Central American History (brief)

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  • 1. Central America
  • 2. Belize
  • 3.
    • Belize
    • Although it was part of Guatemala, British woodcutters illegally settled there in 1638.
    • Belize was named after a British Buccaneer named Peter Wallace
    • Obviously (or not so obviously) the natives mispronounced Wallace’s name.
  • 4.
    • Today Belize has a parliamentary government.
    • Guatamala is mad because it believes that Belize should be returned to it.
    • The UK still protects Belize since independence (1981)
    • Belize is still part of the British Commonwealth of Nations
  • 5.
    • Since 1994, illegal drug smuggling through Belize has been on the decline.
  • 6.
    • 65% of the population of Belize is of African origin and 25% is of Mayan origin
  • 7.
    • Tourism is big in Belize
  • 8. Belize
    • Just know that it has a small population and (not to be ethnocentric) because it was British, it is ruled by a parliament with a prime minister and has not had the majority of problems that Latin America has had.
  • 9. Guatemala
    • Left Mexico after Iturbide abdicated in 1823.
    • From 1823 to 1944 four dictators ruled Guatemala.
    • In 1954, the CIA (US) was suspected of overthrowing a weak leader Jacobo Guzman.
  • 10.
    • In 1960, the Guatemalan Civil War began.
    • Various factions fought for control and there have been at least 50,000 disappearances.
    • In 1996 the war ended. The US had backed several right wing governments via funding.
  • 11.
    • 75 million pages of records have been found compiling research and records that indicate the scope of the civil war’s murders, arrests and disappearances.
  • 12.  
  • 13.
    • Since 1996, Guatemala has been a democracy.
    • In 1999 President Bill Clinton apologized to Guatemalans for the US support of the government in the killings of so many people (despite the fact that Cuba and other communist countries contributed to the rebel groups).
  • 14.
    • Guatemala is the largest and most populous of the Central American countries with a GDP per capita roughly one-half that of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile.
  • 15. Honduras
    • Settled by Spanish in 1524.
    • Got it’s independence from Spain in 1821 and seceded from Mexico in 1838.
    • First 161 years of independence
    • 385 armed rebellions
    • 126 governments
    • 16 constitutions
  • 16.  
  • 17.
    • Had brief war with El Salvador in 1959. Basically, Salvadorian refugees came across border because El Salvador was overpopulated. Honduras expelled 17,000 refugees on the eve of the harvest…a disputed soccer match caused a spark that started a war. Over 2,000 dead.
    • Military took power in 1963 led by Oswaldo Lopez
    • Coup in 1972 and again in 1975.
  • 18. Bananagate
    • US Banana importers bribed the President to lower the export tax on bananas.
    • It helped US but the government of Honduras was overthrown.
    • Honduras fits stereotypical banana republic with a small aristocracy, no middle class and a peasantry that makes an average of $750 per year.
  • 19.
    • Several governments have promised land reform…the problem is the arable land is around 20%.
    • There is very little US aid now going to Honduras. <100,000,000 annually
  • 20.
    • Coffee has recently replaced bananas as the main source of foreign exchange.
    • The nation’s foreign debt is $3 billion as of 1994 and it makes about that as its GNP.
    • Honduras was used as a staging area for both Contras and Cuban Communists during the nineteen eighties.
    • More than 25,000 El Salvadorian refugees have come here due to a war in El Salvador.
  • 21. Nicaragua
    • Largest and most sparsely settled CA Country
    • Lake Nicaragua is home to a freshwater shark known as the Lake Nicaragua Shark, a species of bull shark. (Not important about the shark but cool nonetheless.)
  • 22.
    • By 1570 the gold of Nicaragua was exhausted.
    • Withdrew from Mexico in 1838.
    • During the 1850’s and 1860’s gold rush prospectors used a path through Nicaragua to get to California.
    • A US mercenary was hired to crush conservative Granada elites. His name was William Walker.
    • The British also backed various factions during these years (1850’s, 1860’s)
    • Conservatives executed Walker and established order.
  • 23.
    • Coffee and bananas became a big export.
    • A liberal coup in 1893 by Jose Santos Zelaya established a police state but also led to economic prosperity. RR’s, schools, hospitals, etc. were started.
    • Zelaya executed two US citizens and fled into exile in 1909.
    • Anarchy ruled but US invested heavily.
    • Liberals revolted against this treatment. Felt they were ruled by foreign banks.
  • 24.
    • US landed the Marines
  • 25.
    • Washington DC got embroiled in a 20 year war in which the US backed conservatives.
    • More Marines sent in 1927 to control the country.
    • A new guerilla leader came to fight the US…
  • 26. Augusto Cesar Sandino
    • Remember this dude…
  • 27.
    • 1933, the US left because it had trained a police force the Guardia Nacional to keep Sandino at bay…it worked…Sandino kept his troops but agreed to a cease fire once the Marines left.
