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11 People Who Changed The Course Of History In Latin America Through Violence And Military Coups

Latin America is the product of diverse processes of colonization that started with Christopher Columbus in 1492. Since then, the various countries that make up Latin America have seen numerous rulers and leaders launch violent coups to take power. Some of the rulers were eventually removed when the people led revolutions to overthrow their oppressive regimes. Here are 11 rulers in Latin America that used violence, intimidation and power to overthrow governments and stripped the rights away from the citizens of their countries.

1.  Fidel Castro

Credit: p04j14q0. Digital image. BBC News.


Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is one of the most recognizable faces when people talk about violent dictatorships. In the 1950s, Castro led a coup d’etat that toppled the authoritarian and Communist rule of Fulgencio Batista, a vicious ruler in his own right. Castro’s rise to power resulted in the deaths of thousands of Cubans and a humanitarian crisis as thousands more took to leaky rafts in an attempt to escape the country.

Credit: anderson-castro. Digital image. New Yorker.


Castro’s guerrilla war in Cuba led to decades of uncertainty and oppressive rule. He ruled over the country from 1956 to 2008 using intimidation, exile, imprisonment and violence to maintain control of the island. He gave the power of the country to his brother, Raul, when his health began to fail. Fidel died in November 2016 causing celebrations by Cuban exiles around the world and renewing hope that the island could soon be free again.

2. Augusto Pinochet

CREDIT: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile. – Archivo General Histórico del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Augusto Pinochet took control of Chile after a U.S.-back coup d’etat in September 1973 overthrowing a democratically elected president. During his rule as the dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990, Pinochet pushed through a constitutional rewrite the handed a majority of the power to the president allowing him to rule with little restraint.

CREDIT: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile. – Archivo General Histórico del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores


After his death in 2006, the number of victims who died under his rule began to come to light. The Chilean government has officially recognized more than 9,000 deaths tied directly to Pinochet’s rule of the South American country.

3. Jorge Rafael Videla

CREDIT: Wikimedia

There’s no question that Jorge Rafael Videla ruled Argentina with an iron fist from 1976 to 1981 after a coup d’etat that overthrew the government led by President Isabel Martínez de Perón. Videla held on to his power by using forced disappearances of any dissenters in the country.

CREDIT: Wikimedia


Videla relinquished his power over Argentina in 1981 and democracy was restored to the country in 1983. Videla and many involved in his coup were put on trial for their human rights violations and it has been reported that anywhere from 5,000 to 30,000 political dissidents were disappeared during his time in power and his government employed widespread murder and torture to keep his dissidents quiet. This included imprisoning the families of political opponents in concentration camps.

4.  Ernesto Che Guevara

Credit: cf6e3c29265a4cf995e665be70ed9fed_18. Digital image. Al Jazeera.


The Argentine is one of the most controversial figures in recent years. His imagery is used as a sign of rebellion by many and his legacy is feared by most. Guevara joined Castro to rule over Cuba and earned the nickname “The Butcher of la Cabaña” as a prosecutor overseeing trials for the Castro regime.

READ: 21 Things You Need To Know About Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Credit: Che Guevara flag. Digital image. Europe Posters.


His legacy as “The Butcher of la Cabaña” persists to this day with many in the Cuban American community pointing out the deaths he caused without proper trials. Guevara’s role in the Castro government forced many Cubans to flee the country for freedom and to escape death.

5. Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco

CREDIT: Governo do Brasil – Galeria de Presidentes


Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco served as the first president of the Brazilian military government following a coup d’etat in 1964. He bowed to pressures from within his government to resist allowing a civilian to become president so they could continue to enjoy unfettered power of the largest South American country. As a result, Castelo Branco did away with the democracy that we know today and rid the country of other political parties and stayed in power until 1967.

