In Buenos Aires, there are at least four Gucci leather shops selling shoes, luggage and wallets almost identical to the real Gucci leather goods made in far-off Italy.
In Santiago, Chile, it is almost impossible to find a table at any one of several Burger Inns, which try their best to duplicate American hamburgers a la McDonald's. Santiago has a couple of Gucci shops as well.
Regine's is so popular in Rio that the discotheque queen of Paris, Monte Carlo and New York will open her latest establishment in Buenos Aires early next year.
And here in Montevideo, the only smart bar-restaurant in town has a look - and a name - familiar to Washingtonians. Clyde's on Calle Costa Rica even has the same huevos benedict, cheesecake and Irish coffee as the original Clyde's on M Street NW in Georgetown.
"I copied everything," owner Luis Alberto Caubarrere says proudly. And without shame.
While it would be impossible to mistake Santiago, Montevideo or Rio de Janeiro for Rome, Paris or Washington, more and more South American entrepreneurs like Caubarrere are making pesos hand over fist by licensing - or by stealing outright - well-known names and ieas from shops, restaurants and recreational facilities long popular in the United States or Europe.
As a general rule in this part of the world, anything foreign has cachet. Imported cars, cigarettes, whiskey, cothes, tape recorders, television sets or almost any other manufactured goods imaginable are considered to be better than local brands - even though foreigners living in South America often buy cheaper, and sometimes better, goods made in the countries where they live.
Indeed, the demand for imported goods is so strong that half of Paraguay's GNP is estimated to come from goods that are brough in under low tariffs and then smuggled out again to neighboring Brazil and Argentina, both of which impose high tariffs on imported items or do not let them in at all.
Meanwhile, local businessmen throughout South America are cleaning up by creating imitations of things they have seen abroad, mostly in the United States.
The story of Clyde's in Montevideo, which opened only two months ago and already has become immensely popular with wealthy Uruguayans and the young diplomatic set, is typical of the new businesses, patterned after those in the States or Europe, that are springing up in South America's largest cities.
Caubarrere, 32, spent six years in Washington, from 1968 to 1974, when he returned to his native Montevideo. He decided the city lacked an informal, yet elegant, place where young and and old could drink and eat light suppers. "In the States, it is normal, but here Clyde's was the first of its kind," Caubarrere said recently.
Although the name meant nothing special to Uruguayans, Caubarrere decided that he would duplicate, as best he could, the bar-restaurant in Georgetown. The decor is similar, the Clyde's logo is the same, the rock music is loud and the menu is identical - minus reuben sandwich because Caubarrere said he could not find hot pastrami in Uruguay.
Clyde's already has had its first drug bust and the arrests were testimony to Caubarrere's cleintele.About 25 sons and daughters of Uruguay's best families were charged, found guilty and sent off for two to three months of rehabilitation in a mental institution, where the authorities said they would be given vitamins to cure them of their bad habit: Smoking marijuana, another pasttime known in the United States that is increasingly being copied in South America.
Caubarrere is getting ready to open up a sidewalk cafe in front of his restaurant and says he will expand in the near future because Clyde's is so popular. "It is going very well," he said.