Who’s a Junta?

After reading another report on how the junta in Myanmar is stealing everything that isn’t nailed down and has the letters “U. N.” stenciled on it, I got to thinking: what makes a junta, as opposed to, say, a regime, or a dictatorship, or a despotism?

According to Wikipedia “junta” is a Spanish word meaning “committee.” That makes me feel pretty good about the way I view most committees, and the people who seem to form them almost spontaneously upon awaking in the morning. Reading further I learned that “junta” may refer to: government by a committee of military leaders; an album by Phish; a board game; an administrative body of the Spanish Hapsburgs; several local administrations in the Napoleonic era; or a Marvel Comics character.

In 1810 after the May Revolution the first government of Argentina was known as the Primera Junta. It created an executive branch called the Junta Grande. Alex Haily later stole this phrase and corrupted it into Kunta Kinte, the lead character of his hugely popular novel “Roots.” In any case, it seems clear that a “junta” is a military dictatorship that rules over any particularly hot and sweaty country, where the humidity plays some role in the formation of committees.

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