Central America and the United States: The Clients and the Colossus
For the past century, the United States has effectively dominated the economic and political destinies of the countries on the Central American isthmus - Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. In this timely and engaging narrative, John H. Coatsworth explores the paradoxical question of why a region so closely tied to the United States should have become the site of so much bloodshed and brutality. To answer this question, Coatsworth examines both U.S. foreign policy and its impact on the Central American countries. He rejects the cold war dogma that blames Central American instability on extreme Communist machinations as well as the opposing view that attributes it to purely internal factors such as poverty and inequality. Coatsworth relates the extraordinary high levels of political and social turmoil that have characterized the modern history of Central America largely to these countries' excessively close and subordinate ties to the United States. Coatsworth provides a concise history of U.S.-Central American relations before 1945, from the Monroe Doctrine to the transformation of the isthmian republics into client states of the northern colossus after 1900. In the bulk of the study he looks at the effects of FDR's "Good Neighbor" policy; at how the cold war shaped U.S. policy toward the region, including the United States' involvement in overturning governments in Costa Rica and Guatemala after its friendly relations with repressive regimes in the region; at the effects of the Alliance for Progress and the succeeding decade of U.S. neglect; and at the U.S. role in the Nicaraguan revolution and counter-revolution and the guerrilla war andcounterinsurgency in El Salvador. He argues that at key turning points in the political history of five of the six Central American states between 1954 and 1990, the United States played a direct role in averting challenges to the status quo - which meant quashing nationalist, reformist, or revolutionary movements and regimes committed to social change and greater independence from the United States. Gone with the cold war are the security doctrines and the anti-Communist ideology that fed U.S. interventions in Central America in the postwar era. For this reason, Coatsworth's comprehensive survey of these six countries' troubled relations with the United States is essential reading for students of international and Latin American history, as well as for those interested in the evolution of U.S. foreign policy over the last half-century.
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Relations through World War II
The Alliance for Progress 19571969
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