|URUGUAY COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Uruguay within the Geographic Region of South America
Map of Uruguay
Flag Description of Uruguay:nine equal horizontal stripes of white (top and bottom) alternating with blue; a white square in the upper hoist-side corner with a yellow sun bearing a human face known as the Sun of May with 16 rays that alternate between triangular and wavy; the stripes represent the nine original departments of Uruguay; the sun symbol evokes the legend of the sun breaking through the clouds on 25 May 1810 as independence was first declared from Spain (Uruguay subsequently won its independence from Brazil)
note: the banner was inspired by the national colors of Argentina and by the design of the US flag
Official name República Oriental del Uruguay (Oriental Republic of Uruguay)
Form of government republic with two legislative houses (Senate ; House of Representatives )
Head of state and government President: José Mujica
Official language Spanish
Official religion none
Monetary unit peso uruguayo (UYU)
Population (2013 est.) 3,298,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 68,679
Total area (sq km) 177,879
- Urban: (2011) 94.7%
- Rural: (2011) 5.3%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2012) 73.7 years
- Female: (2012) 80.7 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 97.9%
- Female: (2010) 98.7%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 15,180
1Includes the vice president, who serves as ex officio presiding officer.
Background of Uruguay
Uruguay, country located on the southeastern coast of South America. The second smallest nation on the continent, Uruguay has long been overshadowed politically and economically by the adjacent republics of Brazil and Argentina, with both of which it shares many cultural and historical similarities. “On the map, surrounded by its large neighbors, Uruguay seems tiny,” writes contemporary Uruguayan historian and novelist Eduardo Galeano. “But not really. We have five times more land than Holland and five times fewer inhabitants. We have more cultivable land than Japan, and a population forty times smaller.”
This combination of open space and low population density has afforded Uruguay many opportunities for economic development. An independent country since 1828, with strong ties to the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, Uruguay developed throughout much of the 20th century as one of Latin America’s more progressive societies, notable for its political stability, advanced social legislation, and a relatively large middle class. A period of repressive military rule (1973–85) has cast a long shadow over national life, and, like other countries in the region, Uruguay has been troubled by economic decline and factional struggles in the decades since civilian democratic rule was restored. Such adversities have caused many Uruguayans to emigrate to Europe and North America; as Galeano has remarked, “We export our young.”
Almost half the people are concentrated in the metropolitan area of Montevideo, the capital; the second and third largest cities, Salto and Paysandú, are small by comparison. Facing a deep bay at the mouth of the Río de la Plata, Montevideo blends historic areas with tall office towers and well-appointed shopping centres. The old city, with its many museums, open-air markets, and restaurants, remains the heart of Montevideo and sees thousands of international visitors each year. Popular as tourist destinations, too, are beach resorts such as Piriápolis and Punta del Este, as well as the colonial masterpiece Colonia del Sacramento.
Geography of Uruguay
The wedge-shaped country is bounded by Brazil to the north and east, by the Atlantic Ocean to the southeast, and by the Río de la Plata to the south, while the Uruguay River serves as its western boundary with Argentina.
- Relief and soils
The Uruguayan landscape is largely characterized by gently rolling land, with an average elevation of about 383 feet (117 metres). Tidal lakes and sand dunes fringe the coastline. Elsewhere there are broad valleys, plains (pampas), low plateaus and hills, and ridges—notably Haedo Ridge (Cuchilla de Haedo) in the north and Grande Ridge (Cuchilla Grande) in the southeast—that are a southward extension of the Brazilian Highlands. Mount Catedral, which rises to 1,685 feet (514 metres) near the southeastern coast, is the highest point in the country. The valleys and coastal plains are covered with deposits of sand, clay, and fertile alluvium.
Although it is a well-watered land, no large rivers flow entirely within Uruguay. The Uruguay River and the estuary of the Río de la Plata, along the western border of the nation, are navigable for oceangoing ships until Paysandú and for smaller vessels above that point to the falls at Salto. The smaller Negro River, which traverses the country from northeast to southwest, is navigable only in its lower part, below Rincón del Bonete Lake (the Río Negro Reservoir). Among other small rivers are the Santa Lucía, Cebollatí, and Queguay Grande. Merín (Mirim) Lagoon, which lies mainly within Brazil, is the largest natural lake.
