U.S. Imperialism in Central America

At every full collective gathering we acknowledge that we live in a society founded on stolen land and stolen lives. Someone researches and presents a relevant topic and then we take a moment of silence to reflect. We share the research here for others as well:

The majority of relations between the United States and Central America has been a history of imperialism imposed at varying levels to ensure the political and economic interests of the U.S. Although the early 20th century saw more overt imperialism through U.S. military occupations such as in Nicaragua, financially backing right-wing groups and dictators in overthrowing democratically-elected governments became a more common tactic as the century progressed to ensure that Central America remained within its sphere of influence.

One example of this sort of tactic is the funding of counter-revolutionaries against the successful revolution of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, also known as FSLN, in 1979. After the FSLN overthrew the Somoza regime, a regime which came into power after U.S. occupation in Nicaragua and largely contributed to rising inequality and political corruption, the Reagan administration began to secretly fund the Contrarrevolucion, or the “Contras”, who targeted peasant collectives, schools, and clinics in an attempt to spread fear, disrupt the already-unstable Nicaraguan economy, and undermine Sandinista social programs. Although the Sandinistas were officially elected to office in 1984, the continual war with the Contras funded and armed by the U.S, despite the International Court of Justice condemning these actions and ordering the U.S. to stop, only to be ignored, resulted in the Sandinistas losing office in 1990.

There are a number of examples of the U.S. contributing to the conflicts and destabilization of nations in Central America, such as overthrowing the democratically-elected government of Guatemala in 1954, financially backing the Salvadoran government military during the Salvadoran Civil War in the ‘80s which proceeded to commit a number of atrocities, and pushing free trade policies such as NAFTA on Latin America and furthering economic instability and unemployment.

However, these problems remain relevant as conditions continue to worsen for people in Central America. It is no wonder that after decades of meddling in Latin American affairs in pursuit of personal interests, and then making minimal to no effort in reparations for the damages, that some of these nations are incredibly unstable. For a myriad of reasons, including politically corrupt governments, ruined economies, drug cartels partially created by the U.S. itself, and more, people are fleeing their countries to seek asylum in the United States in pursuit of a better and safer life. In 2016, the U.S. Border Patrol captured a record 17, 512 unaccompanied minors coming from El Salvador alone. The narrative that the current administration spins would have you believe that many of the refugees coming in are here only to take advantage of benefits available to U.S. citizens or are gang-affiliated, such as the gang Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, that originally (and ironically) began in Los Angeles by refugees from the Salvadoran Civil War and only spread to Central America through deportation from the U.S. Rather, the reality is that these refugees are a direct result of U.S. intervention and imperialism.

Despite the fact that many of these issues are a result of the decisions of the very few elite in power, it is important to stand in solidarity with our neighbors to the south and do what we can to support the immigrants who come to find sanctuary and a better quality of life.


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