In the forty years up to 1990, the world witnessed more than 100 coups or coup attempts. Yet subsequent years saw a precipitate drop, and there have only been eight coups since 2005.
Between 1930 and 1980, 40% of governmental change in Latin America came through military coups, according to Arturo Valenzuela, formerly director of Georgetown University’s Center for Latin American Studies, and currently U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
But the world’s militaries have not simply returned to the barracks, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Joshua Kurlantzick and Shelby Leighton.
The old-fashioned putsch became unacceptable following the end of the Cold War, as democracy promotion became a central objective of US foreign policy. But it has given way to a more nuanced and clandestine reassertion of military power, as evident in Nigeria, Thailand, Pakistan, and in Latin America, from Mexico to Peru to Honduras.
“Over the past decade, military spending worldwide has grown by over 45 percent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a sign of the renewed clout of armed forces,” they write. “This decline of democracy is one of the most unsettling trends in the world today.”