Latinnews Archive

Latin American Weekly Report - 21 August 1970

Uruguay: deadlock

Despite the imprisonment of Raul Sendic and numerous other 'Tupamaro' suspects, 14,000 Uruguayan troops and police found the greatest difficulty in unravelling the mystery of where the two remaining hostages were hidden.

While the search for Claude Fly and Aloysio Dias Gomide, the foreigners kidnapped by the Tupamaros continued, the Uruguayan government found itself with a public relations problem on its hands. In the first place Jornal do Brasil printed an interview with Alejandro Otero, former chief of the Uruguayan police service of investigation and information, in which Otero accused Dan Mitrione of having instituted violent methods of repression and torture against the Tupamaros. He said that he had been replaced two years ago because he 'disagreed with Mitrione', arguing that the Tupamaros until then had only resorted to violence as a last resort. He said that he had forecast at that time that the Tupamaros would eventually eliminate Mitrione, who was kidnapped on 31 July and found murdered nine days later. He argued that the methods advocated by Mitrione were the direct cause of the present wave of Tupamaro violence.

Secondly, West Germany's ambassador in Brazil Ehrenfried Von Holleben indicated to the press that he had very much appreciated the Brazilian government's attitude when he was kidnapped earlier this year and released in exchange for a number of political prisoners. He said that he felt the Uruguayans were wrong to maintain an intransigent position. The Uruguayans propose to protest to the West Germany government against what they consider to be unwarranted interference in an internal matter.

There are some indications that the Uruguayan government has slightly modified its earlier ultra-tough stand -- although there is no question of calling off the massive armed search for the kidnappers or of negotiating with the guerrillas. The government last week announced the abolition of the taxes of up to 7 per cent on bank loans in the hope that this might encourage business activity and therefore ease the acute unemployment problem. In another move, meetings were authorized between Tupamaro leader Raul Sendic and other political prisoners in the Punta Carretas jail in Montevideo. This was believed to have the dual purpose of allowing the world to see that Sendic had not been tortured and of allowing the guerrillas to see whether they could come up with some formula which would allow the hostages to be released without a major climb-down on the part of the government.

The fact remains that no forecasts can be made about Uruguay until the present crisis has worked itself out in one way or another.

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