Historians killed for political reasons in Ibero-America (1920-2020)





Democracies (Emergent; Flawed; Stable), Dictatorships, History Producers, Political Murders


This essay examines the Ibero-American history producers who were killed for political reasons during the past century. It presents sixty-one victims from eight countries. Of these, 82% were killed by state forces, 16% by non-state forces. Dictatorships had the worst scores (57% of the victims), while flawed democracies also saw considerable casualties (33%), in contrast to emergent (7%) and stable democracies (3%). Much evidence was found for the thesis that killing these history producers did not necessarily mean the erasure of their names or achievements. Out of the sixty-one victims, nine (15%) were killed for political reasons that were mainly or partly related to their historical works. Six of these, however, occurred under democracies, particularly flawed or emergent democracies, and not under dictatorships. This finding leads to the hypothesis that well-entrenched dictatorships, wielding ruthless power, deter and block incriminating historical research – making the killing of history producers for history-related reasons relatively rare – whereas freer conditions in flawed and emergent democracies prompt or encourage such dangerous historical research. Those investigating past systemic violence or the crimes of previous dictatorships then risk becoming targets of the military seeking to install or restore authoritarian rule.


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