Political (In)Justice

Authoritarianism and the Rule of Law in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina

This is a pathbreaking study of institutional and personal relations between military and judicial elites in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, and how they laid the foundation for divergent patterns of state repression. Pereira effectively mines the institutional legacies of the past to offer a nuanced account of why some authoritarian states relied more on coercive violence than legal measures to fight their internal enemies. He also underscores the importance of turning greater disciplinary attention to the rule of law and the ways that military priorities and institutions affected the administration of the justice system in its entirety.
Diane E. Davis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Why do attempts by authoritarian regimes to legalize their political repression differ so dramatically? Why do some dispense with the law altogether, while others scrupulously modify constitutions, pass new laws, and organize political trials? Political (In)Justice answers these questions by comparing the legal aspects of political repression in three recent military regimes: Brazil (1964–1985); Chile (1973–1990); and Argentina (1976–1983). By focusing on political trials as a reflection of each regime’s overall approach to the law, Anthony Pereira argues that the practice of each regime can be explained by examining the long-term relationship between the judiciary and the military. Brazil was marked by a high degree of judicial-military integration and cooperation; Chile’s military essentially usurped judicial authority; and in Argentina, the military negated the judiciary altogether. Pereira extends the judicial-military framework to other authoritarian regimes—Salazar’s Portugal, Hitler’s Germany, and Franco’s Spain—and a democracy (the United States), to illuminate historical and contemporary aspects of state coercion and the rule of law.

about the author

Anthony W. Pereira

Anthony W. Pereira is associate professor of political science at Tulane University. He is the author of The End of Peasantry: The Emergence of the Rural Trade Union Movement in Northeast Brazil, 1961Ð1988, and coeditor of Irregular Armed Forces and Their Role in Politics and State Formation.

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Anthony W. Pereira