Uruguay’s Centers of Citizen Attention

In the Oriental Republic, it’s difficult to disentangle public and national, because so much of what it means to be Uruguayan in the social imaginary revolves around ministries and the state-run entes autonomous and organismos decentralizados which provide monopolies or near monopolies on services such as water (OSE), and telecommunications (Antel).

When I first came to Tupambaé, Miriam and her friends with TupambaéPlan explained to me about the biggest triumph of their non-profit to date, the construction of a new Centro de Atención Ciudadana or CAC (Center of Citizen Attention). According to their website, the role of a CAC is “facilitating the access of citizens to information and services of the state”, which in Tupambaé, means things like paying water and energy bills. For a town not large enough to have its own government or Antel storefront, the bricks and mortar presence of the state is a point of pride. The brand-new sign outside the CAC features the shiny logos of the President’s office, the Intendencia of Cerro Largo, Antel, Correo Uruguayo, UTE, and OSE. I found it fascinating that in this case, the objective of the non-profit was not providing services in lieu of the state, but rather, increasing citizens’ accessibility to state services.

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