CREDIT: Wikimedia

Castelo Branco gave up power and was succeeded in the presidency by Costa e Silva. However, after ridding the country of all of its political parties, Castelo Branco created two parties, the pro-government National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA) and the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) and he drafted a strongly authoritarian constitution. He died four months after leaving the presidency in a midair collision.

6. Hugo Chavez

CREDIT: Al Jazeera English / YouTube


Hugo Chavez first attempted a coup in Venezuela in 1992 and it failed. Yet, he was not deterred from seeking power over the oil-rich country. In 1998, he was elected the president of Venezuela and what followed was a pointed redirection of the country and its politics.

CREDIT: Al Jazeera English / YouTube


In the early 2000s, a coup was launched to unseat Chavez as the president of Venezuela. The coup was unsuccessful and Chavez enacted sweeping reforms to prevent another uprising from challenging his power. A new constitution was implemented and most high ranking military leaders were removed from their posts. Chavez did away with presidential term limits and was allowed to run for reelection indefinitely. He was succeeded in the presidency by Vice President Nicolas Maduro when he died in in 2013 after running the country for 11 years. Follow Maduro’s rise to power, Venezuela has experienced widespread unrest and an economy that continues to decline with many Venezuelans fleeing to other countries in an attempt to seek freedom.

7. Manuel Noriega

CREDIT: The New York Times / YouTube


Manuel Noriega spent a lot of his time working within the Panamanian government before taking power in 1984. The military professional was a close confidant of dictator Omar Torrijos and assumed control fo the country following his death. His years in power saw increased violence and tension in the country while he was tied to drug traffickers and money laundering.

CREDIT: The New York Times / YouTube


The U.S. invaded Panama in an attempt to capture Noriega and bring him to trial for the crimes he committed. The invasion was launched by President George H.W. Bush and after a standoff at an embassy Noriega was arrested and extradited to the U.S. serving 17 years in prison for his crimes.

8. Anastasio Somoza DeBayle

CREDIT: Wikimedia


Somoza was the last in a long line of Somozas that were president of Nicaragua. The family controlled the country from 1936 until 1976. Political and social unrest during his presidency led to the president seeking exile in Paraguay.

CREDIT: Wikimedia


Somoza faced an insurgency from Sandistas who were trying to take the country back after decades of corruption. After fleeing the country, Somoza’s successor handed over the government just one day later. Somoza was later assassinated while in exile in Paraguay.

9. Alfredo Stroessner

CREDIT: AP Archive / YouTube


Alfredo Stroessner was a brutal dictator in Paraguay who served as the president for 35 years. He won re-election seven times in 1958, 1963, 1968, 1973, 1978, 1983 and 1988. Stroessner was a leading participant in Operation Condor and left devastation in his wake.

CREDIT: AP Archive / YouTube

Stroessner eventually had to flee from Paraguay and sought refuge in Brazil. He tried to re-enter Paraguay when he was dying but was denied access by the government at the time. While in power, Stroessner was responsible for the disappearance, kidnapping and murder of dissident in his country.

10. Diego Murillo Bejarano

CREDIT: Teleantioquia / YouTube


Diego Murillo Bejarano was the leader of the United Self-Defenders of Colombia (AUC) and launched brutal attacks in Colombia. He was also the leader of The Office of Envigado cartel.

CREDIT: Teleantiquoa / YouTube

His crimes eventually led to him being extradited to the U.S. for drug trafficking and money laundering. He was arrested in COlombia before the extradition for the murder of a deputy when he was working in the Medellin cartel.

11. Carlos Castillo Armas

CREDIT: Wikimedia

Carlos Castillo Armas was the president of Guatemala for three years but his impact was severe and swift. He immediately silenced his critics and political opponents by arresting 3,000 and subsequently saw 1,000 agricultural workers killed.

CREDIT: @Wikiguate / Twitter

Armas was assassinated by a presidential guard who then committed suicide. A centrist politician won the election following his death ushering in an end to Arams’ authoritative rule.

