Democratic governments of the Southern Cone of Latin America have dealt with the human rights abuses committed under military rule by protecting those involved form prosecution with amnesty laws, acknowledging the crimes committed on victims of torture by establishing truth commissions, compensating families of victims, and in some instance eventually repealing the amnesty laws to bring about justice. The Brazilian and Argentinian government have taken different approaches in confronting their authoritarian past. As of present the Argentinian government has been able to prosecute hundreds of military and security officers charged with torture and murder as a result of the role of human agency and state consolidation of the Military of Argentina. In Brazil such justice has been improbable due to the threat of military intervention and resistance as it holds a greater autonomy from the state. Instead, truth commissions were established earlier this year, but even that has proven to be a protracted process with great military resistance and has yet to establish commissioners. Argentina’s direct control of the military and swift action of its democratic leaders have made prosecution of its military elite probable compared to Brazil which still holds concern about the military’s role in domestic politics.
History of military dictatorship in Brazil and Argentina
A campaign of political repression and terror referred to as Operation Condor was implemented by right winged dictatorships in the Southern Cone of Latin America in 1975 to eradicate communist ideas and suppress opposition movements against the current government. The United States provided technical support and military aid during this time as they shared the idea that communism posed a threat to existing order and for this matter were engaged in the Cold War with the Soviet Union.
In Brazil the military joined right-winged activists in overthrowing democratically elected President João Goulart a moderate socialist who was seem as openly sympathetic to the communist cause and was creating an environment in which they could thrive. It appeared that President Goulart was creating the conditions for a class wide peasant alliance that could threaten the elitist economic order. In a bloodless coup in March of 1964, Goulart fled into exile and the military took over establishing a dictatorship that would last till 1985. The Brazilian military government would be notoriously known for providing a model to other military regimes in Latin America, systemizing the Doctrine of National Security to justify the suspension of civil and political liberties and terminating political democracy as working in the interest of national security. The ideology defined the primary mission of the military as protecting the country form a pervasive communist threat located within its own borders.
Similarly, in Argentina democratically elected President Juan Peron was a popular left wing, praised for his efforts to...