Federico Finchelstein of the Washington Post –
Historically across Latin America, when constitutionally elected leaders were denied their legitimate mandate, there was just one word for it: coup. Just think of the emblematic cases of Salvador Allende in Chile (1973) and Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala (1954) — both democratically elected leaders who were toppled by the military. In other cases, such as in Uruguay in 1973, Peru in 1992 and Venezuela in 2017, presidents decided to ignore the law and attempted to stay in power indefinitely via self-coup.
To be sure, Trump’s clumsy attempts to deny President-elect Joe Biden’s win already look to be failing. But his actions — denying and attempting to overturn the results of the election and getting top Republicans and Attorney General William P. Barr to indulge these dangerous efforts — are still symptoms of the fragility of American democracy at this moment.
And this is exactly why we should be talking about the history of coups: how they happened and, most importantly, how they have been stopped. Trump’s refusal to concede is an attack on the state and democratic government. While his actions may be dismissed as merely tantrums, the history of dictators in Latin America over the past century suggests the need to take this dangerous moment seriously.