464. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 98–65


The Problem

To assess the economic and political situation in Uruguay, the potentialities for extremist subversion, and the involvement of Brazil and Argentina, over the next year or so.


There is growing dissatisfaction with Uruguay’s present governmental system, particularly with its nine-man executive, the National Council of Government (NCG). This device, designed to prevent one-man or one-party rule, has also prevented effective governmental action to halt a steady economic deterioration marked by growing budgetary deficits, an accelerating inflation, a decline in real wages, and a banking crisis. (Paras. 3–9)
Within the period of this estimate, the NCG may be reformed by constitutional amendment, or there may be a credible prospect of the adoption of such an amendment in the general election to be held in November 1966. However, the political and legal obstacles to such [Page 977] a reform are great. Moreover, reform of the NCG would not, in itself, end the factionalism which characterizes Uruguayan politics or ensure effective action to cope with the economic situation. (Paras. 17–18)
In Uruguay there is already some apprehension of a military coup to alter the political system. We consider it almost certain that no such move is now imminent. If, however, the situation continues to deteriorate without effective remedial action by the NCG or a credible prospect of constitutional amendment, the odds in favor of a coup attempt will mount. If there should be a coup, it would almost certainly be initiated by non-Communists. If initiated by a President who had full military support, the actual takeover would almost certainly be quick and effective. Any other coup attempt would almost certainly encounter both military and popular resistance and might result in prolonged and widespread violence and disorder. (Paras. 19–21)
The Communists have no illusion that they could seize power in Uruguay in present circumstances. They are apprehensive of a rightist coup, however, and are preparing to stimulate popular resistance to one. In a confused and disorderly situation, their labor leadership and paramilitary capabilities could be an important factor. It is unlikely that they could gain a dominant influence, but, if they were to make a substantial contribution to the defeat of a coup attempt or to a democratic counter-coup, they would gain respectability and further political opportunities. (Paras. 10–14, 22)
Brazil is seriously concerned about the subversive threat which would result if Communists or extreme leftists were to gain power or important influence in Montevideo. Brazil would be reluctant to intervene militarily in Uruguay without US and Argentine concurrence and OAS approval, but would almost certainly do so if convinced that the situation there required it. (Paras. 22–25)
If Brazil were to intervene in Uruguay, the Argentine military would wish to intervene also. An incidental consequence might be the overthrow of the constitutional government in Argentina, if it did not sanction Argentine military intervention. If Argentina did intervene, it would almost certainly be in collaboration (rather than conflict) with Brazil. (Paras. 26–28)

[Omitted here is the 10-page Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense, the National Security Agency, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on June 17.