Tupamaros Terrorism in Uruguay 1963-1973

[ 1963 - 1973 ]

The Tupamaros, a leftist guerrilla organization, opposed the government of Uruguay and engaged in terrorist activities with raids, bombings, bank robberies, kidnappings, and assassinations. They attacked police stations, armories, and military bases to obtain arms and ammunition, and they abducted prominent people, both Uruguayans and foreigners, to gain large ransoms or the release of comrades who had been arrested. In 1971, more than 100 jailed Tupamaros made a daring escape through a 40-foot tunnel, and 38 women broke out of a maximum security prison. Up to this time, the police had been responsible for fighting and capturing the Tupamaros, but now the Uruguayan armed forces were put in charge. The terrorism against the government continued, and in April 1972, "a state of internal war" was declared, with Uruguay placed undermartial law to help the police and military marshal the resources of the country against the guerrillas. On February 12, 1973, President Juan Maria Bordaberry (1928-) agreed to military control of his administration; he abolished congress and replaced it with a council of state fur months later. The army used severe repressive measures, repotedly including mass arrests and torture, to crush the Tupamaros, some of whom fled to Argentina and there carried on their antigovernment campaign after 1973. All marxist parties were permanently outlawed in Uruguay on January 1, 1975, and by that time the military had such strong control over all aspects of life that subversion was almost impossible.


In the second half of the 1960s, Uruguay was racked by continual labor militancy and urban terrorism by the National Liberation Movement - Tupamaros (Movimiento de Liberación Nacional - Tupamaros -- MLN-T) that propelled the military increasingly into the political arena.... The MLN-T, also known as the Tupamaros, was a former urban guerrilla organization given amnesty in 1985. The MLN-T was established in 1962 by Raúl Sendic Antonaccio, leader of a group of students, peasants, and intellectuals who espoused an extreme nationalist and socialist ideology. Organized according to a clandestine cell-based structure, the movement conducted a guerrilla campaign from 1963 to 1973 that included bank robberies, kidnappings, sabotage, and jail breaks. The army effectively destroyed the Tupamaros in 1972, and its leaders were imprisoned for long terms or forced into exile. After the remaining Tupamaro prisoners were freed under an amnesty decree in March 1985, the MLN-T publicly renounced armed struggle and committed itself to left-wing parliamentary politics. In 1990 the Tupamaros constituted a marginal political force of some several hundred members. The group published a newspaper and operated a radio station in Montevideo.

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