Ideology and Violence in the 80’s

Violence in Latin American countries spread as ideological¬†influence emanated out of the Soviet Union and the United States. Political violence throughout Latin America became the grounds for a proxy war between cold war superpowers with support for right capitalist governments coming from the USA, and funds for left-leaning guerrilla warfare coming from the USSR. The late 70’s and 80’s saw the prevalence of marxist guerrilla groups throughout Latin American countries such as the FSLN in Nicaragua, the FARC in Colombia, the Sendero Luminous in Peru, the FMLN in El Salvador, etc.

At the same time, Latin American countries were plagued, almost exclusively, by right leaning repressive governments politically aligned with the United States. Workers and peasants rights were usually ignored and redirecting attention to clientelist policy aimed at satisfying foreign interests, in exchange enriching dictators such as Somoza in Nicaragua and Pinochet in Chile.

Political policy shifted into one that focused on the targeting and elimination of the opposition and leftist groups. These groups were often made up of students, workers, and educated members of the lower middle classes. The targeting of these groups meant that the government, in a way, was waging war against education, youth, and the whole social culture that came to dominate the 70’s and 80’s. This targeting led to massive disappearances, murder, and imprisonment of students and young politically active people that disagreed with the dictatorial ultra-capitalist regimes.

In addition, in countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, early drug violence added to the political conflict thus escalating conflict and adding to the death count. Widespread violence during the 80’s was, although mainly politically motivated, also fueled by other rising social issues such as inequality, drug trade, and conflicts over land that were brought to light in the increasingly unstable socio-political climate of the time.


  1. As I was doing the readings, I also noticed that the governments in power were all right leaning parties, do you think there is a reason for that?

    1. Thats a very interesting question. I don’t really know the reason, but I would think that since countries in Latin America were always aligned with capitalist ideologies, it was not very hard for the US to push their agenda during the time of the Cold War. Nevertheless I don’t know for sure if that’s the real reason. What do you think was the reason why this was happening?

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