- Central American Crisis
The Central American Crisis began in the late 1970s when major civil wars erupted in
Central Americaresulting in the region becoming one of the world's foreign policyhot spots in the 1980s. In particular, the United Statesfeared that victory by communist forces would threaten the Panama Canaland other US strategic interestsFact|date=November 2007.
Nicaragua's Sandinista Revolution
Guatemala's civil war began in 1960, but appeared to have been contained by the army and death squads. However, Guatemala also saw an increase in violence in the late 1970s, marked by the 1978 Panzós massacre. In 1982, the resurgent guerrilla groups united in the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity. The presidency of Efraín Ríos Montt, during which he implemented a strategy he called "beans and bullets," is widely considered to be the war's turning point. A peace agreement with the severely weakened guerrillas was signed in December 1996, ending the war.
Honduras, efforts to establish guerrilla movements foundered on the generally conservative attitude of the population. Nevertheless, fears that the civil wars wracking its neighbors might spread to the country led to the killings and disappearances of leftists, spearheaded by the army's Battalion 316. Relatively stable Honduras became a key base for the Reagan administration's response to the crisis. US troops held large military exercises in Honduras during the 1980s, and trained thousands of Salvadorans in the country. The nation also hosted bases for the Nicaraguan Contras.
United States response
Caribbean Basin Initiative
Several Latin American nations formed the
Contadora Groupto work for a resolution to the region's wars. Later, Costa Rican President Óscar Ariassucceeded in convincing the other Central American leaders to sign the Esquipulas Peace Agreement, which eventually provided the framework for ending the civil wars.
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