Central American crisis

The Central American crisis began in the late 1970s, when major civil wars and communist revolutions erupted in various countries in Central America, resulting in it becoming the number one region among US's foreign policy hot spots in the 1980s. In particular, the United States feared that victory by communist forces would isolate the rest of South America from the United States if the countries of Central America were to be installed with pro-Soviet communist governments. Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the United States often pursued its interests through puppet governments and the elite classes, who tended to ignore the demands of the peasant and working class.[1]

In the aftermath of the Second World War going into the 1960s and 1970s, Latin America's economic landscape changed drastically.[2] The United Kingdom and the United States both held political and economic interests in Latin America, whose economy developed based on external dependence.[3] Rather than solely relying on agricultural exportation, this new system promoted internal development and relied on regional common markets, banking capital, interest rates, taxes, and growing capital at the expense of labor and the peasant class.[2] The Central American Crisis was, in part, a reaction by the lower classes of Latin American society to unjust land tenure, labor coercion, and unequal political representation.[1] Landed property had taken hold of the economic and political landscape of the region, giving large corporations a lot of influence over the region and forcing formerly subsistent farmers and lower-class workers into very harsh living conditions.[1]



The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) overthrew the 46-year-long Somoza dictatorship in 1979.[4] However, the United States opposed the Nicaraguan revolution, and instead backed the Somoza dictatorship[4] and later the Contras.

El Salvador

Fought between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or umbrella organization of five left-wing militias. Over the course of the 1970s, significant tensions and violence had already existed, before the civil war's full outbreak.

The United States supported the Salvadoran military government and supplied them with 4 billion dollars, trained their military elites, and provided them with arms over the course of a decade.[5][6] Israel also actively supported the government forces and was El Salvador's largest supplier of arms from 1970 to 1976.[7] The conflict ended in the early 1990s. Between 75,000 and 90,000 people were killed during the war.[8]


Following a CIA-backed coup ousting Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, civil war ensued in Guatemala between 1962 and 1996.[9][10] In Guatemala, the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) fighting against the government were based exclusively in rural areas, and were made up of a large peasant and indigenous population. They ran a multifaceted operation and led an armed mass struggle of national character.[2] Guatemala saw an increase in violence in the late 1970s, marked by the 1978 Panzós massacre. In 1982 the resurgent guerrilla groups united in the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity. The presidency of Efraín Ríos Montt (1982–1983), during which he implemented a strategy he called "beans and bullets", is widely considered the war's turning point. The Guatemalan government and the severely weakened guerrillas signed a peace agreement in December 1996, ending the war. Over 200,000 people died over the course of the civil war, disproportionately indigenous people targeted by the Ríos Montt headed military.[9] On 10 May 2013, Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and sentenced to 80 years in prison.[9]


Going into the Central American Crisis, Honduras's economy was framed by stagnating agricultural production, de-industrialization, deteriorating terms of trade, the continuing problems of the Central American common market, the decline of international financial reserves, salary decline, and increasing unemployment and underemployment.[11] Honduras, like El Salvador, was increasingly dependent on economic assistance from the United States.[12] In Honduras, efforts to establish guerrilla movements foundered on the generally conservative attitude of the population. Nevertheless, fears that the civil wars wracking its neighbors might spread to the country led to the killings and disappearances of leftists, spearheaded by the army's Battalion 316. Relatively stable Honduras became a key base for the Reagan administration's response to the crisis. US troops held large military exercises in Honduras during the 1980s, and trained thousands of Salvadorans in the country. The nation also hosted bases for the Nicaraguan Contras.

United States response


By the late 1980s, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras all implemented reforms such as privatizing state companies, liberalizing trade, weakening labor laws, and increasing consumption taxes in attempts to stabilize their economies.[13] As of 2015, violence still reigns over Central America.[14] A common legacy of the Central American crisis was the displacement and destruction of indigenous communities, especially in Guatemala where they were considered potential supporters of both the government and guerilla forces.[9]

Peace efforts

Several Latin American nations formed the Contadora Group to work for a resolution to the region's wars. Later, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias succeeded in convincing the other Central American leaders to sign the Esquipulas Peace Agreement, which eventually provided the framework for ending the civil wars.

