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Leaders of Ethiopia's military junta.
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A junta (from the Spanish Junta for 'committee') is usually a small group of military officers who take it upon themselves to seize state power in the country they were ostensibly meant to be defending against external security threats. Particularly in Latin America, where inter-state warfare is historically rare and the United States acts as regional hegemon, the lack of such external security threats transformed many national militaries into effective national constabularies focused on perceived internal security threats.

Juntas are usually thought of as right-wing in nature, although left-wing versions have been known. Juntas became notorious for their ruthless suppression of dissent, using kidnapping, torture and execution without trial as weapons of state terrorism. The members of a Junta may claim, and even believe themselves, to be national saviours, giving their group grand-sounding names such as the State Law and Order Restoration Council of Burma and Operacion Honestidad in Guatemala in 1963.[1]

A few right-wing juntas[edit]

A few left-wing juntas[edit]

  • The Dergue of Ethiopia (1974-87) (Communist)[3]
  • The SLORC and State Peace and Development Council of Burma/Myanmar (1962-1997) (Buddhist Socialist)[4]
  • Junta de Salvação Nacional ("National Salvation Junta")/Movimento das Forças Armadas ("Armed Forces Movement") in Portugal (1974-1976; Socialism, anti-colonialism, pro-democracy — helped usher current Portuguese democracy).

A few miscellaneous juntas[edit]


  • ODESSA in various spy novels, based on the urban legend that high ranking Nazi officials fled to Argentina, Brazil and the Middle-East to escape the Nuremberg Trials and began trying to rebuild their army and gain territory in secret.
  • The First Order in the third Star Wars trilogy, based on ODESSA; a faction of high-ranking officials of the Galactic Empire who fled to the Unexplored Regions of the galaxy after the destruction of the second Death Star (the one of Return of the Jedi) and were able to reconstitute themselves into a hermit state and rebuild their military.

A board game[edit]

  • Junta (run your own corrupt banana republic and make sure to siphon off as much cash as possible to your Swiss bank account).[5]


  1. George Black, et al., "Counterrevolution as a Way of Life." NACLA Report on the Americas. Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan-Feb. 1983) p. 7
  2. CISPES. "El Salvador: A Political Chronology." Marvin Gettleman et al., ed.s, El Salvador: Central America in the New Cold War. 1981. New York: Grove Press.
  3. See the Wikipedia article on Derg.
  4. Christina Fink/ 2001. Living Silence: Burma under Military Rule. Bangkok: White Lotus. p. 94
  5. Junta on BoardGameGeek