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Cold War: Latin America

Terms in this set (8)

- During the 1930s, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista took power in Cuba
- Batista ruled with an iron fist, including a secret police which arrested, tortured and even killed political dissidents
- Batista was also extremely corrupt, partnering with the Italian and Jewish Mafia in order to build casinos in Cuba where Americans could spend money but left little room for the average Cuban to gain any sort of wealth
- Cuba was also largely controlled by the United Fruit Company which controlled its major export, sugar
- In 1953, a group of Cuban Revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro attacked the Moncada Army barracks to incite a revolution
- The attack failed, Castro was sentenced to prison but was released in 1955 and fled Cuba in fear of his life
- Castro went to Mexico City where he trained with a group of revolutionaries including Argentine doctor, Ernesto "Che" Guevara
- Guevara had recently fled Guatemala after the CIA coup
- In 1956, 82 Cuban revolutionaries including Castro and Guevara travelled aboard the Granma, a yacht they had purchased, to secretly land in Cuba and begin a revolution
- The expedition was a disaster, but led Castro and Guevara survived and a few others survied launching their revolution from the Sierra Maestra Mountains
- By January 1, 1959 the Cuban revolutionaries entered Havana, the capital of Cuba, Batista fled and Fidel Castro became leader of Cuba
- Castro was not a Communist at first and attempted to reform Cuba, however with the increasing tension between the US government who did not approve of Castro's revolution, Castro announced an alliance with the Soviet Union in 1961
- Castro would introduce a series of reforms, to improve Cuban education, healthcare and land reform, but would deny political rights to Cubans and remained in power instead of opening Cuba to democratic elections
- Argentina had gone through a series of dictators and democratic governments between 1945 and 1976
- Argentina was ruled by Juan Peron from 1945-1955 and again in 1973 until his death in 1974
- Peron was sympathetic to fascism and allowed former Nazis to enter Argentina and live
- Peron helped set the stage for military coups in Argentina
- In 1976, with the backing of the CIA, the military overthrew Argentine President Isabel Peron and set-up the most vicious and last (as of now) of Argentina's military governments
- From 1976 until 1983 the military carried out a "dirty war" or "guerra sucia" against its political opponents, with the help of the CIA the government arrested and killed an estimated 30,000 people, setting up concentration camps, even drugging and throwing people out of airplanes
- In 1982, with the dictatorship near collapse, the government in a last ditch effort to build support invades the Falkland Islands
- The Falkland Islands, a few hundred miles off the coast of Argentina and had been ruled Britain since the 19th Century and with a population of less than 3,000 people
- The islands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas, were a source of tension between the British and Argentina, since the latter had claimed the islands belong to them
- The British responded to the invasion with full military force, despite the fact that right-wing British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was supportive of the Argentine dictatorship
- The war lasted ten weeks and saw 255 British troops killed and 649 Argentine's killed
- The British proved victorious and the military was so embarrassed it led to the collapse of military rule and the restoration of democracy in Argentina which has been in place ever since
- In 1979 the Sandinista Revolution occurred (named after 1930s revolutionary Augusto Sandino)
- The Sandinistas overthrew US backed dictator Anastasio Samoza and created a democratic nation
- In 1980 an election was held in which the Sandinistas led by socialist Daniel Ortega won
- Ortega and the government went ahead with the revolution despite anger by new US President, Ronald Reagan
- In 1981 an opposition group known as the Contras began a civil war against the Sandinista government
- 1983 US Congress passed the Boland Amendment banning the CIA from using tax dollars to fund the Contras
- The Contras used psychological warfare to intimidate the population into not supporting the Sandinistas by burning down schools and churches and killing supporters
- The CIA and National Security Agency of the United States decided to help fund the Contra war effort regardless by allowing drug lords to ship cocaine into the inner cities of the United States since the drug lords tended support the Contras, some reports even indicate that the CIA not only protected these drug lords from arrest but may have even used their own planes to help them ship drugs into the US
- Furthermore, US Col. Oliver North helped conduct the sale of missiles to Iran in order to fund the Contras a highly illegal move as Iran was considered to be an enemy of the US
- This became known as the Iran-Contra affair and almost led to the impeachment of US President Ronald Reagan, however, no individual has served any jail time for the scandal, however the scandal was not discovered until 1987 and became major news in 1988 the last year of Reagan's presidency
- In 1985, Ortega ran for reelection and won, however the US government claimed the election was not legitimate, despite elections observers such as former US President Jimmy Carter declaring the election open and democratic
- The Contras continued their war efforts and were being trained by US military personnel in Honduras
- In 1986 the Sandinista government brought the US government to the International Court of Justice where the court ruled that the US was guilty of state sponsored terrorism and owed the Nicaraguan government $50 million for the mining of the harbors of Nicaragua and its support of the Contras - the US ignored the ruling and blocked the UN's ability to enforce the payment of the $50 million through its veto power in the Security Council of the UN
- In 1990 the anti-Sandinista candidate and US favorite, Violeta Chamorro (who's husband had been killed by Samoza's regime) won the election ending Ortega rule and the Sandinista Revolution
- At the end of the civil war an estimated 50,000 Nicaraguans were killed, with both sides guilty of atrocities but the overwhelming majority being committed by the Contras