Kicking off Democracy in Latin America
On June 25, 1978, Argentina and Holland were playing the World Cup final. General Jorge Rafael Videla’s dictatorship had spent millions to organize the Cup; the Montanera guerrilla had decreed a unilateral truce, and all of Latin America stirred with euphoria for Argentina’s sky-blue flag in hopes of a victory. At the same hour, we—a group of college freshmen—were taking an exam on the subject of democracy. Our professor, a well-known political scientist, had adamantly refused to postpone the test when we timidly suggested he do so. So there we were, working in anguish and silence while every once in a while the enthusiastic shouts of workers from a nearby construction site penetrated the classroom. We shot glances at each other, unable to concentrate, with the wall clock ticking away the minutes left in the game. And suddenly, there came a huge roar from the street that shook us: Argentina Champion! Argentina Champion! We couldn’t stand it any more—test or not—and we got up and ran to the nearest radios and televisions, and in the scramble, someone mumbled, “to hell with democracy.”
unfortunately are also present in the wider society, political parties and the state.
Aldo Panfichi is Professor and Chair, Department of Social Sciences, Universidad Católica del Perú. He was a 2002 Visiting Scholar at DRCLAS.