A Crisis in Civil-Military Relations in the Andes?
Trinkunas, Harold A.
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Almost all countries in the Andean region have experienced increased civil-military conflict during the last decade. Venezuela has elected a former coup leader as president who has swiftly militarized public administration, placing over 170 active duty and retired military officers in senior ministerial and vice-ministerial positions (Machillanda 2001). Ecuador witnessed a coup d’etat in January 2000 that led to the deposal of a legitimately elected president and his replacement by his vice-president (Weidner 2000). Peru led the region in this area, experiencing a civilian-led self-coup in 1992 by President Alberto Fujimori, and a transition to democracy from a deeply corrupt civilian semi-authoritarian regime in 2001. A thoroughly complicit military played a leading role in both events (Garcia Calderón 2001). Even Colombia, which has made substantial progress towards democratic control of the armed forces by establishing a civilian Ministry of Defense, has dealt with civil-military tensions over its internal conflict. Over 200 officers were recently dismissed for their suspected links to right wing paramilitary organizations. Even Bolivia, were former dictator, Gen. Hugo Banzer, had served as an elected president, has witnessed some military tension over internal conflicts between the state and indigenous communities over coca policy (Weidner 2000). Taken together, these events suggest that the Andean region may be experiencing a crisis in civil-military relations.
Paper prepared for the 2001 meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington DC, 5-8 September 2001.
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