The military in Latin America


For over a century running up to the 1980s the military leaders of Latin America saw themselves as men with a mission (for most of that time they were indeed men – since there were no, or very few, women in the ranks of the military). The mission was to defend national frontiers from external threat, protect the domestic political status quo from internal upheaval or subversion, and act as guardians of a sacred higher mission to uphold national sovereignty and economic development. One example of their outlook was captured by an article published in 1913 in A Defesa Nacional, a Brazilian military journal. It warned “The Army needs to prepare itself for its conservative and stabilising role amid the social changes in progress. It should be ready to correct internal disturbances, so frequent in the tumultuous life of developing societies.”

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