Saturday, 6 March 2010

Uruguay: Disappointment over Disappeared Search

In the first week of his presidency, new Uruguayan leader José Mujica has faced calls to step up action on the disappeared.

Much attention has focused on the fact that Mujica was himself a guerrilla fighter who was jailed during his country's military dictatorship (in this respect, he join other regional leaders with strong personal links to their nation's violent pasts, such as outgoing Chilean President Bachelet, who was tortured under Pinochet, and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega, a former revolutionary leader).

However, such a connection does not automatically mean that a head of state will put justice for the victims of human rights abuses at centre stage. Montevideo Portal notes that:
Just a few days after José Mujica assumed power, there is discontent and anxiety among the families of the detained-disappeared because the president did not mention them or the human rights violations during his first speeches. [trans mine]
Mujica has said, rather weakly, that the search for the disappeared would continue if "there is an explicit request or new facts arise", which is considerably less than activists had been hoping for.
"I'm not very hopeful" that the new government will make progress in investigating the fate of the "disappeared," Luisa Cuesta, whose only son, Nebio Ariel Melo Cuesta, was kidnapped in 1976 at the age of 31, told IPS.

Jose Mujica enfrenta polemica por desaparecidos (Montevideo Portal, via Latin America News Dispatch)
New President Aims for Leap in Development (IPS)

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