In early 1982, when reports of the massacre began appearing in the U.S. media, Elliott Abrams, the administration’s point man on human rights, told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths “were not credible” and that the “incident” was being “significantly misused” by the guerrillas. The resulting human rights abuses further radicalized the population and attracted widespread international condemnation.”  Human rights reports from Amnesty International and other organizations in late 1978 and early 1979 “unanimously condemned General Romero’s government for its systematic torture, murder, and persecution of political dissidents. When Guatemala refused further military aid in 1977, Israel, Taiwan, and Argentina stepped in to fill the gap. Much of that money went to UNO presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro, enabling her to promote her campaign and keep the disparate parties of her coalition in line. Changes in Salvadoran land tenure laws increased rural unemployment and poverty. Yet the benefits of economic growth were uneven. [126] “Allegations of Contra Massacre,” Confidential Cable from Ambassador Anthony Quainton to Dept. The Carter administration only partly embraced Pezzullo’s recommendations. Sister city projects had a number of desirable attributes for activists:  they were locally organized, facilitated travel and interpersonal relationships, provided tangible benefits to the Nicaraguan people, and served to educate U.S. citizens. Under the leadership of José Napoleón Duarte, the PDC made political gains in the Legislative Assembly and Duarte himself was twice elected mayor of San Salvador. Armed groups in Latin America received those signals and resorted to political terror to preserve and protect their own power and the elite socioeconomic groups that they served. In August 1953, he approved a covert plan to overthrow the constitutional government. U.S. citizens opposed to U.S. intervention formed the Central America movement, a loose-knit coalition of over 1,000 local, state, and national organizations. 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.”. When an army patrol meets resistance and takes fire from a town or village, it is assumed that the entire town is hostile and it is subsequently destroyed.”, On March 23, 1982, General José Efraín Ríos Montt overthrew General García with the aid of junior military officers and the CIA. In El Salvador,” Washington Post, April 17, 1980. North, a National Security Council staff member, and his cohorts tapped hidden Pentagon funds, solicited money from other nations, including $32 million from Saudi Arabia between July 1984 and March 1985, and sold arms to Iran and used the profits to purchase arms for the Contras (Iran-Contra affair). In 1983, he wrote to U.S. Protestant denominations, urging them to “denounce the atrocities committed by the counter-revolutionaries attacking our country, of which our brethren are victims. As in El Salvador, the government allowed the landed elite to take indigenous communal lands and establish forced labor systems. 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. 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. Speaking on December 31, 1977, he praised the modernization of Iran under the Shah and blithely declared, “The cause of human rights is one that also is shared deeply by our people and by the leaders of our two nations.”  One year later, notwithstanding continued U.S. aid to Iran, Carter announced at a White House meeting on the 30th anniversary of the signing of the UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” that human rights “is the soul of our foreign policy.”, The implementation of human rights legislation continued during the Carter years. At worst, this meant destabilizing and overthrowing actual democracies in order to place pro-U.S. regimes in power, typically repressive military regimes, as in Guatemala and Chile. U.S. actions in Guatemala signaled to reactionary forces across Latin America that they could count on the U.S. to support them in suppressing leftist reform without regard to constitutional law, democratic procedures, political freedoms, and human rights. According to Stephen Rabe: The United States undermined constitutional systems, overthrew popularly elected governments, rigged elections, and supplied, trained, coddled, and excused barbarians who tortured, kidnapped, murdered, and “disappeared” Latin Americans…. The 1948 UN “Declaration of Human Rights,” in contrast, embraced economic, social, and political rights. Bishop Romero, formerly a conservative critic of liberation theology, had become a champion of the poor and the oppressed after witnessing the death of so many innocent people. [32] David Weissbrodt, “Human Rights Legislation and U.S. Foreign Policy: An Overview,” University of Minnesota Law School, 238-42, 256, http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2141&context=gjicl. Beyond ending the fighting, the peace accords sought to help the Salvadoran people heal, to prevent the recurrence of abuses, and to move forward toward a more peaceful and democratic society. Ríos Montt was sentenced to 80 years in prison. The Contras were hailed as democratic reformers, “freedom fighters,” heroes, and “our brothers.”  President Reagan told the American people at various times that it was “our moral responsibility” to aid the Contras; that the U.S. had the “moral authority” to do so; that subduing the Sandinistas constituted “a great moral challenge for the entire free world”; and that the Contras were the “moral equivalent of our founding fathers.”  