By Greg Thornburg




Uruguay was founded in 1516 bythe Spanish. They found rolling land inhabitid by Indians in primitive conditions.When the Spaniards confronted the Indians, the Indians fought for their freedom fiercly. Uruguay was settled during the sixteenth and seventeenth century because they fought and their was no gold and silver. The early history of Uruguay is dominated by a struggle between Spain and Portugual and between Brazil and Argentina for control of the eastern side of Uruguay.

The conquistadors brought in cattle, which were perfect for the area. Much of Uruguay was pastureland; there was a temperate climate, and an ample water supply. Cattle soon became the main source of wealth and the main attraction of the area. The cowboys and gauchos contributed to the spirit of independence that has long been in Uruguay. Montevido was founded in the early eighteenth century as a military stronghold. The Spanish used its natural harbor for its navy fleet; it soon became a commercial center competing with Buenos Aires.

Uruguay started its revolt agains Spain in 1811 by Jose Gervasio Artigas, a gaucho leader who became a hero for the independence movement. Artigas is known to Uruguayans as the father of the Uruguayan independence movement, even though his attempt was unsuccessful. Independence was not finally achieved until 1828, following a war between Brazil and Uruguay supported by Argentina. British diplomats ended the conflict and recognized the Oriental Republic of Uruguay as an independent state. Nevertheless internal conflicts and other problems slowed down the nation's development until the end of the nineteenth century.

The two political parties that have dominated Uruguayan political life since independence are the colorado party and the national party. The federalist sympathies of General Manual Oribe led to a revolt by the forces of General Jose Fructoso Rivera, who became the president after Oribes defeat. Oribes forces, supported by merchants, landowners, and the high clergy, became known as the blancos, in reference to the white hatbands they wore on their hats to distinguish themselves on the battle field. Rivera's forces, were the more liberal urban people, were distinguished by red hatbands and were called Colorados. The colorado party identified itself as the defender of Uruguayan sovereignty and as the champion of the common man and liberalism, and the national party stood for order and conservatism and declared itself as protector of the faith.

Political stability came about in the first two decades of the twentieth century mostly because of the effors of th Colorado parties Jose Batlle y Ordoñez who promoted the social, economic, and political modernization of the country until his death in 1929 he reordered almost every aspect of national life. his programs for the country included the establishment of a comprehensive social welfare program, the encouragement of domestic industry, improvement of working conditions, the expansion of education, and the seperation of church and state.

Battle y Ordoñez's successors did not always show the same commitment to economic and social reform, but progress always continued. Between 1946 and 1956, Luis Batlle Berres, a nephew of Batlle y Ordoñez attemped to further industrialize the economy, develop its agriculture, and expand the state, as well as to renew social progress. The process came to a halt in the mid 50's because of economic problems and ended with the triumph of the National Party in 1958, after more than ninety years of Colorado government.

During the eight Blanco administrators, instruments of state-directed economic policy was dismanteled, relations with the International Monetary Fund became closer, and the livestock became increasingly important. Even so the economic crisis continued, and political and social problms increased.

In 1967 the Colorados regained power but President Jorge Pacheco Areco enforced a limited state of seige under is term. He applied a price and wagefreeze to stop inflation, he also called in the military to stop terrorism which posed a major national security threat. In 1972 President Juan Mar'a Bordaberry Arocena, supported by the military, declared a state "internal war," he closed the General Assembly, persecuted the oppisition, and curtailed civil liberties. The military dictatorship he brought in sought to reverse years of capitil flight and economic stagnation by increasing exports and controlling inflation. It scored some success, but the military suffered a defeat after submitting to a plebiscite. From then on political leaders stayed with the political scene, in 1984 the major political parties and the military agreed to have elections in November 1985, allowing for a transition to democracy.






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