Archive for the ‘Uruguay’ Category

Lacalle Pou and the New Right in Uruguay

Sunday, September 14th, 2014
((Luis Lacalle Pou))

((Luis Lacalle Pou))

[Translation of an article from Tiempo Argentino of Buenos Aires for September 7, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

By Juan Manuel Karg

Next October 26, Uruguay will hold new presidential elections. The Frente Amplio (FA) will try for another term in office, this time with the combination Tabaré Vázquez / Raúl Sendic to replace Mujica / Astori, current president and vice president. According to the polls released so far, the ticket headed by the former president [Vázquez] will win, although, like it or not, there will probably be a runoff with the young Luis Lacalle Pou, the surprise on Uruguay’s new political map. What are the main points of the Frente Amplio’s current campaign? What are the proposals of their opponents, represented principally by the candidacy of Lacalle and the Partido Nacional?

((Tabaré Vázquez))

((Tabaré Vázquez))

The Frente Amplio platform for the 2015-2020 term as published is striking in its review of conditions in Uruguay before 2004, when Tabaré Vázquez first won the presidential election for the FA. “We were handed the government of a country with one of the highest levels of per capita debt in the world, with a stagnant productive apparatus and with poverty and destitution at the highest levels in history,” the introduction reminds us, in a portrayal that was quite similar to every other country in the region. Then, before moving on to specific proposals for the new term, it points out the achievements by the two consecutive administrations: sustained growth of the gross domestic product, real increases in salaries and retirement pay, decreases in the rate of unemployment and an expansion of social policies to attack poverty and destitution. (more…)

Uruguay: Another year in Haiti for the troops

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

[Translation of an article from Brecha of Montevideo, Uruguay, for December 28, 2012.  See original here.]

The United Nations Security Council resolved and Uruguay approved the extension of MINUSTAH in the Caribbean country.  The executive’s resolution, approved by the parliament, brought about discontent in the ranks of the frenteamplistas because, in addition to other factors, the law does not take into account the UNASUR decision to reduce the number of soldiers.  The FA [Frente Amplio] is proposing to debate the country’s participation in peace missions next year as well as the overall role of the armed forces and possible accords with the United States.

The Chamber of Deputies yesterday gave final approval to the law that extends the presence of Uruguayan military forces in Haiti.  The text submitted by the executive branch, which at the outset could count on unanimous approval by the Senate, says in its main paragraphs that, considering “the request by the Haitian government to extend the MINUSTAH mandate and United Nations Security Council resolution 2070, which calls for the extension, our country, as a promoter of peace and the strengthening of cooperation among countries, in accordance with international law, deems it appropriate to continue our participation in MINUSTAH.”  So the Uruguayan contingent will stay in the Caribbean country for another year.  And as has always happened in the eight years the troops have been in Haiti, the PE’s [the executive branch’s] decision brought on debate within the Frente Amplio [the governing coalition of parties], although the different positions were accommodated through party discipline. (more…)

Case of alleged sexual abuse by UN troops in Haiti moves forward

Saturday, May 12th, 2012


((Johny Jean in Montevideo — El Mostrador photo))

[Translations of two articles, the first by Spanish news agency Efe as published in El Observador of Montevideo on May 9, 2012, the second from El País of Montevideo for May 11. See originals here and here and related articles here, here, here and here.]

Haitian youth who denounced rape by Uruguayan marines to testify in Montevideo

Haitian Johny Jean, who accused five Uruguayan blue helmets of abusing him sexually last year in Haiti, will travel to Uruguay on Tuesday to testify before the judge in charge of the case.

The director of the [Haitian] Reseau National de Défense des Droits Humains (RNDDH – National Network for the Defense of Human Rights), Pierre Espérance, confirmed the trip, in which a member of that organization will take part in order to observe Jean’s testimony before the Uruguayan court, planned for Thursday afternoon. (more…)

Uruguayan President Mujica interviewed: “socialism itself”

Monday, April 9th, 2012

[Translation of an article from Montevideo Portal for April 9, 2012. See original here.]

In an interview on CNN, President Mujica said he “admires” ALBA-style socialism [Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América – Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America] but he declared that it is not the path he would prefer. The president praised the social achievements of Lula and Chávez but made it clear that “this is not building socialism.”