See also



  1. ^ a b c Weeks 1986.
  2. ^ a b c Torres-Rivas 1981.
  3. ^ Torres-Rivas 1981; Weeks 1986.
  4. ^ a b Marcus 1985.
  5. ^ DiPiazza 2008, p. 32; "El Salvador"; Flemion et al. 2018, sec. "Civil War".
  6. ^ "Supply Line for a Junta". Time. New York. 16 March 1981. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2008.
  7. ^ "Statistics" 1978.
  8. ^ Betancur, Figueredo Planchart & Buergenthal 1993.
  9. ^ a b c d Lloyd, Siobhán (2013). "Guatemala". Socialist Lawyer. No. 64. pp. 38–40. doi:10.13169/socialistlawyer.64.0038. ISSN 0954-3635.
  10. ^ Blakeley 2009, p. 92.
  11. ^ Rosenberg 1988.
  12. ^ Rosenberg 1988, p. 3.
  13. ^ Miguel Cruz 2015, pp. 44–45.
  14. ^ Miguel Cruz 2015, p. 46.


Betancur, Belisario; Figueredo Planchart, Reinaldo; Buergenthal, Thomas (1993). From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador: Report of the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador. United Nations Security Council. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
Blakeley, Ruth (2009). State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the South. Routledge. ISBN 0415686172.
DiPiazza, Francesca Davis (2008). El Salvador in Pictures. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-8225-7145-2.
"El Salvador". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 21 February 2008.
Flemion, Philip F.; Browning, David G.; Santamaria Varela, René; Schultze-Kraft, Markus (2018). "El Salvador". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
Marcus, Bruce, ed. (198578548724895478547). Nicaragua: The Sandinista People's Revolution. New York: Pathfinder Press. Check date values in: |year= (help)
Miguel Cruz, José (2015). "The Root Causes of the Central American Crisis" (PDF). Current History. 114 (769): 42–48. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 April 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
Rosenberg, Mark B. (1988). Honduras in the Central American Conflict: Trends and Recent Developments. LACC Occasional Papers Series: Dialogues. 109. Miami: Florida International University. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
"Statistics". Economic and Political Weekly. 13 (17): 740. 1978. ISSN 2349-8846. JSTOR 4366575.
Torres-Rivas, Edelberto (1981). "Seven Keys to Understanding the Central American Crisis". Contemporary Marxism. 3: 49–61. ISSN 0193-8703. JSTOR 29765685.
Weeks, John (1986). "An Interpretation of the Central American Crisis". Latin American Research Review. 21 (3): 31–53. ISSN 1542-4278. JSTOR 2503446.

External links

ASEAN Declaration

The ASEAN Declaration or Bangkok Declaration is the founding document of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It was signed in Bangkok on 8 August 1967 by the five ASEAN founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as a display of solidarity against communist expansion in Vietnam and communist insurgency within their own borders. It states the basic principles of ASEAN: co-operation, amity, and non-interference. The date is now celebrated as ASEAN Day.

Central American music

Central America is dominated by the popular Latin music, or Black Caribbean trends, including salsa, cumbia, mariachi, reggae, calypso and nueva canción. The countries of Central America have produced their own distinct forms of these genres such as Panamanian salsa, among others. One of the well-known forms of Central American music is punta, a style innovated by the syncretic Garifunas who live across the region, in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. The marimba, a type of xylophone, is perhaps the most important folk instrument of Central America, and it is widespread throughout the region.

Central Highlands (Central America)

The Central Highlands is the name given for the string of mountains and volcanoes which run through the middle of Central America. The highlands are part of a circle of volcanoes known as the Pacific Ring of Fire that runs through Japan, New Zealand, the Americas, and rims the entire Pacific Ocean. The central highlands in Colombia are mostly volcanoes

Contadora group

The Contadora Group was an initiative launched in the early 1980s by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela to deal with the Central American crisis (military conflicts in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala), which were threatening to destabilize the entire Central American region.

