Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay
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|History of Uruguay|
The Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay (1973–1985) lasted from June 27, 1973 following the 1973 coup d'état until February 28, 1985.
This dictatorship was the corollary of an escalation of violence and authoritarism in a traditionally peaceful country, and should be analyzed in the light of the Cold War context and other military dictatorships in the region.
It meant the suppression of all former political activity, including the traditional parties and the left. Many people were imprisoned and tortured, especially left-wingers.
Four de facto presidents were the visible heads of this regime:
- Juan María Bordaberry (1973–1976)
- Alberto Demicheli (1976)
- Aparicio Méndez (1976–1981)
- Gregorio Álvarez (1981–1985)
The last years and the transition to democracy
In 1980 the military tried to impose a new Constitution that meant entrenching them in power, and they failed to do so, since it was rejected in a referendum. Soon afterwards the political parties started reorganizing; the military tried once and again to hold a grip on power, albeit without results. In 1984, with several political leaders still banned (notably Wilson Ferreira Aldunate), militaries and politicians agreed to the Naval Club Pact, establishing conditions for the transition.
The sequels of this dictatorship still give foot to debate and controversy. In the conversations that led to the Naval Club Pact the idea was suggested that the military would release power, but to the price of not being brought to the courts. Many considered this unacceptable, but the political crisis that eventually menaced the hard-won re-institutionalization of the country led to the controversial passing in 1986 of the Law on the Expiration of the Punitive Claims of the State (Spanish: Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado), called Expiry Law (Spanish: Ley de Caducidad), which is still in force: in 1989 and 2009, Uruguayans voted in referendums and decided twice to keep the law, which detractors consider as plain impunity.