality and deceit of Johnson’s dystopia.
With populations of just under 250,000 (PV) and 60,000 (Ushuaia), both cities can be proud global destinations, regional capitals for extensive hinterlands, providing a diverse and cosmopolitan offer to residents and visitors. This blog argues repeatedly the benefits of mid-size cities, regions and nations. It prevents the pretentious, arrogant exceptionalism that has captured and driven little (and I mean little) Englander pathologies and cognitive failures.
Finally, I love the outrageous, bold affirmative statements of Ushuaia’s possibility of a better world and PVs friendliest city – offered in the midst of Ushuaia’s extreme remoteness and PVs adjacency to Mexico’s brutal bloody drug wars. So uplifting, compared to the meaningless dishonesties of ‘taking back control’ (in Johnson’s case for his and his non-Dom financial allies and the Russian mafia); and ‘getting Brexit done’ (which is actually about leaping off a cliff with no realistic expectation of a soft landing). I hope in the 2020s many progressive mid-size FKaUK cities will adapt and adopt new distinctive visions more akin to PV and Ushuaia’s celebrations of their identities and ambitions – even surrounded by the carnage of their remote, intolerant, failing nation state.
GE2019 will neither solve nor halt disintegration of FKaUK – regardless of result. There may be some personal satisfaction in seeing dePfeffel Johnson humiliated. But currently it seems the best plausible outcome the Remainer UK majority can hope for is a further hung parliament and paralysis at Westminster.
Either way let’s work assiduously for the united Ireland, independent Scotland, Gibraltar and perhaps other Overseas Territories as special autonomous EU regions, that our former country, our continent and the world needs from our extraordinary hara-kiri. And let’s support our cities and regions to have the self-confidence, forward and outward-looking perspectives to promote their own variants of a better, friendlier world.