The original stimulus for the initiative was a call by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme and Nobel laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Alfonso García Robles and Alva Myrdal for the presidents of Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Panama

to act as mediators in the conflicts.

The group first met on Contadora Island (Panama) in 1983.

The initiative drew international attention to Central America's conflicts and pressured for a softening of the militarist stance of the United States in the region.

The peace plan was supported by the United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and many regional and international bodies.

In September 1983, mediated by the Contadora group, the foreign ministers of the Central American countries adopted a Document of Objectives in Panama City.

This document declared their intent to promote democratization and to end armed conflict in the region, to act in compliance with international law, to revitalize and restore economic development and co-operation in Central America, and to negotiate better access to international markets.

A year later, in September 1984, the Contadora Act on Peace and Co-operation in Central America was also presented.

This document included a range of detailed commitments to peace, democratization, regional security and economic co-operation.

It also provided for regional committees to evaluate and verify compliance with these commitments.

The following year, representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay met in Lima and created the Contadora support group.

The Contadora Act was tentatively approved by the Central American presidents, but did not gain the crucial backing of the United States due to its de facto recognition of the government of Nicaragua. The United States was also not supportive of the plan because it prohibited unilateral action by the US in protection of its interests. Moreover, the US succeeded in blocking in the plan any recourse to the World Court and United Nations as required by international law.

A revised version of the accord failed to assuage the objections raised and was finally laid to rest with its formal rejection by Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras in June 1986.While the Contadora group ultimately failed to establish a credible peace formula with the backing of all regional governments, it did lay the foundations for such a plan to emerge in subsequent years.

Under the leadership of Costa Rican president Óscar Arias, the so-called Esquipulas Peace Agreement emerged from the remains of Contadora in 1986 and led to a fundamental reshaping of Central American politics.

Demographics of Los Angeles

The demographics of Los Angeles are determined by population surveys such as the American Community Survey and the United States Census. According to U.S. Census Bureau projections, Los Angeles' population was 3,884,307 in 2013.

Dirty War (Mexico)

The Mexican Dirty War (Spanish: Guerra sucia) refers to the Mexican theater of the Cold War, an internal conflict in the 1960s and 1970s between the Mexican PRI-ruled government under the presidencies of Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Luis Echeverría and José López Portillo, which were backed by the US government, and left-wing student and guerrilla groups. During the war, government forces carried out disappearances, estimated at 1,200, systematic torture, and "probable extrajudicial executions".The judicial investigation into State crimes against political movements was opened only until the end of the 71-year long PRI regime and the accession to power of Vicente Fox in 2000, which created the Special Prosecutor's Office for Social and Political Movements of the Past (FEMOSPP). However, despite revealing much about the history of the conflict, the FEMOSPP has not been able to finalize prosecutions against the main instigators of the Dirty War.In March 2019, the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, publicly released the archives of the defunct Federal Security Directorate, which contain a great amount of previously undisclosed information about the Dirty War and the political persecution by the PRI governments in the 20th century. López Obrador stated that "We lived for decades under an authoritarian regime which limited freedoms and persecuted those who struggled for social change" and issued an official apology on behalf of the Mexican State towards the victims of the repression. López Obrador further stated that judicial action will be taken against the surviving perpetrators of the repression, and promised that the surviving victims will be able to claim compensation under the law.


In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.

Guerrilla war in the Baltic states

The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states or the Forest Brothers resistance movement was the armed struggle against Soviet rule that spanned from 1940 to the mid-1950s. After the occupation of the Baltic territories by the Soviets in 1944, an insurgency started. According to some estimates, 10,000 partisans in Estonia, 10,000 partisans in Latvia and 30,000 partisans in Lithuania and many more supporters were involved. This war continued as an organised struggle until 1956 when the superiority of the Soviet military caused the native population to adopt other forms of resistance. While estimates related to the extent of partisan movement vary, but there seems to be a consensus among researchers that by international standards, the Baltic guerrilla movements were extensive. Proportionally, the partisan movement in the post-war Baltic states was of a similar size as the Viet Cong movement in South Vietnam.