Uruguay has a generally pleasant, temperate climate. The average temperature for the midwinter month of July varies from 54 °F (12 °C) at Salto in the northern interior to 50 °F (10 °C) at Montevideo in the south. The midsummer month of January varies from a warm average of 79 °F (26 °C) at Salto to 72 °F (22 °C) at Montevideo. Frost is almost unknown along the coast. Both summer and winter weather may vary from day to day with the passing of storm fronts; a hot northerly wind may occasionally be followed by a cold wind (pampero) from the Argentine Pampas.
Uruguay has neither a decidedly dry nor a rainy season. The heaviest precipitation occurs during the autumn months (March and April), although more frequent rains occur in winter. The mean annual precipitation is generally greater than 40 inches (1,000 mm), decreasing with distance from the seacoast, and is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year. Thunderstorms occur frequently during the summer.
- Plant and animal life
Tall-grass prairies once covered most of Uruguay’s land surface but now compete with enclosed, planted pastures. Only a small percentage of the land is forested, most of the trees growing in narrow stretches along watercourses. The principal species are ombu—a scrubby, treelike plant—and alder. Others include willow, eucalyptus, pine, poplar, acacia, and aloe. The algaroba (carob tree) and quebracho (whose wood and bark are utilized in tanning and dyeing) are prevalent, and indigenous palms grow in the valleys and along the southeastern coast. Common smaller plants include mimosa, myrtle, rosemary, and scarlet-flowered ceibo.
Animals native to Uruguay have largely disappeared, although pumas and jaguars are still occasionally found in remote areas. Other native mammals include foxes, deer, wildcats, armadillos (mulitas), and several types of rodents, including huge capybaras. Scorpions are rare, but venomous spiders are common. Birdlife includes tiny burrowing owls, crows, lapwings, partridges, quails, hummingbirds, and cardinals. Parakeets are plentiful in the hills, and the lagoons swarm with waterfowl, including white herons, cranes, and flamingos. Rheas are now mainly limited to semidomesticated settings. Lizards, tortoises, and venomous snakes are found in many areas. Caimans inhabit the upper waters of the Uruguay River, and seals are found on small islands off the southeastern coast, particularly on Lobos Island. A network of national parks and a wildlife reserve are dedicated to the preservation of animal and bird populations.
Demography of Uruguay
Ethnic groups and languages Uruguayans are of predominantly European origin, mostly descendants of 19th- and 20th-century immigrants from Spain and Italy and, to a much lesser degree, from France and Britain. Earlier settlers had migrated from Argentina and Paraguay. Few direct descendants of Uruguay’s indigenous peoples remain, and mestizos (of mixed European and Indian ancestry) account for less than one-tenth of the population. Blacks and mulattos make up an even smaller proportion of the total.
Spanish is spoken throughout Uruguay, although in Rivera and other borderland towns close to Brazil an admixture of Portuguese and Spanish can be heard, often in a slang called portuñol, from the words português and español.
More than three-fourths of the people are at least nominally Roman Catholic, but as many as two-fifths of Catholics are estimated to be nonreligious. Less than one-tenth of the population adheres to Mormon and other Protestant churches. Jews, mostly in Montevideo, make up a small minority, which is nevertheless one of the larger Jewish communities in South America.
- Settlement patterns
When Uruguay became independent in 1828, its national territory was used almost exclusively for grazing herds of cattle on unfenced ranges; there were few permanent settlements outside of Montevideo, Colonia del Sacramento, and villages along the Uruguay River. The grazing lands along the eastern shore of the river constituted a kind of no-man’s-land between the Portuguese Brazilians and the Spanish Argentines.
After independence, Uruguay received a small influx of immigrants, chiefly from Italy and Spain. They entered through Montevideo and settled southern Uruguay in a zone along the Río de la Plata and Uruguay River. But from the early 1850s the European immigrants to the Plata region went largely to Argentina, and agriculture in Uruguay remained static. Livestock grazing thrived in the sparsely populated north, but crop farming was mostly limited to the south. By the early 20th century, rail lines and roads had extended throughout much of the country, and the area devoted to farming had grown markedly, notably with the introduction of sheep herds and pastures enclosed with barbed wire. Sheep far outnumber cattle in the northwest, but cattle are of major importance south of the Negro River. Ranches (estancias), some larger than 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares), are still common in the pastoral region.
