Brazil looms large in the consciousness of both Paraguay and Uruguay. For Paraguayans, their giant neighbor's history of imperial behavior still stirs discontent. Uruguayans, meanwhile, hold insecurities over dependence on South America's largest economy.
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Oftentimes when we think about the Southern Cone, we think only of Brazil and Argentina. The mammoth countries have historically competed with each other to control trade and infrastructure in the Rio de la Plata Basin. But Uruguay and Paraguay play an important, if often overlooked, role in that dynamic, acting as a buffer between Argentina and Brazil.
Wanting to better understand Uruguay's and Paraguay's geopolitical realities and how they have affected the countries' citizens, I headed to the capitals of each. I expected that Uruguayans and Paraguayans would be equally wary of Argentina and Brazil -- the powerful neighbors that dwarf them on either side. What I found, however, was that when it comes to Argentina, Uruguayans and Paraguayans admit that their rivalry tends to be more to be about football than about anything else. But when it comes to Brazil, Uruguayans expressed resentment that they were so economically dependent...