The Return of the Latin American Military?

Issue Date October 2020
Volume 31
Issue 4
Page Numbers 151-165
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In recent years, democratic governments in Latin America have increasingly ordered their armed forces into various internal-security operations in response to rising crime, mass protest and other challenges. While most militaries comply with those lawful orders, some choose to disobey, while others qualify their compliance by altering the terms of their deployment. In responding in varied ways, militaries have often made tradeoffs between upholding principles of civilian control on the one hand, and human rights on the other. They have also been motivated largely by a desire to defend their institution and the soldiers who serve it. A series of capsule-like studies of five countries illustrates a continuum of military behaviors, from full obedience to outright defiance.