Almost nine-tenths of Uruguayans now live in urban areas. Montevideo, the country’s dominant urban centre, has a virtual monopoly on commerce, manufacturing, and government services. Other, much smaller cities include Salto and Paysandú, both on the Uruguay River, Artigas and Rivera in the north, Melo in the east, and the southern cities of Maldonado, Minas, and Las Piedras.
- Demographic trends
Uruguay is less densely populated than Argentina and Brazil; however, the neighbouring regions of southern Brazil and northeastern Argentina have roughly comparable population densities. The rates of birth and population growth in Uruguay are much lower than in other Latin American countries. About one-fourth of the population is less than 15 years old, and about one-sixth is age 60 and older.
Economy of Uruguay
Uruguay’s gross national product (GNP) per capita is among the highest in Latin America, and the nation has a large urban middle class. Its relatively high standard of living has historically been based on earnings from agricultural exports, notably wool and beef, which have nevertheless been subject to fluctuations in the world market. To reduce the nation’s dependence on external trade, successive governments have encouraged domestic manufacturing and services, which have become dynamic sectors of the economy. The government operates a large number of corporations that produce electricity, refine imported petroleum, manufacture alcohol and cement, and process meat and fish; the government also controls the railways and the nation’s largest telephone company. However, there have been attempts to privatize state-owned companies since the 1990s.
- Agriculture, fishing, and forestry
Sheep and cattle raising are two of Uruguay’s most important economic activities. Wool and beef, as well as livestock, livestock products, and skins and hides, account for about two-fifths of Uruguay’s export income, although agriculture makes up less than one-tenth of the gross domestic product (GDP). In 2001 an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease seriously damaged the livestock industry and caused repercussions throughout the Uruguayan economy.
With the major emphasis on livestock, little arable land has been available for cultivation. Major crops include rice, wheat, corn (maize), oranges, sugarcane, and sunflower seeds. The grape harvest sustains a modest wine industry.
Uruguay’s commercial fishing expanded significantly in the 1970s and ’80s, although the fleet remains small by international standards. About half of the catch is exported. Major fishing ports include Montevideo, Piriápolis, Punta del Este, and La Paloma. Forestry in Uruguay is limited but provides for most local needs; pine and eucalyptus are the main types of trees harvested.
- Resources and power
Uruguay imports most of its fuel, industrial raw materials, vehicles, and industrial machinery, because it has no domestic commercial sources of petroleum, natural gas, coal, or iron. The low, rolling countryside is not generally suited to hydroelectric development; however, hydroelectric plants on the Negro and Uruguay rivers, in production at full power by the early 1980s, now provide about one-seventh of the country’s electric power. The remainder is generated from gas- and oil-fueled thermal power plants.
Since the 1980s, manufacturing has declined somewhat in importance, and it now accounts for about one-sixth of the GDP. Major manufactures include processed foods, beverages, chemical products, textiles, and tobacco products. Most factories are concentrated in and around Montevideo.
Banking and financial services account for about one-fourth of the GDP but employ a small part of the workforce. Uruguay’s banking laws shield investors from most forms of taxation, and the country has become known as an offshore financial centre. Partly because of the large volume of international banking, the vast majority of Uruguayan bank deposits are in U.S. dollars and other foreign currencies. The Central Bank of Uruguay (1967) issues currency (the Uruguayan peso), regulates foreign exchange, and oversees the country’s private banks. Other state banks include the Bank of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, which is the country’s largest commercial bank, and the Mortgage Bank of Uruguay.
Uruguay’s balance of payments has been generally negative (producing a trade deficit) since the mid 20th century. The government has lifted many restrictions on imports since the 1980s. The main exports are animal products (notably frozen beef) and live animals, food products, wool and other textiles, and hides. The chief imports include machinery, appliances, chemical products, transport equipment, and processed foods. Brazil has long been Uruguay’s main trading partner; Argentina and the United States are also major partners.
Services such as public administration, education, computer programming, and tourism account for about one-fourth of the GDP. Tourism is a growing source of foreign exchange. Resort areas, particularly on the coast, attract visitors throughout most of the year. Among these is Punta del Este, renowned as a meeting place for high-level international conferences. Uruguay’s computer software industry has become increasingly important to the economy.
