Central America: Struggle for Peace & Freedom

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Central America: Struggle for Peace & Freedom Introduction Plagued by civil war, poverty, corruption, foreign intervention, and human rights abuses, Central American nations have fought hard to achieve peace and prosperity despite these obstacles. One important lesson that can be learned from Central America is that these factors are interrelated… foreign intervention often spurs civil wars which then lead to human rights atrocities. Struggles for political power often led to civil wars which pit countrymen against each other in bitter and gruesome fighting. Wars bred anger and hatred that eventually induced some to commit theft, murder, and human rights atrocities against their own countrymen. US and Foreign Intervention in Central America Many of the problems Central American nations faced were complicated by intervention of foreign powers, particularly the US. Foreign powers took advantage of the region’s agricultural resources, lent money at high interest rates, and sought to exploit the region’s strategic location. Foreign intervention in Central American affairs wasn’t new in the 20th century. Since the times of the conquistadors foreign powers sought to take advantage of the region. But the height of the Cold War drove a fear of communism into American foreign policy. Central America’s proximity to the US, coupled with proximity to the Panama Canal, intensified US interest in the region. It is important to consider how these factors, Central America’s resources and location, put the region in a vulnerable position with foreign powers, and why they were targeted by the United States and others to take advantage of them. Agricultural Resources and Foreign Lending Central America’s coveted assets also include its resources, particularly bananas, coffee, sugar and other crops. These resources were sought after, but nations found that volatility in

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