In an interview broadcast on Sunday on the CNN news network, Mujica referred to the changing conditions of the left over time and to the future of socialism in Latin America. (more…)

Uruguay: House of Representatives passes bill to eliminate immunity for crimes of the dictatorship

Thursday, October 27th, 2011


((El País photo))

[Translation of an article from El País of Montevideo for October 27. See original here and related articles here, here and here. The bill in question, which in effect overrides the controversial Ley de Caducidad by categorizing crimes committed by the dictatorship as crimes against humanity and not common crimes, had been approved in the Senate two days earlier. In March, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Ley de Caducidad and more recently a group of university students occupied a campus building to demand passage of the bill overriding it.]

By a vote of 50 of the 91 members present, all the votes in favor being cast by members of the Frente Amplio, the House of Representatives at 2:14am on Thursday approved a bill that declares that crimes committed during the dictatorship are crimes against humanity, thus eliminating immunity for the commission of them. (more…)

Uruguay: Haitian youth has not appeared and investigation is pending

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El Observador of Montevideo for October 17. See original here and related articles here.]

The Criminal Justice Department has taken new testimony in the case of alleged abuse by Uruguayan military personnel, members of the United Nations blue helmets, against a minor in Haiti. On Monday, new questioning was carried out of associates of the five military personnel being investigated.

Prosecutor Eduardo Fernández Dovat told El Observador that he and Judge Alejandro Guido took a statement via Skype from a marine in Haiti who is close to the military men under investigation. Three other associates on leave in Uruguay were also questioned.

The content of their statements cannot be divulged because it is part of the reserva presumario, stated the prosecutor, who indicated that the questioning of the four marines on Monday has ended.

The lawyer for the five marines, Gustavo Bordes, told Últimas Noticias that what is being sought with these statements is to show that after what occurred the Haitian youth maintained friendly relations with the uniformed personnel and that he would go to the compound gate for conversations. The lawyer holds that sufficient evidence thus exists to show that it was a matter of a prank.

Fernández Dovat stressed that “there have been no new developments concerning the location of the Haitian youth, whose statement is necessary in order to continue moving forward. We cannot move forward without locating him and this remains pending until the day he appears.”

The youth has not filed any charge in Uruguay, Fernández Dovat stated. “There is no indication in this country of the youth’s desire to move forward. We are waiting for his appearance, if he does appear,” he added.

If the youth does not appear, the case could be archived. “In order to indict in the crime of rape, it is six months from the time of the act; if during that time there is no indictment it would be archived,” the prosecutor explained.

Haiti: An occupied country

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

A speech by Eduardo Galeano

[Translation of a speech by Uruguayan historian and writer Eduardo Galeano during a forum held on September 28, 2011,  at the National Library in Montevideo entitled “Haiti and the Latin American response.” See original here and related articles here. Galeano’s remarks were dedicated to Guillermo Chifflet, who resigned from the Chamber of Deputies in 2005 to protest the Uruguayan military’s participation in MINUSTAH, the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti.]

Look it up in any encyclopedia. Ask which was the first free county in America. You will always get the same answer: the United States. But the United States declared its independence while it was a nation with 650,000 slaves, who continued being slaves for a century, and in its first constitution established that a black was the equivalent of three fifths of a person.

And if you ask any encyclopedia what was the first country to abolish slavery you will always get the same answer: England. But the first country to abolish slavery was not England but Haiti, which is still atoning for the sin of its dignity. (more…)

Uruguay: Military court sentences five marines to prison

Monday, September 19th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El País of Montevideo, Uruguay, for September 19. See original here and related articles here.]

The military court late yesterday convicted and sentenced to prison the five Uruguayan marines involved in the case of abuse of a youth in Haiti, made known through a video recording.

Military Judge Washington Vigliola, who investigated the charges, interrogated the five accused marines over the weekend after they had been transferred from Haiti and were held incommunicado at the Carrasco naval school. The military judge ruled at 11:00pm yesterday that the marines, who were part of MINUSTAH, a peace force sent to Haiti by the United Nations, committed the crimes of disobedience and dereliction of duty, as established by the military penal code. The sentence includes prison terms and the five will be transferred to a military unit to serve their terms, information obtained by El País indicates. As of press time, it was not known where they will be held.

