Author: John Malch
The forty-six year era of ‘The Cold War’ from 1945 through 1991 was not just limited to the Eastern Hemisphere and countries behind the Iron and Bamboo curtains. The Western Hemisphere shares a lengthy cold war period with its opposite. Countries in Central America: Guatemala, El Salvador & Nicaragua and Panama; the island countries in the Caribbean: Cuba and Grenada. In South America: Brazil and Chile. All of these countries were involved with interventions or coups d’état in toppling governments during the Cold War.
Cold War in Latin America: Guatemala ~ 1954
a. A socialist government, elected in Guatemala, began land reforms which threatened the dominant role of U.S. based corporations.
b. In 1954, the CIA carried out a coup d’etat and turned the government over to a Guatemalan Army officer.
c. A military dictatorship, which received military aid and training from the U.S., terrorized the Indian population for forty years, killing more than 100,000 people.
For more information: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/guatemala.asp
Cold War in Latin America: Cuba ~ 1959
a. In 1959, Castro overthrew the Batista dictatorship, which had been supported by the U.S.
b. Castro nationalized the property of U.S. Corporations. U.S. commenced an economic boycott of Cuba.
c. Castro began receiving aid from the Soviets.
d. In 1961, Cuban emigrates assisted by the CIA, attempted to invade Cuba. Expected uprising against Castro failed to occur. U.S. refused to intervene openly. The Bay of Pigs invasion was easily put down.
e. In October, 1962, the Cuban missile crisis threatened the world with nuclear destruction. The Soviets withdrew their missiles from Cuba in spite of Castro’s protests.
f. In 1989, the Soviets ceased to subsidize the Cuban economy. In the midst of great hardship and a continuing U.S. boycott, Castro began to open Cuba to private enterprise and encouraged trade with Europe and Canada.
For more information: http://www.havanaproject.com/2011/06/cubacold-war-comes-to-the-western-hemisphere/
Cold War in Latin America: Brazil ~ 1964
a. In 1964, the elected government of Joao Goulart was not “acceptable” to the Johnson Administration, which planned, and through the CIA, encouraged the overthrow of that government in a military coup d’etat. Read some of the details revealed in documents subsequently declassified.
For more information: http://www.coldwarstudies.com/2013/03/28/military-rule-in-cold-war-brazil/
Cold War in Latin America: El Salvador ~1970
a A civil war broke out in the 1970,s between the military and right-wing terrorists on the one hand, and a communist-led guerilla insurgency with popular support.
b. In spite of the assassination of 4 American church women by soldiers, the U.S.continued to train and support the army throughout the decade of the 1980,s.
c. The army was responsible for the massacre of countless unarmed civilians, including 6 Jesuit priests.
d. After tens of thousands of deaths, the civil war was brought to an end with the help of UN-supervised elections in the early 1990s
For more information: http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/publications/elsalvador2/
Cold War in Latin America: Chile ~ 1971
a. A socialist government, led by Allende, was elected in 1971.
b. During the Nixon Administration, the U.S. used its influence with international banks to undermine the Chilean economy. The CIA encouraged and influenced a coup d’etat by the Chilean army led by General Pinochet.
c. The Pinochet dictatorship killed several hundred dissidents and ruled the nation for a decade. Economic recovery took place with the help of the U.S.
For more information: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/70s/CoupinChile1973.asp
Cold War in Latin America: Nicaragua ~ 1979
a. In 1979, the Sandinista movement, which had struggled for many years to overcome the Somoza dictatorship, finally succeeded.
b. The Sandinista government was involved in supplying arms from Cuba to the guerrilla movement in El Salvador.
c. The U.S., during the Reagan Administration, used the CIA to mine the harbor at Managua, Nicaragua, as part of an effort to overthrow the government. The U.S. provided arms and training to former marines of the Somoza dictatorship, creating a movement known as the Contras, which waged a guerilla war against the Sandinistas from safe refuge across the border in Honduras.
d. The Nicaraguan government brought charges in the World Court against the U.S. for military aggression against them. Reparations were demanded. The World Court ruled in favor of Nicaragua but the decision was unenforceable because the U.S. was too powerful.
e. The U.S. Congress passed the Bohlen amendment, which prohibited further funding of the Contras.
f. The Reagan Administration violated Congressional restrictions through a covert fund-raising project involving Iran. (The Iran-Contra Affair)
g. A U.S. economic boycott of Nicaragua damaged the Nicaraguan economy and encouraged the political opposition to the Sandinistas. An opposition political party led by the sister of the ruling Sandinista dictator won an election, which brought an end to Sandinista rule. The U.S. stopped support of the Contras and ended the economic boycott.
For more information: http://www.mongabay.com/reference/country_studies/nicaragua/HISTORY.html
Falklands War ~ 1982
For more information: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/80s/falklands_war.asp
Cold War in Grenada ~ 1983
Iran Contra Affair (1983 – 1988)
For more information: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/80s/IranContraAffair.asp
Invasion of Panama ~ 1989
For more information: http://www.coldwar.org/articles/80s/ManuelNoriegaandPanama.asp