Bolsonaro joins Chávez, Perón and other elected military in the polls

Captain Jair Bolsonaro, elected today as president of Brazil, swells the list of soldiers who came to power by popular vote, which among many others includes Argentine General Juan Domingo Perón and Venezuelan Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez.

Although Latin America is one of the regions in the world that suffered the most with dictatorships, it has also had dozens of democratically elected military presidents, although the great majority governed in the 19th century or in the first half of the 20th century, and a few did so in the XXI century.

Bolsonaro, unlike almost everyone, comes to power in Brazil with a purely military formula completed by General Hamilton Mourao, who as the president-elect is from the reserve of the Army, and with a speech that extols the military dictatorship that prevailed in the country between 1964 and 1985.

He also promised that at least a third of his ministers will be from the Armed Forces, with which his Government would adopt an unusual civic-military character in Latin American democracies.

Brazil did not elect a military ruler since 1945, when the elections were won by Marshal Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who governed between 1946 and 1951.

The president-elect is now the lowest-ranking official among a vast majority of generals who ruled the region and, like the late Chávez, was an Army paratrooper.

Bolsonaro's immediate predecessor is General Otto Pérez Molina, elected in 2011 as president of Guatemala and who resigned in 2015 under pressure on corruption allegations that led to his imprisonment.

Before Pérez Molina, Guatemala had democratically elected five soldiers, like Mexico during the twentieth century, and a number second only to El Salvador, which had seven, although in elections at the time considered rigged in the midst of successive coups.

Argentina, a country marked by dictatorships like El Salvador, had four military presidents elected in the twentieth century and one of them was Perón, who came to power in 1946, was re-elected in 1951 and overthrown four years later.

In 1973, after almost two decades of exile, he returned to winning at the polls and died a year later, but the "Peronist movement" is still one of the faithful of the Argentine political balance.

During the twentieth century, Peru had two military officers elected at the polls. Commander Luis Sánchez Cerro, who served between 1931 and 1933, and then General Manuel A. Odría (1950-1956).

In the 21st century it was again turned into a uniformed one and elected the commander Ollanta Humala, who governed between 2011 and 2016.

Paraguay also had two elected military presidents during the last decades. One, Marshal José Félix Estigarribia, hero of the Chaco War and who governed between 1939 and 1940, when he died in a plane crash.

The last was General Andrés Rodríguez, who first assumed provisionally after overthrowing his in-law Alfredo Stroessner in 1989, to put an end to a dictatorship that had been in place since 1954.

Three months after the coup, Rodríguez won the elections and gave constitutional status to his government, which he held until 1993.

The Dominican Republic and Venezuela are two of the countries that, together with Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Uruguay, only elected a military president in modern times.

Bolivia opted for the democratic elections of 1997 by General Hugo Banzer, who had already ruled de facto between 1971 and 1978 and resigned in 2001, suffering from cancer.

In Chile, which between 1974 and 1990 was under El Hierro dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo had won twice at the polls and governed between 1927-1931 and 1952-1958.

In Uruguay, it was General Óscar-Diego Gestido Pose, elected in March 1967, but who died in December of that same year. In Ecuador, the only one was Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez, who took office in 2003 and was dismissed two years later.

The cases of the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are different. They have had only one military president elected in recent decades, but in both cases it could be said that they were worth many.

Dominican General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who inspired the novel "La fiesta del chivo" by Mario Vargas Llosa, came to power by a coup in 1930, kept the elections scheduled for that year and won at the polls, but in the middle of the repression imposed by his regime.

He ruled through valid between 1938 and 1942, when he was elected again, and retained power through "puppets" until he was assassinated in 1961.

Chávez won the 1998 elections in a climate of decomposition of traditional politics similar to that of Brazil today. Re-elected in 2001 and 2007, he governed until 2013, when he died a victim of cancer.

His imprint, however, remains and the "chavismo" remains in power with Nicolás Maduro, who as his mentor adopted the lines of the so-called "Socialism of the 21st Century" and has been accused of authoritarian practices, such as those of the Brazilian left He is afraid that he can implement Bolsonaro, although in this case from the extreme right.


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