The Experience of exilio and insilio in reshaping Uruguayan identity

Estela Valverde

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In the 1970s and 1980s, Uruguay experienced a dual process of denationalization that occurred when economic and political crisis culminated in a repressive military dictatorship. Denationalization involved actual flight from the country (exilio) or retreat into private worlds (insilio or internal exile). The oppressive coercion of the dictators stripped Uruguayans of their individual rights and put approximately one in six of them into prison, where many were tortured. The dictators not only abandoned the ideals that had united Uruguayans, but also the social welfare system that they had constructed. The return of democracy has not reversed the experience of denationalization. The economy has not recovered and many returning exiliados re-migrated when they were unable to find employment. Politically, individual rights have been circumscribed by amnesty laws that have given complete impunity to the former military and political �lite. At present, insiliados and victims of state repression are collecting evidence to seek legal redress in third-country prosecutions, while human rights activists are pursuing transnational strategies to recover legal rights at home. From across national boundaries, the diaspora community has been instrumental in achieving this goal by providing the necessary links to international bodies. It remains to be seen whether this attempt to recover individual rights will help in the reconstruction of Uruguayan national citizenship and identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-195
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Uruguay
  • human rights
  • democratization
  • reconstruction national identity


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