The military is a key actor in the political arena of weakly institutionalized countries. In this paper, I study the determinants of the political preferences of Army officers. More specifically, I show that coups polarize the military along hierarchical lines. I take advantage of a particular instance of the Venezuelan history where the political preferences of individual members of the Army towards Hugo Ch´avez became observable. Ch´avez was the leader of a failed coup who later became President through elections. My main finding is that having outranked Ch´avez at the time of the coup increased the probability of signing a petition drive against his Presidential mandate. I obtain estimates of a causal effect by employing a fuzzy regression discontinuity design. I exploit the existence of minimum time requirements for promotion to obtain exogenous variation in the ranking of officers at the time of the coup. Further results and testimonial evidence indicate that organizational and behavioral factors are responsible for the observed effect of hierarchical relations on attitudes towards the insubordinate.
Gustavo's research interests are in the fields of Economic Development, Political Economy and Applied Microeconomics.