Argentina’s Dirty War

Posted in History
at 2016.05.20
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The years between 1976 and 1983 could be termed as the most trying for the people of Argentina who lived during this period. This is due to a war that was so far dubbed as the Dirty War due to the tactics used by the military at the time and the atrocities committed against the Argentina citizens. To many who survived the war, they could only term it as cruel and unthinkable. The suffering witnessed by the people, prisoners and even soldiers was beyond reproach. The killings that occurred were nothing short of genocide. The following paper critically examines and tells of the chilling event that was the Argentine Dirty War.

argentina dirty war

Also read: Second world war impact on Canada

The Argentine dirty war history

The Dirty War in Argentina had its roots in 1974 from the death of the then president Juan Peron who was succeeded by his wife Isabel Peron who was also his vice president. Isabel Peron however, was not politically powerful and therefore a section of the military called Junta took advantage of this and overthrew her government effectively taking her office. This military junta ruled with an iron fist over Argentina and anybody who seemed to oppose them was brutally dealt with. The military coup and the following military rule was headed by the leader of the military junta known as Jorge Rafael Videla. This crackdown against dissidents was so harsh that it is estimated to have left around 30,000 people dead inclusive of innocent civilians.

It is recorded that people would get ‘disappeared’ during the night by Jorge’s men and were transported to detention centers only known to the government where they got brutal torture most of them to their death. Jorge Rafael Videla maintained his military regime and tyranny till it caught foreign powers eyes.

Jorge’s regime saw it fit to eliminate opposition groups such as college students, rights activists as well as trade unionists. They would be kidnapped and whisked away and nobody was left the wiser. These ‘disappeared’ people even earned themselves a tag, ‘los desaparecidos’ which translates to ‘the disappeared’. These kidnappings just showed the level of impunity that the military regime ruled with. At the dawn of the 1980s other countries who had no prior knowledge of who had been behind the kidnappings soon realized the government was after all the culprit.

The military junta started getting international pressure over its human rights violations, corruption and impunity. This led to its attempt regain the controversial islands known as the Falkland Islands that had been in a tug of war between Argentina and England since the 1800s. Through this invasion, the military regime thought it would also gain popularity as well as control over Argentina for they also mistakenly assumed that England would give in without a fight. They however, lost that war and 9,800 of their soldiers were captured by the British Army as prisoners of war. This happened only 72 days after their ‘successful’ invasion.

The seemingly foreign intervention was the start of Jorge’s regime downfall due to the unexpectedness of the loss suffered during the attempted invasion of the Falklands Islands. In 1982 his regime began restoring the people’s liberties and freedom as well as the right to form political parties. Finally in 1983, on the 10th of December a man by the name Raul Afonsin took power from Jorge Rafael Videla and created a civilian government which marked the end of the Dirty War. It is always found as ironical that foreign powers led to the fall of the military junta due to their own undoing.


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