In This Review

Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and Consolidation
Military Rebellion in Argentina: Between Coups and Consolidation
By Deborah L. Norden
University of Nebraska Press, 1996, 242 pp.

This important book delves into a concern fundamental to many of the new democracies in Latin America: how to establish civilian control over armed forces in the aftermath of military dictatorships. Norden, an assistant professor at Colby College, examines Argentina after the collapse of military rule following the Falklands debacle. In South America's most dramatic attempt at demilitarization, the elected government of Rafael Alfonsin significantly cut the military budget and prosecuted military officers in civilian courts, provoking significant opposition in the armed forces, especially from the carapintadas, the "painted faces." Three military uprisings took place, two under Alfonsin and a third under his elected successor, Carlos Menem. These failed to develop into coups d'‚tat, and in 1989 Argentina saw a transfer of power from one freely elected president to another from a different political party -- a major step on the path to democracy. In convincing detail Norden examines the evolution of the military rebellions and delineates the shifts that occurred among the officers, from violent reactions against government policies to political organizing within the system. She concludes with a comparative discussion of Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil. While "Argentina's military perhaps still has a while to go before intervention will cease to be considered an option," she concludes that the political space for it appears to be shrinking.