Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Abdul Lateef


Argentina in 1976 was a place of unusual paradox. The government with more than 60% of the popular vote seemed to have crumbled to the ground with almost no backing from those who had put it into office. Its downfall was due to its inability to resolve the "national crisis" facing the nation.

On 24 March 1976, the military finally intervened via a coup d'etat. Under the new regime, violations of human rights have been reported and protests have been made by leading human rights movements. The military junta argues that its policies and course of actions are necessary for the restoration of civic and economic order and the elimination of an internal threat from communism.

What plunged Argentina into a state of chaos was violence, which has mounted progressively since the late-50s as groups with widely different political objectives and conceptions struggle for power. The utilization of violence spread like a contagious disease from which no one remains immune. Tragically being touched are the lives of a growing number of defenseless victims who are either kidnapped, disappear, or even coldly murdered. Indiscriminate and unrestricted acts of violence have turned every place one can imagine into a battlefield in which there is no known refuge.

Few countries in the world have experienced a deterioration of human rights conditions comparable to that felt in Argentina in recent years. This study attempts to present the inevitable contradiction between a government deploying tactics of repression to resolve the very political and economic problems repression aggravates. Naturally, it is acceptable to most people that a government must maintain public order and preserve the safety of its subjects. Further, it is also acceptable that in the life of any nation, threats to the public order or to the personal safety of its inhabitants, by persons or groups that use violence, can reach such proportions that it becomes necessary, temporarily, to suspend the privilege of certain human rights. But to use terror as a form of regular and normal government?

When a government enjoys a broad popular support, which is the case of the Videla regime, it seems certain that the method of confronting the threat of "left-wing terrorism" through legal means will always be successful. The reestablishment of civic and economic order can not possibly be achieved by undertaking acts of establishment terrorism. This necessitates the search for alternative solutions.