Ferreira Aldunate, Wilson (1919–1988)

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Ferreira Aldunate, Wilson (1919–1988)

Known by friend and foe alike simply as "Wilson," Wilson Ferreira Aldunate was a Blanco (National Party) senator and presidential candidate and an outspoken critic of the military dictatorship that controlled Uruguay from 1973 to 1984. He was a charismatic political leader and a modern caudillo within the Blanco Party, and his faction, Por la Patria, was the highest vote getter for the Blancos in the 1971 and 1984 elections. Born in Nico Pérez on January 28, 1919, Ferreira began his political career as a deputy and then as a senator (1967–1972) and served as minister of agriculture (1963). He was a presidential candidate in 1971 and received more votes than any other candidate, but his party lost the presidency to the Colorado Party, whose candidates received more total votes. After the military coup in 1973 Ferreira went into exile in Buenos Aires and later fled to London. He testified before the U.S. Congress in 1976 and was a valuable voice in achieving a cutoff of military aid to the Uruguayan dictatorship. By early 1984, with the military convinced it had to exit politics but unwilling to accept the possibility of a Ferreira presidency, the generals released from prison Liber Seregni, leader of the leftist political coalition known as the Frente Amplio. The strategy was to re-legalize the Left so that its followers would not support Ferreira in an upcoming election. When Ferreira returned to Montevideo in June 1984, he was promptly arrested and incarcerated in a remote military installation, where he remained until after the November elections. The military, the Colorado Party, and the Frente Amplio agreed to the elections in negotiations known as the Pact of the Naval Club. With Ferreira excluded from running, the Colorados won the presidential election. Ferreira backed the incoming Julio Maria Sanguinetti administration but favored some accounting for the military's human rights abuses. Yet with a constitutional crisis arising two years later, he reluctantly supported an amnesty law, some say in order to run in the 1989 presidential elections. However, he was diagnosed with cancer in 1987 and died on March 15, 1988. At his funeral there was a massive turnout as Uruguayans buried their last modern caudillo.

See alsoCaudillismo, Caudillo; Naval Club, Pact of the; Sanguinetti, Julio María; Uruguay: The Twentieth Century; Uruguay, Political Parties: Blanco Party; Uruguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party.


Primary Work

Ferreira Aldunate, Wilson. El exilio y la lucha. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Banda Oriental, 1986.

Secondary Works

Pérez, Wilfredo. Grandes figuras blancas: Aportación a sus biografías. Montevideo: Ediciones de la Plaza, 2001.

Weinstein, Martin. Uruguay: Democracy at the Crossroads. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1988.

                                  Martin Weinstein

                                 William G. Acree Jr.

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Ferreira Aldunate, Wilson (1919–1988)

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