Jul. 21st, 2013

tcpip: (Warpath)
[personal profile] tcpip
A coup d'état (or putsch, or pronunciamiento), the sudden seizure of governmental power by a small group, is almost invariably a detestable event. Typically a military event, as they have the resources to carry this out effectively, they are often associated with the overthrow of a popular democratic government by a military associated with an existing ruling class with foreign backing. The Pinochet coup against the elected socialist government of Allende in Chile in 1973 being perhaps the most well known example of this type. However this is obviously not the only type. Sometimes a coup can occur from the competing different factions within military-dominated governments. The latter case is often tied to a succession of civil wars, and is particularly the case in resource-rich developing countries where different groups aspire to control monopoly profits.

Recent events in Egypt bring certain questions to the fore. In January 2011, protests rose against the government of Hosni Mubarak, whose authoritarian social-democratic National Democratic Party was a member of Socialist International until these protests. Involving hundreds of thousands of people and with clashes with security forces resulting in over eight hundred deaths. Increasingly however, it became clear that the armed forces would not act against the protesters and in February Mubarak resigned with the military assuming control for a while, resulting in a constitution referendum in March and parliamentary elections in November and January 2012.

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Time will determine whether their action was the right thing to do. One of the metrics of the judgement will be the military coup of Costa Rica of 1948 led by José Figueres and the National Liberation Army. A disputed election resulted in a short and bloody civil war where some two thousand people were killed. Taking control of the government, Figueres and his team began instituting a program of individual liberty and social democracy. They granted women and the children of black immigrants the right to vote, and abolished literacy requirements for the same. They nationalised the banking sector, and used that wealth to provide for basic welfare and universal education. They established a professional civil service, ending patronage and nepotism. True, the new military government did ban the Communist Party for its support of the previous regime, but it operated under a new name in any case. Having provided these liberties, rights, and codified in new constitution, the military junta of Costa Rica did something quite remarkable, unique and beautiful; it abolished the military. In the decades that followed, uniquely among Latin American nations, Costa Rica enjoyed a stable, liberal, democratic government - and never experienced a military coup ever again

(Also posted a few minutes ago at http://isocracy.org/node/165)

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