Ibero-American dictatorships are defined as authoritarian regimes that have been in force in Spanish-speaking countries in America since they obtained their independence. There have been various dictatorships in Latin America; almost all are preceded by social or economic problems that occurred in their country of origin.
After the liberation of the Ibero-American countries and obtaining their independence, all the nations of Latin America have been subject to a dictatorial regime at some point in their history. Some of these dictatorships have been more cruel than others, and not all of them were entirely damaging to countries.
However, as a general rule, these dictatorial regimes have caused the disappearance, death and torture of thousands of people. Oppression and unilateral policies dictated by a centralized power are key characteristics that serve to define the way of acting of all these governments.
Main Ibero-American dictatorships
The military Fulgencio Batista was a Cuban dictator who had the support of the United States government. He ruled from 1952 to 1959, when Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement overthrew his government.
He originally became president in 1940, having gained a large following during his military years. However, after leaving the presidency, Cuba experienced a resurgence of insecurity and corruption. Batista staged a coup and reinstated himself as president of Cuba, but this time in an authoritarian manner.
He exercised strong controls over education, the press, and Congress. In addition, a large amount of Cuban money was embezzled during his regime.
The elections during his regime were much more blatant than in other Latin American dictatorships. Some softer dictators allow other candidates to run for president, but Batista manipulated the elections to be the only candidate to vote for.
Fidel Castro was president of Cuba for almost five decades. He came to power after overthrowing the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. During his regime, he built a legacy of repression that is still alive in Cuba after several years of his death.
The health and education systems greatly benefited from Castro’s policies. However, all opposition to the regime received harsh punishment against their civil liberties. Basic political rights were also denied to most Cubans.
It was common to place civilians in seedy prisons, and both the country’s military and police forces openly intimidated anyone who opposed the regime.
Cuba’s economy suffered great damage as a result of the dictatorship. However, her dictatorial policies were outside the law, and her security forces adhered to her script.
Marcos Perez Jimenez
Pérez Jiménez was a Venezuelan military and dictator who came to power in 1952, after having been part of the governing board established after the 1948 coup.
His regime was marked by corruption and oppression, but it also managed to significantly improve the Venezuelan infrastructure. However, the dictator and his associates received commissions for each project prepared by the state.
He murdered and tortured a large number of political opponents using his secret service. The social and economic problems made her win over a large number of members of the Church, as well as the working class not satisfied by her government policies.
After being overthrown, he fled to the United States with more than $ 200 million. He was tried in Venezuela a few years after his fall in 1958; He spent 5 years in a prison in Caracas before being released and escaping to Europe.
Pinochet was the leader of the government junta that was established after overthrowing the Allende government in 1973. He was the last dictator Chile had, having established a military government that remained active from 1974 to 1990. During his regime, thousands of opponents were tortured.
As did many other Ibero-American dictators, he promulgated a new Constitution that allowed him to stay in power for a longer period of time. During the eighties, Chile presented a change in economic policy that managed to stop the country’s inflation.
He did not allow any kind of political opposition, but after his second 8-year term ended, he allowed a referendum to be called to assess its continuity.
The military oppression of the regime ended after the referendum yielded results against Pinochet, who handed over power peacefully.
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo was a dictator of the Dominican Republic. He was in power for 31 years; took the presidency in 1930 and remained until the time of his assassination in 1961.
He was a military man trained by the United States armed forces when the Americans occupied the country, which caused him to rapidly climb the ranks in the Dominican army.
With the support of the army, he carried out a coup in 1930 and took over the presidency of the country; established a dictatorial regime thanks to the unconditional support of the military.
He was a highly competent person in politics and economics. He caused significant growth in the country’s income, but these were mainly enjoyed by his followers and by himself.
Discontent grew during the last years of his government. When he lost the support of the army, he was assassinated by a group of assassins. These were captured and executed shortly after.
Efraín Ríos Montt
Montt was a Guatemalan general who became the leader of the ruling military junta that presided over the country between 1982 and 1983. The dictator dispatched the other members of the junta to become the sole leader of Guatemala.
It was originally supported by the Ronald Reagan government in the United States. In fact, the administration of the North American country lifted an embargo that did not allow arms to enter the country. Montt did not stand on the side of democracy and openly attacked the country’s indigenous population.
Although he managed to reduce the levels of corruption in the army, his government was marked by a large number of violations of the human rights of Guatemalans.
He was tried in January 2012 for crimes against humanity and genocide. He was originally found guilty of genocide, but the decision was changed after just 10 days.
- Democracies and Dictatorships in Latin America, M. Kornblith, 2015. Taken from americasquarterly.org
- Fidel Castro, Human Rights Watch, 2016. Taken from hrw.org
- Augusto Pinochet, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2017. Taken from Britannica.com
- Fulgencio Batista, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2016. Taken from Britannica.com
- Fidel Castro, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Taken from Britannica.com
- Marcos Pérez Jiménez, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Taken from Britannica.com
- Rafael Trujillo, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Taken from Britannica.com
- Efraín Ríos Montt, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Taken from Britannica.com