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Uruguay compensates ex-political prisoners

  • Story Highlights
  • Uruguay has paid $42 million to 3,000-plus ex-political prisoners in three years
  • State news agency: Payments go to prisoners of military dictatorship from 1973-85
  • Compensation also given to those who fled Uruguay or hid from authorities in country
  • Amnesty International notes "widespread and systematic use of torture" in that period
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(CNN) -- Uruguay has paid $42 million (973 million pesos) in compensation during the past three years to more than 3,000 former political prisoners and those who fled the country or hid from authorities, the state-run news agency said Monday.

The government paid out more than $15.5 million (359 million pesos) in 2007, $19.6 million (454 million pesos) in 2008 and $6.9 million (160 million pesos) in the first four months of this year, the Ultimas Noticias official news agency said.

The payments are being made to about 3,200 Uruguayans imprisoned between February 9, 1973, and February 29, 1985, when a military dictatorship held power, the news agency said.

Amnesty International calculated that in 1976 Uruguay had more political prisoners per capita than any other nation in the world, with about one prisoner for every 415 citizens.

Amnesty International also noted the "widespread and systematic use of torture" during that period.

Those paid also include Uruguayans who, for political reasons, fled the country or went into hiding inside the country or were fired due to their political beliefs. About 7 percent of those Uruguayans who sought compensation live outside the country, Ultimas Noticias said.

The law setting up the monthly stipend was approved in October 2006. Amounts range from $713.16 (16,524 pesos) a month to $922.92 (21,384 pesos), depending on which of three categories the person falls under.

Marxist urban guerrillas who called themselves the Tupamaros started waging war on the government in the late 1960s. The president declared a state of emergency in 1968, and his successor ceded control to the military in 1973.

The Tupamaros were defeated by the end of 1973, but the military continued to expand its hold on the government. After massive protests against the military in 1984, elections were held that year, and civilian rule was restored in 1985.

All About UruguayAmnesty International

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