For well over 100 years, the cities of Montevideo, Minnesota and Montevideo, Uruguay have shared a unique and special relationship as sister cities. In fact, it is one of the oldest sister city relationships in the country!

For well over 100 years, the cities of Montevideo, Minnesota and Montevideo, Uruguay have shared a unique and special relationship as sister cities. In fact, it is one of the oldest sister city relationships in the country!

Patrick Moore, local member of Partners of the Americas, provided some historical context to the relationship. “Cornelius Nelson, one of our town’s founding fathers, gave a nod to the City of Montevideo, Uruguay when he first suggested the name back in 1878-79,” said Moore.

Some people believe Nelson chose the name from the scenic bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Chippewa and Minnesota Rivers, but Moore set the record straight. “He was a learned man who knew that a city called Montevideo in Uruguay did exist,” Moore said. “Warren Upham, the expert on Minnesota place names, has said that Nelson did indeed name our town after the South American city.

Shortly after the turn of the previous century, in 1905 to be precise, the Mayor of Montevideo, Uruguay presented the Uruguayan flag to our town, which was the official beginning of the sister city relationship.

According to Moore, there is not much in the local historical record about how the relationship between the sister cities evolved during the first half of the 20th century.

He said:  “The relationship really started to bear fruit in the mid 1940s when the Fiesta Days festival was created by Montevideo Main Street businessmen. Those must have been fascinating times because of the relationship that was ignited was so strong, the people of Uruguay decided to send us a statue of Jose Artigas in 1949.”

The dedication of the famous statue sparked an era of cultural exchange which has lasted to this day. Moore said: “We have been visited by firemen, teachers, students, and other Uruguayans.”

Uruguayans think very highly of the sister city relationship. “The Uruguayans I have met absolutely cherish our relationship,” said Moore. “They refer to us as ‘their little sister in America’ and they are protective and proud of us!

“The fact that there is a place in the big USA that knows about them,” continued Moore, “that raises their flag, that knows who Jose Artigas is, that welcomes them like family, is huge for them.”

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