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On Argentinian Dictatorships, and the 'Disappeared' in the Cold War

STORY BY: Silvia Bonet
YEAR: 1976
LOCATION: Argentina

Silvia is originally from Argentina, and she shares the following words about dictatorships that arose in the 1970s and 1980s in Latin American countries.

"Since 1956 in Argentina, none of the democratically elected governments finished their term until 1989, when Raul Alfonsin was the elected president (1983-1989) after the military junta. Even though his presidency was democratic, he tried to revoke the self amnesty that the military junta instituted, but he was threatened with another coup, and had to relinquish his attempts to bring to justice the military. The law of "Punto Final" or the Law of Obedience.

1956 was the end of the Peronist Government. The Military gets into power after wining the "Freedom Revolution", there is a call for elections. In 1958, Arturo Frondizi becomes the new elected president. His presidency is terminated in 1962 after another coup. 1963: another call for election, Illia wins, and is in power until another coup in 1966. Cordoba (my city of origin) is the centre of the country protests, hunger strikes, riots, etc. The city has a nice combination of industries and university. Governments used to look at Cordoba for approval and as the political thermometer. In 1969 there is such a revolt in Cordoba that the military leader of the time has to resign.
The Military is in power until they decide to allow Peron, in exile in Madrid, to return to Argentina. The county is facing the uprising of the left wing guerrillas, some of them of peronist affiliation. An election is called with a "puppet" from the peronists ranks while Peron arranges his affairs in Spain and returns to Buenos Aires. This is 1973. Hundreds of thousands of people go to the airport to welcome Peron and the bloodiest reaction is received by the youth on the left wing. Now it is clear that Peron is definitely sitting on the almost extreme right. Peron is elected president, his wife Isabel vice-president, but he is only in power for less than a year, and he dies in 1974. After his death, his wife and her advisers make a sharp turn to the right, and the AAA (Argentina Anticomunist Alliance) organization starts its persecution. This was the death squad responsible for the killing of left wing members.
In 1976, the Junta with Videla terminates Isabel Peron's presidency, and she has to leave the country. The military continues what the AAA started, with mighty force and... you know the rest. 30,000 "disappeared", and so on.

For 20 years, from 1956 to 1983, even though they may not necessarily be by one government (and not only by the junta), a new state of fear is created and the freedom of speech is not fully restored until much later. Then the corruption gets deeper. As Borges said, "Argentina never touches rock bottom, it sinks indefinitely" Horrible thought but true.
Chile has a similar story, and other countries in Latin America go through the persecution of the 70's. At the same time that Europe has the red Brigades and others, in Latin America there are the armed left wing groups in Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile (that I remember). The lethal combination of lack of democracy, of a proper judicial system, and the abundance of corruption create the scenario to foster the state of fear, undemocratic, with no personal rights or freedom.
This is just a brief summary of our history. Have fun!"
Thanks for sharing, Silvia.

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