Until the early 1970s Uruguay held a worldwide reputation as a democratic island in Latin Amer-ica, maintaining a collective exec-utive system that acquired for it the nickname of the "Switzerland of South America." The constitu-tional tradition was emphasized by a nonpersonalist and non-authoritarian executive, political stability, a high standard of living, and an advanced educational and cultural level.
The military has shattered this established tradition. Over a two-year period its growing involve-ment in politics ended with abso-lute control over the executive.
The aim of this work is to ana-lyze this transformation and con-sider the major variables that have affected political developments in Uruguay. Internal factors are the respective influences wielded by the United States plus Uruguay's two most powerful neighbors, Ar-gentina and Brazil, as well as polit-ical trends in the Latin American subsystem. Among the external in-fluences are competing elites (the traditional political parties and the left-wing front), interest groups (universities, trade unions, the church, dominant economic sec-tors, and the mass media), and the urban guerrilla movement (the Tupamaros).Kaufman analyzes these factors within the context of the Uruguay-an economic and political struc-ture, and shows their significance through their effects on the per-ception of the military elite.
In addition, he attempts to de-termine whether the army's deci-sion to assume absolute power was strategic or a cumulative result of tactical decisions. Finally, he utilizes the accumulated data to test various hypotheses related to military intervention as an inde-pendent variable.