Juan Bordaberry

15.04.2010 ( Last modified: 28.09.2016 )
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Juan Maria Bordaberry was born on 17 June 1928 in Montevideo, Uruguay. Before his political career he was a farmer.

In 1964, being already a member of the Senate, he formed the Liga Nacional de Accion Ruralista. In 1969 he joined the Partido Colorado and became a member of the cabinet. In 1972, in the midst of an economic crisis and a guerrilla uprising, he became President of Uruguay. He used authoritarian methods to suppress the uprising and appointed military people into the highest positions within the government. At the end of 1972 the uprising had been suppressed.

Under pressure from the military Bordaberry dissolved parliament in 1973, appointed military people into the government, revoked civil rights and suppressed trade unions. However the economic crisis continued.
In 1976 Bordaberry was removed from power by the military, which remained in power until 1985.

In the context of « Operation Condor » in the 1970s and 1980s the military rulers in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay persecuted countless numbers of people, forcefully displaced them and very frequently murdered them. According to official Uruguayan statistics there were more than 200.000 victims of killings and tens of thousands of victims of torture.


legal procedure

A criminal investigation by the Uruguay courts against Juan Bordaberry and his former Foreign Minister, Juan Carlos Blanco led to an arrest warrant being issued on16 November 2006 against these two former politicians.

Both were accused of serious violations of human rights. Among the main charges,Juan Bordaberry was accused of being accomplice to the killings of four opposition members in 1976 in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires.

On 17 November 2006 Juan Bordaberry turned himself in to the police. The former foreign secretary Juan Carlos Blanco had already been arrested the day before.

Subsequently, Bordaberry was indicted for the murder of ten more victims as well as for violation of the Uruguayan constitution.

In January 2007 he was released from detention for health reasons and placed under house arrest instead.

On 11 September 2007 the Montevideo Court of Appeal confirmed the charges concerning the disappearance and assassination of four members of the opposition. The accusation relating to the violation of the Uruguayan constitution was dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.

On 10 August 2009 the public prosecutor asked that Juan Bordaberry be sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment.

On 9 February 2010, Bordaberry was sentenced in Montevideo to 30 years in prison for reiterated violations of the Constitution as well as for his co-responsibility in nine cases of forced disappearances as well as two political assassinations as crimes against humanity.




Upon accession to the presidency, in December 1967, of Jorge Pacheco Areco, Uruguay entered a long period of repression. In order to confront the social movements and trade unions due to the serious economic and social crisis in the country, security measures were voted and maintained durably, especially censorship and detention without charges. To repress the socialists and communists, the Pacheco government supported the death squadrons and the police started to make use of torture.

In November 1971, Juan María Bordaberry, supporter by Pacheco, won the elections and the army took so much importance that they gained significant control over Bordaberry after a coup in 1973. The military dictatorship dissolved the political parties, suspended the Constitution and put one out of 450 inhabitants of Uruguay in jail.

In In the years 1970, the Uruguayan government joined Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia, all governed by dictatorial regimes and all controlled by the CIA, to coordinate their efforts in order to eliminate political opponents, regularly subjecting them to torture. In that context of persecutions, violence was used in a systematical way to exterminate the “communist world”.

This plan, called “Operation Condor”, operated in three major ways: the activities of political monitoring of dissident political refugees and people in exile, secret counter-insurrectional actions and joint actions of extermination directed against specific groups or individuals, for which special teams of killers operating in and outside the borders were formed (also in Europe and the United States). The opponents were placed in clandestine detention centers. The military dictatorship only ended with the elections in 1984 and the liberation of political prisoners in 1985.


In 1986, in order to promote national reconciliation, president Sanguinetti approved the Law of expiry on punitive claims by the State, which grants amnesty de facto for all crimes committed by the military during the dictatorship and until 1985, any prosecution having to be approved by the executive. It is only under the presidency of Tabaré Vazquez (socialist), in 2005, that the executive started to authorize prosecutions against militaries involved in violations of human rights. Finally, on 27 October 2011, the Uruguayan Congress adopted a law that considers the crimes committed during the military rule as crimes against humanity and therefore imprescriptible and that eliminates the effects of the 1986 Amnesty Law.


In October 2000, president Jorge Battle created a Commission for Peace, which has no judicial power but can investigate and establish facts in its report, published in 2003. However, the Commission for Peace itself admits that its work was insufficient because it had to face the reluctance of the armed forces and of the police. A survey has shown that 80% of the persons aged 18 to 29 years old in Uruguay are unable to give the name of one dictator.


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