Juan María Bordaberry

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Juan María Bordaberry
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Full Name: Juan María Bordaberry Arocena
Origin: Montevideo, Uruguay
Occupation: President of Uruguay (1972 - 1976)
Hobby: Tending to his cattle
Goals: Keep Uruguay under his control (successful until he was deposed)
Eliminate leftist influence in Uruguay (partially successful)
Crimes: Repression
Abuse of power
Mass murder
Human rights violations
Crimes against humanity
Type of Villain: Dictator

Juan María Bordaberry Arocena (Spanish: [boɾðaβeˈri aɾoˈkena]; 17 June 1928 – 17 July 2011) was a Uruguayan civilian dictator, politician and cattle rancher, who first served as the constitutional President of Uruguay from 1972 until 1973, and then ruled as the head of a civilian-military dictatorship up to 1976.

He came to office following the Presidential elections of late 1971. In 1973, Bordaberry dissolved the General Assembly and was widely regarded as ruling by decree as a military-sponsored dictator until disagreements with the military led to his being overthrown before his original term of office had expired. On November 17, 2006 he was arrested in a case involving four deaths, including two of members of the General Assembly during the period of civilian-military rule in the 1970s.


Bordaberry was elected president as the Colorado candidate in 1971. He took office in 1972 in the midst of an institutional crisis caused by the authoritarian rule of Pacheco and the terrorist threat. Bordaberry, at the time, had been a minor political figure; he exercised little independent standing as a successor to Pacheco other than being Pacheco's handpicked successor. He continued Pacheco's authoritarian methods, suspending civil liberties, banning labor unions, and imprisoning and killing opposition figures. He appointed military officers to most leading government positions.

Before and after his period of Presidential office, he was identified with schemes for agricultural improvement; his Agriculture minister was Benito Medero. In personal terms, one of Bordaberry's actions which proved in hindsight to have been disadvantageous was his appointment of Jorge Sapelli as Vice President of Uruguay, given the latter's resignation and public repudiation of him in 1973. On June 27, 1973, Bordaberry dissolved Congress, suspended the Constitution and gave the military and police the power to take whatever measures it deemed necessary to restore order. For the next three years, he ruled by decree with the assistance of a National Security Council ("COSENA")

Gradually, Bordaberry became a greater advocate of dictatorship than even the military officers. In June 1976, he proposed a new, corporatist constitution that would have permanently shuttered the parties and codified a permanent role for the military. This was further than even the military wanted to go, and it forced him to resign. Bordaberry then returned to his ranch.

On 17 November 2006, following an order by judge Roberto Timbal, Bordaberry was placed under arrest along with his former foreign minister Juan Carlos Blanco Estradé. He was arrested in connection with the 1976 assassination of two legislators, Senator Zelmar Michelini of the Christian Democratic Party and House leader Héctor Gutiérrez of the National Party. The assassinations took place in Buenos Aires but the prosecution argued they had been part of Operation Condor, a campaign of state terrorism in which the military regimes of Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina coordinated actions against dissidents. Timbal ruled that since the killings took place outside Uruguay, they were not covered by an amnesty enacted after the return of civilian rule in 1985.

On 23 January 2007, he was hospitalized in Montevideo with serious respiratory problems. Because of his health problems the judge Paublo Eguern ordered that Bordaberry be transferred to house arrest. From 27 January he served his prison term in the house of one of his sons in Montevideo. On 1 June 2007, an Appellate Court confirmed the continuation of the case of the murders of Michelini and Gutiérrez Ruiz. On 10 September 2007, another Appellate Court opened a new case to be tried by Judge Gatti for 10 homicides, for violations of the constitution.

On 7 February 2008, the BPS, Social Security Administration, suspended Bordaberry's retirement payments as ex-president of the country.

On 5 March 2010, Bordaberry was sentenced to 30 years in prison (the maximum allowed under Uruguayan law) for murder, becoming the second former Uruguayan dictator sentenced to a long prison term; in October 2009, Gregorio Conrado Álvarez was sentenced to 25 years. He had also been unsuccessfully tried for violating the constitution in the 1973 coup.

On 17 July 2011, Bordaberry died, aged 83, at his home. He had been suffering from respiratory problems and other illnesses. His remains are buried at Parque Martinelli de Carrasco.