After the Cuban revolution and its challenge to the hegemony of capitalism in the hemisphere, a series of coups brought military regimes-national security states-to power throughout Latin America.
Their societies suffered, through the widespread use of state terror, gross human rights violations of unprecedented proportions from the 1960s through the 1980s.In country after country, a major obstacle to unfolding democratization processes has been the military, or significant factions within the military institution. The military regimes often established laws giving the armed forces extraordinary powers, and/or appointed civilian allies to government positions, thus attempting to institutionalize
permanently their power in anticipation of the eventual transition to civilian rule. At the moment of relinquishing government power, the major demand of the military in virtually all states was for guarantees against accountability-widely called impunity in the region-for human rights crimes, a demand that implicitly places the military above the law (McSherry, 1992). Impunity empowers the military and they act in total disregard of the rule of law and civilian authority. In Chile, Pinochet’s national security state passed a self-amnesty law in 1978 which “forgot” all crimes committed by the military after September 11, 1973-the day of the coup against (McSherry, 1992)
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