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He came from a rural middle class family. When his father, from Tacuarembó, could not afford his studies in Montevideo, he chose to work and continue studying. He was a street vendor of books when he was 17 years old. In 1936 he began his life as a textile worker. Since then he was “weaver”.
In 1940, at the age of 22, he participated in the creation of the Textile Workers’ Union (UOT). In 1945, at age 27, he was elected deputy. “I never worked as much as when I was a deputy,” he said. With its vote the law of the National Institute of Colonization was approved.
In 1951 he was expelled from the Communist Party and resigned his bank. In 1955, at the age of 37, he led the birth of the Textile Workers’ Congress (COT). In 1964, the unity effort of Héctor, Gerardo Gatti and other lucid union leaders in the founding of the CNT was fruitful. In 1965, at age 47, he was the pivot of the People’s Congress. In 1969 he raised from the COT the alternative orientation to face rising authoritarianism.
Oriented the creation in 1969 of a political movement with unprecedented characteristics in Uruguay: the Unifying Action Groups (GAU), created to promote the unitary action of the left. Hector was obsessed with the “tactical dispersion” of the left. In 197l the GAU did not present candidates: their candidates were all from the Frente Amplio.
A year earlier, he had abandoned union membership, after 30 years of working in that space. Héctor launches with all his energies to try the political unity of the Uruguayan left. He toured the entire country, along with Arturo Baliñas, Germán D ‘Elía, Washington Fernández, Oscar Bruschera and Luis Alberto Viera. Says Líber Seregni: “The ‘admirable alarm’ started there and shook the whole country, especially the Interior (…) The Broad Front is born in the Interior, from the base, eastern to the core, that’s what gave it its appearance There were four or five people who were essential, one of them: Héctor Rodríguez “(El Tejedor, page 315).
At the head of the COT and as a spokesperson for the union “Tendency”, he strongly polemicized in 68 and 69 on tactics and strategy to face the authoritarian advance. He disagreed harshly with the majority orientation of the CNT. In June of l969 he proposed the general strike as a tactical translation of the approved line of prolonged struggle and increasing actions. Lost. Authoritarianism made its way. In 1970 he toured the country promoting the creation of the Front, and in 1971, at age 52, he was in the Legislative Palace on February 5. In 1973 he promoted the general strike, and that same year he was imprisoned by the dictatorship.
Enrique Rubio remembers that while Hector hooded on the fourth floor of Central Prison he heard the anthem and pulled off the hood because, he said, “An oriental can not hear the hooded hymn”.
In 1982, at age 64, he was released; He adhered fervently a few days later to the blank vote in the inmates of that year. In l983, on November 27 he was on the podium of the Obelisk. In 1984, at age 65, he founded the “Independent Democratic Left”, better known as the IDI and opposed the Naval Club Agreement. From 1986 to 1989 he participated in the campaign that culminated in the green vote. In that last year he supported the creation of the Artiguista Shed (VA). In 1992, at age 74, he campaigned against the law on public companies and in 1994 against the “Minireforma”.
In 2000 a documentary was filmed based on an interview that was made in 1990. His testimony is integrated with that of other textile workers, journalists, political leaders and trade unionists. The documentary is supported by film and photographic archive materials.
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