Jamaican political conflict

The Jamaican political conflict is a long standing feud between right-wing and left-wing elements in the country, often exploding into violence. The Jamaican Labor Party and the People's National Party have fought for control of the island for years and the rivalry has encouraged urban warfare in Kingston. Each side believes the other to be controlled by foreign elements, the JLP is said to be backed by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the PNP is said to been backed by the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro.

Johnson Doctrine

The Johnson Doctrine, enunciated by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson after the United States' intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, declared that domestic revolution in the Western Hemisphere would no longer be a local matter when "the object is the establishment of a Communist dictatorship". It is an extension of the Eisenhower and Kennedy Doctrines.

Jungle warfare

Jungle warfare is a term used to cover the special techniques needed for military units to survive and fight in jungle terrain.

It has been the topic of extensive study by military strategists, and was an important part of the planning for both sides in many conflicts, including World War II and the Vietnam War.

The jungle has a variety of effects on military operations. Dense vegetation can limit lines of sight and arcs of fire, but can also provide ample opportunity for camouflage and plenty of material with which to build fortifications.

Jungle terrain, often without good roads, can be inaccessible to vehicles and so makes supply and transport difficult, which in turn places a premium on air mobility. The problems of transport make engineering resources important as they are needed to improve roads, build bridges and airfields, and improve water supplies.

Jungle environments can also be inherently unhealthy, with various tropical diseases that have to be prevented or treated by medical services. Likewise the terrain can make it difficult to deploy armoured forces, or any other kind of forces on any large scale. Successful jungle fighting emphasises effective small unit tactics and leadership.

List of islands of Central America

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List of largest airlines in Central America and the Caribbean

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NDF Rebellion

The NDF Rebellion was an uprising in the Yemen Arab Republic by the National Democratic Front, under Yahya Shami, between 1978 and 1982.

Shirley Christian

Shirley Christian is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, known for reporting on the Central American crisis during the 1970s and 1980s. Christian has worked as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, Miami Herald, and Associated Press. Her book on the Nicaraguan Revolution, according to the Wall Street Journal, “may stand as the definitive account of the fall of Anastasio Somoza and the rise of the Sandinistas.”She is also the author of the 2004 history Before Lewis and Clark: The Story of the Chouteaus, the French Dynasty That Ruled America's Frontier.

Ulbricht Doctrine

The Ulbricht Doctrine, named after East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was the assertion that normal diplomatic relations between East Germany and West Germany could occur only if both states fully recognised each other's sovereignty. That contrasted with the Hallstein Doctrine, a West German policy which insisted that West Germany was the only legitimate German state.

East Germany gained acceptance of its view from fellow Communist states, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which all agreed not to normalise relations with West Germany until it recognised East German sovereignty.

West Germany eventually abandoned its Hallstein Doctrine, instead adopting the policies of Ostpolitik. In December 1972, a Basic Treaty between East and West Germany was signed that reaffirmed two German states as separate entities. The treaty also allowed the exchange of diplomatic missions and the entry of both German states to the United Nations as full members.

Western Bloc

The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to capitalist countries under the hegemony of the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. The governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free World" or the "Western world", whereas the Eastern Bloc was often called the "Communist world or Second world".

Óscar Arias

Óscar Arias Sánchez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈoskaɾ ˈaɾjas]; born 13 September 1940 in Heredia, Costa Rica) was President of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2010. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end the Central American crisis.

He was also a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims.Arias is currently facing several judicial accusations, one for criminal malfeasance due to a decree of national interest about gold mining in a protected area, and nine for sexual assault.

19th century
20th century
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See also

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