- Labour and taxation
Services and trade employ more than half of the Uruguayan workforce, whereas about one-fifth of workers are engaged in manufacturing. Relatively few are employed in financial institutions and agricultural enterprises. The standard workweek is 44–48 hours. Workers are legally entitled to 20 paid vacation days following one year of employment. Women comprise about half of the workforce, but most of them hold low-wage jobs, and there are few women in the upper echelons of Uruguayan corporations. Approximately one-eighth of Uruguayan workers are union members; most are members of a labour confederation called the Inter-Union Workers Assembly–National Federation of Workers.
Uruguay has not had inheritance or personal income taxes since 1974. The government’s main sources of revenue are value-added taxes and export taxes. Real estate taxes and corporate taxes are also levied.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Paved roads connect Montevideo to other urban centres in the country, the main highways leading to the border and neighbouring cities. Numerous unpaved roads connect farms and small towns. Overland trade has increased markedly since the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) pact was formed in the 1990s. Most of the country’s domestic freight and passenger service is by road rather than rail. The basic railroad network, purchased from the British after World War II, also radiates from Montevideo and connects with the Argentine and Brazilian systems.
Oceangoing ships call mainly at Montevideo. Vessels of various sizes navigate the inland waters, and a hydrofoil service connects Buenos Aires and Montevideo across the Río de la Plata. An international airport lies near the Carrasco beach resort some 13 miles (21 km) from downtown Montevideo. The government-owned airline, Primeras Líneas Uruguayas de Navegación Aérea (PLUNA), links Montevideo with the provincial capitals and international destinations.
Telecommunications in Uruguay are more developed than in most other Latin American countries. The telephone system is totally digitized and concentrated in and around Montevideo. The system is government-owned, and since the 1990s there have been controversial proposals to privatize it, or at least to sell some of its shares.
Government and Society of Uruguay
Uruguay's first constitution was adopted in 1830, following the conclusion of a three-year war in which Argentina and Uruguay acted as a regional federation. Sponsored by the United Kingdom, the 1828 Treaty of Montevideo built the foundations for an Uruguayan state and constitution. Attempts to reform the 1830 constitution in 1966 led to the adoption of an entirely new document in 1967. A constitution proposed under a military revolution in 1980 was rejected by a vote of the entire electorate.
The Constitution of 1967 created a strong presidency, subject to legislative and judicial controls. The president is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the General Assembly of Uruguay. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, with the vice president elected on the same ticket. Thirteen cabinet ministers, appointed by the president, head executive departments.
The Supreme Court is the nation’s highest judicial body. It is composed of five justices who are elected by the general assembly. The judicial system also includes appeals courts, various lower courts, justices of the peace, and a military justice system. For most of Uruguay's history, the Colorado, Blanco and National parties (centrist to conservative) alternated in power. The elections of 2004, however, saw the victory of the Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio-Nueva Mayoría, or Broad Front coalition, a grouping of various leftist parties. Their leader, Tabaré Vázquez Rosas, was elected president by an absolute majority on the first ballot and his party won majorities in both houses of parliament.
The armed forces are constitutionally subordinate to the president through the minister of defense. By offering early retirement incentives, the government has trimmed the armed forces to about 14,500 for the army, six thousand for the navy, and three thousand for the air force. As of February 2005, Uruguay's contributions amounted to 44 percent of the total United Nations peacekeeping troops sent by the region (2,486 soldiers and officers in 11 UN peacekeeping missions). As of August 2006, Uruguay had nearly 1,150 military personnel deployed to Haiti in support of MINUSTAH; its other major PKO troop deployment was in the Congo.
Uruguay traditionally has had strong political and cultural links with its neighbors and with Europe. With globalization and regional economic problems, its links to North America have strengthened. Uruguay is a strong advocate of constitutional democracy, political pluralism, and individual liberties. Its international relations historically have been guided by the principles of non-intervention, multilateralism, respect for national sovereignty, and reliance on the rule of law to settle disputes. Uruguay's international relations also reflect its drive to seek export markets and foreign investment. It is a founding member of MERCOSUR, the Southern Cone "Common Market" also composed by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. As of December 2006, Venezuela was in process of becoming MERCOSUR's fifth full member, while Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru are associate members.
