Central American Crisis

Central American Crisis

The Central American Crisis began in the late 1970s when major civil wars erupted in Central America resulting in the region becoming one of the world's foreign policy hot spots in the 1980s. In particular, the United States feared that victory by communist forces would threaten the Panama Canal and other US strategic interestsFact|date=November 2007.

Nicaragua's Sandinista Revolution

El Salvador


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.


In 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
*Reagan Doctrine
*Kissinger Commission

Peace efforts

Several Latin American nations formed the Contadora Group to work for a resolution to the region's wars. Later, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias succeeded 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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