Uruguay declared its neutrality in the war on September 5, 1939, when most of Latin America (the exception being Argentina) enlisted on Americanism andhemispheric defense proclaimed by the United States.
At home there was sympathy for the Allies (USA, Great Britain) that accompanied governmental decisions of defense against "anti-nationalactivities" (an investigative committee was established by Parliament in 1940), a law against "unlawful associations", an agreement to purchase U.S. weapons, etc.
Following the decision of theAmerican Foreign Ministers Conference in Rio de Janeiro on January 25, 1942, the Uruguayan government broke with the Axis powers in response to strong U.S. pressure to line up behind thewhole American continent. He came to provide for a system of compulsory military service, although it never became effective.
“Batllistas” and independent Nationalists led the pro-Alliedpower, making a sermon which some interpreted as of subjecting U.S. interests. Luis Alberto de Herrera, and the majority sector of the “Partido Nacional”, maintained a stance ofneutrality, responding to an endearing nationalism, was interpreted by others as benevolent toward the Axis powers.
Soon the war reached our shores, before the astonished eyes of the Uruguayans, inDecember 1939 of the Battle of the River Plate between the German battleship "Graf Spee" and the British cruisers. The Uruguayan government felt the danger to small nations, whensubjected to strong pressure from British and German diplomats accredited in Montevideo, which stepped up border to defend the interests of their respective countries. When it landed dead andwounded on both sides, the Uruguayan understood that war was a fact that happened far away and not for it, but dragged him, as the whole world, a stance inescapable that were beyond their will.