Militarism in Latin America

December 28, 1966

Report Outline
Resurgence of Military Influence in Area
Latin Generals and Admirals in Politics
U. S. Policy Toward the Military Regimes
Special Focus

Resurgence of Military Influence in Area

Spring Meeting of the American Presidents

The military of Latin America—single most important factor in the political life of the countries to the south since the days of the conquistadores—appear to be returning to their habit of assuming direct control of governments in the region. The mounting trend toward military rule follows a period during which the armed forces generally were content to exercise strong influence on civilian governments from the sidelines instead of ousting the civilians and putting their own men in power.

The resurgence of military rule has been accompanied by the re-entry of several Latin nations into the market for advanced weapons and military equipment, particularly jet aircraft. Washington and a number of Latin American capitals have shown concern lest the renewed arms competition slowly escalate into a full-scale arms race. An attempt to halt such a race before it gains headway will be made in mid-April, when President Johnson meets with the heads of 19 Latin American countries in a hemisphere summit conference.

Only a few years ago, political observers were hopeful that military rule was on the wane in South and Central America. Edwin Lieuwen has pointed out that in the period between 1954 and 1961 Latin America was swept by a “wave of anti-militarism.” In 1954, Lieuwen observes, “12 of the 20 Latin American republics were ruled by generals or colonels who had originally achieved the presidency by the use of force, but by mid-1961, only one of these—General Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay—remained.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Latin America
Sep. 14, 2018  Turmoil in Central America
Jun. 05, 2012  China in Latin America
Mar. 2008  The New Latin America
Jul. 21, 2006  Change in Latin America
Mar. 14, 2003  Trouble in South America
Nov. 09, 2001  U.S.- Mexico Relations
Sep. 19, 1997  Mexico's Future
Jul. 19, 1991  Mexico's Emergence
May 05, 1989  New Approach to Central America
Mar. 06, 1987  Soviets' Latin Influence
Dec. 26, 1986  Pinochet's Chile
Nov. 08, 1985  Troubled Mexico
Apr. 10, 1981  Latin American Challenges
May 05, 1978  Central America and the U.S.A.
Sep. 23, 1977  Mexican-U.S. Relations
Jun. 04, 1976  Relations with Latin America
Oct. 21, 1970  Chile's Embattled Democracy
Jun. 24, 1970  Mexico's Election and the Continuing Revolution
Apr. 02, 1969  Economic Nationalism in Latin America
Jul. 19, 1967  Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
Dec. 28, 1966  Militarism in Latin America
Oct. 20, 1965  Common Market for Latin America
Aug. 04, 1965  Smoldering Colombia
Jun. 23, 1965  Inter-American Peacekeeping
Dec. 11, 1963  Progress of the Alianza
Oct. 05, 1962  Arms Aid to Latin America
Dec. 13, 1961  Land and Tax Reform in Latin America
Jul. 26, 1961  Commodity Agreements for Latin America
Jan. 11, 1961  Revolution in the Western Hemisphere
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Jan. 13, 1960  Expropriation in Latin America
Jul. 02, 1958  Economic Relations with Latin America
Mar. 02, 1954  Communism in Latin America
Jun. 20, 1952  Political Unrest in Latin America
Sep. 18, 1950  War Aid from Latin America
Oct. 31, 1947  Arming the Americas
Jul. 24, 1946  Inter-American Security
Jan. 02, 1942  Latin America and the War
Jul. 10, 1941  Export Surpluses and Import Needs of South America
Jun. 04, 1941  Economic Defense of Latin America
Jun. 25, 1940  Politics in Mexico
Nov. 01, 1939  Pan American Political Relations
Oct. 10, 1939  United States Trade with Latin America
Apr. 07, 1938  Protection of American Interests in Mexico
Mar. 04, 1936  Peace Machinery in the Americas
Sep. 27, 1933  Trade Relations with Latin America
Oct. 16, 1928  Pan American Arbitration Conference
Jan. 12, 1928  The Sixth Pan American Conference
Jan. 10, 1927  American Policy in Nicaragua
Dec. 27, 1926  Relations Between Mexico and the United States
Imperialism, Colonization, and Independence Movements
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean