50 Interesting Facts about Coups

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1Brazilian Monarchy

Brazil was a monarchy until Crown Princess Isabel signed a law emancipating all slaves in Brazil in 1888. This move was so unpopular among the rich plantation owners that the imperial family was deposed in a military coup.


2. Notorious mercenary Bob Denard was hired in 1975 to overthrow Ahmed Abdallah, president of Comoros. 3 years later Abdallah hired Denard to kick out his replacement, mad dictator Ali Soilih. 10 years later Soilih’s half-brother paid Denard to remove Abdallah again. All coups succeeded.


3. In 1933, America’s most senior, most decorated Marine, General Smedley Butler, told the House of Representatives that wealthy businessmen tried to recruit him to overthrow President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a coup and install a fascist government.


4. The only coup in US history occurred in North Carolina in 1898. A mob of white supremacists armed with rifles and pistols marched on City Hall in Wilmington and overthrew the local government, forcing both black and white officials to resign. The leader of the mob was later elected as mayor.


5. A revolt of textile workers in 14th century Florence led to the son of a washerwoman becoming president when he entered the palace barefoot and overthrew the oligarchic government. For 4 years, the republic was ruled almost entirely by middle-class artisans and shopkeepers.


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6Princess Sophie

Princess Sophie (of a minor German principality) married a Russian prince. Soon after he was crowned emperor, she overthrew him and crowned herself Empress Catherine the Great. She annexed most of Poland (then ruled by her former lover), helped modernize Russia, and started colonizing Alaska.


7. In 1951, Guatemalan president Jacobo Árbenz carried out an agrarian reform under which uncultivated portions of large land-holdings were expropriated in return for compensation and redistributed to poverty-stricken agricultural laborers. The US disliked this and the CIA engineered a coup d'etat in 1954 for the benefit of an American fruit company.


8. The University of Paris existed for 820 years from 1150 A.D. to 1970, when it was broken up for being the main source of student revolutionaries who nearly overthrew the French government in May 1968.


9. A man named Sam Zemurray started a highly profitable banana company by buying cheap leftover bananas from Honduras. After tax-free deals were threatened by collectors in the US, he planned and executed a successful coup of the Honduran government and saved his company.


10. On September 11, 1973, US-backed General Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected leader of Chile, Salvadore Allende. Pinochet ordered an airstrike on the Presidential Palace and labor activists and famous folk guitarists were rounded up for torture, disappeared, and killed.


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11Japanese Coup Attempt

Japan had no intention of surrendering after the nukes were dropped until emperor Hirohito stepped in. This made some generals so mad that they tried to stage a coup to overthrow the emperor to keep the war going.


12. In 1953, Iran had a democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh. The US and the United Kingdom violently overthrew him and installed a west-friendly monarch (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) in order to give British Petroleum (then AIOC), unrestricted access to the country's resources.


13. Haiti is the only nation born out of a slave revolt. It could have been a prosperous country but was impoverished by a crippling, decades-long embargo imposed by Europe and the U.S. after former slaves overthrew the country’s European ruling elites.


14. The CIA originally supported and funded the July 26th movement, which was Fidel Castro’s rebel group that overthrew the Cuban dictatorship.


15. General Ne Win, the dictator of Burma (Myanmar) was obsessed with numerology. He removed 50 Kyat and 100 Kyat banknotes from circulation and replaced them with 45 Kyat and 90 Kyat banknotes. The economic instability which followed led to a coup d'êtát in 1988.


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16Equatorial Guinea Coup Attempt

Margaret Thatcher's son Mark Thatcher conspired with a private mercenary company to stage a coup in a West African country for oil money. In 2005, he was convicted and given a four-year suspended prison sentence and a fine in South Africa for funding the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d'état attempt.


17. In 1893 Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown when a group of businessmen and sugar planters forced the queen (Queen Liliuokalani) to abdicate. The coup led to the dissolving of the Kingdom of Hawaii two years later, its annexation as a U.S. territory, and eventual admission as the 50th state in the union.


18. Muammar Gaddafi was 27 when he overthrew the Libyan monarchy in 1969. He promoted himself to colonel and went from “virtually unknown” to vastly powerful in a few months.


19. During the 1965 Algerian coup d'état that overthrew Ahmed Ben Bella, army units who were moving through the streets of Algiers didn't raise alarm because they were mistaken for extras for the film “The Battle of Algiers”, which was being filmed in the capital at the time.


20. In 1974, Portuguese rebels used Portugal’s entry in the Eurovision song contest as one of two secret signals to start the Carnation Revolution; a peaceful rebellion that overthrew the authoritarian regime that had run the country for over 40 years.


21Gulag Coup

In 1954 Soviet prisoners overthrew their guards and, for 40 days, established a gulag republic with a democratically elected provisional government, marriages between male and female prisoners, indigenous religious ceremonies, and a general flowering of art and culture.


22. The decision of 18-year-old King Michael I of Romania to carry out a coup against the Nazi ally and prime minister, Ion Antonescu, in 1944 is thought to have ended World War 2 early by as much as 6 months.


23. Project Fat Fu*ker was a CIA plot to overthrow King Farouk of Egypt, to replace his British-aligned monarchy Mohammad Mosaddegh. Masterminded by CIA Director Allen Dulles, a coup d'état came to fruition on 23 July 1952.


24. In 1972, a failed coup was led by military pilots on King Hassan II of Morocco. They attacked his Boeing 727 jetliner using four Northrop F-5 jets. Damaging the fuselage, the king himself grabbed the radio and shouted “Stop firing! The tyrant is dead!,” fooling the rebel pilots to break off their attack.


25. A group of German soldiers planned a coup against the Nazi regime in 1938 but were told by the French and the British to ‘forget about it because they approved of the present situation in Germany and hoped to make an alliance with it against Communism.

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