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Uruguayan political flags

Last modified: 2013-06-20 by francisco gregoric
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About Uruguayan traditional parties

The Colorado (red) Party was the traditional liberal and the Blanco (white) the traditional conservative party. Since the 30s, these identifications have gotten complex, and some parts of the Blancos are to the left of many parts of the Colorados.
Norm Martin, 07 Sep 2000

They can be called centrist parties, Blancos and Colorados. Both parties made an alliance against the left wing Frente Amplio, so as to defeat their candidate. They won eventually.
Guillermo Tell Aveledo, 06 Sep 2000

Uruguayan traditional political parties are not monolithic organisations, in the sense that they might have several “lists” for each of the party’s factions — for instance, the Battlismo or the Sanguinettismo of the Colorado Party, or the Lacallismo of the National Party. Hence, the basic colours for these two party’s flags are red (for the Colorado party) and white (for the National (Blanco) party), with each list having a “flag” of their own with their mottos and their sub-mottos. There was no mention of party flags on each of the parties’ charters, but they had, of course, a note on their colours.
Guillermo Tell Aveledo, 06 Sep 2000

The White Party is called like that because Oribe the leader of it, being president of the republic, fought against Rivera former president in the Battle of Carpinería in 1836. I think Oribe used a white "poncho" to be identified and Rivera a red one (some people said brown). This is the origin of the (name of the) two traditional parties, to make a summary.
Martin Abal Barz, 28 Apr 2003

History of Uruguayan traditional parties

Both Uruguayan traditional political parties had their origins around two political leaders of the first part of the 19 Century: José Fructuoso Rivera for the Colorado Party, and Manuel Oribe for the White Party. Both leaders were members of the Artiguist forces in the 1810s. When Artigas was defeated by the Portuguese in 1820, the Eastern Province became a Brazilian Province known as Província Cisplatina. Although Rivera initially cooperated with the Portuguese and Brazilian forces that occupied the Eastern Province, then he joined the 33 Orientales Movement in 1825. Oribe was also a member of that group that wanted to separate the province from Brazil and join Argentina. But the political situation changed and Uruguay was born as an independent country in 1828. Both leaders became very important political chiefs of the new country: Rivera was elected as the first constitutional president of Uruguay, and Oribe was the second one.

The National Party has its origins in the times of the second constitutional president of Uruguay Manuel Oribe. In times of Oribe's Presidency (1835-1838) there was a decree that made compulsory for military leaders, soldiers , policemen, government officers and citizens the use of a white ribbon called "Divisa Defensor de las Leyes" (Defender of the Law Motto). It was also called "Divisa Blanca" (White Motto). These ribbons could be used in hats or other parts of the male cloth, and there were several variants of them. That is why de group of Oribe's followers were called "blancos" (whites).

The origin of the names of the parties could be found in the battle of Carpintería in 1836, where Oribe wore his white ribbon, and José Fructuoso Rivera's forces used a sky blue ribbon (using the color of the Uruguayan Cockade of that time or the other color commonly used in the Uruguayan flag). As the sky blue color faded very easily that color was changed to red. That is why the followers of Rivera started to be called "colorados" (reds).

There was a civil war between the two groups since the 1830s to the 1850s, with several foreign nations (like Argentina, Brazil, France and the UK) intervening in the Uruguayan civil war helping Oribe or Rivera. In the 1850s the Colorados won, and since then they have ruled in Uruguay most of the time. There were just a few presidents from the Partido Nacional or "Blanco" in Uruguayan History.

In 1872 the whites took their present party's name: "Partido Nacional".

Traditionally the National Party has had a lot of support in rural areas, while the colorados have had support in big cities. The colorados were a more "liberal" party, and the blancos defined themselves as a very nationalist party.

At the end of the 19 Century, and the beginning of the 20 Century there were several secular reforms made by the President José Batlle y Ordóñez (from the Colorado Party). The National Party made revolutions in order to make changes in politics. The leader of these revolutions was one of the most important leaders of the National Party of all times: Aparicio Saravia. However, the revolution could not win because Saravia was killed.

During the 20 Century, both traditional parties developed and several internal trends appeared in both political groups. Both parties have had their right and left wings.

Since the 1950s & 1960s there were several political situations that changed Uruguay's politics. In the 1960s the Tupamaros tried to change politics through Guerrilla actions. With the appearance of the leftist political coalition Frente Amplio in 1971 a third actor appeared in Uruguayan politics. Finally the coup of state of 1973 was another point of change in Uruguayan History. Uruguay had been one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America before that coup.

Some internal groups of both blancos y colorados have quit their parties since the 1960s. Most of them are now part of the coalition Encuentro Progresista-Frente Amplio.
Francisco Gregoric, 11 Dec 2004