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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Global and regional political and cultural trends shaped a set of interrelated and persistent conflicts between authoritarian regimes and democratic and revolutionary forces during the Cold War in Central America. US Cold War anticommunism, in particular, abetted authoritarian governments that sparked major conflicts in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The failure of the post-World War II wave of democratization in Central America led to persistent revolutionary and counterrevolutionary politics in the next three decades. Two successive waves of revolution emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. The reverberations of the Cuban Revolution and US counterinsurgency mainly shaped the first wave of revolution and counterrevolution in the 1960s. The Cuban Revolution, progressive Catholicism, and the Sandinista Revolution mainly shaped the second wave of revolution and counterrevolution in the 1970s and 1980s. The armed conflict in Guatemala (1960–1996), El Salvador’s Civil War (1980–1992), and the Contra War in Nicaragua (1979–1991) became the last major Cold War conflicts in Latin America. The changing dynamics of the conflicts on the ground and the international consensus in favor of peace negotiations in Central America that emerged at the end of the Cold War enabled the political settlement of the conflicts. The peace processes that put an end to the armed conflicts created fragile democracies in the midst of the neoliberal restructuring of the 1990s, which limited the meaning of social citizenship in Central America.

Keywords: Cold War in Central America, revolution and counterrevolution, Liberation Theology, US foreign policy, global sixties, impact of Cuban Revolution, Sandinista Revolution, El Salvador’s civil war, Guatemala’s civil war, peace processes

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