Raul Sendic, founder and leader of Uruguay's Tupamaros, once the world's most successful urban guerrilla movements, has died in a Paris hospital, medical sources said Friday. He was 64.
Sendic, captured in 1972 and jailed on charges of committing terrorist acts that had convulsed Uruguay for nearly a decade, was among the last group of political prisoners freed under amnesty after Uruguay's return to civilian rule in 1985. He flew to France in February for medical treatment.
The hospital declined immediate comment on the cause of his death, but sources close to the former guerrilla leader said that he suffered from a neurological ailment linked to mistreatment at the hands of his jailers during his years in prison.
Sendic founded the Tupamaros in 1962 and by 1965 the organization had embarked on a terrorism campaign that included robbery, arson, bombing, kidnaping and murder. It became a model for similar groups of radical leftists elsewhere in Latin America and in Western Europe, finally shaking the foundations of Uruguay's government.
Armed Forces Intervened
The Tupamaros' depredations and the apparent impotence of civilian authorities in coping with them were blamed by many Uruguayans for provoking the armed forces' intervention in government that began in 1973 and lasted for 12 years.
Among the Tupamaros' victims were Dan Mitrione, a U.S. adviser to the Uruguayan police who was seized and killed in 1970, and Britain's ambassador in Montevideo, Geoffrey Jackson, kidnaped and held hostage for several months in 1971.
The Mitrione kidnaping provided the basis for the Costa-Gavras film "State of Siege."
In 1969, Sendic was arrested after a gunfight but a year later he tunneled his way to freedom with scores of Tupamaros prisoners.
He was recaptured in July, 1972, after being badly wounded during a gun battle with police, and soon afterward, a new counterinsurgency campaign led by the army brought an end to the Tupamaros' campaign in Uruguay.