MONTEVIDEO -- It's a safe bet to say there is only one mayor in all of southern Minnesota able to sing the Uruguayan national anthem in Spanish and in tune.
That mayor is Debra Lee Fader of Montevideo, population 5,331. The mayor will soon be on her way to Montevideo, Uruguay, population 1.5 million, at the official invitation of the Uruguayan government.
Fader will visit the South American capital as part of a sister city relationship that dates to 1905 and remains strong. Fader, who speaks Spanish, sang the Uruguayan national anthem on Jose Artigas Plaza during the city's Fiesta Day celebration in June, 2011, to honor Dr. Nury Bauzan, the Consul General for Uruguay.
Bauzan was visiting Montevideo at the time. Bauzan used her connections to arrange for an official invitation from Montevideo Mayor Ana Olivera, according to an announcement of Fader's upcoming trip.
Her visit Dec. 8-18 will be a mission of cultural exchange and is funded in part by a travel grant from the Washington, D.C.-based Partners of the America. It receives funding from the U.S. State Department.
During her visit to Uruguay, Fader will visit volunteers affiliated with the Partner's Chapter in Uruguay. She will receive an official reception at Olivera's office, and will visit the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay and participate in a reception at the Catholic University for Uruguayan photographer Federico Estol. His 2011 book "Hello Montevideo'' features photographs of his visit to Montevideo, Minn.
Fader will also travel to the internationally famous beachside resort city of Punta Del Este to witness the beginning of summer holidays. All the while, Fader will be hosted by a grassroots network of volunteers, many of whom have visited Montevideo, Minn., through similar cultural exchanges over the past several years.