However, the United States opposed the Nicaraguan revolution due to their communists sympathies and support from Castro's Cuba, and backed an anti-left wing Counter-revolutionary rebellion against the Sandinista government. Renewed negotiations began in July 1985, when Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Peru formed the Contadora Support Group. [175] Father Alvaro Argüello, in person interview with Roger Peace, Managua, June 26, 2006; Vilma Nuñez de Escorcia, in person interview with Roger Peace, Managua, June 26, 2006; and Inter-religious Task Force on Central America (IRTFCA), Peacemaking II: U.S. . [62] Brown, With Friends Like These, 14, 26, 246. When, at times, negotiations progressed despite administration intransigence, U.S. officials fell back on the fail-safe argument that the Sandinistas could not be trusted to carry out any agreement. “The massacre at Las Hojas grew out of a dispute over land and water rights between the members of the Indian farming cooperative and landowners in the region,” according to human rights analyst Cynthia Brown. 102, No. In 1978, he and disgraced agent Edwin Wilson – later convicted of supplying explosive devices to Libya – negotiated a $650,000 deal with then Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza to “create a search and destroy apparatus” against Somoza’s enemies, which was the forerunner of the Contra army. The pledge was also activated in response to Congressional votes related to funding for the Contras and the Salvadoran government. The practice of killing mayors was controversial within the FMLN but nonetheless carried out. Through its Cold War words and actions, the United States sent clear signals to Latin American authorities what they had to do to defeat communism and protect the United States. [182] USIA Office of Research, “West Europeans Critical of U.S. Central American Policy” Research Memorandum, August 30, 1984, 1, 4, 5, National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), RG 306, Regular and Special Reports of the Office of Research, 1983-1987. The antipersonnel mines killed and maimed children and farmers. The Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) report of 1999 established that 200,000 Guatemalans had died in the civil war and that 83% of “fully identified victims were Mayan.” The commission reported that “state forces and related paramilitary groups were responsible for 93% of the [human rights] violations documented by the CEH,” while leftist rebels were responsible for 3% of the violations. According to a Defense Intelligence Report, “In the 100 day period from 14 March to 21 June, at least 106 insurgent incidents occurred within Nicaragua.”[122]  Led in the field by former National Guardsman Col. Enrique Bermúdez, the FDN recruited former National Guardsmen and peasants from northern highlands. “Could there be any greater tragedy than for us to sit back and permit this cancer to spread, leaving my successor to face far more agonizing decisions in the years ahead?”[137]  The purpose of such rhetoric was to delegitimize the Sandinista government in order to justify its overthrow. Notwithstanding the Salvadoran government’s egregious human rights abuses, the U.S. supported that government’s counterinsurgency war with military aid and advisers. Economic damage costs of $9 billion are cited in both of the above studies. According to the New York Times, the prime minister “implicitly rebuked the United States for its policy in Central America” and endorsed the Contadora negotiations. Sources: Congressional Research Service, "Case studies on use of force by US, 1950-91" Report 92-757-F (1992) 106 pp. In a memo dated August 13, 1983, regarding “allegations of a Contra massacre,” the ambassador informed the State Department that Nicaraguan newspapers were full of photographs and eyewitness accounts of a recent Contra ambush of a bus carrying eighteen civilians near the town of Jinotega two days earlier. Nicaraguan observer María López Vigil believed that the vote was largely a response to U.S. intimidation. The Guatemalan army suspended the Constitution, dissolved Congress, called off elections, and installed a military government. Despite all the vitriol surrounding immigration policy, the reasons behind the crisis in Central America are rarely examined in depth by mainstream media outlets. Although the rebels had considerable support in the countryside, this did not prevent them from engaging in their own forms of violence against the civilian population. The U.S. military appropriated large areas of the country for the construction of bases, military exercises, and the operations of the Contras. In 1978, he and disgraced agent Edwin Wilson – later convicted of supplying explosive devices to Libya – negotiated a $650,000 deal with then Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza to “create a search and destroy apparatus” against Somoza’s enemies, which was the forerunner of the Contra army. In El Salvador, as in the rest of Latin America, the term “communist” was a catchall phrase for anyone opposed to the government, from students to labor organizers to religious workers. 69–85. Former CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner also testified, reluctantly acknowledging Contra terrorism: Rightly or wrongly, there are many of us today who see the actions of the Contras as being beneath the ethical standards we would like the United States to employ. Pastora abandoned the fight in 1986 and returned to Nicaragua in 1989. [99] Booth, Wade, and Walker, Understanding Central America (2014), 124-26, 180. In May 1950, President Harry Truman signed National Security Council (NSC) 56/2, authorizing military aid to Latin American governments for the ostensible purpose of combating “communism.”  In 1951, Congress authorized $38 million in direct military assistance; and in 1952, $90 million. The series raises particular outrage in the African American community, which was devastated by crack. Sen. Joe McCarthy identifies an alleged communist network at a hearing in June 1954. In April 1985, former CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner testified before a Congressional committee that the U.S.