Country Listing

Uruguay Table of Contents



Official statistics on the incidence of crime during the 1980s were not available in 1990. In general, however, there did not appear to be an unusual degree of ordinary crime. Judging from reports in the national press, the level of crime was higher in urban areas, particularly in Montevideo, than in rural areas.

Smuggling was a perennial problem for law enforcement officials, and the borders with Argentina and Brazil were periodically closed during the late 1980s in an effort to control trafficking in contraband. In 1989 smuggling surged because of the strength of the Uruguayan new peso relative to Argentine and Brazilian currencies. The resulting fall in government tax revenue and legal domestic trade prompted the government to seal the borders once again. Residents of the border area protested, claiming that the government should differentiate between smalland large-scale smuggling.

During the late 1980s, the nation experienced problems with the sale and abuse of illegal narcotics and with drug trafficking. Stories in the domestic press covered a police raid on a cocaine laboratory and told of seizures of marijuana, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and cocaine. In an effort to focus more resources on the problem, the government in July 1988 announced the formation of the National Council for the Prevention and Repression of Illicit Traffic and Improper Use of Drugs. The new body was responsible for coordinating the nation's antidrug campaign. After the international press reported in 1989 that Uruguayan gold merchants were involved in laundering drug money, the police began investigating possible domestic links to international drug-trafficking organizations.

Data as of December 1990