Recalling the Legacy of the 1985 Trial of the Military in Argentina

  • Mario Di Paolantonio
Part of the Perspectives on Comparative Politics book series (PCP)


As Argentina moved toward democracy in 1983, a legal process was also set in motion to account for the dictatorship’s repressive strategy and to symbolically mark the turn to democracy. In 1985, this process led to the socalled “Trial of the Military,” which remarkably brought before the law the nine junta leaders deemed responsible for violations committed during the 1976–1983 military regime, which were discussed in Chapter 2. In light of the social divisions and conflicts that the Trial of the Military brought to the fore, igniting various military rebellions, the trial appears to illustrate why domestically prosecuting perpetrators of a prior regime is fraught with conflict, provides no clear benefits, and should be avoided. However, rather than dismiss the trial as an inevitably flawed enterprise, I want to propose that the legacy of the trials is both instructive and formative. In this chapter, I consider how the very failure and betrayed hopes of the 1985 Trial of the Military in Argentina provided civil society with the impetus for the ongoing work of righting past wrongs and restructuring the normative dimension of democracy in Argentina.


Civil Society Criminal Responsibility Democratic Transition Military Officer Civilian Court 
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© Lilian A. Barria and Steven D. Roper 2010

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  • Mario Di Paolantonio

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