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Bordaberry, Juan María (1928–)

Bordaberry, Juan María (1928–)

Juan María Bordaberry (b. 1928), president of Uruguay (1972–1976). The constitutional period of his presidency ended in June 1973 with his dissolution of Congress. From then until his deposition in 1976 for refusing to negotiate a return to constitutional government, he headed a military regime (1973–1985).

Bordaberry started his political career as a member of Benito Nardone's populist ruralista movement, which played a major role in the National (Blanco) party's election victory of 1958. He later joined the Colorado Party of Jorge Pacheco Areco, was elected a senator (1969–1971), and was nominated for president by Pacheco Areco. In the 1971 elections Bordaberry's slate of candidates received only 22 percent of the total vote. The narrow Colorado victory over the Blanco candidate, Wilson Ferreira Aldunate, is widely believed to have been the result of fraud.

Bordaberry's government was characterized by vigorous repression of all popular protest movements and the persecution of the Tupamaro urban guerrilla movement, which, according to military sources, was defeated in 1972. Following passage of the State Security Bill of 1972, arbitrary detentions, torture, and attacks by paramilitary groups became endemic. In 1973–1974 all opposition media were shut down, and all political and trade union activity was proscribed. In an essay titled "Las opciones" (1980) and during a speech at the National University in Santiago de Chile (1987), Bordaberry maintained that due to divine right, rulers are not obliged to seek legitimation by democratic vote. He has not held public office since 1976.

On November 17, 2006, Bordaberry and his former foreign minister, Juan Carlos Blanco, were arrested in connection with four political killings during the military rule of the 1970s. They were accused of involvement in the abduction and murder of two legislators and two political rebels who opposed their dictatorship.

See alsoFerreira Aldunate, Wilson; Pacheco Areco, Jorge; Uruguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party.


Juan María Bordaberry, Hacia una doctrina política nacional (1974).

Oscar H. Bruschera, Las décadas infames: Análisis político, 1967–1985 (1986).

Martin Weinstein, Uruguay: Democracy at the Crossroads (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Campodónico, Miguel Angel. Antes del silencio: Bordaberry: Memorias de un presidente uruguayo. Montevideo: Linardi y Risso, 2003.

Fischer, Diego. Sobremesa presidencial. Montevideo: Fundación Banco de Boston, 1994.

Lessa, Alfonso. Estado de guerra: De la gestación del golpe del 73 a la caída de Bordaberry. Montevideo: Editorial Fin de Siglo, 1996.

Pernas, Walter. La caída: El dictador Bordaberry y su canciller presos. Montevideo: Ediciones Cauce, 2006.

                                           Dieter Schonebohm

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