By Herbert C. Huser, National Defense University. Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies
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Additional info for Argentine civil-military relations: from Alfonsín to Menem
These circumstances constituted militarismo sin militares 88 (militarism without soldiers) since no national military institution truly existed at the time. A. Murena, could be said to characterize Argentine politics throughout this first era. The personalism of the caudillos, their resort to threat and use of force and violence, and their reluctance to be circumscribed by an independent legal standard resonate in Argentine politics and government to this day. Nonetheless, during this same era, a number of Argentine political leaders or aspirants, intellectuals, and even generals sought an alternative to governance by unaccountable warring bands.
86 Likewise, other corporate interests were recognized in colonial Argentina, particularly the Roman Catholic Church and holders of land granted by the king (the future estancieros). The people—the fundamental basis of democratic thought and action— had no substantive meaning. Moreover, the circular problem of whether the political culture affects the political institutions or vice versa was moot in Argentina as the country began to acquire a national identity. Both culture and institutions were imported without significant modification from militant, Catholic Spain in the 16th century.
But the movement was riven by factionalism and included armed elements of both the left (epitomized by the youth arm, the Montoneros) and the right (the notorious Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance). Other armed revolutionary bands were increasingly active, especially the People’s Revolutionary Army (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo, or ERP), which engaged in armed attacks against military and civilians alike. Even Perón’s triumphal return to Argentina in 1973 was marred by lethal conflict between armed bands seeking the right to be the anointed militants of Perón.
Argentine civil-military relations: from Alfonsín to Menem by Herbert C. Huser, National Defense University. Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies