Capturing the Revolution: The United States, Central America, and Nicaragua, 1961-1972

Capturing the Revolution: The United States, Central America, and Nicaragua, 1961-1972

Capturing the Revolution: The United States, Central America, and Nicaragua, 1961-1972

Capturing the Revolution: The United States, Central America, and Nicaragua, 1961-1972


At the start of the 1960s, revolution in the "Third World" challenged the established order, as discontent with the status quo fueled attempts to revoke colonialism and the strangleholds on power maintained by entrenched local oligarchies. This book examines the causes of revolution in Latin America in the sixties and the various responses crafted to stop it, in particular, the Alliance for Progress, a program which represented the best products of American developmental and counterinsurgency theory. Equally important, however, is an examination of the independent policies implemented by Latin American elites, policies often in direct opposition to those pursued by the U.S.


American capitalism replaced some of the old colonial capitalisms in the countries that began their independent life. But it knows that this is transitory and that there is no real security for its financial speculations in these new territories. the octopus cannot there apply its suckers firmly. the claw of the imperial eagle is trimmed. Colonialism is dead or is dying a natural death in all these places.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara, 1961

The American military expansion initiated at the start of the 1960s continued its progression in the Johnson administration. Under Robert McNamara, the Defense Department continued a lengthy list of improvements to conventional and nuclear forces and devoted additional attention to unconventional war. New teams of American military advisors deployed to regions threatened by insurgency around the world. For these soldiers, however, simply providing training and equipment was only a small part of their mission. in order to create a true counterbalance to the guerrilla threat, American advisors had to reform local military institutions. Latin America reflected both the build-up of American assistance and the need to direct its use. By the mid-1960s an increasingly sophisticated insurgent threat had begun to emerge in the hemisphere, the product of lessons learned from the failure of the Cuban foco model and accumulated pressure from both the Soviet Union and China for Latin American revolutionaries to embrace a gradualist approach to rebellion that incorporated a greater proportion of political activity with armed resistance. Winning substantive refoms from the Latin America militaries to meet this threat proved to be an ongoing battle, one that often ran afoul of local priorities. in terms of its own internal security, Nicaragua enjoyed a relative degree of stability at mid-decade. the National Guard handily defeated civil disturbances and the embryonic guerrilla war in the countryside, forcing groups such as the Sandinistas to sharply reduce their expectations regarding revolution.

Defense policy within the kennedy trajectory

When he assumed the office of his slain predecessor, Lyndon Baines Johnson found himself overshadowed at almost every turn by the Kennedy legacy, particularly with regard to the issue of national security. Among his many promises during his first year in office, Johnson would make great efforts to pledge a continuation of the

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