Uruguay Recent History

In 1931 Gabriel Terra was elected, who was dictator and remained in office until 1938, when General Alfredo Baldomir overthrew him and imprinted all his politics after a close friendship with the United States.

At the outbreak of the Second World War he broke off relations with the Axis and after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 he declared himself in solidarity with the politics of the United States. Then he promoted some events such as the Soviet Union expelled from the League of Nations, the protest against the violation of the Belgian and Dutch neutrality and the cancellation of the propaganda of Nazi spies, discovered in Montevideo.

But his foreign policy was opposed by the “blanco” party and Baldomir, faced with the convinced obstructionism of his government, dissolved the Parliament and called new elections that took place in March 1942 and which led to the presidency JJAmezaga, of the “colorado” party.┬áThe new president, who took office on March 1, 1943, first broke relations with the Vichy government and re-established those with the USSR.

But in the meantime a difficult situation had arisen within the country; prices rose and did not march hand in hand with wages; unemployment also increased; so there were repeat strikes (1945). The coup de grace came in 1946 when a pernicious drought caused a poor harvest and even the bread had to be rationed.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Uruguay, the new elections were won by the “colorado” party, with fewer votes than the previous ones; it was won by T. Berreta who, however, shortly afterwards, on 2 August 1947, died. He was succeeded by vice-president Luis Battle Berres. His successor, Andres M. Trueba (1950) wanted to complete a great constitutional reform to arrive at a collegial system of government. He proposed to the people the abolition of the figure of the President of the Republic and the centralization of executive power in a Council of Government, called “Colegiado”, composed of 9 members, as representatives of all parties, both majority and minority.

The first general elections with the new constitutional system were held in November 1954. They assigned the 6 seats of the majority to the “Colorado” party and the other 3 to the “blanco” party. The position of head of the “Colegiado” was taken on by Luis Battle Berres in 1955. Other governments alternated and the economic situation was always worsening due to the decrease in the price of meat and wool on the international markets and the decrease in exports.

Uruguay Recent History

An endless series of strikes brought inflation and unemployment and in the midst of this crisis the people, manifesting their discontent, in the new elections of 1958, after 94 years of dominance of the “colorado” party, assigned the victory to the “blanco” one. The head of the “Colegiado” was Martin R. Echegoyen, who took office on March 1, 1959.

On February 18, 1960, a Treaty was created in Montevideo for the creation of a Free Trade Zone, signed by Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru.

Also in 1960 two events occurred: the election to the presidency of the Government Council of BenitoNardone, son of an Italian emigrant (March 1) and the floods (April), for which FAO committed itself to the agricultural and zootechnical improvement of the state, who had suffered a severe blow.

On March 10, 1961 Eduardo Victor Haedo replaced Nardone and he also remained in office for a year.

1962 saw the government of F. Harrison who attempted to continue the ten-year plan, launched the previous year, called “Operation Uruguay”. But the constant workers’ unrest, the capital flight, the galloping inflation, the tax evasion, the crisis of agriculture and breeding and the ruinous welfare system, brought the state, which had previously been called the “American Switzerland” in misery and disorganization. And when in 1965 Uruguay was on the verge of bankruptcy, he proposed to return to the presidential system which, in fact, was restored with the 1966 elections. And President of the Republic was General O. Gestido, candidate of the “Colorado” party “.

The return to this form of government also had no positive results and then, among the discontented and exasperated masses, a movement of guerrillas began, who called themselves “Tupamaros” from that “Tupac Amaru”, martyr of Peruvian independence.

Gestido died suddenly in 1967; J. Pacheco Areco came to power and tried by all means to defeat the guerrillas, but to no avail.

On March 1, 1972, the new President JMBordaberry, first decreed the “state of internal war”, supported by the military, then dissolved the chambers and proclaimed the end of the democratic state in Uruguay.
The whole people reacted violently to this self-defense; workers from all sectors, public and private employees, went on strike and students occupied the university. There were thousands of arrests; the Church had to intervene by calling citizens to pacification and the government to a general amnesty.

The organizers leaders of leftist coalitions were arrested and the “Tupamaros” were slowly disappearing, but the worsened economic situation and 1976 saw a coup with the resignation of President Juan Maria Bordaberry.

Provisionally governed his deputy Alberto Demicheli but on September 1 of that same year came to office Aparicio Mendez who, as a first act, decreed the deprivation of political rights to all heads of parties and unions of past regimes.
Several communist militants were also arrested in April 1979, including the secretary of the LLPoniachik party
Many repressions were made against the press, the Church, teachers and in general all intellectuals.
On September 1, 1981 began the presidential term General G. Alvarez. He promised presidential and political elections for 1984 and a return to democracy for 1985. Meanwhile he formed the government with 10 out of 11 civilians; restored union activity; in 1982 he started an economic recovery program.

In May 1983 he gave the green light for talks between all the representatives of political parties and the military commission to reform the constitution, which is no longer adequate.
Soon the defendants showed substantial disagreements and so instead of improving the situation they made it worse. They withdrew from the conference and called for a general strike. With the intervention of the Uruguayan Episcopate, the talks were resumed in 1984 and an agreement was reached in early August of that year. To the military was allowed to set up a National Defense Council which were part of the three commanders in chief of the armed forces.
New elections were held and on 1 March 1985 JM Sanguinetti took office, who immediately passed a law for amnesty to political prisoners; thus was also released the head of the “Tupamaros”, the lawyer R. Sendic.

In 1989 the “blanco” LA Lacalle won the presidency, which also brought 4 “colorados” ministers to the government; negotiated foreign debt and began a slow privatization of state enterprises to encourage foreign investment. But this program did not meet the approval of the various government representatives and even less the unions which, in just one year, 1990, proclaimed 7 general strikes. The privatization law, amidst obstacles and partial discards, was later passed but strikes still troubled the country.

The 1994 elections brought JMSanguinetti back into vogue, who took office on March 1, 1995, and with his government, also made up of 4 members of the National Party, began a program of reforms in the public sector and social security sector, as well as the liberalization of the economic system and the fight against inflation; program not shared by unions.

And as far as international politics was concerned, Uruguay entered “Mercosur” on January 10, 1995, that is, the Customs Union between Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

During the course of the years 1996/1997 new funding from the International Monetary Fund contributed to the economic development of the country.

In the meantime, however, a government reform plan continued, such as the one for the election of the President of the Republic, which began as early as July 1995. The system in place provided for the presentation of various candidates from the two parties in the elections.


But then the final ballot was concluded between the two candidates who had obtained the highest number of consents so far.
With the reform, the election would have had only a double shift and the plurality of candidates was abolished.

The approval of this reform was made official with a referendum in December 1996. Politically the agreements between the two historical parties were strengthened but many contrasts arose both for the question of privatizations and for that of the “desaparecidos”, that is, of the people who disappeared during the dictatorship period. And this last argument held bench for the whole year 1999.

But already in 1998, restrictive measures had been adopted in the economic field, dictated above all by the serious crisis afflicting Brazil, Uruguay’s main trading partner.

The unemployed and the conflicts of opponents to the government increased.

In the general elections of October-November 1999, T. Vasquez, mayor of Montevideo, after having obtained a certain preponderance in the first round, was instead overcome, in the second round, by the rival candidate J. Battle, of the Colorado Party, with an adhesion 54.1%. Despite this majority, however, Parliament is prepared to live a difficult announced future.