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LATIN AMERICAN DICTATORSHIPS: "There is always a justification"

Carlos Kohan of Argentina writes:

"Latin America Military forces do not act on a vacuum. They are usually heavily influenced by the most powerful interests and families. In fact most of the time the upper brass of these armies come from these families.

What happens is then quite well understood by many Latin American intellectuals: when a given country seems to be going into a major economic crisis, these sectors of the society (plus other sectors of the society heavily influenced by them) pressure the military to take power. What is lost in the analysis many times is that unfortunately, many of these crisis are structural. They represent the end of an economic model that can not sustain the vast majority of the people. This is quite clear in many countries where there is a small sector that holds tremendous amount of power and wealth, and a vast majority that is extremely poor. From this point of view, these crisis are many times led by populist leaders that the upper classes perceive as extremely dangerous as they would indeed terminate some of their privileges and hold on power. I equate the situation somewhat to the US before the Civil War.

The unfortunate part is that during the cold war, the US many times perceived these popular movements as communist leaning, even if they weren't. In fact the local sectors in power would try to convince the US of the communist nature of these movements to obtain the US support. This resulted many times in US support of terrible dictatorships, which many times actually pushed these movements into more radical positions. In some respects it is as if a major foreign power would have given full support to the Confederates during the US Civil War".

Ronald Hilton - 11/8/01