Uruguay is a member of the Rio Group, an association of Latin American states that deals with multilateral security issues (under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance). Uruguay's location between Argentina and Brazil makes close relations with these two larger neighbors and MERCOSUR associate members Chile and Bolivia particularly important. Usually considered a neutral country and blessed with a professional diplomatic corps, Uruguay is often called on to preside over international bodies. Uruguay is a member of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), a trade association based in Montevideo that includes 10 South American countries plus Mexico and Cuba.
Culture Life of Uruguay
History of Uruguay
European Involvement and the Struggle for Independence
Although the Río de la Plata was explored as early as 1515, it was not until 1624 that the Spanish established the first permanent settlement, at Soriano in SW Uruguay. The Portuguese founded (1680) a short-lived settlement at Colonia, and in 1717 they fortified a hill on the site of Montevideo. Fearing encroachment and competition, the Spanish drove them out (1724) and from then until the wars of independence controlled the Banda Oriental. Uruguay's position between Spanish and Portuguese settlements, and later between Argentina and Brazil, helped determine the emergence of Uruguay as an independent state. On the pampas stock raising spread; gradually the unbounded range gave way to huge estancias (cattle ranches) and small settlements concentrated about the ranch buildings.
It was the rough and hardy gaucho who fought for independence, and the traditions, personal loyalties, and rivalries of the gauchos helped to keep the nation in almost continual strife for three quarters of a century after independence was won. When the revolutionary banner was raised in the Argentine in 1810, the leaders of the Banda Oriental, notably Artigas, accepted the cause, but in 1814 Artigas broke with the military junta of Buenos Aires and began a struggle for Uruguayan independence that lasted until the Brazilian occupation of Montevideo in 1820. Five years later a small group, known as the Thirty-three Immortals, under the guidance of Lavalleja, declared Uruguay independent.
- Independence and War
In 1827 at Ituzaingó Brazil was defeated. Great Britain, opposing Brazilian expansion south to the Río de la Plata, helped ultimately to create an independent Uruguay as a buffer state between Argentina and Brazil. The peace (1828) stipulated that the new Uruguayan constitution should be acceptable to both the larger nations. When it was adopted in 1830, Fructuoso Rivera was chosen as president. He was promptly faced with revolts led by his old rival, Lavalleja, and when he was succeeded in office by Manuel Oribe, he himself revolted against Oribe, who was in sympathy with Juan Manuel de Rosas of Argentina. In the long fratricidal struggle that ensued, the two dominant political parties of Uruguay emerged, Rivera's Colorados [reds] and Oribe's Blancos [whites].
Oribe was driven out in 1838, but later with the aid of Rosas returned to begin the long siege of Montevideo. The Italian patriot Garibaldi fought in the Uruguayan wars from 1842 to 1846. In 1851 the Argentine general Urquiza drove out Rosas and brought an end to the Uruguayan civil war. When in 1864 Brazil presented a claim for damages to property and nationals during the civil wars, Uruguay refused to accept it. Brazil invaded and, aided by the Uruguayan general Vanancio Flores (a Colorado), overthrew the Blanco president. Paraguay, under Francisco Solano López, came to the assistance of the Blancos, whereupon Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay formed a tripartite alliance against Paraguay (see Triple Alliance, War of the). During the 19th and 20th cent. waves of immigration, chiefly from Europe, augmented the Uruguayan population.
- Government Reforms
Until the rise of José Batlle y Ordóñez early in the 20th cent., Uruguay experienced many revolutions and counterrevolutions. In Batlle's second term as president (1911–15), however, began the social and material progress that made Uruguay one of the more stable and prosperous nations of Latin America. By a coup in 1933, Gabriel Terra suspended the constitution of 1919, and his rule was strongly personalistic. Yet, under Terra's rule, which ended in 1938, the socialistic measures for public welfare were not reversed but forwarded; the labor code was broadened, social benefits increased, and industry further nationalized.
Batlle's influence on Uruguayan political practice did not end with his death; concerned lest the country again fall prey to dictatorial caudillos, he had advocated the creation of an executive governing council. This reform, inspired by the Swiss multiple-executive system of government, was adopted in 1951; the office of president was abolished and replaced by a nine-man council with a president, chosen from the majority party, to act as titular head of state. The plural executive, however, proved ineffectual; factionalism and apathy within the council hindered action on social and economic problems, which became pressing in the mid-1950s and acute during the 60s.