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From That Picture With George W. Bush To Dakota Johnson’s Memeworthy Confrontation— A Timeline Of Ellen DeGeneres’ Downfall

Entertainment

From That Picture With George W. Bush To Dakota Johnson’s Memeworthy Confrontation— A Timeline Of Ellen DeGeneres’ Downfall

Richard Rodriguez / Getty

Last Thursday, American comedian, television host, and Finding Dory actress Ellen DeGeneres penned a personal memo to the employees of her talk show in an effort to address recent allegations of workplace toxicity.

“My name is on the show and everything we do and I take responsibility for that,” she said while addressing recent complaints about her contributions to a toxic work environment on the show. “Alongside Warner Bros, we immediately began an internal investigation and we are taking steps, together, to correct the issues. As we’ve grown exponentially, I’ve not been able to stay on top of everything and relied on others to do their jobs as they knew I’d want them done. Clearly some didn’t. That will now change and I’m committed to ensuring this does not happen again.”

Writing about what she has learned in recent weeks, DeGeneres vowed to push herself “to learn and grow.”

“We all have to be more mindful about the way our words and actions affect others, and I’m glad the issues at our show were brought to my attention,” she went on to write. “I promise to do my part in continuing to push myself and everyone around me to learn and grow. It’s important to me and to Warner Bros. that everyone who has something to say can speak up and feels safe doing so.”

DeGeneres’s letter comes at a time when serious allegations have been made about her and the executive producers on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Still, while current complaints have gone viral recently, they only seem to be part of an upset over the comedian’s behavior that has been years in the making

Check out the timeline of her downward spiral below:

December 2018 – The New York Times publishes the “Ellen DeGeneres Is Not as Nice as You Think” headline

In a New York Times profile, reporter Jason Zinoman examined the comedian’s happy television host persona against her 2018 Netflix stand-up special, titled “Relatable”. With a headline that read “Ellen DeGeneres Is Not as Nice as You Think,” Zinoman wrote, “In sharp contrast to her public image as everyone’s good friend, happy to listen, she presents herself — with tongue in cheek — as cartoonishly aloof and indifferent, stuck in a privileged bubble, cracking several jokes, for instance, about her fabulous wealth.”

January 2019 – Defense of Kevin Hart and dismissal of his disappointed fans as “haters”

Soon after comedian and actor, Kevin Hart was ousted from his position as an Academy Awards host due to a series of discovered homophobic tweets and jokes he’d made, DeGeneres, invited him to come on her show.

During her interview with him, DeGeneres urged Hart to ignore the backlash he’d received and dismissed his critics as “haters.” Soon after, she appealed to the academy to hire him for the Oscars once again much to her supporters’ chagrin.

October 2019 – DeGeneres takes a photo with George W. Bush

In the fall of 2019, DeGeneres was pictured with former president George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys-Green Bay Packers game. The photo sparked backlash and expressions of disappointment online. After all, during his presidency, Bush pushed for bans on same-sex marriage.
DeGeneres belittled negative comments about the photo writing, “People were upset. They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’ “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different, and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different.”

November 2019 – Dakota Johnson calls DeGeneres out for lying on her own show

Known as the incident that might have first brought down Ellen, Johnson’s 2019 appearance on the comedian’s daytime show undoubtedly opened the floodgates. During an interview with the Fifty Shades Of Grey actress, DeGeneres commented about not being invited to her 30th birthday party asking “How was the party? I wasn’t invited.” Johnson was quick to defend herself in an awkward but honest moment saying “Actually, no, that’s not the truth, Ellen. You were invited.”

Oof.

March 2020 – And of course, that viral Twitter post

Months after Johnson’s appearance, a Twitter thread posted by “Gilmore Guys” podcast co-host Kevin T. Porter went viral after he petitioned for negative stories about DeGeneres’s behavior in “exchange for food bank donations.”

The tweet reeled in over 16K comments and a whole lot of horrifying stories about the actress.

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images

There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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