The overall theme for propagation was summarized in an S/LPD “Public Diplomacy Action Plan” dated March 12, 1985:  “The Nicaraguan Freedom Fighters are fighters for freedom in the American tradition; FSLN are evil.”, Once the administration had established these themes, it was loath to alter them, as any acknowledgement of improvement in the security situation, progress in democracy, or evidence of Contra atrocities would weaken its case for Contra aid before Congress and the public. Faith networks also had clout in Washington. Beyond this, the administration offered no explanation as to why the U.S. supported the dictatorial Somoza dynasty for more than forty years, but was now presumably intent on establishing democracy in Nicaragua. Aug 28, 2020 crisis in central america regional dynamics and us policy in the 1980s pacca books Posted By Eleanor HibbertMedia TEXT ID c827aa1d Online PDF Ebook Epub Library management and financial systems as well as taking measures against the effects of the euro zone crisis and the weakness of us In 1995, Guatemala held elections again, and Alvaro Arzú beat out Ríos Montt, then worked diligently to move the peace process forward. Rigoberta Menchú, born in Quiché, Guatemala, to indigenous Mayan parents, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work in human rights. [146] President Reagan, speeches on April 27, 1983, May 9, 1984, October 21, 1984, March 1, 1985, March 30, 1985, Feb. 4, 1986, and Feb. 2, 1988, Reagan Public Papers; Bernard Weinraub, “President Calls Sandinista Foes ‘Our Brothers,’” New York Times, Feb. 17. On March 9, 1981, he signed a secret Presidential Finding authorizing the CIA to organize a guerrilla force for the purpose of interdicting weapons transfers from Nicaragua to El Salvador. In his State of the Union Address in January 1984, Reagan cast his policies as part of a “crusade for renewal” in which the U.S. has “the will to defend peace and freedom.”, The Reagan administration throttled human rights reform not by denying the importance of human rights but by coopting the language, turning principles into propaganda. The press began to get wind of the Contra War in early 1982. In March, the ARENA candidate, Alfredo Cristiani, won the presidential election, making the prospect of successful negotiations appear more remote. The world economy went through a period of prosperity in the 1960s, then crisis and stagnation in the 1970s and 1980s, followed by the globalization boom of … In 2006, sixteen years after the FSLN was voted out of power, Daniel Ortega and the FSLN were voted back in. In an effort to win hearts and minds, the U.S. also pushed a land redistribution program that was hated by the economic elite. Particular events and compromise packages tipped the balance one way or the other. 10, 1999 (AP), President Bill Clinton at least apologized for U.S. actions in Guatemala during his visit in 1999. Leaders in Guatemala and Nicaragua however, staunchly resisted US … The Central America movement of the 1980s has been described as a human rights movement, peace movement, and solidarity movement. CUSCLIN named their new meetinghouse Casa Ben Linder. If they weren’t engaged in this game of dominoes, there wouldn’t be any hotspots in the World.”  As president, Reagan embarked on an aggressive rollback strategy that involved covert support for guerrillas in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola, Mozambique, and Cambodia, countries either led by Marxist governments or embroiled in civil wars. [160], Daniel Ortega transfers the presidential sash to Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, April 25, 1990 (La Prensa). [50]  The “brunt of the repression,” writes the historian William LeoGrande, fell not upon the “clandestine guerrilla organization,” but “upon the more accessible moderates. Ríos Montt’s 17-month rule, in fact, resulted in the killing or disappearance of 800 victims per month. Immersed in the empire mentality of the foreign policy establishment, he chose the latter. 1990 protest in Union Square, Manhattan (photo by Gabe Kirchheimer). The Central America movement of the 1980s has been described as a human rights movement, peace movement, and solidarity movement. For the next four years, the Reagan administration conducted an intensive propaganda campaign to convince the public and Congress that the Contras deserved their support. Another aspect of the Reagan administration’s strategy was to keep the FSLN government constantly on edge and force it to use scarce resources for military rather than social welfare purposes. [73] D’Haeseleer, The Salvadoran Crucible, 115, 120. It includes a commitment to a democratic form, a compassionate attitude toward its enemies, defense of human rights, respect for private property, a commitment to allow the private sector to be part of a mixed economy, a commitment to freedom of expression and of the press and, in foreign policy, a desire to have good relations with all countries while pursuing a non-aligned posture…. Senior Reagan administration officials, however, would have nothing to do with either the Enders agreement or d’Escoto’s practical suggestion, as they were organizing the Contras into military units at that very time. Why were many of these refugees – despite personal experiences of violence and persecution – refused asylum in the United States? According to political scientist Kenneth E. Sharpe, the Reagan administration was opposed to any negotiated settlement “that recognized the legitimacy of the Nicaraguan government. With the