- Civil Strife in Modern Uruguay
The increasing use of synthetics and the steadily declining price of wool cut deeply into Uruguay's exports of wool and leather. Inflation and unemployment grew, and the vast, inefficient bureaucracy became a burden to the economy. In 1958 the Colorados, who had been in power for over 93 years, were overwhelmingly defeated by the conservative Blancos, who won again in 1962 by a narrower margin. Throughout the 1960s and early 70s the economic decline continued, intensified by droughts and floods and accompanied by massive social unrest—riots, paralyzing strikes, and the emergence of a terrorist Marxist guerrilla group, the well-organized Tupamaro National Liberation Front (see Tupamaros).
In 1967 a new constitution abolished the plural executive and reinstated a powerful president. That same year the Colorado party returned to power, with Oscar Gestido as president. Gestido died after several months in office and was succeeded by his vice president, Jorge Pacheco. Pacheco and his hand-picked successor, Juan María Bordaberry (who was elected in 1972), ruled with increasingly dictatorial powers. As the Tupamaros increased their terrorist activities, kidnapping foreign diplomats and assassinating high officials, the army assumed tremendous power, even successfully pressuring President Bordaberry (June, 1973) to dissolve the congress and suspend the constitution. The military, which made Aparicio Méndez president in 1976, ruled Uruguay with brutal force, regularly disregarding human rights by kidnapping, imprisoning, torturing, or murdering citizens.
The government's repressive tactics caused a massive emigration of Uruguayans, mostly to Argentina. After a 1980 plebiscite to continue de facto military rule was voted down by the populace, the military government steadily lost power. General Gregorio Álvarez became president in 1981. In 1985, Julio María Sanguinetti of the centrist Colorado party became president, restoring civilian government but also granting amnesty (1986) to former leaders accused of human-rights violations (for crimes committed in Uruguay). Luis Alberto Lacalle Herrera of the conservative National (Blanco) party became president in 1990. He was forced to form a coalition government in order to secure a parliamentary majority, and his attempts to introduce free-market reforms were obstructed.
Sanguinetti was returned to the presidency by a slim margin in the 1994 elections, and also had to form a coalition; he sought cutbacks in Uruguay's bankrupt social security program and modest amounts of privatization. In 1999, Jorge Batlle Ibañez, also of the Colorado party, was elected president; during the election, he faced a strong challenge on the left from the Broad Front's Tabaré Vázquez, the former mayor of Montevideo. Since the late 1990s the country's economy has been hurt by crises in the economies of Brazil and Argentina, its principal trade partners, resulting in several years of recession that became particularly severe in 2002. In 2003, Batlle Ibañez announced that the government would compensate families of victims of the 1976–85 military dictatorship and of the guerrilla groups that opposed it.
Uruguay's economic difficulties enabled Tabaré Vázquez to win the presidency without a runoff in 2004; his Broad Front coalition also won majorities in both legislative houses. Vázquez became the first leftist to be elected president in Uruguay. The planned construction in Uruguay of two pulp mills on the Uruguay River along the Argentina border led to tensions between the two nations throughout 2006; fearful of possible pollution from the mills, Argentinians blockaded several bridges between the nations. The International Court of Justice agreed to hear Argentina's contention that the mills violated a treaty on the use of the river but allowed construction to proceed (Uruguay built just one mill) while the court considered the case; it also refused to order Argentina to stop the protests, which continued until June, 2010. In 2010 the court ruled that although Uruguay had failed to adhere to its procedural obligations under the treaty, it had not violated its environmental obligations and the mill could continue to operate. An accord establishing a joint environmental monitoring committee for the river was signed in Nov., 2010.
Also in 2006, former president Bordaberry was charged and arrested in connection with the political murders of dissidents and others in 1976; he was convicted in 2010 of having violated the constitution during his presidency. In 2007 former president Álvarez was arrested on similar charges and was convicted in 2009. The supreme court in 2009 declared the 1986 amnesty law unconstitutional. In the Oct., 2009, elections the Broad Front won a narrow legislative majority, and after a runoff in November its presidential candidate, José "Pepe" Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla, also won. Legislation to overturn the amnesty law failed to pass in May, 2011. Although Mujica had not backed the legislation, he signed a decree in June that allowed as many as 80 human-rights cases to proceed, and in October a law revoking the amnesty was enacted. In 2013, however, the supreme ruled aspects of the law unconstitutional, effectively restoring the amnesty.
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