History, Political Deterioration
Juan Maria Bordaberry, Tupamaros, retired air force general, Tupac Amaru, presidential system
The Blancos continued in power until 1966. In that year they and the Colorados supported a measure for a return to the presidential system, and the measure was approved by referendum in November. In general elections held at the same time, the Colorados won, and Oscar Daniel Gestido, a retired air force general, was elected president. After Gestido died, Vice President Jorge Pacheco Areco succeeded to the presidency.
Trying to halt Uruguay's rampant inflation, Pacheco immediately instituted wage and price controls. Labor disputes erupted, and Pacheco declared a state of emergency in June 1968 and again in June 1969. During these states of emergency, constitutional guarantees were suspended, student demonstrators were shot, hundreds of suspected dissidents were imprisoned, and the police began to use torture during interrogations.
A group of student revolutionaries, the Tupamaros (a name taken from Tupac Amaru, a Peruvian Inca who had led an uprising against the Spaniards in 1780), responded with an urban guerrilla campaign. They kidnapped and later released a number of foreign diplomats and businessmen, robbed several banks, freed political prisoners from the jails, and assassinated a number of police officials. From June 1968 until March 1969, Uruguay remained under modified martial law. In June 1969 a fact-finding visit by Nelson Rockefeller, who was then governor of New York State, was met by violent demonstrations. Pacheco imposed a modified state of siege.
In elections in 1971 the Colorado candidate, Juan Maria Bordaberry, and the Blanco candidate were virtually tied. In 1972 the Electoral Court proclaimed Bordaberry president, and he began a five-year term. Meanwhile, violence by the Tupamaros had escalated, and kidnappings and killings became common. After widespread arrests in 1971, some 150 Tupamaros escaped in two separate prison breaks. In April 1972 Congress declared a state of internal war and suspended constitutional guarantees; some 35,000 police and military searched for guerrilla hideouts. The state of war was lifted in July, but constitutional guarantees were further suspended until 1973. Bordaberry soon came under pressure, both from the Blancos and from dissident factions of his own party. Labor reacted to the government’s stringent economic and social policies with strikes throughout 1972. Inflation soared, and the currency was devalued ten times in that year.
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