30 years after the fall of Alfredo Strossner in Paraguay and Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama, as well as 60 years after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in Cuba and the arrival of Fidel Castro to power, it is worth remembering how the second half of the 20th century was for Some 15 Latin American countries that lived long periods of dictatorial regimes that responded, to a large extent, to the US desire to eliminate any "communist" influence on the southern side of the American continent.
Nations such as Cuba, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Panama, among others, suffered the oppression of autocrats who drew periods of fear laden with political prisoners, human rights violations, paramilitarism, restriction of press freedom, repression of individual liberties . However, like everything, entered the nineties, these dictators disappeared.
Almost twenty countries passed through the hands of these harmful characters. Only countries such as Costa Rica, Jamaica, Belize, the United States and Canada were saved the region.
The list is extensive and these are just a few names: Aparicio Méndez (Uruguay), Hugo Banzer (Bolivia), Juan Velasco Alvarado (Peru), Humberto Branco (Brazil), José Antonio Páez (Venezuela), Anastasio Somoza (Nicaragua), Tiburcio Carias Andino (Honduras), Carlos Castillo Armas (Guatemala), Porfirio Díaz (Mexico), Francois Duvalier (Haiti), Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and Gustavo Rojas Pinilla for the Colombian quota.
Here is an account of the most damaging dictatorships for the region in recent decades:
Cuba: Fulgencio Batista (1952-1959)
In his first term, Batista held the position of President of Cuba after winning the 1940 elections. In his years of government he supported, the other side of the Atlantic, the allied forces (United Kingdom, France, United States) that were fighting against Hitler's Nazi Germany in World War II. In 1944 he left power, gave his place to President Ramón Grau San Martín and traveled to the United States.
After eight years, and two presidential terms that kept him out of the island's leadership, Batista presented himself as a candidate for the 1952 elections. After seeing that the polls relegated him to third place in the intention to vote, he took power through a coup d'etat four months after the elections.
In his second presidential term, Batista abolished the Constitution, jailed opponents, cracked down on communist revolts, and linked himself to prostitution and gambling businesses.
But at the end of December 1958, as the Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Puebla said: "Fidel arrived."
The movement led by Fidel Castro and the Argentine doctor, Ernesto "El Che" Guevara, carried out an offensive against the Fulgencio Batista regime, whose army fell into the hands of the rebels led by the Argentine revolutionary in the battle of Santa Clara.
Cornered, Batista fled Havana on January 1, 1959 with a fortune of several million dollars. First he arrived in the Dominican Republic, then he went to Portugal and finally settled in Spain, he died in 1973 cardiac arrest at the age of 72.
Paraguay: Alfredo Strossner (1954-1989)
For more than 35 years Alfredo Strossner led Paraguay with a heavy-handed administration. His term was the second longest in Latin America (behind Fidel Castro) and the longest in the south of the continent.
His dictatorship, which is called ‘Stronato’, was characterized by the imposition of a martial law, the reprimand of political rivals, the brutal police repression against citizens and the presence of numerous death squads in the streets.
According to the Paraguayan Truth and Justice Commission, during the Strossner regime some 4,000 people were murdered, 20,000 were tortured and nearly 420 activists, communists and unionists disappeared.
In the onato Stronato ’, the Paraguayan Parliament succumbed to the dictator's shadow, several fraudulent presidential elections were held in which Strossner devastated, under the wing of the Colorado Party. For 1977 he promoted a modification of the Paraguayan Constitution that allowed his indefinite reelection.
Using his authority, and backed by the American anti-communist muscle, Strossner led the Guaraní nation until 1989.
That year he was overthrown by his trusted man, Andrés Rodríguez Pedotti, forcing him to go into exile in Brazil. He lived there until his death in 2006 despite repeated requests for extradition for crimes against humanity.
Chile: Augusto Pinochet (1974-1990)
On September 11, 1973, then-General Augusto Pinochet, along with a group of members of the armed forces, carried out a coup that overthrew Salvador Allende.
Since then, and for a period of 17 years, Pinochet was anchored in an administration that used violence as its first weapon of coercion. Official figures indicate that the Pinochet dictatorship left more than 3,200 dead, including 1,192 missing individuals.
The military regime also tortured more than 38,000 people, one of them former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Despite the brutal repression, the Pinochet government achieved high economic development in Chile.
Remembered for throwing phrases like: “I don't know about human rights. What is that? ”, Pinochet banned political parties and dissolved the National Congress, but after a plebiscite held in 1988 in which" No "was imposed with 56% of the votes, the tyrant was defeated.
Since giving up the presidential post in 1990, Pinochet has benefited an amnesty law. In 1998, he was arrested in London, UK, accused of genocide. In 2000 he lost his parliamentary jurisdiction and in 2004 a judge determined that the ex-military man was medically fit to face a trial, for which he was placed under house arrest.
In 2006, while there were still 300 tax charges against him, he died of heart failure.
Argentina: Jorge Rafael Videla (1976-1981)
Videla led the military junta that governed Argentina during the dictatorship called ‘National Reorganization Process’, which disintegrated in 1983.
'The Process', made up of four successive military boards - made up of three officers each force - who elected a president with executive and legislative functions, is remembered for marking an era of thousands of enforced disappearances, killings of civilians and the burning of books in the remembered "Operation Clarity", a purge of opponents in the entire cultural area.
In this order of ideas, Videla led a government that broke up the political parties and started a border dispute with Chile that narrowly led to a war between the two nations.
With Raúl Alfonsín in charge of the first democratic government after the military regime, Videla was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.
In 1990, President Carlos Menem pardoned him along with several members of the military boards, but eight years later he was detained for the cause of the appropriation of minors and was in house prison until 2008, the year in which he lost this benefit.
Videla passed away in prison in 2013 at the age of 87.
Panama: Manuel Antonio Noriega (1983-1989)
Simon Tisdall, columnist for The Guardian, says that "Cara de Piña", as former US President George HW Bush called the dictator of Panama, Manuel Noriega, would have helped stop the influence of Cuba and the Soviet Union in Latin America .
This was one of the many tasks that the Panamanian general would have carried out under the orders of the CIA, before the United States government ordered the military invasion of the Central American country in 1989.
The once "strong man of Panama" plunged his country into a serious economic, political and social crisis during his six years in office.
Among his criminal history, the relationship with ‘El Cartel de Medellín’ stands out. According to former colonel Luis del Cid, who was Noriega's bodyguard for more than 25 years, the Panamanian dictator made his first contact with Pablo Escobar in 1981. Later they were partners.
On December 20, 1989, by order of George H. W. Bush, the "Just Cause" operation was carried out, in which 27,000 soldiers were deployed in Panama, which achieved, in 14 days, the delivery of General Noriega.
Human rights organizations place the death toll of this operation at 3,000.
Noriega, as recalled by the magister in Theory and Criticism of Culture of the Carlos III University of Madrid, Santiago Peña, had a reciprocal relationship of complicity and treason with the United States, a country that finally took him to prison after being prosecuted and sentenced to 40 years in prison on charges of cocaine trafficking, organized crime and money laundering.
Finally, Noriega was extradited to France to be tried for drug money laundering. In the European country, he was sentenced to seven years and imprisoned in the Parisian Prison of La Santé.
In December 2011, he was extradited to Panama. Six years later he died as a result of a brain tumor.
* With information Anadolu