treasury left bankrupt by the Somoza government, the FSLN appealed for international assistance and encouraged Sandinismo at home, a spirit of cooperation and volunteerism in rebuilding the country. Nicaraguans generally distinguished between the imperialist actions of the U.S. government and U.S. citizens. [194], National Security Council staff led by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Admiral John Poindexter continued to arm the Contras clandestinely through illegal sale of Hughes TOW and Hawk missiles and plane loads of spare military parts to Iran, which since its 1979 revolution was an American enemy. CENTRAL AMERICA IN THE 1980s: Political Crisis and the Social Responsibility of Anthropologists* Tracy Bachrach Ehlers University of Denver For most of the past decade, Central America has been wracked by revolution, counterrevolution, military repression, and massive disloca-tion that have affected the lives of millions of people. To understand how and why the United States became involved in Central American wars during the 1980s, it is necessary to examine preceding developments and patterns:  the hegemonic role played by the United States in the region, U.S. support for rightist authoritarian regimes, Cold War fears of “communist subversion,” and human rights reform. The Reagan administration undertook a dual approach to El Salvador. The report named individual actors accused of human rights violations from both the government and the FMLN, and called for the removal of office and the Salvadoran armed forces of more than forty military personnel, including those found responsible for the killings of Archbishop Romero and the four U.S. churchwomen, and the massacre at El Mozote. Americans may vaguely remember Oliver North, Iran/Contra and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, but have forgotten that, as The Guardian outlined in a retrospective piece on the conflict, “Contra guerrillas backed by President Ronald Reagan used Honduras as a base … [179], Ben Linder was well-known for his clown acts (photo by Bryan Moore). Another partial indication of progress was the conviction in May 1984 of four national guardsmen for murdering the four American churchwomen in 1980. The FSLN remained small and ineffectual until the latter half of the 1970s, when popular opposition to the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle (nephew of the first Somoza) gained momentum. Much useful data on investment, aid and debt is contained in James Petras and Morris Morley, ‘Economic Expansion, Political Crisis and US Policy in Central America’, Contemporary Marxism (1982), pp. The truth commission created by the United Nations in 1992 concluded that the El Mozote massacre was the worst war crime in the nation’s twelve years of civil war. From 1987 to 1990, Congress appropriated only “nonlethal” aid to the Contras, which nonetheless kept them in the field. [181] Envío team, “International Solidarity on the Upswing,” Envío, No. [1], In the aftermath of the Second World War and continuing into the 1960s and 1970s, Latin America's economic landscape drastically changed. Their efforts reinforced those of Latin American leaders promoting peace negotiations and an end to foreign intervention. 3 (Summer 2002), 39, 410-11, 442; and Neil Henry, “Inside the Revolution,” Washington Post, Sept. 29, 1985, 6. The Guatemalan army suspended the Constitution, dissolved Congress, called off elections, and installed a military government. And why was the U.S. government supporting Central American governments and military forces that were perpetuating these conditions?”. The administration framed its intervention, first, as a protective mission against alleged Soviet and Cuban expansionism and “communist subversion,” and second, as a benevolent mission to bring freedom and democracy to oppressed peoples. [23] See Piero Gleijeses, Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States 1944-1954 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991); and Nick Cullather, Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999). In contrast to the Carter administration, Reagan administration officials appeared confident and certain of their mission. During the 1960s, a new mission to liberate the poor emerged, set forth by Pope John XXIII (1958-63), the Vatican Council (1962-1965), and Latin American bishops meeting at Medellín, Colombia, in 1968. CISPES openly supported the FMLN and its political arm, the FDR. Based on thousands of witness testimonies and statements, the commissions concluded that government security forces and allied rightist death squads were responsible for the vast majority of murders, disappearances, and massacres:  85% in El Salvador and 93% in Guatemala. According to Rep. James M. Jeffords, a moderate Republican Congressman from Vermont, “Our government undermined that agreement almost immediately.”[158]. In 1978, Congress prohibited all military sales, aid, loans, and training to the government of Argentina, which at the time was engaged in a “dirty war” against its own citizens. 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]. February 2014, Salvadorans elected Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a separate wing of the Contra movement formed among,. Actions against Nicaragua as President Ronald Reagan while on the Atlantic Coast a. Talks with the State rights ) U.S. Intelligence and military forces that were perpetuating these conditions ”... In Latin America ’ s clear that there was tension, in part dissuade... 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