Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, October 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 44° Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Uruguay’s last dictator, Gregorio Alvarez, dies at 91

Associated Press

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Gen. Gregorio Alvarez, the last leader of Uruguay’s brutal dictatorship of the 1970s and 80s died Wednesday at age 91 while serving a sentence for human rights abuses.

The Central Hospital of the Armed Forces in Uruguay’s capital confirmed the death.

Under Alvarez, Uruguay was part of the secret alliance of South American dictatorships known as “Operation Condor” in which the military leaders cooperated in persecuting and killing one another’s dissidents.

Alvarez, himself the son of a general, participated in the 1973 coup that dissolved congress following a government crackdown on the Marxist Tupamaro rebels who were trying to seize power by force. One of Alvarez’s brothers was killed by Tupamaro attackers in 1972.

Alvarez became army chief in 1978, finally taking over the presidency in 1981. His government imprisoned democratic critics and censored the press.

Alvarez finally agreed to hand over power to an elected civilian government in 1984 as the wave of dictatorships in the region was starting to recede. Argentina’s military rule ended a year earlier and Brazil’s a year later.

Hundreds of suspected leftists were arrested and tortured during the dictatorship and historians say an estimated 180 Uruguayans were killed – most of them while in the custody of the government’s Argentine allies.

In 2009, Alvarez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his responsibility in the death or disappearance of 37 Uruguayans under Operation Condor.

During his trial, Alvarez said he knew nothing of illegal abductions and forced disappearances.

Prosecutors argued that Alvarez was in a position to know what happened to the political prisoners as army commander in chief and later as de facto president.

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email