For the first time in the history of the Uruguayan Army, a woman is commanding a basic combat unit. On February 13, Lieutenant Colonel Lorena Cardozo took over as chief of the 8th Armored Cavalry Regiment, located in Cerro Largo department.
Lt. Col. Cardozo’s promotion is a milestone for the Uruguayan Armed Forces, which opened its doors to women in 1998. Lt. Col. Cardozo was one of the first two candidates.
“I’m a service member by vocation, and I chose to join to protect my country,” said the officer, who is in charge of 259 elements. “The relationship I have with subordinates is very good, and their response to me is excellent, which to me means an even greater responsibility.”
Following the promotion of Lt. Col. Cardozo, the Uruguayan Ministry of Defense declared that it reaffirms its commitment to continue enforcing policies of equality, no discrimination, and respect for women’s rights. In 2018, the ministry made the recruitment of women into the Armed Forces a priority. According to official sources, the Army, the military institution with the most personnel, has more than 15,000 men and more than 2,000 women.
“It should be no surprise that a woman is a chief; we understand that we’ve all worked for what we know is the culmination of the work a person has done for many years; we prepare for this, we dream of this, and it is a dream come true,” said Lt. Col. Cardozo, who, in addition to her new role, is a member of the Armed Forces’ Commission against Gender Violence.
Cerro Largo is located in Uruguay’s northeast and borders Brazil on the east, forming part of a border area where authorities fight against transnational crimes such as human, arms, and drug trafficking, as well as smuggling. Among other tasks, Lt. Col. Cardozo’s unit conducts border and reconnaissance patrols by jeep, on horseback, and on foot, the officer said, adding that the task entails an enormous responsibility.
If she chooses to continue with her military career, Lt. Col. Cardozo might achieve another historical milestone: being the first woman in the Army to reach the rank of general.
“There has never been gender preference to allow women to be promoted, and I would never allow that. As such, I know that I rightfully deserve the roles I’ve had, as well as my current rank, and nobody gave me anything,” Lt. Col. Cardozo said.