Related topics

Military Played Intimate Role In Argentina Since 1930 With AM-Argentina-Rebellion, Bjt

April 18, 1987

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ The two military rebellions that have shaken Argentina in the last several days are the latest chapters in a long history of military involvement in the government of this South American country.

Argentina, the size of the United States east of the Mississippi River, has come under the rule of military officers constantly in the last 57 years.

In 1930, the military overthrew President Hipolito Yrigoyen and ruled for two years, increasing its role in national life and securing larger appropriations and broader privileges.

Civilians ruled until 1943, when the military engineered a coup against the ruling Conservatives. Instability reigned until the election of Gen. Juan Peron as president in 1946.

Peron, with his popular wife Evita, introduced labor reforms but also suppressed speech and press freedoms, closed religious schools and ran the country into debt. A 1955 coup sent Peron into exile. He was followed by a series of military and civilian regimes.

The military next took power when President Arturo Frondizi was ousted in 1962, and in 1966 when President Arturo Illia was replaced.

Peron returned in 1973, and was once more elected president. But he died 10 months later, and was succeeded by his wife Isabel, who had been elected vice president.

A military junta, charging her with corruption, overthrew Peron in 1976. Under a state of siege, the army battled leftists and guerrillas in a conflict it dubbed ″the dirty war,″ and killed an estimated 9,000 ″subversives,″ according to a government commission.

A downturn in economic conditions placed pressure on the military regime. But it was a military defeat which forced the generals out.

On April 2, 1982, Argentine troops seized control of the Falkland Islands in the south Atlantic. Both Argentina and Britain had claimed sovereignty over the islands, located 250 miles off southern Argentina, since 1833.

The British dispatched a task force and placed an air and sea blockade around the desolate islands. Fighting broke out on May 1, 1982, and several hundred soldiers lost their lives as the result of the destruction of a British destroyer and the sinking of an Argentine cruiser.

British troops landed in force on East Falkland Island on May 21, 1982 and quickly surrounded Stanley, the capital city and Argentine stronghold. Argentina surrendered June 14, 1982, and Argentine President Gen. Leopoldo Galteiri resigned three days later.

As a result of the disastrous loss, the deteriorating economic situation and an outcry against human rights abuses under the military junta, civilian rule was restored in 1983 with the election of Raul Alfonsin as president.

Alfonsin, a human rights lawyer, initiated prosecution of rights violations under military rule, and five former junta leaders have been jailed on terms of four-and-a-half-years to life in prison in connection with human rights abuses.

Galteiri himself was sentenced to 12 years’ prison for his role in guiding the country into the Falklands war.

Some 250 other officers, including ex-Maj. Ernesto Barreiro, leader of the rebellion this week in a Cordoba paratroop camp, also face prosecution on human rights abuse charges.

Update hourly