Democracy and rights
Uruguay is one of Latin America's most
democratic countries. The political institutions are
stable and the civil rights are well respected.
Uruguay, like Costa Rica, is sometimes called "Latin
America's Switzerland", with the aim that, in addition
to stable democracies, they are also equal societies
with high economic prosperity, at least relative to the
region. In the rankings of countries according to
political and civil liberties, only Costa Rica and
possibly Chile throughout Latin America and the
Caribbean come close to Uruguay's level. In the
Economist Intelligence Unit compilation, the three as
well as Canada are the only countries in the Western
Hemisphere that in 2019 are classified as "full-fledged
democracies" (only 22 countries in the world are counted
by the EIU).
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Uruguay, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
In Transparency International's index of corruption
levels in 180 countries, Uruguay ranks 21st. On both US
continents, only Canada is better off (see the full list
Uruguay is also one of the least violent countries in
Latin America, but the murder rate and violent crime in
general has increased alarmingly during the 2010s. The
cause is said to be mainly smuggling in the region and
war between drug gangs. Increasing drug trafficking has
been behind several action packages, including more
police in Montevideo, as well as the legalization of
marijuana (see Current Policy).
Human rights are highly respected, but Uruguay has
long been criticized by human rights organizations for
not clearing about 160 so-called disappearances
(executions) during the military dictatorship of
1973–1985. Since the left came to power in 2004,
progress has been made, but there have been many trips
around the legal situation that remain unclear (see
Freedom of expression and media
The freedom of the press in Uruguay has a long
tradition and the media climate is good, not least in
comparison with the region in general. Although the
situation is good, reports of threats and pressures on
journalists are good.
For a long time, laws remained that restricted the
freedom of the press under the military dictatorship
(1973–1985), regarding "threats to public order" and
"insult to the nation". Only in 2009 were they
completely abolished. In the same year, the residents
were given the right to request public documents.
A new media law, which was adopted in 2014, aimed to
reduce owner concentration and increase the locally
produced material in radio and TV. It was praised by
international press freedom organizations as a model for
Uruguay is ranked 19 out of 180 countries in
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index (full list
Judicial system and legal security
The judicial system is independent of state power.
but works inefficiently. Suspected persons may be
detained for long periods pending prosecution. The
conditions in the prisons do not meet international
An amnesty bill passed in 1986 gave military and
guerrilla members impunity for crimes committed during
the dictatorship. In the 1989 and 2009 referendums, the
Uruguayans said no to repeal the disputed law. But the
Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) decided in
2011 that the Penal Code violates an Inter-American
Human Rights Convention and was therefore not valid. The
then President José Mujica stopped the application of
the law and the Congress then withdrew it completely.
Investigations into more than 50 cases of murder,
torture and extrajudicial disappearance were initiated.
In early 2013, however, the country's highest court
declared that the law that scrapped impunity violated
the Constitution. It was thus unclear how the legal
proceedings would go.
The goal that led to IACHR's decisive concern was a
woman who was the daughter-in-law of Argentine poet Juan
Gelman. She was pregnant when she was abducted in 1976
and gave birth to the child before she was murdered.
Just over 20 years later, Gelman managed to track down
his grandson, who had been adopted by a police family.
The verdict also meant that the Uruguayan state was
ordered to pay damages to the grandchild.
In some cases, the amnesty law was circumvented
before it was annulled. Two of the country's leaders
during the dictatorship, Gregorio Álvarez and Juan María
Bordaberry, were sentenced in 2009 and 2010 to 25 and 30
years in prison respectively. Bordaberry died after over
a year in house arrest while Álvarez had to serve seven
years in prison before he died.
In November 2010, for the first time, an active
military for human rights abuses was convicted during
the dictatorship. General Miguel Dalmao was found guilty
of murdering a communist. He also appealed and was
morbid, but in May 2013 Dalmao was sentenced to 28 years