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Uruguay: Decline of the Economy and the Colorado Party, 1951-58
Country Study > Chapter 1 > Historical Setting > There's No Place Like Uruguay, 1943-58 > Decline of the Economy and the Colorado Party, 1951-58

DECLINE OF THE ECONOMY AND THE COLORADO PARTY, 1951-58


The Martínez administration in the first half of the 1950s, however, was one of economic decline. At the end of the Korean War (1950-53), during which Uruguay had exported wool for coldweather uniforms, Uruguay experienced a reduction in exports, a drop in the price of agricultural and livestock products, labor unrest, and unemployment. Livestock production, which had basically stagnated since the 1920s, was not capable of providing the foreign exchange needed to further implement the import-substitution industrialization model. Starting in 1955, the industrial sector stagnated and inflation rose. At the same time, Uruguay had difficulties with the United States regarding wool exports and suffered the negative effects of both restrictive United States trade policies and competition from the foreign sales of United States agricultural surpluses.

In 1951 a faction opposing the more radical leadership of the General Union of Workers (Unión General de Trabajadores -- UGT; established in 1942) founded the General Confederation of Labor. Nevertheless, strikes and stoppages continued. In 1952, inthe face of labor unrest, the National Council of Government invoked the emergency provision of the constitution known as the medidas prontas de seguridad (prompt security measures). From 1956 to 1972, the gross national productfell 12 percent, and in the decade from 1957 to 1967 real wages for public employees fell 40 percent. In 1958 the General Assembly approved strike insurance and maternity leave. In addition, worker and student mobilization pressured the General Assembly into approving the Organic University Law, whereby the government recognized the autonomy of the University of the Republic and the right of professors, alumni, and students to govern it. Nevertheless, labor unrest increased.

At first, dramatic political events masked the economic crisis. In the 1958 elections, the Independent Nationalists, who had joined the Democratic Blanco Union (Unión Blanca Democrática- -UBD), agreed to include their votes under the traditional National Party of the Herrerists. Thus, for the first time in decades, the National Party voted as one party. In addition, Herrera joined forces with Nardone and his LFAR, transforming itfrom a union into a political movement. Aided by the LFAR and a weakening economy, the National Party won, and the Colorado Party lost control of the executive for the first time in ninety-four years.

Data as of December 1990




Last Updated: December 1990


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uruguay was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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