A Computer-generated image of the sunken U-3523 submarine. The target of this propaganda was primarily the U.S. public. The illicit activity in Mena, meanwhile, was covered up by Governor Bill Clinton who supported the Contras. The government developed infrastructure while capitalists, domestic and foreign, invested in manufacturing and commerce.  D’Haeseleer, The Salvadoran Crucible, 6, 10. She directs the Peace, Justice, & Conflict Resolution Studies program at Winthrop University and has served as president of the Peace History Society. The original series appeared with the San José Mercury News in 1996. recognition by U.S. officials, the Salvadoran (Cristiani) government, and FMLN leaders that victory was unattainable; the ending of the Cold War, which greatly diminished the geostrategic importance of El Salvador in the eyes of U.S. officials (just as détente in the early 1970s had reduced the importance of Vietnam); the electoral defeat of the Sandinista party in neighboring Nicaragua in February 1990 (which ended U.S. predictions of falling dominoes in Central America); the weariness of Congress and the U.S. public with funding the unsavory war (by 1990 the U.S. had provided $4 billion in overt military and economic aid to the Salvadoran government); at least some recognition of the immense cost of the war in El Salvador – approximately 75,000 Salvadorans killed (about 1.5% of the population) and more than a million displaced; new U.S. military adventures that preoccupied the administration, including the invasion of Panama in December 1989 and the Persian Gulf War in early 1991. To get around this prohibition, Reagan signed a second Finding on September 19, 1983, that tweaked the rationale for Contra support from interdicting arms to making the Sandinistas cease their support for “regional insurgencies” and to bringing “the Sandinistas into meaningful negotiations and constructive, verifiable agreement with their neighbors on peace in the region.”. They warned that U.S. aid and advisers could lead to troop deployments and “another Vietnam,” an argument that resonated with the public. 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. 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.  Undersecretary of State Robert Olds, Memorandum, January 2, 1927, quoted in David F. Schmitz, Thank God They’re on Our Side: The United States & Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1921-1965 (Chapel Hill: Univ. 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). Wanton killing, kidnappings, torture, and forced disappearances were unleashed, deepening Guatemala’s crisis and causing the military government to lose credibility abroad. In the meantime, they sought to assure their party’s supremacy in the new Council of State, which opened on May 4, 1980, by reserving a majority of seats for representatives of FSLN mass organizations. As Bishop Thomas Gumbleton told a Congressional subcommittee in 1987, speaking for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S.-directed Contra War “is immoral, illegal, and unwise.” Opinions regarding the FSLN were more diverse. In 1987, Salvadoran and U.S. officials estimated that more than 400,000 refugees had fled to the United States since 1982. After years of FBI surveillance, no charges were brought against the organization. Although there was no legal justification whatsoever for U.S. meddling in Nicaragua, Reagan made it seem so by focusing on the alleged evils of the Sandinista government. Donovan offered detailed evidence of recent Contra attacks, describing the sequence of events and names of those killed, wounded, or kidnapped.  FSLN National Directorate, Participatory Democracy in Nicaragua (Managua, 1984, English translation), 75-77; Envío team, “The Agrarian Reform Law In Nicaragua,” Envío, No.  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. In August 1953, he approved a covert plan to overthrow the constitutional government.  “Statement of Adm. Stansfield Turner, Former Director of Central Intelligence” (April 16, 1985), U.S. Support for the Contras, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, Ninety-Ninth Congress, First Session, April 16, 17 and 18, 1985 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), 4.  “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.  Philip Shenon, “Papers Show Wide Surveillance of Reagan Critics,” New York Times, Jan. 28, 1988, A1; Kathy Bodivitz, “U.S. 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. Religious Statements on Central America (New York: IRTFCA, July 1984), 49, 39-40.  Schoultz, Human Rights and United States, 60. .  Abraham Riesman, “Doug Liman on Crash Allegations, American Made and Living with Tom Cruise,” Vulture, September 22, 2017, http://www.vulture.com/2017/09/liman-speaks-about-tom-cruise-and-american-made-crash.html. The nine-year Contra War left nearly 31,000 Nicaraguans dead, more than 2,000 civilians maimed, and some 350,000 people internally displaced out of a population of 3.5 million. Falkland Islands War, also called Falklands War, Malvinas War, or South Atlantic War, a brief undeclared war fought between Argentina and Great Britain in 1982 over control of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and associated island dependencies. “Guatemala’s Ríos Montt Guilty of Genocide.” CNN, May 13, 2013, www.cnn.com/2013/05/10/world/americas/guatemala-genocide-trial. 3 (Summer 2002), 39, 410-11, 442; and Neil Henry, “Inside the Revolution,” Washington Post, Sept. 29, 1985, 6. Lessons For Today From The U.S.-Japan Trade War Of The 1980s NPR's Audie Cornish talks with political science professor Kristin Vekasi about comparisons between the … A Timeline of US Intervention in Latin America Guatemala 1954: A CIA-organized coup overthrew the democratically elected and progressive government of Jacobo Arbenz. Public support for Contra aid never reached a majority and was more often two-to-one against it, according to polls taken over the course of the decade. See also, “Nicaragua’s 1984 Elections—A History Worth the Retelling,” Envío, No. Memorial service for Ben Linder in Matagalpa, April 30, 1987. In addition, the U.S. arranged for international loans to the Salvadoran government amounting to $280 million between July 1981 and September 1984. 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. Quainton commented, “Incidents such as this in which unarmed civilians, including women and children, are victims provide invaluable grist for the Sandinista propaganda mill. See also more document revelations at https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB483/. O’Neill attributed his views to his connection with the Maryknoll Catholic order. Led by Marxist intellectual and Communist Party leader Augustín Farabundo Martí, the revolt was quickly crushed, ending in a massacre of over 30,000 people, known as known as la Matanza, “the slaughter.” The memory of the revolt and its leader would be resurrected decades later in the form of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a rebel alliance that would attempt to overthrow another military dictatorship.. Guatemala is the first Latin American country to place a former president on trial for genocide. 