-backed Nicaraguan guerrillas, known as Contras, had engaged in numerous acts of “terrorism.”. [204] “Handwritten Notebooks of Oliver North,” National Security Archive, The Contras, Cocaine and Covert Operations, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html; Hahn, The Life and Death of Barry Seal, 286; Jon Roberts, American Desperado: My Life – From Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset (New York: Crown Publishers, 2011), 2, 493. Not surprisingly, he was welcomed by Thomas Enders, Assistant Secretary of State for inter-American Affairs, who stated that “a coup has installed a new leader who has improved the human rights situation, and has opened the way for a more effective counterinsurgency.”[91]. The widespread violence forced over one sixth of the population to flee, further crippling the nation’s economic and human capital. And specifically, I believe it is irrefutable that a number of the Contras’ actions have to be characterized as terrorism, as State-supported terrorism. Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Miguel d’Escoto proposed a joint international patrol along the Honduras-Nicaraguan border to verify that no arms were being transferred. I distinctly remember one night in the late 1970s when I pulled out the atlas and located the Central American countries in the very small area that they occupied on the continental map. President Richard M. Nixon and his National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger viewed the election of democratic socialist Salvador Allende as president of Chile in 1970 as yet another act of “Communist political aggression.”  The Nixon administration first attempted to prevent Allende’s election through CIA covert action; failing that, the U.S. abetted a military coup on September 11, 1973, in which President Allende was killed (a subsequent investigation ruled it a suicide). Cuba will be influential in Nicaragua only insofar as its contributions are acceptable to the Nicaraguans.”  He noted that “Cuban involvement thus far publicly has been limited to the supply of medical personnel and equipment” and other humanitarian assistance. Jorge Serano Elías, a former cabinet member during the presidency of Ríos Montt and candidate of the Solidarity Action Movement (MAS) party, won the election. This changed in October 1984 with the discovery of a CIA “assassination manual.”  Titled “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare,” the 134-page manual was published in Spanish and distributed to groups of Contras. Crisis in Central America: Regional Dynamics and United States Foreign Policy in the 1980s Crisis in Central America: Regional Dynamics and United States Foreign Policy in the 1980s … Americans were led to believe that their nation was the leading force for freedom, democracy, progress, and peace, presumably justifying U.S. military interventions and wars. The Guatemalan government’s actions led UFCO to create a propaganda campaign directed at the Árbenz administration. Reagan told Cabinet level officials in a December 1985 meeting, as transcribed by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, that “he could answer to the charges of illegality but he couldn’t answer the charge that ‘big strong President Reagan’ passed up a chance to free the hostages.”[196]  In another meeting, Reagan urged quick and decisive covert aid to the Contras. In early 1989, U.S. officials expressed confidence that government forces would soon win, reporting that the rebels had lost between 15 and 19 percent of their forces. management.”[172], Civil disobedience at the Federal Building in San Francisco, March 1988 (photo by Keith Holmes). Reagan told Cabinet level officials in a December 1985 meeting, as transcribed by Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, that “he could answer to the charges of illegality but he couldn’t answer the charge that ‘big strong President Reagan’ passed up a chance to free the hostages.”. The Roosevelt administration welcomed the new liberal democracy as a natural ally, but the Truman administration viewed Arévalo’s labor policies as an affront to U.S. investors, siding with the landowning elite in Guatemala (two percent of the population controlled more than 72 percent of Guatemala’s arable land). [130] Joanne Omang, “Inquiry Finds Atrocities By Nicaraguan ‘Contras,’” Washington Post, March 7, 1985, A14. Administration officials repeatedly denounced the Sandinista government as totalitarianism, in conformity with Cold War ideology, and also accused the government of terrorism and drug running. The Alliance for Progress withered on the vine. [168] United States volunteers in Nicaragua and the death of Benjamin Linder; Hearings before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, first session, May 13, 1987 (reprint from the collection of the University of Michigan Library, 2010), 118; and Joanne Omang, “Catholic Groups Differ With Pope Over Nicaragua,” New York Times, July 23, 1984, A1. With the advent of the Cold War in 1947, the Truman administration came to view reformist governments in Latin America as potential allies of the Soviet Union and thus a threat to the United States. See also, Teófilo Cabestrero, Revolutionaries for the Gospel: Testimonies of Fifteen Christians in the Nicaraguan Government, translated from the Spanish by Phillip Berryman (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1986); and Michael Dodson and Laura O’Shaughnessy, The Other Revolution: The Church and the Popular Struggle in Nicaragua (Chapel Hill: Univ. The murder of the U.S. churchwomen induced Carter to suspend distribution of the $5.7 million aid package pending an investigation, but this was largely symbolic. Between 75,000 and 90,000 people were killed during the war. The following year, on September 1, 1987, Willson continued his protest by attempting to stop a train from departing the Naval Weapons Station in Concord, California. [162] According to Lynn Horton, in Peasants in Arms, “Out of a population of approximately 3.5 million, 30,865 Nicaraguans were killed during the war” (page xv). 