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Uruguay History Timeline

1500s - 1800s
  • (1516) Spanish navigator Juan Diaz de Solis killed by indigenous people while exploring the Rio de la Plata
  • (1726) Spanish founded Montevideo; took Uruguay from Portuguese
  • (1776) Uruguay became part of Vice-royalty of La Plata, capital at Buenos Aires
  • (1808) Uruguay rebelled against Vice-royalty of La Plata followed by Napoleon Bonaparte overthrow of Spanish monarchy
  • (1812-20) Uruguayans from eastern side of River Plata fought against Argentinean, Brazilian invaders
  • (1825) Uruguay declared independence from Brazil
  • (1828) Brazil, Argentina renounced claims to territories which became the Eastern Republic of Uruguay
  • (1830) Constitution approved
  • (1838-65) Civil war between Whites, (future conservative party), Colorados or Reds (future liberals)
1900s
  • (1903-15) Reformist Jose Batlle y Ordonez (Colorado Party) gave women franchise, established a welfare state, disestablished church, abolished the death penalty during two successive terms as president
  • (1925) Uruguay became independent
  • (1933) Opposition groups excluded from politics followed military coup
  • (1951) President replaced with nine-member council in accordance with new constitution
  • (1962 - 1973) Campaign by Tupamaros guerrillas
  • (1971) British ambassador to Uruguay, Geoffrey Jackson, kidnapped by Tupamaros guerrillas, held for eight months
  • (1972) 16 survivors of Andes Uruguayan plane stayed alive by eating flesh of passengers who died; survivors, mainly members of Uruguayan rugby team, were trapped for 10 weeks
  • (1973) Uruguay armed forces overthrew democratic government, established brutal dictatorship presided by President Juan Maria Bordaberry
  • (1984) Violent protests against repression and deteriorated economic conditions
  • (1985) Army, political leaders agreed on return to constitutional government, release of political prisoners; law granted amnesty to members of armed forces accused of human rights violations during years of dictatorship; Julio Maria Sanguinetti became president
  • (1989) Referendum endorsed amnesty for human rights abusers; Lacalle Herrera elected president
  • (1994) Julio Maria Sanguinetti elected president
  • (1999) Jorge Batlle elected president
2000s
  • (2000) Commission began investigating fate of 160 people who disappeared during the years of military dictatorship
  • (2001) UN troops from Uruguay set up camp on Lake Tanganyika to end Congo Civil War
2000s continued
  • (2001-2004) 15% of Uruguay's population left country in search of work due to economic crisis
  • (2002) US Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill arrived in Uruguay, announced $1.5 billion temporary loan to stabilize the financial crises
  • (2003) World bank approved loans worth more than $250 million; Uruguay voters agreed 60-35% to keep state monopoly over oil industry
  • (2004) Official poverty rate in Uruguay was 31%; senate voted to reject bill towould legalize abortion; Tabare Vazquez won presidential election, became the nation's first leftist leader
  • (2005) President Vazquez sworn in; restored ties with Cuba, signed energy deal with Venezuela, announced welfare package to tackle poverty
  • (2006) International Court of Justice rejected bid by Argentina to suspend construction of two Uruguayan pulp mills; Juan Maria Bordaberry, former foreign minister arrested in connection with 1976 killings of four political opponents; Uruguay paid off billion-dollar debt to the International Monetary Fund
  • (2007) Hundreds of Argentineans crossed into Uruguay to protest outside a paper pulp mill
  • (2008) President Vasquez announced discovery of possible large natural gas field off Uruguay's Atlantic coast
  • (2009) Supreme Court ruled that a law shielding officials of the last military government from prosecution for human rights abuses is unconditional; former military ruler Gregorio Alvarez sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder, human rights violations; ruling Broad Front coalition won parliamentary election; former leftist rebel-turned-moderate Jose Mujica of the governing Broad Front won presidential election
  • (2010) Former president Juan Maria Bordaberry sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder, violation of the constitution in 1973 military coup; Jose Mujica took office as president

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This page was last modified on April 7, 2017.