Latin American Dictatorship
It is impossible to separate the history of military dictatorships in Latin America from the history of economic exploitation and of US intervention in the region. The history of slavery and other forced labor in the pursuit of large-scale agriculture and resource extraction in the time of the colonies has created a legacy of economic exploitation. This poverty and inequality has in many cases led to popular uprisings and calls for reform, which provided the reason (or the excuse, depending on your point of view) to use military force to restore discipline. The United States' willingness to support strong regimes capable of securing its interests in the region also has played a decisive role. These interests have included the protection of the Panama Canal and other US economic investments, and the suppression of possible Soviet Communist invasion in the hemisphere.
The US became much more willing to act on the latter after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The anxiety of the Cold War is exemplified in an article published in 1980 by British journalist Brian Crozier, called "Caribbean Rot": "Political infections are like cancer: they creep on unnoticed, appearing here and there, then multiplying and gathering speed until deemed incurable or terminal. In both cases, surgery can work, but only if used in time"(Draper). The "surgery" has been applied through direct intervention, and through training future dictators and assassins in the School of the Americas, for example.
Here is a rundown of some of the major dictatorships: In Mexico, Porfirio Díaz ruled from 1876 to 1911. In 1930 Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, from the US-trained national guard, became dictator of the Dominican Republic, and lasted until his assassination in 1961. In 1970, Salvador Allende becomes the first democratically elected socialist to take power in Latin America. Then in 1973, a military coup backed by the CIA overthrew Allende and General Augusto Pinochet took power. His government "tortured and murdered thousands of Chileans. He sent tanks into the streets to discourage the curiosity of those who wanted to investigate his crimes"(Galeano, Upside Down, 193). When he retired in 1998, he made himself a senator for life.
In Eduardo Galeano's book Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World, he tells,
In the middle of 1978, while Argentina's soccer team was hosting and winning the World Cup, the country's military dictatorship was busy throwing prisoners into the ocean alive. The planes bearing them took off from Aeroparque airport, a stone's throw from the stadium whewre the sports event was under way. . . . When Captain Adolfo Scilingo told his superiors he couldn't sleep without pills or drink, they recommended therapy. At the beginning of 1995,...