State terror convulsed Argentina in the 1970s, particularly toward the end of the decade. As a result of a state-sanctioned program of massive repression, tens of thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. During the authoritarian regime that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983, the military sought to restructure state, economy, and society.
In their efforts to impose a highly exclusionist, sociopolitical model--indeed, to annihilate all perceived opposition to the regime--the armed forces adopted a clandestine, repressive strategy. This became the trademark of the Argentine national security state. A key component of that strategy was the implementation of a systematic program of "disappearances." The intelligence apparatus, which emerged as an autonomous core within the authoritarian state, played a central role in the deployment of state terror during what became known as the "dirty war."
Meanwhile--and particularly during the later part of the Argentine repression--Central America was experiencing an upsurge of rebellious activity. A number of guerrilla organizations, with varying degrees of popular support, challenged the institutional order of their nations and sought to seize power in the name of a disenfranchised majority. Faced with such a threat, the region's armed forces responded with massive programs of state-sponsored violence. Consequently, tens of thousands of civilians got caught