7 (Nov. 1985): 1445-1482. of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2003), 428-31.  Brown, With Friends Like These, 122-23, 125. of N. Carolina Press, 1998), 39. Dr. Peace is the website coordinator, former community college instructor, and author of, https://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files/migrate/uploads/mos_en.pdf, https://www.cartercenter.org/documents/1243.pdf, http://countrystudies.us/el-salvador/9.htm, http://www.esnavillages.org/documents/Romero%20letter%20to%20Pres%20Carter.pdf, http://www.elsalvadorperspectives.com/2017/12/the-massacre-of-children-and-others-at.html, http://www.politico.eu/article/robert-white-the-diplomat-who-wouldnt-lie, https://www.usip.org/publications/1992/07/truth-commission-el-salvador, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/01/27/seeking-justice-for-guatemalan-slaughter, http://patriotpost.us/histdocs/platforms/republican/rep.980.html, http://aworldtowin.net/documents/Iraq_Dossier.pdf, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=38231, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB483, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB2/index.html. From there, the U.Sbacked irregulars launched raids into Nicaragua. The Archdioceses legal office attributed 5,399 civilian deaths to the army and related paramilitary forces, and yet this was an “improvement” over the previous year’s total of about twice the number. The Salvadoran civil war became a war of attrition.  Lesley Gill, The School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004), 72, 74; and Brian D’Haeseleer, The Salvadoran Crucible: The Failure of US Counterinsurgency in El Salvador, 1979–1992 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2017), 47-48. Is America’s Future South Africa’s Past?  See Ed Griffin-Nolan, Witness for Peace: A Story of Resistance (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991). Lifts Embargo on Military Sales to Guatemalans,” New York Times, January 8, 1983. 76, 82, http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/casos/articulos/seriec_252_ing1.pdf. And frankly, I’m inclined to think they’ve been getting a bum rap” (on human rights). At the CISPES national convention in 1985, CISPES attendees agreed to define their organization as the “North American front of the Salvadoran revolution.”, Notwithstanding its support for the FMLN, CISPES shaped its outreach message in the U.S. to highlight the human rights abuses of the Salvadoran government and the danger of “another Vietnam.” CISPES organizers avoided leftist ideological rhetoric so as not to appear too radical to potential supporters and allies. “Above all,” writes LeoGrande, “the documents did not support the White Paper’s central thesis – that a massive external interference by the Communist bloc had transformed the Salvadoran conflict from a civil war to a case of indirect external aggression.” Although the White Paper failed to convince, the administration nonetheless operated on the assumption that the Salvadoran revolution was a product of Soviet and Cuban expansionism, presumably justifying a militant U.S. response. The company was formed in 1899 from the merger of Minor C. Keith’s banana-trading concerns with Andrew W. Preston’s Boston Fruit Company. 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.  The United Kingdom and the United States both held political and economic interests in Latin America, whose economy developed based on external dependence. After the areas were secure, or the guerrillas had fled, the civic action programs began. In November 1977, the Romero government enacted the Law for the Defense and Guarantee of Public Order, which eliminated almost all legal restrictions on violence against civilians. When President Reagan visited Ireland on June 3, 1984, he was met with a protest march of some 3,000 to 5,000 people and given a lecture on diplomacy by Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald.  Robert A. Pastor, “The Carter Administration and Latin America: A Test of Principle,” July 1992, 47, https://www.cartercenter.org/documents/1243.pdf; see also Paul D. Almeida, Waves of Protest: Popular Struggle in El Salvador, 1925-2005 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).  Jim McGinnis, “Notes (rough copy) from Nicaragua Conference, Sacred Heart Seminary, Detroit, November 16, 17, 18 ,” Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Central America Working Group files, DG-145; Diane Passmore, “Outcomes, Resolutions, Directions from the Second National Conference on Nicaragua,” ibid. In the case of the Contras, the U.S. was directly responsible for atrocities, even producing an instruction manual on how to conduct assassinations of civilian officials (see Section 5). See also, Robert Parry, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ (Arlington, Virginia: The Media Consortium, 1999).  On November 4, 1986 Vice President George Bush recorded in his taped diary that he was ‘one of the few people [who] knew the full details about the release of American hostages,” adding that “this is one operation that had been held very, very tight, and I hope it will not leak.” These comments show that Bush was aware of the illicit arms-for hostage scheme along with his boss and concerned about it becoming public knowledge..  Walker, Reagan Versus the Sandinistas, xiii. Ortega added, “We understand your concerns about El Salvador and we will not risk our revolution for an uncertain victory in El Salvador.”, Sergio Ramírez, noted Nicaraguan writer and Junta member (elected vice-president in 1984), perceived the situation differently. Contra operations were designed not only to destroy the economic basis of Sandinista Nicaragua, but also to force the government to become more authoritarian, suppressing civil liberties and instituting conscription. He replied: The guerrillas won over many Indian collaborators. Labor unionists, indigenous groups, Christian Base Communities, and the Christian Democratic Party led efforts to effect political change, but without success. This limit coupled with national elections held in 1982 and 1984 enabled the administration to win Congressional approval for most of the aid it sought for the Salvadoran government through the decade. 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.”.
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