Located on the eastern coast of South America, between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay was first colonized by the Spanish in 1516. But resistance from local Indians, combined with a lack of silver and gold, kept the Spanish from settling much of the region until the 18th century, when Portugal’s plans to expand Brazil’s borders led to the establishment of Montevideo as a military stronghold. British, Spanish and Portuguese forces continued to shape Uruguay’s history throughout the 19th century, and Brazil succeeded in annexing Uruguay in 1821. However, Uruguay quickly declared independence, aligning itself with Argentina in a regional federation. Brazil was defeated after a three-year war, and Uruguay became independent in 1828.
Lay of the Land: Uruguay is situated on the eastern coast of South America, between Brazil and Argentina. There are no navigable rivers within its boundaries, although the Río de la Plata forms its border with Argentina. The climate is dependably pleasant and temperate, ideal for agriculture.
Before the arrival of Guaraní Indians of Paraguay, the Charrúa Indians were the original inhabitants of Uruguay.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Uruguay in 1867, when Alexander Asboth was accredited as ambassador to both Argentina and Uruguay.
US imports from Uruguay totaled $239.2 million in 2009, while US exports to Uruguay totaled $745.1 million in the same year.
Uruguay to Recognize Palestine in 2011
The State Department reported that as of 2009, “The government generally respected the rights of its citizens. Prison conditions continued to be poor. Instances of violence against women and discrimination against some societal group continued to challenge government policies of nondiscrimination. Some trafficking in persons occurred.”
Appointment: Apr 5, 1867
Presentation of Credentials: [Oct 2, 1867]
Termination of Mission: Died at Buenos Aires, Jan 21, 1868
Note: Also accredited to Argentina; resident at Buenos Aires. Officially recognized on Oct 2, 1867.
The South American nation of Uruguay, officially called the Oriental Republic of Uruguay, sent a new ambassador to Washington in September 2012, a physician who served 20 years as a national legislator. Succeeding Carlos Gianelli, who served from 2005 to 2012, Carlos Pita Alvarez presented his diplomatic credentials to President Obama on September 19, 2012.
Born in Montevideo in 1951, the son of Américo Pita Parodi, Carlos Pita Alvariza earned his medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Republic in Montevideo, where he was a leader of the Student Association of Medicine and the Federation of University Students of Uruguay. He later earned a Certificate of International Relations at the University Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Chile.
He began his political activism in 1968, a year of mass popular protests worldwide, supporting Uruguay’s National Party, although normal politics was largely suspended when President Jorge Pacheco declared a state of emergency in 1968, followed by an additional suspension of civil liberties in 1972 and a military coup d’état in 1973.
During the years of the military dictatorship from 1973 to 1984, when many Uruguayans were tortured or “disappeared,” Pita joined in forming the opposition group Popular Nationalist Current. During the 1984 restoration of democracy, Pita was elected to Uruguay’s national legislature, called the Chamber of Deputies, for Montevideo on the minor party list “Movement for the Fatherland,” part of the right of center coalition known as the National Party.
When the National Party pushed through a 1986 amnesty law protecting officials who participated in torture and murder under the military regime, however, Pita formed the People’s Current and joined the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), Uruguay’s left of center political coalition. He was reelected three times, in 1989, 1994 and 1999, always as part of the Broad Front.
In the Chamber, Pita served as head of several special committees, including ones on labor legislation, on the assassinations of deputies Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz and Zelmar Michelini, and on amnesty for political prisoners. In 2002, he was also president of the Committee on International Affairs, of which he’d been a member for fourteen years.
After leaving the Chamber of Deputies in 2004, Pita was named ambassador to Chile, where he served from 2005 to 2010. In January 2011, Pita began service as ambassador to Spain.
He is married to Mariella Mora, and they have four daughters.
On October 17, 2011, President Barack Obama chose a political appointee who strongly supported his 2008 rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to serve as the ambassador to the South American nation of Uruguay. In 2008, calling herself a “ferocious Hillary [Clinton] supporter,” Manhattan attorney Julissa Reynoso donated the maximum to Clinton’s presidential campaign and actively worked on it before joining the campaign of Barack Obama. She was rewarded soon after the election, as she was tapped to become Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central America and the Caribbean in the State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs as of November 16, 2009. The Senate confirmed her as ambassador to Uruguay on March 29, 2012.
David D. Nelson was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Ambassador to the Uruguay on December 24, 2009, and was sworn in five days later. As ambassador, he returned to the site of his first Foreign Service posting.