Medina, Hugo (1897–1998)

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Medina, Hugo (1897–1998)

Hugo Medina (b. 29 January 1897; d. 22 May 1998), Uruguayan general and politician, was a key figure in the transition to civilian rule in Uruguay that took place in the mid-1980s. Commander of the Third Military Region in 1984, he was considered a staunch professional soldier who favored following the timetable established by the military for their withdrawal from executive power. Medina was a member of the military's Political Affairs Commission (COMASPO) from 1980 to 1981. On 7 June 1984, with the retirement of General Hugo Arano, he assumed command of the army. His working relationship with Julio Maria Sanguinetti of the Colorado Party would prove crucial to the talks that resulted in the Naval Club Pact that led to the November 1984 elections. Medina retired from the army in January 1987, after having staunchly defended the armed forces against any trials for human rights violations. Late in 1987, President Sanguinetti appointed Medina minister of defense, a position from which he continued to pressure public opinion against overturning the amnesty law for the military that had been passed in 1986. The referendum on the amnesty law took place in April 1989. The law was upheld, giving Medina excellent credibility with his former military comrades. He continued to serve as minister of defense until the end of the Sanguinetti government in 1990. In a 1991 interview, he admitted he gave orders for torture during the military regime, becoming the first Uruguayan military figure to do so. He died on 22 May 1998, in Montevideo.

See alsoUruguay: The Twentieth Century .


Brito, Alexandra Barahona de. Human Rights and Democratization in Latin America: Uruguay and Chile. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Kaufman, Edy. Uruguay in Transition: From Civilian to Military Rule. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1979.

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

Weschler, Lawrence. A Miracle, a Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990.

                                        Martin Weinstein