Military Wiki

The Central American crisis refers to events in the late 1970s when major civil wars erupted in various countries in Central America resulting in the region becoming one of the world's foreign policy hot spots in the 1980s. In particular, the United States feared that victory by communist forces would threaten the Panama Canal and other US strategic interests[citation needed].


El Salvador

It was between the military-led government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), a coalition or umbrella organization of five left-wing militias. Significant tensions and violence had already existed, before the civil war's full outbreak, over the course of the 1970s.

The United States supported the Salvadorian military government.[1][2][3] The conflict ended in the early 1990s. Some 75,000 people were killed.[citation needed]


Guatemala's civil war began in 1960, but the army and death squads appeared to have contained it. However, Guatemala also saw an increase in violence in the late 1970s, marked by the 1978 Panzós massacre. In 1982 the resurgent guerrilla groups united in the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity. The presidency of Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-1983), during which he implemented a strategy he called "beans and bullets," is widely considered[by whom?] the war's turning point. The Guatemalan government and the severely weakened guerrillas signed a peace agreement in December 1996, ending the war.


In Honduras, efforts to establish guerrilla movements foundered on the generally conservative attitude of the population. Nevertheless, fears that the civil wars wracking its neighbors might spread to the country led to the killings and disappearances of leftists, spearheaded by the army's Battalion 316. Relatively stable Honduras became a key base for the Reagan administration's response to the crisis. US troops held large military exercises in Honduras during the 1980s, and trained thousands of Salvadorans in the country. The nation also hosted bases for the Nicaraguan Contras.

United States response

Peace efforts

Several Latin American nations formed the Contadora Group to work for a resolution to the region's wars. Later, Costa Rican President Óscar Arias succeeded in convincing the other Central American leaders to sign the Esquipulas Peace Agreement, which eventually provided the framework for ending the civil wars.

See also

  • CIA activities in Nicaragua
  • CIA activities in Honduras
  • Proxy war


  1. Francesca Davis DiPiazza. El Salvador in Pictures. p. 32. 
  2. (No author.)"Supply Line for a Junta," TIME Magazine March 16, 1981. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  3. [1] CIA World Factbook. Accessed online February 21, 2008.

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).