Journal of Latin American Studies


Totalitarian and Authoritarian Dictators: A Comparison of Fidel Castro and Alfredo Stroessner

Paul C. Sondrola1

a1 Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.


Personal dictators remain a key feature of contemporary regimes termed ‘authoritarian’ or ‘totalitarian’, particularly in their early consolidating phases. But there is still disagreement over the seemingly ideological, polemical and indiscriminate use of the term totalitarian dictatorship as an analytic concept and tool to guide foreign policy formulation. Jeane Kirkpatrick elevated the taxonomy to a vociferous level of debate with a 1979 Commentary article. Entitled ‘Dictatorships and Double Standards’, the work raised anew semantic hairsplitting concerning the qualitative differences between all previous tyrannies and those bearing organisational similarities with the Nazi, Fascist or Stalinist prototypes.