What Egypt Can Learn From Latin America's Revolutions

In both cases -- and in most of Latin American coups -- military autonomy led to human rights violations that have a cast shadow over the region’s history.

“After a coup, the army doesn’t have any accountability,” said James Green, a professor of history and Brazilian culture at Brown University. “And that’s the danger: there is no reason to think that the military won’t do terrible things in Egypt now, much like they did in Brazil and in other Latin American countries.”

Settling Scores

Without any checks or balances in place, military juntas in Latin America usually tried to solve the country’s issues by aggressively targeting groups they considered responsible for social unrest. In places like Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Guatemala, and Peru the military’s solutions often involved disappearances, torture and murder.

“History shows time and time again that what the military does when they are in control is far from what is in the best interest of large parts of the population,” Weld said. “If you end up being part of the segment of the population that the military feels is part of the problem, then you might be targeted for extermination.”

There is no reason to assume that this will happen in Egypt. There, the army has set forth a road map for new elections, it has named the nation's chief justice interim president, and is reportedly favoring ElBaradei, a respected intellectual, as the leader of a transitional government.

A Democracy Dilemma

Nonetheless, it’s hard to forget that the army is ousting a democratically elected leader to supposedly promote democracy.

Morsi, who denounced the takeover as a military coup and rejected the army’s demands, was taken into custody on Wednesday, along with several of his aides.

People living in rural areas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s main electorate, have already expressed their concern over the event, and some are predicting a civil war.

More than two dozen people have been killed since Sunday, and on Wednesday hundreds were injured during protests and clashes with security forces.

As Green puts it, “You are playing with fire if you are using the military to establish a democracy.”

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