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Strategies of Secession and Counter-Secession

Informal Repression in Latin America, 1960-1980

Latin America
Political Violence
Comparative Perspective
Flavio Foresi
Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent / Université Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis
Flavio Foresi
Institut d'Histoire du Temps Présent / Université Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis

In the seventies, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay suffer three military coups d’Etat inspired by different basis, with different peculiarities and consequences. On the other hand, one of the common characteristics was the marked anticommunism of the plotters in a Cold War context. Another similarity is the informal and illegal repression lead against militants, intellectuals and sympathizers belonging to the world of the left which took place in the years immediately preceding the coups. We are particularly interested in this period that we consider as an example of « strategy of tension » and, furthermore, in the main groups that carried out the informal repression.

Through the study of the action of the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina between 1973 and 1976, of the Frente Nacionalista Patria y Libertad active in Chile from 1971 to 1973 and of the Uruguayan’s Comando Caza Tupamaros that was active in the sixties and seventies, we’ll try to conceptualize the different forms of repression that are put into practice in the Southern Cone in the years 1960-1970, whether carried out by paramilitary groups, parapolices or politicized militants. We will then try to propose a theoretical tool, informal repression, that can take into account any type of repression that is not conducted by agents of state institutions in the exercise of their functions.

The concept of informal repression was used, in a different meaning, for the first time by D. Ridruejo in 1962, precisely on the repression carried out in the first period of the Spanish Civil War. Thanks to advances in the study of the informal in post-war societies, especially in the field of sociology of organizations, we will try to apply this concept to the study of the groups that participated in the repression in Latin America during the Cold War

These groups integrate the long repressive tradition of their countries with new methods derived from the theory of revolutionary warfare of French inspiration, diffused in the Southern Cone’s military environments since the mid-1950s. The purpose of the paper will be to investigate the role that had this informal repression antecedent to coups. This will be carried out through the analysis of the repressive dynamics, the modalities of action of the mentioned groups and their writings, especially the ones about the violence they act.

The reflection, part of a wider path, will be enriched by new research that will be carried out as a part of a field study that will be carried out in the first half of 2018 in Santiago del Chile, Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The work in the archives will be integrated by a group of interviews mainly with actors that have suffered this repression.
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