  • 28.
    • Things would have worked but the govt. gave a sweeping amnesty to Sandino and offered them land and jobs.
    • The Guardia planned to assassinate Sandino.
    • The President Sacasa had Sandino to dinner, then the Guardia grabbed him and assassinated him and secretly buried his body.
  • 29.
    • Anastasio Samoza ruled until assassinated in 1955. His son Luis was appointed to the presidency by the congress and he was honestly elected soon thereafter.
    • In 1967, Anastasio Somoza Debayle became president. Nine opposition parties were barred from elections.
  • 30.
    • Debayle used brutal tactics to silence political opponents.
    • Monetary abuse and lack of free elections as well as the fact he owned .5 billion in investments and 8,260 square miles of the country while 200,000 peasants were landless made Nicaraguans mad.
  • 31.
    • Debayle had a conservative newspaper publisher assassinated
    • Debayle crushed demonstrations and the National guard killed 3,000 people.
    • Business leaders withdrew support for Debayle. The US suggested a referendum but Debayle refused.
    • Debayle said “I’m not leaving except by force”
  • 32. The gauntlet had been thrown down…
  • 33. Revolution
    • Various different factions joined to rid Nicaragua of Samoza Debayle.
    • The guerillas battled the National Guard under the united banner Sandinista National Liberation Front.
    • Many of these Sandinistas were Marxist. Fidel Castro had a part in the founding of this group.
    • By 1979 it was clear Samoza was failing.
    • Samoza ordered bombing of civilian areas (like Hitler). It actually gave rebels good hiding places.
  • 34.
    • In May of 1979, Samoza fled to Paraguay (under Stroessner regime).
    • He was assassinated by three people reported to be Argentine guerillas.
    • July 19, 1979, the Sandinistas took Managua.
    • Marxist Socialist ideology prompted Nicaragua to establish ties with the USSR, DDR, Bulgaria and Cuba.
  • 35.
    • 1980, Cuba sent 6,000 advisors to Nicaragua to help the Sandinista communists (not all Sandinistas had been communist during the revolution)
    • US suspended all aid to Nicaragua in 1981.
    • Sandinistas prohibited conservative rallies and meetings in 1981. Human rights violations increased.
  • 36.
    • 10,000 former national guard troops and Somoza supporters were jailed or exiled.
    • The Miskito Indians were to be removed forcibly from the border areas. This prompted the Indians to move into Honduras and carry on harassing raids against the Sandinistas. The Indians became allied with the Contras.
    • The Contras were a loose group of anti-Communist fighters.
  • 37.
    • US Iran Contra Affair showed which side the US backed.
  • 38.
    • Daniel Ortega, head of the Sandinistas will break down and will agree to free elections. Ortega does everything he can including dancing to rock music to appeal to as many different aspects of the population as possible. He lost the elections of 1990. Arias Plan.
  • 39. El Salvador
    • Smallest and most densely settled CA country
  • 40.
    • 19 th century El Salvador was similar to the other CA countries of the time.
    • Hernandez Martinez ruled absolutely from 1931 to 1944.
    • 1960 a military-civilian junta ruled and adopted a constitution in 1962.
    • 1969 El Salvador fought with Honduras.
  • 41.
    • 1972 Duarte (Christian Democrat) runs against Col. Arturo Molina.
    • Leading party PCN rigged the election for Molina.
    • In 1977, they do it again. Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero “elected” and immediately had to deal with demands for land reform.
  • 42. Costa Rica
  • 43.
    • Achieved independence along with the rest of the Central American Countries.
    • Government decided to encourage coffee production in 1825. This brought in new settlers.
    • Railroads between the 1870’s and 1890’s introduced banana growing to provide traffic for the new system.
  • 44.
    • Costa Rican constitution of 1848 abolished the army and replaced it with a civil guard.
    • Only dictator was Tomas Guardia, he ruled like Porfirio Diaz of Mexico. He ruled from 1870 to 1882. Only
  • 45.
    • Costa Rican President Arias plan led to the peaceful election of non-Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
    • Main exports-coffee and bananas
  • 46. Panama
    • In 1903 it declared independence from Columbia. It received help from US because Teddy Roosevelt saw need for a canal which was completed in 1914.
  • 47.
    • Yes, a picture from
    • Wikipedia…
    • The USS Missouri
    • Going through the
    • Locks.
  • 48.
    • In 1977 President Jimmy Carter promised to return the canal to the Panamanians. In 1999, the canal was returned.
    • Manuel Noreiga, a strongman under the employment of the CIA, KGB, Castro and the Medellin Drug Cartel provoked a US invasion in late 1989. Noreiga was taken and imprisoned in the USA.
    • Panama today is in debt and is still recovering from the effects of the Noreiga regime.
    • To facilitate trade, an oil pipeline has been built to transfer oil from coast to coast so supertankers too big for the canal can still use the isthmus for trade.