Despite the strong support of the Uruguayan Navy, President Juan Maria Bordaberry agreed to demands by the Uruguayan Army and Air Force on Friday (9 February).
GV EXT. Government House
SV People reading newspapers (2 shots)
LV Warship in harbour
SV PAN Crowd on quayside
LV Troops walk past bus on quayside
LV, SV & CU Bus barricade across road (3 shots)
SV PAN INT. Ministers arriving to see President
SV & GV Crowds cheering, Bordaberry on balcony
SV PAN ??? officer leaving
GV & SV Armed police & crowds (2 shots)
MV PAN Bordaberry leaving in car
Initials SGM/2252 SGM/2309
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Background: Despite the strong support of the Uruguayan Navy, President Juan Maria Bordaberry agreed to demands by the Uruguayan Army and Air Force on Friday (9 February).
Following criticism of Uruguay's military leaders by a member of the government, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Air Force on Thursday (8 February) demanded the resignation of the Defence Minister. The Minister -- retired general Antonio Francese -- had been appointed only the day before, and was the fourth man to hold the portfolio in just over four months.
President Bordaberry rejected the demand, and on Friday troops moved towards the centre of Montevideo. In reply, the Navy Command issued a statement expressing "monolithic" loyalty to the government, and sailors set up and manned barricades around the 'Old Town' of Montevideo, which includes the port and business sections. Warships stood off-shores.
As tension mounted, the President remained shut in his office in Government House with advisors and political associates. Late on Friday night, President Bordeberry decided to accept the resignation of his Defence Minister.
Reports on Sunday (11 Feb) said the situation remained tense. Despite the removal of the Defence Minister, the Army and Air Force extended their demands and virtually dictated a political programme to the Government. Some naval officers mutinied and joined in what a member of President Bordaberry's Colorado party called a "coup in disguise".
But the majority of the Navy remained loyal to the President, strengthening their barricades around the port area of the capital and setting up machine-gun nests.
SYNOPSIS: There was an atmosphere of crisis on Friday in the Uruguayan capital as newspapers announced the barricading of the port area by naval units.
The warships were supporting President Juan Maria Bordaberry -- who was under strong pressure form Army and Air Force commanders.
Angered by government criticisms of the armed forces, the commanders had demanded the resignation of the newly-appointed Defence Minister -- General Frances. Guarded by the barricades of the still-loyal Navy, President Bordeberry went into urgent consultation with his Ministers at Government House.
The talks continued until midnight - when the President announced that his whole Cabinet had resigned. Naval leaders pledged their support for the President, but later the Defence Minister was dismissed.
But the crisis did not and there. Not content with the dismissal of the Defence Minister, the Army and Air Force chiefs extended their demands, and by Sunday correspondents said they were effectively ruling Uruguay.