Gen. Gregorio Alvarez, Last Uruguayan Dictator, Dies at 91

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Gen. Gregorio Alvarez, the last leader of Uruguay’s brutal dictatorship of the 1970s and ’80s, died here on Wednesday while serving a prison sentence for human rights abuses. He was 91.

The military’s health service said he died at the Central Hospital of the Armed Forces.

Under General Alvarez, Uruguay was part of the secret alliance of South American dictatorships known as Operation Condor, in which military leaders cooperated in persecuting and killing one another’s dissidents.

General Alvarez, himself the son of a general, participated in the 1973 coup that dissolved Uruguay’s legislature amid a government crackdown on the Marxist Tupamaro rebels, who were trying to seize power. One of General Alvarez’s brothers had been killed by Tupamaro attackers in 1972.

General Alvarez became chief of the army in 1978 and president in 1981. His government imprisoned democratic critics and censored the news media.

He agreed in 1984 to hand over power to an elected civilian government as the wave of dictatorships in the region was starting to recede. Argentina’s military rule had ended a year earlier, and Brazil’s ended a year later.

Hundreds of suspected leftists were arrested and tortured during the dictatorship, and historians say an estimated 180 Uruguayans were killed, most of them while in the custody of the government’s Argentine allies.

Gregorio Conrado Alvarez Armelino was born on Nov. 26, 1925, in Montevideo. There was no immediate information on survivors.

In 2009, General Alvarez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the deaths or disappearances of 37 Uruguayans under Operation Condor.

During his trial, he said he knew nothing of illegal abductions and forced disappearances.

Prosecutors argued that he had been in a position to know what had happened to the political prisoners, first as army chief and later as president.

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