Hostile Acts: U. S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s

Hostile Acts: U. S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s

Hostile Acts: U. S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s

Hostile Acts: U. S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s

Synopsis

To Martha Honey, "hostile acts" is shorthand for the nature of U.S. policies in Costa Rica during the last decade. In this book she combines extensive academic research with her firsthand experiences as a journalist covering major portions of the Iran-contra scandal to weave together the story of how the Reagan and Bush administrations undermined Central America's model democracy. Until 1980 Washington paid little attention while Costa Rica quietly developed a benign, quasi-socialist form of government that combined respect for human rights with the goal of achieving economic equality. Then, Honey writes, the new Reagan administration decided that Costa Rica would be important in the war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Over the next few years, the United States poured huge quantities of economic aid into the country and also covertly trained and equipped contra rebel forces to wage war against the Sandinistas from bases in northern Costa Rica. Honey explores the interaction between politicsand economic aid during the Reagan/Bush years, describing illegal military activities, payoffs to Costa Rica officials, misappropriation of funds, and President Oscar Arias's pursuit of his Central American Peace Plan in 1986. She recounts her life at the time with her husband, cameraman and journalist Tony Avirgan, writing that "it never occurred to us that by pursuing a journalistic investigation we would end up being accused of drug trafficking, of murder, of bribing witnesses, of espionage; that we would be twice sued for libel; that our media clients would be pressured to stop hiring us and our colleagues would be told we were Communist agents". Honey's account ends in 1989, the year theCosta Rican government charged CIA operative John Hull with committing "hostile acts" for his involvement in contra operations.

Excerpt

In January 1989, Costa Rica charged cia operative John Hull with the crime of "hostile acts." Hull was accused of contravening the country's policy of unarmed neutrality by using Costa Rican territory to run the contra war against neighboring Nicaragua. Sadly, the term "hostile acts" seems appropriate to describe the overall impact of U.S. policies on Costa Rica during the 1980s. Cosa Rica, Latin America's oldest and most stable democracy, is arguably the best example of the kind of country the United States says its foreign aid and foreign policy are intended to promote. But during the 1980s, as the Reagan and Bush administrations set their sites on wiping out communism in Central America, Washington used its economic, political, and military might to undermine, not strengthen, Costa Rica. Although a sideshow to the overt U.S. interventions in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama, Costa Rica, too, became a victim of Washington's misguided strategy.

This book is based on three different types of information: that which I learned firsthand as my husband and I got drawn personally into the web of the Iran-contra scandal; that which I investigated and reported on as a journalist; and that which I studied in a more detached, scholarly manner. These are different methods of acquiring knowledge. I had hoped, in this book, to weave these different voices--the personal, the popular, and the academic--into a unified resonance. the result, I feel, is less than satisfactory, but it is perhaps an accurate reflection of how I have not always so easily balanced these different roles. the "journalistic" style is dominant throughout the opening and closing sections, while the first-person account is largely confined to chapter 1 and the economic chapters reflect more academic researches.

I also hoped, through this book, to give voice to people in one Third World country, Costa Rica, and to describe how they have experienced the impact of U.S. foreign policy. For this reason, the text is sprinkled with quotes, and the content is heavily based on interviews collected during my eight years as a journalist in Costa RicaRica . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.