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Argentine Junta Underground Media Research Paper

Argentine Junta Underground Media Research Paper

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Published by Sarah Mirk
Senior history paper from Grinnell College, exploring the role of underground media in the formation of opposition groups to Argentina's junta.
Senior history paper from Grinnell College, exploring the role of underground media in the formation of opposition groups to Argentina's junta.

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Published by: Sarah Mirk on Feb 27, 2012
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Todas las Puertas Están Cerradas
All the Doors Are Closed:The formation and significance of early groups opposing Argentina’s 1976-1983military regimeSarah Mirk Professor Silva – Labor in Latin American seminar December 21, 20071
When General Jorge Videla and the Argentine military launched Argentina’s“Dirty War” with a coup in March 1976, the new regime immediately attempted toshut down space for democratic dissent within society. Knowing full well labor unions’ histories as the nation’s most powerful and divisive opposition forces, in thedays following the coup the military specifically persecuted union leaders and anysuspected worker agitators. Within weeks of seizing power, the military hadimprisoned 1,400 union leaders, suspected labor militants and Peronist Youths – many of whom would never be seen alive again.
By April, the number arrestedstood at 10,000 and the surviving top labor leaders fled the country.
Decapitated,infiltrated and tamed, the major trade unions which had for decades been the primaryvoice of populist protest in Argentina were no longer viable channels of resistanceand reform.In the wake of the regime’s destruction of Argentina’s traditional mediums of  protest, new social forces became the outlets of opposition and the pioneers of later mass uprising. With the exception of the leftist guerrilla movements, early domesticresistance groups were loosely organized, disparate groups of inexperienced activistsforced to protest due to the lack of established channels of criticism and dissent. Asone previously apolitical mother explained after the disappearance of her children ledher to protest the government weekly in Buenos Aires’s Plaza de Mayo, “We wenteverywhere to make a complaint. All the doors are closed. Where did we wind up?The plaza de Mayo.”
Donald Clark Hodges.
 Argentina, 1943-1987: The National Revolution and Resistance.
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 1988) pp. 194
Hodges, pp. 194
Susana Muñoz and Lourdes
Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.
trans. Sarah Mirk. (New York, NY: Women Make Movies, Inc. 1985)
In studying resistance to General Videla’s regime, historians emphasize thesignificance of the nation’s mass protests, which began to occur only after 1981. Bythat time, illegally-resurrected unions led by an old guard of Peronist activists hadonce again became potent mobilizing forces.
From 1981-1983, these nationally-organized unions channeled citizens’ general anger over Argentina’s economy,repressive government and the Falklands War flop into marches hundreds-of-thousands strong through the streets of Buenos Aires. It was these mass protestswhich eventually ousted the regime.However, while mass protest to the regime beginning in the early 80s, thegovernment was unable to completely shut down all space for social dissent evenduring the initial years of rule.
During this time, significant resistance movementsformed and spread precisely because the military blocked traditional channels of protest. The government did not recognize the resistance groups which grewfrom 1976-1980 as potential threats, since non-traditional activists not alignedwith any of the established channels of dissent such as political parties ornational unions formed them.
These early anti-authoritarian groups can be dividedinto three categories: small unions, which remained relatively free from governmentintervention and mobilized workers on local levels against specific factory ownersand local factory rules; the mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who staged the most prolonged and perhaps most effective protest of the era, and underground publications, which spread anti-authoritarian ideology.
All three of these groups seta tone of dissent in society which helped facilitate later, larger protests – exactly
In a 1985 interview, the imprisoned military governor Ricardo Obregon Cano distinguished four forms of resistance to his old regime, in order of importance: the resistance of organized labor,guerrillas, relatives of the disappeared and, finally, the opposition political parties allowed by thegovernment. Interview by Hodges, March 1985, pg. 203

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