The phrase Golpe de Estado is used to refer to the takeover of the government of a country in a violent and illegal way. For the most part, it is carried out by the military with the support of an armed group.

According to the RAE, it is the sudden dismissal and replacement by force or other unconstitutional means, of whoever holds political power.

Birth and development of the term

It was in France in the seventeenth century that the term Coup d’État (Golpe de Estado) began to be used to describe a series of violent and unexpected actions taken by the King.

These measures were carried out without respecting laws or moral norms in order to get rid of their opponents when they were considered necessary to preserve the security of the state.

Similarities and differences with other terms

The phrase Golpe de Estado is often confused or associated with similar concepts in the political sphere that denote riots or insurrections.

Here is a list of those terms that are commonly confused in everyday life, being a mistake to do so. 

  • Golpe de Estado and revolution
  • Golpe de Estado and civil war
  • Golpe de Estado, rebellion and mutiny
  • Golpe de Estado and revolts
  • Golpe de Estado and putsch
  • Parliamentary coup

Social consequences of an Golpe de Estado

The consequences of all Golpe de Estado are generally tragic and in many cases leave inconsolable injuries. From attacks against public and private property, clashes between coup factions and protesters in the street to loss of human life.

Iconic status hits

Throughout political history there have been an enormous number of coups d’état . The first of which there is a record occurred in 561 BC. C in Ancient Greece, its author was the Athenian politician Pisistratus who became the first tyrant of Athens after having overthrown the Athenian democracy. Some of the most iconic hits are:

  • Lucio Cornelio Sila (Roman Republic, 82 a. C): He overthrew Gneo Papirio Carbón and Gaius Mario the Younger.
  • Lenin (Russia 1917): overthrew Aleksandr Kérensky
  • Benito Mussolini ( Italy 1922): Overthrown Luigi Facta
  • Adolf Hitler (Germany 1923): Failed Gustav von Kahr
  • Chilean Armed Forces (1973): Overthrown Salvador Allende
  • Hugo Chávez (Venezuela 1992): Carlos Andrés Pérez failed