1976 Argentine coup d'état
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|1976 Argentine coup d'état|
|Part of Dirty War|
|Location||Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires
|Planned by||Argentine Armed Forces|
|Date||24 March 1976|
|Outcome||Overthrow of María Estela Martínez de Perón. Jorge Rafael Videla becomes President of Argentina|
The 1976 Argentine coup was a right-wing coup d'état that overthrew Isabel Perón on 24 March 1976, in Argentina. In her place, a military junta was installed, which was headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier-General Orlando Ramón Agosti. The junta took the official name of "National Reorganization Process", and remained in power until 10 December 1983.
Although political repression (the so-called "Dirty War") began long before the coup, it was heavily extended after the event and resulted in the "disappearances" of between around 9,300 and 30,000 persons, depending on sources.
President Juan Domingo Perón died on 1 July 1974. He was succeeded by his wife, María Estela Martínez de Perón, nicknamed "Isabelita", who proved incapable of controlling the rapidly deteriorating political and social situation.
On 5 February 1975, Operativo Independencia was launched; a Vietnam-style intervention aiming to annihilate the guerrilla strongholds in the Tucumán jungle, which had maintained a presence in the area as early as May 1974. In October, the country was subdivided in five militare zones, and each commander was given full autonomy to unleash a carefully planned wave of repression.
On 18 December, a coup attempt took place with the objective of overthrowing Isabel. A number of aircraft took off from Morón Air Base and strafed the Casa Rosada. The rebellion could only be halted 4 days later through arbitration by a chaplain. However, the military did succeed in toppling Air Force commander Héctor Fautario, the only remaining loyal officer. Fautario had drawn harsh criticism towards himself from the Army and Navy due to his vehement opposition to their repressive plans, and for his refusal to mobilize the Air Force against the guerilla in the north. Crucially, he was Videla's last obstacle on the way to power.
By January 1976, Argentina's fate was sealed. The guerilla front in Tucumán was reduced to a few platoons, and the military was biding its time, fully backed by the United States and the local élite.
Shortly before 01:00 am, President Martínez de Perón was detained and taken by helicopter to El Messidor residence. At 03:10, all television and radio stations were occupied. Regular transmissions were cut and replaced by a military march, after which, the first communique was aired:
"[...] People are advised that as of today, the country is under the operational control of the Joint Chiefs General of the Armed Forces. We recommend all inhabitants the strict compliance of the provisions and directives emanating from the military, security or police authorities, and to be extremely careful to avoid individual or group actions and attitudes that may require drastic intervention from the operating personnel. Signed: General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier Orlando Ramón Agosti."
State of siege and martial law were implemented, and military patrolling in every major city was established. The morning was seemingly uneventful, but as the day progressed the detentions multiplied. Hundreds of workers, unionists, students and political activists were abducted from their homes, workplaces or in the street.
March 24 is now designated the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice.