The Coup D’Etat

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The coup d’etat


It is difficult to find a univocal definition for coups so that it can cover all the characteristics of all the blows that have been. However, it is possible to establish, through the essential characteristics of the phenomenon, a certain framework on which to work. The definitions are as diverse as the authors who have considered establishing them, since each privileges the characteristics that seem more determinants. 


Edward n. Luttwak, for example, who in 1968 wrote a practical manual on how to perform a successful coup d’etat, uses a very simple functional definition: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical segment of the state apparatus, which is then usedto displace the government from the rest of the apparatus ". This definition only contains two characteristics: it is done from within the state and the group that performs it must be small.

To these two add a third in the form of a previous note, stating that the coups do not have a specific political orientation. In this last point, authors such as Eduardo González Calleja and Jesús de Andrés coincide in turn. González Calleja affirms that "they do not have a specific political color", speaking of the political ideology of the perpetrators. For his part, Jesus of Andrés says that the coups are neutral.

Since the technique per se does not imply a priori the establishment of a democratic or dictatorial regime. González Callej. Because of the way in which it is written, many of the characteristics that make up González’s definition are repeated and does not have a structure as such.

For these reasons, it is considered more useful for this work to break down the characteristics that most authors list, emphasizing the most important. In the first place, it is important to establish what are the objectives of a coup d’etat, answer what are they done for? The blows respond to two clear and differentiated objectives. The first one, and also the most common, is the conquest of the government’s government.


Most of the blows seek to remove the person or group of people who hold the power of the government and replace them with themselves or with a government chosen by them.9 Example of this type of coup is that of 1973 in Chile, to remove Salvador Allende and the Popular Unit of the Government;or that of 1976 in Argentina, to remove María Estela Martínez de Perón and the Justicialistas. 

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