Authoritarian rule in Latin America, Case study of Argentina by Michael Sowa

Authoritarianism is system of undemocratic government in which value is placed on order and control over personal freedom. It is often headed by a dictator who exercises absolute control over its citizens. Military threats, disinformation of citizens and suppression of the media or press are among the strategies used by dictator to strengthen their hold on state power. States in Latin America, like many other countries in the world, have experienced a series of political transformation ranging from undemocratic (authoritarianism) to democratic rule. When most states in Latin America gained their political freedom or independence from colonial masters like their African counterparts, they resorted to authoritarian rule (exp; one party rule) as a way of reuniting their countries and economy. The leaders deviated from these goals and seek to promote their selfish interest at the expense of the general population.


Argentina is one of the countries in the Latin America that experienced dramatic politic transitions. The country has faced numerous repressive regimes from independence to 1983 when it finally got democratic government.


Many countries in Latin America and authoritarian regimes in other parts of the world (like Africa) were characterized by political repression. In Argentina, as put by Navarro M (2001), during the regime of Maria Estela Marunez de Peron (Isabel) who succeeded her husband after he died in office, the country had multiple human right abuses or violations.  She ruled Argentina as private property. There was no political opposition, no means of public expression, all protests were banned, and the state economy faced enormous depletion. Navarro M, (2001), described her regime as a rule of economic and political chaos. In order to consolidate her grip on power, she relied not only on state military and police for security but also para-police groups, the right-wing squads who carried out series of secret executions kidnaps in the name of protecting the rule. Victims included trade unionists, students, politicians, labor leaders and so on. State’s resources and power were shared on the basis of patronage or clientelism.


However, like most other authoritarian rules, her rule was ended by military coup in 1976 who sorted to revitalize the nation’s economy and restore peace and security. Their public policy included the promoting advanced industrialization. Collier, (1979) refers to it as bureaucratic authoritarianism. The military ruled the country until 1983 when they finally handed it to a democratic government. They used forced disappearance as a way to control guerrillas and enhance social control like Brazil, Chile and Guatemala.


Smith P. H,  et’al,(2015) maintain that no military regime could ever be permanent in power. They usually describe the mission as preparing the county for democracy. In 1983 the military junta handed power to a democratically elected government which marked the end of authoritarian rule in Argentina. Today the country operates within the framework of a federal system, a presidential representative democratic republic.