The two sources that I will be analyzing is “From Civil War to ‘Civil Society’: Has the End of the Cold War Brought Peace to Central America” and “Latin America and the End of the Cold War” The source that will be evaluated first will be Jenny Pearce’s journal, “From Civil War to ‘Civil Society’: Has the End of the Cold War Brought Peace to Central America?”, which was written in 1998. Jenny Pearce has been an Honorary Visiting Professor at Edgehill Institute for Public Policy and Professional Practice and is political scientist that specializes in Latin America that works on social change, violence, security which shows she is knowledgeable on the topic to be able to write about it.
In her journal, she goes on to talk about the civil wars that erupted all over Central America because of the Soviet influence that was having an impact on those countries, as well as the U.S influence separating the citizens of those countries. It also goes on to explain in detail what happened after the Cold War. The author looks at a long period of time looking at what happened during and after the events and connected them. The weaknesses that it had was that it didn’t explain the details of how those countries were before the Cold War and as I have stated earlier she only talks about how it was during and after.
The second source that was evaluated was Jorge G Castaneda’s journal, “Latin America and the End of the Cold War”, which was written in the 1990. He is very knowledgeable as he is a known public intellectual and a political scientist. He is also interested in Latin American politics and U.S and Latin American relations. He was also a foreign minister of Mexico from 2000 to 2003. I find that this makes him certified to write about this topic. He also wrote another book about how Latin America was after the Cold War. The journal explains the invasion of the U.S on Central America to reduce the Soviet influence, as well as writing about how Central American countries went through changes to improve themselves. They explain what happened during the Cold War and after such as the first one. This seems to provide more information than the first source, though it is a secondary source.
Section 2: Investigation
Throughout history, Central America has always been overlooked and it is no different when looking at the history of the Cold War. Since 1945 to the early 1990’s, Central America has been littered with violence. There were people who sided with the leftist ideals as well as there were people who wanted to defeat communism and dictatorship and wanted to establish democracy, Central America consists of the following countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama (Belize would become independent in the early 1980’s).
Violence had always been somewhat of a major issue in the Central American nations, even before the Cold War, with foreign domination being challenged by popular resistance movements (Jonas). When the Cold War started it made life harder for the people that lived there. This was also one of the first time that Central America became a main focal point of the East-West conflict and also that they defied the U.S . The United States has over and over again put its ideals before the lives and well-being of the various peoples living throughout Central America, and because of that, much of the history of Central America has been that of violence, civil wars, and revolts. The U.S. oppressed the Soviet ideals and did everything in their power to make sure the Soviet ideals did not spread. In Panama, around the time of the Cold War and when the leftist ideals of the Soviets was starting to gain momentum in Central America, the U.S created a military base in Panama, as the use of military bases by the U.S. in Panama has also helped in their counterinsurgency efforts in other Central American countries. They were correct with that decision of putting their base of operation there as it has been vital to the U.S. in terms of expanding control throughout Central America as well as the rest of the world . The U.S did not only do that, they also did not offer aid to Honduras, as Honduras had supported the Soviet Union.
The U.S offered aid to all countries of Central America when they needed it, and once it was found out that Honduras was on the side of the Soviets, the U.S no longer aided them. Throughout Central America during the Cold War, the U.S went on to do other things in that helped Central America, such as the U.S. support helped ease some of the Costa Rican economic troubles. As I have mentioned earlier that Honduras was not getting anymore aid from the American government, there were other countries that the U.S wanted to make sure the Soviets didn’t get their hands on them, and the Costa Ricans played a role in them. The Costa Ricans had to do something for the U.S,for the financial aid they were getting. The U.S. was lending their support financially in return for Costa Rican cooperation in harassing Nicaraguan contras, which was a top American priority in combating their fear of the spread of communism. Nicaragua was also being influenced by the Soviets,as Costa Rica was the closest country to Nicaragua they were supposed to hassle them, as I have said. The U.S played a vital role in the countries in Central America, but the U.S was not the only thing that impact Central America.
