Anastasio Somoza Debayle, brutal
American puppet dictator
The history of the US in Central America
What we see in Central America today would not be much different if Fidel Castro and the Soviet Union did not exist
--US Ambassador to Panama Ambler Moss, 1980
The US became staunchly anti-revolutionary after its own revolution
The United States has countered [Central American] revolutions with its military power. Washington's recent policy, this book argues, is historically consistent for two reasons: first, for more than a century (if not since 1790), North Americans have been staunchly antirevolutionary; and second, U.S. power has been the dominant power outside (and often inside) force shaping the societies against with Central Americans have rebelled.
Washington officials have opposed radical change not because of pressure from public opinion. Throughout the twentieth century, the overwhelming number of North Americans could not have identified each of the five Central American nations on a map, let alone ticked off the region's sins that called for an application of U.S. force.
The United States consistently feared and fought such change because it was a status quo power. It wanted stability, benefited from the ongoing system, and was therefore content to work with the military oligarchy complex that ruled most of Central America from the 1820ss to the 1980s. The world's leading revolutionary nation in the eighteenth century became the leading protector of the status quo in the twentieth century. Such protection was defensible when it meant protecting the more equitable societies of Western Europe and Japan, but became questionable when it meant bolstering poverty and inequality in Central America.
--Page 12, 13, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (The footnote states: This is argued in Eldon Kenworthy, “Reagan Rediscovers Monroe”, democracy 2 (July 1982): 80-90
US president’s racism and lust for empire
Thomas Jefferson…interest in Latin America was extraordinary (he once remarked that young empire-builders should first study Spanish)
Thomas Jefferson…concern about expanding U.S. power even led him in the 1780s to decide that it would be better if the Spanish held on to their territory “till our population can be sufficiently advanced to gain if from them piece by piece”…His [belief in] Manifest Destiny…was shared by most of the other Founders, including Jefferson’s great political rival, Alexander Hamilton.
Theodore Roosevelt…the famed Rough Rider, who fought publicly…in Cuba during the 1898 war…called Latin Americans “Dagoes” because they were incapable of either governing themselves or—most important in Roosevelt’s hierarchy of values—maintaining order.
The US intervenes in Central America to bestow the blessings of stability myth
That the United States intervened in Central America simply to stop revolutions and bestow the blessings of stability tells too little too simply. The motive for Washington’s policy in Central America was not to stop upheavals, but to promote U.S. interests. In El Salvador, for example, North Americans—both in the business and the diplomatic community—continually encouraged a revolutionary faction between 1906 and 1913 because they knew the faction was more pro-United States (and anti-European capital) than the actual, legitimate government. Interests and imperial rivalry, not morality and consistency, drove U.S. policies.
The 1907 Central American Court
The 1907 Washington conference spun a web of agreements that were to make Central Americans more interdependent and—as the North American Progressives theorists of the time believed—more peaceful and cooperative. The meetings established a Central American Court of Justice…Future disputes were to go not to the battlefield, but the Court. The Central American Court quickly became the global symbol for the Progressives’ growing faith in legal arbitration for the settlement of disputes. One North American proudly wrote, “To the powers of Europe, to the great powers of the world who struggled with partial success…to establish a court of arbitral justice, the young republics of Central America may recall the scriptural phrase, ‘A little child shall led them.’” Retired steel billionaire Andrew Carnegie happily gave $100,000 for a building to house the Court.
It turned out to be one of Carnegie’s few bad investments. Within nine years the institution was hollow because twice—in 1912 and 1916—the United states refused to recognize Court decisions that went against its interests in Nicaragua. The North Americans destroyed the Court they had helped to create, and in doing so vividly demonstrated how the Progressive faith in legal remedies was worthless when the dominant power in the area paced its own national interest over international legal institutions.