International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

New Era of Justice Needed in Uruguay

On March 1st, Uruguay celebrated a new presidential mandate by the left-wing Frente Amplio coalition politician Tabare Vasquez. At the same time of his presidential mandate came another celebration—the 30th anniversary of the transition from a decade long dictatorship to democracy. While Uruguay looks at new hope moving forward, its past is still shadowed with a very dark scar that has never formally been recognized. During the decade long dictatorship regime in Uruguay—a regime nicknamed as, “the torture chamber of Latin America”343999a3f04644d7861d0c7d7407048d_18—countless human rights violations occurred, and have yet to be accounted for. No major regime leaders have been held on trial, victims and families of victims have not been heard or answered, and no formal national Truth Commission has been set up. Even as Latin America as a whole witnessed a boom for Truth Commissions and retributive justice in the 1980s that still continues today, Uruguay still continues to be left in the dark. In the years after overturning the amnesty law in 2011, only six trials have been concluded. In Argentina, during the same time period, 58 trials have been completed concerning human rights violations during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. The impunity gap is still a major concern as many Latin American countries strive for and succeed with gaining accountability, while others such a Uruguay still have yet to incorporate what occurred in the dictatorship into social and political being, let alone history books. However with the advent of a new progressive leader, accountability may still be found in Uruguay, and maybe transitional justice mechanisms can help with this process.

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One response to “New Era of Justice Needed in Uruguay

  1. snech March 30, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Uruguay may be justifying the lack of trials by saying that having a truth commission or trials would be destructive to the peace that resides in delicate balance after the removal of a dictatorship. While this seems like a logical reasoning, it can actually be more detrimental to peace and stability than trials. Often this reasoning is used when governments do not want the past offenses to come to light. Since the government has the power to create (or not create) trials and truth commissions, this is possible. Ignoring the past as they are doing is not giving victims justice at all. As the right to truth becomes a more prominent principle, perhaps Uruguay will feel pressure from the international community to investigate their past offenses.

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