State of Siege

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State of Siege

State of siege, a situation in which constitutional guarantees in a country are suspended and emergency powers of government are granted to the president. The provision of estado de sitio (estado do sítio in Portuguese) is put into action to deal with emergencies caused by invasion by a foreign power or major social disturbance. Usually such situations are declared by the legislature. Most Latin American constitutions contain the provision for the implementation of state of siege, usually with some restrictions. The president is granted the authority for all executive and legislative powers and can suspend judicial prerogative.

In most cases, a state of siege has been implemented for domestic crises. Abuse of the condition has been common in the region as dictators and military governments have used it as a legal pretext to act against political opponents or against perceived opposition. Indeed, such governments often keep the country under state of siege long after the initial crisis has subsided. Attempts to limit or restrict the implementation of state of siege have been successful only in those countries that have been able to attain some level of political stability or legislative strength.

See alsoGolpe de Estado (coup d'état) .


Clusellas, Eduardo L. Gregorini. Estado de sitio y la armonía en la relación individuo-estado. Argentina: Depalma, 1987.

                                      Heather K. Thiessen

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State of Siege

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