Many Latin American countries are moving towards increased accountability for past human rights violations, and there is a growing global consensus that international law does not allow some crimes simply to be exempted from prosecution. Uruguay has had a deeply split response to these developments. While the Supreme Court and the political elite increasingly pushed to end impunity, the public actually ratified the 1985 amnesty law protecting the military from prosecution in a 2009 plebiscite. The amnesty law was finally abolished by Parliament in 2011. This article traces the winding road from impunity to accountability in Uruguay in the context of substantial public support for impunity. It argues that, while the lack of judicial independence obstructed the quest for justice for many years, the combination of continued civil society demands for justice met by increasingly human-rights-friendly executives and liberal-minded judges (and lately also prosecutors) explains the recent advance in retributive justice.