a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial


Argentina: Civil War and Dirty War

Years: 1974-1977
Battle deaths: 4,677 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]

Published prior to 2013 | Updated: 2014-08-10 17:18:36
In 1975, President Isabel Martinez de Perón, under pressure from the military establishment, appointed Jorge Rafael Videla commander-in-chief of the Argentine Army. He was one of the military heads of the coup d’état that would overthrow Perón on March 24, 1976. In her place, a military junta was installed, which was headed by Admiral Emilio Massera, General Orlando Agosti and Videla himself.

By mid-1975, the country was in chaos. Extreme right death squads used their hunt for leftist guerrillas (like the Montoneros) as a pretext to exterminate their ideological opponents on the left and as a cover for common crimes. In July, there was a general strike. Wealthy, conservative landowners encouraged the army, which prepared to take control by making lists of people who should be‘dealt with’after the planned coup. "As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure," Videla declared in 1975 in support of the death squads.

Human rights violations

The junta was responsible for the slaughtering of an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 Argentineans, mostly trade-union members, students and people thought to espouse left wing views.

Relatives of the victims, however, continued to uncover evidence that some children taken from their mothers’wombs were being raised as the adopted children of their mothers’murderers, as in the case of Silvia Quintela. For 15 years, a group called The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo has been demanding the return of these kidnapped children, estimated to number as many as 500. The victims were often pushed out of planes and into the water of the Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean to drown.

In 1977, Videla told British journalists: "I emphatically deny that there are concentration camps in Argentina, or military establishments in which people are held longer than is absolutely necessary in this ... fight against subversion." Yet, there are people such as Alicia Partnoy, who was tortured and has written her story in "The Little School", who claim otherwise.


The junta’s mission was to defend against international communism. They worked closely with the Asian-based World Anti-Communist League and its Latin American affiliate, the Confederación Anticomunista Latinoamericana. In 1980, the Argentine military helped Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and major drug lords mount the bloody Cocaine Coup in neighboring Bolivia.

Because of their anti-communist point of view, when Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency of the United States in 1981, he was quick to reverse former President Jimmy Carter’s condemnation of the regime’s record on human rights and to authorize CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service for training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras. (see Iran-Contra Affair)

In 1981 Videla retired and General Roberto Eduardo Viola replaced him, but nine months later, Viola stepped down for reasons of health, and General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri took the post.

Invasion of the Falkland Islands

In 1982, the Argentine military invaded the British-controlled Falkland Islands, but was quickly defeated by the British, who retook the islands. The loss of the war led to the resignation of Galtieri on June 17 of the same year and a third (and last) junta was placed in power under a new president, Reynaldo Bignone. The occupation of the Falklands accelerated the end of the junta rule.

Source: Wikipedia | Published under the GNU Free Licence


Data Sources

[1] Battle deaths: PRIO Battle Deaths Dataset v3.0 (link) (1946-88) ID: #50
Low: 688 High: 4,677

More about sources


NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.



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