President of Argentina from 1976 to 1981. Videla followed in the footsteps of his father, an army colonel, by enlisting in the military academy where he was well-respected. Following the coup of 1976, he headed a three-man military junta and pledged to end left-wing subversion, put the economy in order, respect human rights and that the aim of his government was to return Argentina to democracy, however, he quickly suspended the normal functions of Congress, local government and the Supreme Court. He did away with import tariffs and revalued the peso against the U.S. dollar, helping Argentina build up a $50 billion foreign debt. When Videla was succeeded by army chief Roberto Eduardo Viola in 1981, the political balance inside the armed forces began to crumble but Argentina was still deeply entrenched in military rule and remained so until the Falklands War against Britain in 1982 eroded the military's power. Four years after leaving Argentina's presidential palace, Videla was sentenced to life in prison for human rights abuses under his rule, but spent just five years behind bars because of a pardon granted in 1990 by then-President Carlos Menem. Eight years later a judge scrapped the pardon and he spent the next 10 years under house arrest before being sent back to prison in 2008. During a trial in 2012, Videla was sentenced to 50 years in prison for being the architect of a systematic plan to steal babies from prisoners at clandestine detention centers. He died in prison of natural causes.
Bio by: Louis du Mort