Pedro Bordaberry

Pedro Bordaberry
Personal details
Born (1960-04-28) 28 April 1960
Montevideo, Uruguay
Political party Colorado Party
Spouse(s) María José Oribe
Children Pedro
Website Official website

Juan Pedro Bordaberry Herrán (born April 28, 1960) is a Uruguayan political figure from the Colorado Party. He is the son of the former Uruguayan dictator Juan María Bordaberry

Early life

Bordaberry was educated at The British Schools of Montevideo, gaining fluency in English. He later studied law.

Earlier political and ministerial career

Bordaberry served as the Tourism minister in the government of President Jorge Batlle until 2005.

He was also appointed Industry and Energy minister (2002–2003) and Sports and Youth minister (2003–2004).

Election candidate for Montevideo municipality

He also participated in the mayoral elections for Montevideo, but lost to Ricardo Ehrlich, of the Frente Amplio. Bordaberry got 26.9% of the vote; Ehrlich won with 60.9%. In this election, Bordaberry multiplied by three the votes that his party, the Colorado, had received in the October 2004 general election (See also: Domingo Bordaberry#Political heritage). Nevertheless, he was still 1% below Oscar Magurno's performance of May 2000 (the Colorado Party candidate for the mayoralty of Montevideo at the time).

Pedro Bordaberry's decision to seek a political base in Montevideo contrasts with his father, dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry, who had a long association with rural affairs.

Family Political background

He is a son of Juan Maria Bordaberry, elected President of Uruguay in free elections in 1972 and former Dictator of Uruguay from 1973 to 1976, after closing Parliament. Since his father's arrest in 2006, in connection with the 1976 assassination of two legislators, Senator Zelmar Michelini and House leader Héctor Gutiérrez, Pedro Bordaberry has been vocal in his support.

Some observers would argue that it is natural for this state of affairs to have come about, and that it is unreasonable to expect Pedro Bordaberry not to defend his father. Others would argue that from a publicity perspective it is in the tactical political interests of the Broad Front, for Pedro Bordaberry, seen as one of the principal leaders of the opposition, to be identified in his public pronouncements with a controversial period in which he himself played no direct role.

Bordaberry is a grandson of former Senator and Ruralist leader Domingo Bordaberry, and a great-grandson of Santiago Bordaberry (Senior), a French national from the Basque Country. He is a brother of the noted Ruralist leader Santiago Bordaberry, based in Durazno Department, central Uruguay.

Pedro Bordaberry's career is one of a number of examples in Latin American politics of the son of a President of authoritarian tendencies making his mark subsequently while upholding constitutional legitimacy. The careers of Omar Torrijos and Martín Torrijos of Panama are comparable cases in point.

Literary criticism

Bordaberry has contributed to literary criticism of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, who was an acute observer of the historical and cultural scenes of both Argentina and Uruguay. (See: Fray Bentos#Place in literature: Bordaberry on Ireneo Funes by J.L.Borges)

He has notably discussed Borges's theme of the complexity of memory.[1]


Formation of Vamos Uruguay

In 2007, following a well-attended meeting of supporters in Trinidad, Uruguay, Pedro Bordaberry formed a new group in the Colorado Party. This group is called "Vamos Uruguay" (variously translated "Let's go Uruguay" or 'Come on, Uruguay') [1].

Bordaberry's group claims to represent calls for ethics, honesty and real participation of the Uruguayan people in public life of the country.

(Bordaberry had in effect split with the Lista 15, shortly after the municipal elections of May 2005, with which he had previously been identified.)

Bordaberry has built up a nationwide organization for the group. Many local chapters of 'Vamos Uruguay' have been established in Uruguay's departments.


Polls in 2008 showed that Bordaberry by a huge margin was the candidate best placed to gain his party's nomination for the Uruguayan Presidential elections in 2009 .[2]

Guillermo Stirling, the former Colorado Party candidate for the Presidency in 2004, was in 2008 seen as close to Bordaberry, rather than to former Vice President of Uruguay Luis Antonio Hierro López, also thought to be a likely candidate, but trailing considerably in polls thought to be broadly accurate.

Other prominent Colorado supporters include former Minister Jorge Sanguinetti and former Deputies Washington García Rijo and Diana Saravia Olmos, and former 'Intendente' of Artigas Ariel Riani.

Death threats, May 2008

In May 2008 Pedro Bordaberry received death threats while in the Pocitos district of Montevideo .[3] An unstable or enraged individual was sought in connection with the incident.

However, it was thought that longstanding, widespread frustrations relating to the former civilian-military régime and its conflict with Tupamaro urban guerrillas may have supplied part of the context of this event.

Political violence in Uruguay has subsided particularly since the departure of the civilian-military administration of 1973-1985.

However, there have been occasions when aspiring and rising politicians have died in mysterious circumstances, notably Villanueva Saravia in 1998 .[4]

Controversies with Frente Amplio government

Interior Minister Daisy Tourné

In 2008 Bordaberry called on Interior Minister Daisy Tourné to resign. This call followed Bordaberry's publicly expressed doubts about what he claimed was Tourné's lack of commitment to her ministerial responsibility for security issues; the criticism was rejected by Tourné. However, Ms. Tourné did eventually resign in 2009 following some public gaffes relating to other prominent Opposition figures.[5]

Foreign trips of President Tabaré Vázquez

Bordaberry has entered into controversy regarding some of the foreign official trips which President Tabaré Vázquez has undertaken. For example, he has been critical of President Vázquez for choosing to be in Cuba at a June 2008 commemoration - which Mr. Vázquez himself initiated - of the victims of the cilivian-military administration,[1] although the role of Mr. Bordaberry Senior was also relevant to the events commemorated.

