Uruguay. Tensions between the military and the
government, led by the left-wing coalition Breda Front
(Frente Amplio, FA), increased during the year and reached
their most critical point since the FA came to power in
2005. According to
Countryaah.com, the coalition has several former members of the
radical guerrilla group Tupamaros, but the threat to abolish
the amnesty law for human rights violations during the
military dictatorship 1973–85 has never been implemented.
Instead, the conflict with the military was about Caja
Militar, the officer's pension system. Army commander
General Guido Manini Ríos was placed under house arrest by
President Tabaré Vázquez on September 10 for violating the
constitutional ban for officers to interfere in politics.
Manini had publicly accused Labor Minister Ernesto Murro of
lying when he said that pension reform would be generous.
The entire pension system is facing major reforms and is
suffering from an increasing deficit. The Pensions Agency
stated that the deficit for 2017 amounted to $ 582 million
and the generous pension terms for officers, whose combined
pensions far exceed civilian officials, have long drawn bad
blood among both voters and politicians.
The mood became even more tense after pension reform,
despite the military's opposition, was voted through in
Congress in October. A representative of Centro Militar, an
association of active and retired officers, even said that
the situation was ripe for the military to take over power
again in defense of the military's rights.
In addition to these turmoil, the government also saw its
public figures slump during the year. In a survey published
in October, the party received only 25% support while the
opposition combined, especially the Blanco party, advanced,
which both seemed bad for the FA ahead of next year's
presidential election. Some influence from the election of
the right-wing populist Jair Bolsonaro in neighboring Brazil
seemed to have been recorded.
At the end of May, large demonstrations, especially in
the country's second largest city of Salto, were organized
against the rising violence. The demonstrations soon spread
to the capital Montevideo as well. Although Uruguay has
significantly lower murder rates than other countries in the
region, violence has increased; 2017 was historically the
second most violent year to date with 283 murders.