Uruguay, Truth Commissions

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Uruguay, Truth Commissions

Truth commissions were established in Uruguay after Julio María Sanguinetti was inaugurated in March 1985, ending the military dictatorship that had been in power since 1972. There was no official "truth commission" with the transition from dictatorship, but two parliamentary commissions were held to investigate the fate of those who had disappeared during military rule and that of two legislators who had also vanished. The former commission was held from April to November 1985 and the latter from April 1985 to October 1987. The commissions concluded that the military had been involved in the disappearances and were guilty of crimes against humanity, respectively. However, the findings were never officially announced, provoked no significant public reaction or official response from the military, and were disqualified by the then-president.

In response, the Service for Justice and Peace (SERPAJ) and other NGOs launched the Nunca Más project in 1986, releasing a report on 9 March 1989. The report, which detailed the human rights violations committed by the dictatorship, never became the focus of national attention nor elicited an official response, and its launch was overshadowed by the plebiscite to overturn an amnesty law for past human rights violators. Nonetheless, the report became a bestseller in Uruguay.

An official Commission for Peace was finally established on 8 August 2000 under the presidency of Jorge Batlle to establish the fate of the 179 disappeared Uruguayans. The commission members were Archbishop Nicolás Cotugno, José D'Eiía, Luis Pérez Aguirre, José Williman, Gonzalo Fernández and Carlos Ramela. The commission released its report in April 2003, confirming that of some of the disappeared had in fact been killed by the military dictatorship.

See alsoDirty War; Uruguay: The Twentieth Century.


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

Bergero, Adriana J. and Fernando Reati, eds. Memoria colectiva y políticas de olvido: Argentina y Uruguay, 1970–1990. Rosario, Argentina: Viterbo Editora, 1997.

SERPAJ. Uruguay Nunca Más: Human Rights Violations 1972–1985. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Sznajder, Mario and Luis Roniger. The Legacy of Human Rights Violations in the Southern Cone: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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

                         Alexandra Barahona de Brito