However, Bordaberry has also defended President Vázquez in relation to what he regarded as a breach of protocol by his hosts during a visit of Mr. Vázquez to Argentina .[6])

2009 Uruguayan Presidential elections

Presidential election year 2009 opened with Bordaberry easily maintaining his position as the Colorado Party's front runner in the polls.

With the Presidential poll due to take place in the autumn of 2009, it remained to be seen, however, whether Bordaberry could successfully translate his support within his party into broader electoral support among voters dissatisfied with the Frente Amplio government.

On March 21 Pedro Bordaberry was formally 'proclaimed' Presidential candidate for his 'Vamos Uruguay' group, at a vigorous ceremony at a Montevideo stadium. It was estimated that 7,000 supporters were present for this event.[7]

In June 2009 Bordaberry set aside working for the legal practice in which he had been active.[8] This action of the candidate was taken as a further sign of the increasing confidence which was surrounding Bordaberry's Presidential ambitions.

Views on economy and trade

On the economic front, facing the inauguration of the Obama Administration in the US, Bordaberry cautioned that a greater degree of protectionism on the part of US officials will be encountered against Uruguayan business leaders seeking to export their goods to the US; Bordaberry's comments were in line with the theme of the resurgence of US protectionism taken up at the Davos World Economic Forum in January / February 2009.[9][10] The Frente Amplio government's omitting, for internal caucus reasons, to seek a trade agreement with the US during the more fortuitous Bush Administration was thought likely to arise as an issue during the 2009 Presidential elections.

In August 2009 Bordaberry expressed strong reservations about the working of the Mercosur trade pact, holding instead that the Chilean model of pursuing bilateral trade pacts is preferable for Uruguay. Bordaberry's comments came at a time of continuing, difficult relations with Argentina over trade issues.[11]

Intraparty tensions

As Bordaberry's campaign gathered pace, in June 2009 he was the subject of public criticism on the part of Colorado Party colleague Luis Antonio Hierro López, also running for President, on account of his surname.[12]

The two men had previously worked together as ministerial colleagues.

In a muted response, Bordaberry wished Hierro well, and recalled that Hierro himself had previously campaigned for Bordaberry while they were colleagues in government and that the perceived issue now being raised by Hierro was one about which he had previously been silent.[12]


In the event, Bordaberry obtained 17% in the Presidential vote on 26 October, considerably below his National Party and Frente Amplio rivals, but increasing substantially his Colorado Party's share of the vote.

Shortly afterward, Bordaberry endorsed his former rival Luis Alberto Lacalle for the run-off vote, scheduled for the end of November 2009, since no candidate attained more than 50% of the vote in the first round.[13]

Election to the Uruguayan Senate

Bordaberry was elected to the Uruguayan Senate in 2009.

In early 2010 Bordaberry was advocating the establishment of a new University in the interior's city of Durazno, with a view to assisting disadvantaged potential students.[14]

2014 candidacy

Bordaberry is running for President in the 2014 elections.[15] With that campaign in mind he hired the same advisors who used to work for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.[16]

Bordaberry and Uruguayan political culture

Riverista resurgence

To some extent Bordaberry represents within the Colorado Party's political culture somewhat of a 'Riverista' resurgence. This is symbolized by strong personal, populist leadership, which past prominent Colorado Party figures such as Jorge Pacheco Areco and previous generations of the Bordaberry political family have exemplified.

Charismatic leadership

Within Uruguayan political culture more broadly, Bordaberry's rapid rise as a charismatic aspirant to national leadership, with his strong political and family roots in the country's interior and its latent 'gaucho liberator' folklore, is comparable to the rise of other charismatic leaders in recent and more distant Uruguayan history. These include Villanueva Saravia in the 1990s, but also some of Uruguay's populist political leaders of the 19th century during the tumultuous Independence and Civil War periods.

Gaucho liberator folklore

The 'gaucho liberator' folklore, never far from the background in Uruguayan political culture, can manifest itself in various ways; for his part, Bordaberry is known sometimes to participate at outdoor public meetings on horseback, or else in traditional, local horseriding attire.[17][18]

Accusations of alleged dictatorship

Despite his own family history of dictatorship, Bordaberry has at several occasions accused current President José Mujica of being, or striving to become a dictator.[19][20]


Bordaberry is a major figure in rugby union in Uruguay, and was president of the Uruguayan Rugby Union for a while.[21]

See also


  1. 1 2 "Esta boca es mía - Montevideo Portal". 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  2. "Portal de noticias". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  3. 'Amenazaron de muerte a Pedro Bordaberry' (in Spanish) ,
  4. ""A Villanueva Saravia lo mataron por un móvil político" -". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  5. "Portal de noticias". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  6. "Esta boca es mía - Montevideo Portal". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  7. "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  8. Archived June 28, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. 1 2 "Para Bordaberry, "Luis Antonio (Hierro) está perdiendo la línea" -". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  10. "Mujica Leads Lacalle in Uruguayan Run-Off | Angus Reid Global". 2009-11-01. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  11. "Vamos Uruguay propone crear otra universidad pública". YouTube. 2010-04-06. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  12. "Victory of Bordaberry in the Uruguayan primaries" (in Spanish). EL PAIS. 02-06-2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. "Bordaberry with advisors of Clinton and Obama". EL PAIS. 2013-08-28.
  14. "Photograph". Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  15. "Picasa Web Albums - Vamos Salto - Carpinteria". 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  16. "Lunes de ira de Bordaberry en Twitter". 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  17. "Bordaberry: "No es bueno que Mujica tenga tanto poder" - Elecciones Nacionales 2009 - Diario EL PAIS - Montevideo Uruguay". 2010-04-14. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  18. Bath, Richard (ed.) The Complete Book of Rugby (Seven Oaks Ltd, 1997 ISBN 1-86200-013-1), pp 77, 78
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