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Kissinger and Latin AmericaIntervention, Human Rights, and Diplomacy$
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Stephen G. Rabe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501706295

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501706295.001.0001

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Kissinger and Central America

Kissinger and Central America

Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama

(p.152) Chapter 5 Kissinger and Central America
Kissinger and Latin America

Stephen G. Rabe

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores U.S. relations with Central America during the Kissinger years. In the 1980s, civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala frightened the Reagan administration into reasoning that the Cold War had come to the doorstep of the United States. The civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua erupted during Henry Kissinger's tenure (in 1972 and 1974, respectively). Wholesale political violence carried out by “death squads” continued to characterize life in Guatemala in the 1970s. Examining the U.S. response to the mounting right-wing oppression in Central America provides historical background to the crisis of the 1980s and deepens an understanding of Kissinger's worldviews. Whereas Kissinger may have been impervious to Central American violence, he acted boldly toward Panama, pushing both of his presidents to renegotiate U.S. control of the canal and the Canal Zone.

Keywords:   U.S. relations, Central America, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Henry Kissinger, Central American violence, Panama, Panama Canal, Canal Zone

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