This week’s reading centered on the fall of the terror states in Latin America. The way I interpreted the events was that a lot of the actions, methods, and technologies these states had previously used to stay in power, eventually came back to haunt them. Essentially, the terror states contributed to their own destruction.
Dawson highlights the fact that connections with the West supported the “dirty warriors” in gaining arms and sometimes even aided these groups in more direct ways. Unfortunately for them, their enemies also found a way to use these alliances with the global North for their own gain. For example, the Madres de la Plaza were able to gain international recognition and used their representations as poor mothers who just wanted answers for the disappearances of their children to put pressure on the Argentinian government to back down. Similarly, mothers in Mexico attempted to appeal to American citizens to fight for the hundreds of missing women in the North.
Government efforts to encourage urbanization ultimately led to the alienation of many of its citizens. They were unable to support the new large urban population, and when they did attempt to intervene, they ended up destroying self-created social networks and creating more animosity. This created a significant population that resented the state, and were thus willing to work in various illegal occupations.
Another tactic that backfired on terror states was exile. Many governments attempted to control the media to paint themselves in a good light, and anyone who went against them as aggressors and destabilizers. They mostly dealt with such enemies by (secretly) assassinating them, putting them in exile, or scaring them enough that they eft on their own accord. Unfortunately, this increased migration limited the government’s ability to control what foreign authorities knew about what was happening in their countries. These exiles could give their own accounts (which they frequently did), which usually painted a much darker picture of the actualities than what governments were trying to portray.
Granted, from our present view, it’s easy to see that their actions would lead to their ultimate downfall, but at the time, they probably thought that they were increasing their longevity. My question this week is a theoretical one; if terror states had made different decisions, do you think they would have been able to hold on to power? Or do you think that their demise was inevitable?