Sanguinetti, Julio María (1936–)

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Sanguinetti, Julio María (1936–)

Julio María Sanguinetti (b. 1936), president of Uruguay (1985–1989). Sanguinetti was the first president to be elected following the 1973 coup. A forty-eight-year-old lawyer at the time of his election, he had thirty years of experience in the Colorado Party. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1962 and reelected in 1966 and 1971. He served as minister of education and culture under President Juan María Bordaberry in 1972 but resigned in early 1973 in protest over the increasing political role of the military. An erudite speaker and skilled negotiator, Sanguinetti was general secretary of the Colorado Party during the negotiations in 1983 and 1984 that led to the Pact of the Naval Club, which paved the way for the November 1984 elections. Building on the success of his newspaper, Correo de los Viernes, Sanguinetti ran a skillful campaign for president, putting several young newcomers on his ticket and making effective use of television. His party received 41 percent of the vote to 35 percent for the Blancos (National Party).

Sanguinetti inherited a country mired in recession and still traumatized by the repression and torture that were the hallmarks of military rule. He immediately released the remaining political prisoners and restored all constitutional rights. He made the economist and diplomat Enrique Iglesias his minister of foreign affairs and gave him the leeway to develop an active trade policy. The years 1986 and 1987 were a period of economic recovery but growing political controversy. The stated refusal of the military to participate in any civilian trials concerning human-rights abuses led the government to sponsor and pass an amnesty law. This law was challenged in 1989 by a plebiscite that divided the country. Although the vote ultimately upheld the amnesty for the military, it cost the government much political goodwill.

A stagnant economy in the last two years of his administration and a bitter struggle for the presidential nomination of the Batllist wing of the party, with Jorge Batlle prevailing over Sanguinetti's choice, vice president Enrique Tarigo, led to a Colorado defeat in the November 1989 elections. Sanguinetti, who could not succeed himself, was eligible to run for president in future elections. Head of the Colorado faction known as the Batllist Forum and the major Colorado presidential candidate, Sanguinetti won the election of 1994. He was elected again for the 1995 through 2000 term. He was an outspoken critic of the 2006 arrest of former president Juan María Bordaberry. In 2007 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious Spanish Fundación Cristobal Gabbaron.

See alsoUruguay, Political Parties: Colorado Party .


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

Charles Gillespie, Negotiating Democracy: Politicians and Generals in Uruguay (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Esquibel, Daniel. Sanguinetti: Sexo, sombreros, y silencio. Montevideo, Uruguay: Editorial Fin del Siglo, 1997.

Liscano, Carlos. Ejercicio de impunidad: Sanguinetti y Battle contra Gelman. Montevideo, Uruguay: Ediciones del Caballo Perdido, 2004.

Sanguinetti, Julio Maria. El doctor Figari. Montevideo, Uruguay: Aguilar: Fundación Bank Boston, 2002.

                                      Martin Weinstein