General Juan Carlos Onganía

Vancouver BC

The events in the neighbouring country to the south today Monday, January 29, 2017 bring to mind that while Americans are better than most of us at just about everything there is one quarter where we Argentines may have the upper hand.

Argentines are experts with the execution of the military coup d’etat. They have practiced for years. I recall one in particular. On June 28, 1966 our freely elected civilian president, Arturo Illía (an inoffensive if slow country doctor) was deposed by a military junta comprised by the head of the army, the air force and the navy. The former Commander and Chief of the Army, General Juan Carlos Onganía (he of the walrus moustache) became the president.

As a conscript of the Argentine Navy my companions and I were ordered to surround the seat of government, la Casa Rosada, joined by representatives of the other branches of the armed forces. Through a loudspeaker President Arturo Illía was asked to leave the premises. This he did in a taxi.

One of the first acts of the military junta was to censure the arts:

Onganía’s government prohibited the Bélla Bartók ballet The Miraculous Mandarin, Stravinski’s The Rite of Spring and son after the Buenos Aires premiere of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s Bomarzo which had already been premiered in Washington DC. To top that the screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup (based on a short story by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar) was stopped.

I wonder what would have happened if John Frankenheimer’s 1964 film Seven Days in May had not been released until 1966.

As an Argentine, my only advice to President Trump is that he not interfere with the running of his Defense Department by General James (Mad Dog) Mattis. A four-star general (I have no recollection of any American US Marine Corps general gaining an extra fifth star) can only rise in his command should he become the President of the United States. Trump should let the sleeping dog lie.

Ted Rall — Trump President by decree

Originally published at

Into Bunny Watson. I am a Vancouver-based magazine photographer/writer. I have a popular daily blog which can be found at: