For decades, the United States played a significant, often inappropriate role in the politics of Central America. Policy decisions and actions taken by the U.S. fluctuated between military interventions and diplomatic efforts. But the outcome has been the same: political instability, corruption, and economic inequality in these countries. Today, the immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border is a direct result of these interventions.
Special to The Roosevelt Island Daily News
Brief History of U.S. Intervention in Central America
From the early 20th century to the present, the United States shaped the political landscape of Central America to serve its own interests. The first intervention was in Nicaragua in 1909. U.S. Marines were sent to support a conservative government and protect U.S. business interests.
Throughout the Cold War era, the U.S. supported military dictatorships in several Central American countries in the name of fighting communism.
But this support also led to human rights abuses and political instability.
The 1979 Nicaraguan Revolution, which brought the Sandinista government to power, was a response to decades of U.S. intervention. But the revolutionaries were seen as a threat to U.S. interests. As a reaction, the U.S. supplied arms to the Contras, a rebel group opposed to the Sandinistas, leading to a brutal civil war in the 1980s.
“During their war against the Nicaraguan government, the Contras committed numerous human rights violations and used terrorist tactics. These actions were frequently carried out systematically as a part of the strategy. Supporters of the Contras downplayed these violations, particularly the Reagan administration, which engaged in a campaign of white propaganda to alter public opinion in favor of the Contras, while covertly encouraging the Contras to attack civilian targets.” – Wikipedia
U.S. Policies and Actions in Central America
Apart from military intervention, the United States has employed various policies and actions that contributed to the ongoing crisis in Central America, including support for anti-democratic regimes, arming of paramilitary groups, the training of military officers and covert operations.
For example, in Guatemala, the United States supported a military dictatorship during the Cold War, providing money and weapons to the Guatemalan government, which carried out genocide against indigenous people.
In the 1980s, the U.S. supported the Salvadoran government’s brutal repression of left-wing guerrillas, creating a humanitarian crisis and forcing many to flee to the United States.
The Impact of U.S. Intervention
The United States’s interventions had devastating effects on the region – political instability, violence, corruption and economic inequality. These conditions led to a severe immigration crisis, as people flee violence and poverty and seek refuge in the United States.
In 2019, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that more than 70% of immigrants from Central America were fleeing violence and persecution. The U.S. response to this crisis has been to increase border security and tighten immigration laws, rather than addressing the root causes of the problem.
Lessons Learned and Steps to Address the Crisis
The history of U.S. intervention in Central America demonstrates the dangers of using military force to achieve political objectives. The United States should instead invest in diplomacy and economic aid to promote stability, democracy and human rights in the region.
Addressing the current immigration crisis, the United States must work with governments in Central American. But we must also address the root causes of poverty, violence and political instability.
The U.S. can start by investing in education, healthcare, and economic development. These programs create jobs and lift people out of poverty.
In conclusion, the United States’ role in Central American politics contributed greatly to the ongoing immigration crisis. It is time for the U.S. taking responsibility for its past actions and promote stability, democracy and human rights in the region.
Only then can we hope to address the root causes of the immigration crisis. We can bring an end to the suffering of people in Central America.