Uruguay, a South American nation was embroiled in instability in the late twentieth century. However, everything has changed lately. It’s now a lesson for the countries entangled in instability in the region.
Uruguay is a small, South American nation that has a remarkable story of transformation that has seen it go from a country controlled by guerrilla fighters to a model of democracy and stability. The country has made major strides in achieving economic, political and social progress since the end of guerrilla violence.
The Guerrilla’s violence
Guerrilla warfare in Uruguay dates back to the 1960s when leftist armed groups known as the Tupamaros began to rise up against the government. The Tupamaros were a left-wing urban guerilla group that operated in Uruguay from 1963 to 1972. The group was inspired by the Cuban Revolution and sought to overthrow the Uruguayan government in order to establish a socialist state.
The Tupamaros carried out acts of sabotage, kidnapping and assassination, as well as bank robberies and other acts of violence. In response to the Tupamaros’ activities, the Uruguayan government launched a counterinsurgency campaign that included widespread human rights violations.
By the early 1970s, the Tupamaros had been largely defeated, but guerrilla warfare in Uruguay continued in the form of small, rural-based groups that sought to undermine the government’s authority. These groups, known as the National Liberation Movement-Tupamaros (MLN-T) and the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), engaged in sporadic violence throughout the 1970s and 1980s, until they were eventually suppressed by the Uruguayan military and police.
The Tupamaros and other guerrilla groups in Uruguay caused considerable destruction throughout the country. The group’s activities led to the deaths of hundreds of people, including civilians, military personnel, and police officers.
Additionally, the group’s activities caused considerable economic disruption, as the government was forced to implement measures such as increased taxation and currency devaluation in order to pay for the counterinsurgency campaign. The guerrilla violence also had a long-term impact on the country, as it deepened the political divisions that had existed since the end of the military dictatorships in the 1980s. These divisions continue to be visible in Uruguayan politics today.
Uruguay: A lesson
In last September 2022, Uruguay became safest country in Latin America to invest in a Euromoney survey. A recent survey revealed that Uruguay is the 18th safest country in the world, with its risk score continuing to improve in the first half of this year. Contributing factors to this ranking include political and economic indicators, access to capital, structural assessment, and debt ratings.
This is not the only where Uruguay stands out. Uruguay has long been distinguished for its high standards in comparison to Latin American nations, boasting the region’s top per capita income (about $17,000) and lowest poverty (7%) and inequality rates. The country’s economy is projected to expand by a robust 3.6% in 2023, substantially higher than the Latin American average. Furthermore, Uruguay is frequently regarded as the least corrupt nation in the region.
Uruguay’s success has been widely recognized around the world. Last May, the Universidad Católica de Chile held a conference titled “The Uruguayan Case: A Possible Model?” which looked into how the country has managed to achieve economic growth while also providing a strong social safety net. Numerous expats from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, and beyond, have been drawn to Uruguay.
The resort town of Punta del Este has become a destination for remote workers during the pandemic, leading to a real estate boom of approximately $6 billion in investments within the past three years. The private school in the city now has students from 34 different nations. Uruguay is being seen as a South American version of Singapore, an ideal spot for business and trade in an area of turmoil.
The conservative government of Lacalle Pou has recently begun talks with China and Turkey to form trade agreements.
Uruguay’s story is one of remarkable transformation. From a country plagued by violence and civil war to a model of democracy and stability, Uruguay has become an example of what is possible when a country embraces democracy and the rule of law.