The military have been drivers of modernization in many South American countries, which, after becoming independent from the colonial powers, were mainly ruled by rural landowning regional elites, which intended to keep the agricultural economic basis of their nations.

In the case of Brazil, the Armed Forces were a competing sector within the society which favored industrialization and closer ties with the Western powers.

The Army was reponsible for ending the monarchy in 1889 and, after the Triple Alliance War, played a major part in the abolition of slavery, seeing as they realized a strong Army could only be built from a free society.

Many South American countries were ruled by military regimes during the mid XX century and, although some had their own specific historical reasons for becoming so, the fenomena must also be understood as a part of the contention strategy of the Cold War. Nobody wanted 25 countries styled after Cuba in their backyard.