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Uruguay: The United States
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > Foreign Relations under Democratic Rule, 1985-90 > The United States


Although Uruguay was critical of unilateral United States military intervention in Latin America and elsewhere, bilateral relations during the 1985-90 period were excellent. The United States, which had expressed deep concern about the human rights situation beginning with the administration of Jimmy Carter, strongly supported Uruguay's transition to democracy. In March 1985, Secretary of State George P. Shultz attended Sanguinetti's presidential inauguration. As a member of the Contadora Support Group, Uruguay participated in meetings on Central American issues in 1985-86, particularly United States support for the anti-Sandinista resistance guerrillas in Nicaragua. The Sanguinetti government regarded United States aid to the antiSandinista Contra rebels in Nicaragua as an obstacle to peace in Central America. It also opposed the presence of United States troops in Honduras.

Despite his government's criticism of United States military actions in Honduras, in Nicaragua, and against Libya in April 1986, Sanguinetti received a warm welcome at the White House during an official five-day state visit to the United States in June 1986, the first by a Uruguayan president in more than thirty years. During the visit, which was dominated by trade discussions, Sanguinetti criticized United States protectionist policies, such as the decision to subsidize grain exports to the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he departed Washington satisfied that the administration of President Ronald W. Reagan had adopted a more flexible policy toward Uruguayan exports. Shultz again paid an official visit to Uruguay on August 5, 1988, for talks with Sanguinetti, Barrios, and several opposition leaders. The official talks centered on trade issues.

Although Uruguay's relations with Panama at the time of the United States military intervention there in December 1989 were at their lowest possible level -- without an ambassador -- Sanguinetti was again critical of the United States. He characterized the United States military operation as a "stepbackward."

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

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