Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Theresa Meade




tupamaros, political, movement, Uruguay, party


This project examines the role of the Movimiento de Liberación Nacional-­‐Tupamaros (Movement of National Liberation‐Tupamaros, MLN‐T) guerrilla movement, often referred to simply as the Tupamaros, as it relates to the electoral success of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front, FA), Uruguay’s largest non‐traditional coalition of political parties, from 1958 to the present. The Tupamaros officially emerged in 1963 in response to a period of deepening political and economic stagnation during which Uruguay’s ostensible tradition of two‐party dominance proved incapable of addressing widespread socio‐economic concerns. Throughout the 1960s into the 1970s, the Tupamaros used guerrilla tactics to expose the inefficiencies of the government and undermine the Uruguayan political system. Despite the government’s steadfast repression of the Tupamaros, culminating in the onset of the civic‐military dictatorship from 1973 to 1985, this paper argues that the movement was successful in influencing the legal left to organize into a broad opposition front—the Frente Amplio—in 1971. The thesis goes further, claiming that, upon Uruguay’s return to democracy in 1985, the Tupamaros further legitimized the FA by abandoning arms and joining the coalition in 1989 through the Movimiento de Participación Popular (Movement of Popular Participation, MPP). In addition, since the Tupamaros began participating in elections in 1994, the MPP has become the single largest party within the FA, and, since 2004, the FA has won each successive presidential election, most notably that of José “Pepe” Mujica, a former Tupamaro, in 2009. This thesis draws on research conducted in Montevideo, Uruguay during March 2015. The use of personal testimonies, such as those by Clara Aldrighi and María Esther Gilio, and primary documents, along with the many contributions of authors across a variety of disciplines, provides this investigation with an authentic look inside the relationship between the Tupamaros’ ideology and practice in promoting revolutionary change in Uruguay. Overall, the MLN‐T's transition from guerrilla movement to political party highlights a pragmatic departure from the movement’s fundamental ideology insomuch that the Tupamaros seized a political opening in Uruguay's history of two‐party dominance and successfully adapted to the political arena.