The military court ruled quickly, 48 hours after the marines returned. An examining magistrate had been sent to Haiti for the purpose of furthering the investigation.

Meanwhile, the case of these members of the National Navy will be taken into consideration by the Supreme Military Tribunal, which will make a ruling on the discharge of the five involved in the case.

The ruling does not prevent an investigation by the civilian justice system, since the Ministry of Defense filed a criminal denunciation to have the controversial incident investigated.

The civilian case will go to criminal judge Alejandro Guido, who could begin the proceedings next week…

Uruguay, Haiti and United Nations missions

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

[Translations of three articles from Uruguay for September 9, 2011, from El País, El Espectador and Montevideo Portal respectively. See original articles here, here and here and related articles here and here. Uruguay’s participation in United Nations missions, which has been controversial from the outset, became particularly so when Uruguayan navy personnel were filmed allegedly raping a Haitian youth in Port Salut and another Uruguayan was accused of impregnating a 16-year-old Haitian girl. With a population of about 3.5 million, Uruguay has a military force of about 23,500, of whom about 2,500 are assigned to 12 different United Nations missions. The Uruguayan government is dominated by the Frente Amplio (FA), the Broad Front, a coalition of leftist and center-left parties. The president and the majorities of both chambers of the legislature are members of the FA. The president, 76-year-old José Mujica, is a former member of the Tupamaro guerrillas, as is Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro. Mujica spent 14 years in prison as a result of his Tupamaro activities. As president, his political outlook is closer to that of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva than to Hugo Chávez or Evo Morales.]  

Mujica wants to keep troops in Haiti despite scandal over abuse

President José Mujica referred today to the rape of a youth by Uruguayan navy personnel in Haiti and described response to the event as “a hard road to travel” (“un viaje de arena gruesa”) for Uruguay.

The president said in a press conference that “this kind of thing has been happenings as long as the world has existed” and added that “among soldiers there is always a fringe of rowdy gangs, it is inevitable.” (more…)

Decree offers chance to prosecute Uruguayan military

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

"Where...?" -- Nueva Tribuna photo

Eighty cases may be reopened after international court ruling

[Translation of an article from Nueva Tribuna of Madrid, Spain, for June 30. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Javier González in Buenos Aires

Thirty-eight years to the day after the last coup d’état in Uruguay, the government announced a decree that will permit the re-opening of cases of human rights violations during the dictatorship (1973-1985) which had previously been sheltered by the so-called Ley de Caducidad (de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado). A ruling against Uruguay by the Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH — Inter-American Court of Human Rights), which forms the basis of the government initiative, can definitively open up cases involving serious human rights violations. (more…)

Uruguayan legislature fails to repeal “Ley de Caducidad”

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

El País photo


One representative causes tie by breaking ranks with party

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for May 21. See original here and related article here.]

By Stella Calloni

Buenos Aires, May 20 – A tense 14-hour debate failed to end in repeal of the Uruguayan Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado [Law of Expiry on Punitive Claims by the State], passed in 1986 and known in this country as the “law of impunity,” which has left unpunished those responsible for the military dictatorship of 1973 to 1985, when the vote ended in a tie after the desertion of one representative belonging to the governing Frente Amplio (FA), which provoked loud boos and indignation among the hundreds of demonstators surrounding Congress. (more…)

Uruguay: Crisis on the left over ending impunity for the military

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

José Mujica – Nueva Tribuna photo

[Translation of an article from Nueva Tribuna of Madrid, Spain, for May 12. See original here and related article here.]

Crimes committed by the Uruguayan military during the dictatorship of 1973 to 1985 have until now gone unpunished because of the so-called Ley de Caducidad de la Pretensión Punitiva del Estado [Law of Expiry on Punitive Claims by the State], passed in 1986 by the government of Julio María Sanguinetti and ratified in two referenda, in 1989 and 2009. Now a sector of the governing Frente Amplio party intends to repeal the law, but has met with the opposition of President José Mujica, Vice President Danilo Astori and former president, and likely presidential candidate for 2014, Tabaré Vázquez. (more…)