3 (August 1981); and Larry Rohter, “Nicaragua Has a Postwar Baby Boom,” New York Times, Feb. 24, 1985, 15. [215] D’Haeseleer, The Salvadoran Crucible, 6, 10. The press began to get wind of the Contra War in early 1982. Unions became more militant and strikes took place frequently as workers saw their wages drop and their standard of living erode. Congress attempted to salvage some measure of its earlier human rights principles by passing a law in December 1981 that required the president to certify every six months “that the Government of El Salvador is making a concerted and significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights” and that it “is achieving substantial control over all elements of its own armed forces, so as to bring to an end the indiscriminate torture and murder of Salvadoran citizens by these forces.”  The law had virtually no effect, as it allowed the president, rather than Congress, to certify “progress” in human rights. Anticommunist rhetoric disseminated in US service academies established a negative image of actors critical of US-supported regimes and those who demanded reforms as synonymous with enemies of the state. [159] “Joanne Omang and David Hoffman, “Reagan Sends Dole to Seek Pope’s Advice on Central America, Washington Post, April 6, 1985, A16; Shirley Christian, “Reagan Aides See No Possibility of an Accord with Sandinistas,” New York Times, Aug. 18. The Reagan administration undertook a dual approach to El Salvador. [81]United States Department of Justice, Department of Public Affairs, “US Extradites Former Salvadoran Military Officer to Spain to Face Charges for Participation in 1989 Jesuit Massacre,” November 29, 2017; and Robin Maria DeLugan, Reimagining National Belonging: Post-Civil War El Salvador in a Global Context (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2012), 122. Not surprisingly, he was welcomed by Thomas Enders, Assistant Secretary of State for inter-American Affairs, who stated that “a coup has installed a new leader who has improved the human rights situation, and has opened the way for a more effective counterinsurgency.”, Ríos Montt’s 17-month rule, in fact, resulted in the killing or disappearance of 800 victims per month. Causes of Latin American debt crisis 1980s. The Sandinista Party was ousted from power by the very election machinery it had created. The Carter administration pressured Somoza to step down, but he refused, calculating that the U.S. would support him if the only other option was the FSLN. The four ended their fast on October 17, after forty-six days for Liteky and Mizo. The Reagan administration tried to undermine the elections by pressuring its favored presidential candidate, Arturo Cruz, to pull out of the race and declare the elections unfair. [107], Christian Nativity mural at Batahola Norte Community Center in Managua emphasizes the sharing of goods, On October 7, 1980, the FSLN National Directorate issued an official communiqué on religion that guaranteed the inalienable right of citizens to profess their religious beliefs and the right of churches to operate schools and conduct their activities free of government interference. Center for International Studies, 1997), 115. Following his electoral victory in November 1980, President Ronald Reagan amplified the concerns expressed by President Carter and Congress about foreign support of Central American leftist guerrilla forces. [46] Booth, Wade, and Walker, Understanding Central America (2014), 142, 103. The dual approach did not blend well in the overall U.S. strategy. The election of Arévelo and his successor, Jacobo Árbenz, is referred to as the “Revolution of 1944.”, In 1950, the Guatemalan people elected Árbenz, an army officer, as president. “Nicaraguans voted for peace and for an end to the draft.”[161]  The FSLN nevertheless remained the largest single political party. Fear of “communism” receded in the wake of détente; the lesson of the Vietnam War cautioned against U.S. interventionism; a throng of reform-minded Democrats was elected to Congress in the wake of the 1974 Watergate scandal; and human rights reformers in the U.S. and Latin America were growing in number and influence, demanding an end to U.S. support for despotic regimes. Don Mosley, a former Peace Corps director, began the “Walk in Peace” project after discovering that some 2,000 Nicaraguans had lost arms or legs due to Contra-laid land mine explosions. [25] On U.S. support for repressive regimes in Latin America during the Cold War, see Rabe, The Killing Zone; Schoultz, Beneath the United States; Patrice McSherry, Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005); Jeremy Kuzmarov, Police Training and Nation-Building in the American Century (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), Chapter 10; and Peter H. Smith, Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). The Sanctuary movement played an important role in the broader Central America movement in terms of raising consciousness about U.S. policies toward the region. Taking note of the criticism from abroad, In the immediate months after the overthrow, the Guatemalan military, police, and vigilante groups engaged in wholesale murder of Árbenz supporters, union organizers, and peasant leaders. In the countryside, the Salvadoran military aligned itself with a powerful paramilitary group, the Nationalist Democratic Organization (ORDEN), whose goal was to ensure peasant loyalty to the government. Secretary of State Alexander Haig let it be known in his first press conference on January 28, 1981, “International terrorism will take the place of human rights in our concern because it is the ultimate of abuse of human rights.”, A double standard was similarly applied to revolution. CUSCLIN’s vigils were intended in part to “generate energy for ongoing organizing and consciousness-raising among visitors who will return to the U.S. and work in solidarity.”. “How can one prevent a peasant from another Central American country from hearing, from finding out, from realizing that in Nicaragua land is given to other poor and barefoot peasants like him? news. He had traveled widely in the region and was fully aware of its tragic history (he was also a history major). 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