Throughout Central America, people were suffering in almost every single country After the 1980’s, when Belize, that before belong to Great Britain, was having a strong movement for independence that the U.S started seeing this as a threat, that they could be harboring guerillas. Along with the United States fear of leftist control by Guatemalan guerillas, there was also the fear of an independent Belize that was controlled by its own Prime Minister, who happened to on the left and therefore was perceived by the U.S. government to be capable of harboring guerillas of his own.In Guatemala we also see that Indian peasants were being killed. The U.S had feared for Guatemala, having guerillas that looked towards the leftist ideals and as Belize was beside Guatemala, there seemed a possibility of them having guerillas there as well, and the U.S saw this as a threat for which a new country would come up under a leftist government. Because of their fear of these threats, In the 1980s, the U.S. established its own military operation in Belize This strategic anti-communist move gave the U.S. government the idea that they had the upper hand in the containment of communism in Belize and the entire Central American region around it, which included Guatemala as well. With them taking control these territories, they made sure that there were no guerillas that could come up in Belize and to maintain the control of the guerillas that already existed in Guatemala. Over the course of the 1960s and 1970s, El Salvador was plagued by political turbulence and instability.
This would be because of the lands of the poor were being taken by the rich plantation owners. Because of this the peasants would start migrating to to other countries, mainly to the United States and also Honduras and Mexico. Also in El Salvador, people were not an agreement with what was happening and they were were countered by right-wing military juntas and death squads. One of these death squads was the ORDEN, also known as the Organización Democrática Nacionalista . This squad would go on to be responsible for assassinating many trade union and other political leaders as well as murdering thousands of workers who went on strike and students that were protesting. The government was also very violent in which the government was in charge of 85% of all the murders in 1993. In Honduras, we see that the governments of those countries were starting to get help from the the U.S government. Thus, in turn, the government and military in Honduras began to be more repressive as the U.S. wanted it to use Honduras as a base of operations for anti-communist operations in Central America. They were paid hundreds of million of dollars to side with the U.S in times of need.
In Nicaragua, there was the Sandinista Revolution and because of the United States fearing that this could spread to other countries such as El Salvador, Ronald Reagan gave a speech and said “to halt the infiltration into the Americas, by terrorists and by outside interference, and those who aren’t just aiming at El Salvador but, I think, are aiming at the whole of Central and possibly later South America and, I’m sure, eventually North America.’ Leftist were see as enemies and the ones that sided with democracy were friendlies. The Panamanian government decided to side with the United States, the president Noriega also had made deals with drug dealers to accept financial support from them and what they had to do for them was that the country was to launder money for them.
Violence became even bigger that even the wealthy were targets for ransom by kidnapping the children of the wealthy. Deaths by violence was increasing, even though a World Bank survey suggested that security expenditure had risen but there was nothing to show for it. People were being kidnapped, murdered, or went missing during this time and people were starting to lose faith on their criminal justice system . No one was safe in these countries and that the world tried to keep it hidden away by saying that violence was not a problem when in reality people were being treated horribly. NGO’s such as CIR EFCA helped to create a sustainable livelihoods on some of the poorest parts of Central America, seeming that they helped the thousand of people that were displaced due to the all the violence that occurred. There were countries that accepted the NGOs for the help that they were providing, countries such as El Salvador and Nicaragua did not accept the help for their reconstruction. And in the end of it, no matter what other governments and organizations do to help out Central America, there would never be a way in which these are a substitute to the horrible history. The only way that these countries can be fixed is if they were to only help themselves.
Section 3: Reflection
This investigation has allowed for me to get a better understanding of the challenges historians face. Throughout the investigation, it seems that there was bias involved. historians seem to have a hate for the American government and that they are the ones that need to be truly blamed for everything that happened in Central America. As a historian you need to analyze data and information very carefully because there is so much data that through this I find that some information have changed in different sources. In some of my sources it is said that even though there was some violence, they ultimately sided with the U.S while other sources say that never allied with the U.S and did not accept from NGOs as they felt that the leftist ideals were far more ideal . This could be because the information I have gathered come to us as secondary sources and in secondary sources, information is manipulated to serve the benefit of the author. I feel that someone’s such as Castaneda is far more reliable than anyone else as he served as a politician.
When analyzing these sources, I seem to get a better grasp at what it is like to be a historian. There are some things that contradict themselves and a historian has to use their better judgement to get the information that they need. Information could be gathered that could be deemed true for one historian which could not true for another historian who would see the data as false and has data to back it otherwise. History is ever changing, events are changed by the memories of people who recall events differently or when new information is to appear. They can be changed for the benefits of people who write about it as I have said. Let’s take my topic an account. For the Central American countries, they blame the United States while others believe that the countries are facing these problems because of their own fault. That is what I have gather.
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