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Unprecedented violence and poverty shake up a quiet country

Today, Uruguay’s society is more violent and is suffering from growing poverty. Its first victims are children and teenagers. This has been recognised by the leaders of a nation that is known for being safe and for having a good quality of life.


Orlando Oramas León


A quadruple homicide occurring in the Maracaná area of the capital shook Uruguay, especially because among the four murdered victims was an 11-year-old child.

The Police indicated that he was not a relative of the other three victims: a 40-year-old man and two teenagers, aged 18 and 17.

The attackers shot a hundred bullets that also impacted the thorax, arms and legs of a 17-year-old teenager, who had doctors battling to save his life. The atrocious murder revived political debate during electoral campaign season, but it joined with other acts of violence from which several infants did not escape.

From October 2024 to date, several people have been injured or killed by gunshots. There are many cases. In October 2023, a 12-year-old minor was shot in the leg. Two months later, a girl suffered a shotgun blast with pellets in her abdomen, which had been directed at a neighbour.

On 17th December, another nine-year-old girl was hit with two bullet wounds while playing in front of her house in the Marconi neighbourhood. The hitmen fired from a moving car.

That month, on Christmas Eve, a 14-year-old girl was fatally wounded in the middle of a shootout.

In mid-January, the rivalry of two families involved in drug trafficking caused the death of a child on 18th January of this year in Villa Española. The following month, a two-year-old infant was murdered. He was with two adults and three minors inside a car parked in front of a drug den.

Two infants, aged six and eight, were wounded by bullets.

From April to May, a five-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy also suffered bullet wounds.

Thus, there are many other cases that demonstrate the current violence in Uruguay.

Currently, as the prosecutor for homicide, Mirta Morales, said, “Uruguayan society is much more violent, with many weapons on the street” and in the face of “unprecedented” violence, with “uncontrolled use of weapons,” “I am concerned that we are getting used to it.”

However, armed violence is not the only scourge that is aimed at children.

There is also child abuse.

In 2022, the Comprehensive System for the Protection of Children and Adolescents against Violence (SIPIAV) intervened in almost 7,500 violent situations towards this age group, at a rate of 20 per day.

According to the report, in 92% of cases, the aggressors were direct relatives or lived with the victims

In May last year, Mama Fatima Singhateh, the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, urged the Uruguayan State to confront the culture that “normalises” sexual abuse of minors.

Back then, the headlines were full of the scandal of today’s former National Party senator. Gustavo Penadés, imprisoned and accused of various sexual crimes against minors.

Likewise, another phenomenon is becoming a concern: Uruguay is the country in the region with the greatest infantilisation of poverty.

According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), at the end of last year poverty remained at 10.1% (9.9% in 2022). Out of every thousand people, 101 do not exceed the minimum income to cover the basic food and non-food items considered necessities by the INE. The child population is the one that suffers the most from insufficient income in their households. INE statistics showed that 20.1% of children under six years of age were poor in 2023.

In the age group 6-12, poverty was estimated at 18.3% (18% in 2022) and in the age group 13-17 it was 17.9% (16.2% a year ago).

Hardship among those under six years of age was 11.6 times greater than that recorded in older adults (over 65 years of age). PL

(Translated by Donna Davison. Email: Pixabay

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