Uruguay History

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History[edit | edit source]

Charrúas Amerindians were the first people to inhabit the Uruguay area. The arrival of Europeans dates from 1516, when the territory was discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Díaz de Solís, who sailed on the river La Plata. However, European colonization attempts were discouraged for a long time by the Charrúas.

Between 1680 and 1683, disputing Spanish possession of the region, Portuguese settlers established several colonies along the river La Plata, including Sacramento. The Spanish, however, continued their colonization and founded the city of Montevideo in 1726 before settling on the Eastern Band—east of the Uruguay River.

The Spanish-Portuguese rivalry continued throughout the eighteenth century, finally ending in 1777 with the establishment of Spanish authority throughout the region under the viceroyalty of Buenos Aires.

However, in 1810 and 1811, Uruguayan revolutionary patriots joined Buenos Aires in a revolt against Spain. The Spanish authorities were expelled from Montevideo in 1814, and a national government was formed in 1815. But the Portuguese of Brazil took advantage of the situation and invaded the territory, completing the conquest in 1821 with the annexation of the region under the name Cisplatina Province.

However, this rule was not accepted by everyone, and a group of insurgents called the Thirty Three Immortals claimed again the independence of the country in 1825. Assisted by Argentina, they successfully fought the Brazilians in a war that lasted two years. Uruguay’s independence was finally recognized in 1828.

Uruguay was instituted and a new constitution was established in 1830. But the country's independence was quickly followed by tensions that ended in a civil war. Supporters of President Oribe were conservatives and were called white, while supporters of President Rivera were liberal and called color because of the color of their flags. The great war between the two parties broke out in 1839 and lasted until 1851. After this conflict, Uruguay joined Brazil and Argentina in a war against Paraguay from 1865 until 1870.

From 1865 to 1958 the liberals retained power in Uruguay. One of the leaders, José Batlle y Ordóñez, impacted the country's history. During his presidency between 1903 and 1915, he established a democratic regime and implemented reforms to promote economic and social progress of the country. Uruguay soon became known as one of the most progressive nations in South America.

In 1958, after 93 years of colored government, the White Party won the elections with an overwhelming majority. The new government promoted economic reforms; however, it was soon faced with mass unrest and social problems.

White remained in power until 1966, when the two parties agreed to support a measure to restore the presidential system. This measure was approved by referendum in November and the new constitution became effective in February 1967. At the same time, general elections were won by the Reds. On the death of Gestido, Vice President Jorge Pacheco Areco became president and started an anti-inflammatory policy. But the economic situation remained critical, causing great turmoil. A guerrilla organization called the Tupamaros intensified its activities, attempting to overthrow the government.

In the election of November 28, 1971, the Colored candidate, won the presidency. However, the country was in the grip of escalating violence that culminated in April 1972 with clashes between the army and the Tupamaros. Congress then declared a state of siege and suspended constitutional guarantees. In addition, throughout the year, strikes multiplied in reaction to the rigorous economic and social policy led government . Inflation increased and the currency was devalued several times.

The first government decisions were directed to a hardening of power, as well as political disenfranchisement and arbitrary imprisonment. Violations of human rights by the army were endemic. In addition, the military tried to institute a new constitution, subject to a referendum in November 1980, but this constitution was rejected . On September 1, 1981, General Gregorio Alvarez was installed as president of the Republic, but encountered a difficult internal situation.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1624 - The first permanent Spanish settlement was founded at Soriano on the Río Negro 1669 – 1671 The Portuguese built a fort at Colonia del Sacramento
1828 - In the Treaty of Montevideo, Brazil and Argentina recognized the independence of Uruguay
1832 - 1904 The Uruguayan Civil War, was a series of armed conflicts between the leaders of Uruguayan independence. While officially the war lasted from 1839 until 1851, it was a part of armed conflicts that started in 1832 and continued until the final military defeat of Blancos in 1904