Today, Central America is beleaguered by pressure for change. The established order is threatened and, in the case of Nicaragua, has fallen. The root causes of the current crisis are found in the region's disparity of wealth and the political stagnation of elitist governments. Present-day events, however, are not the first attempts to correct the status quo. From 1944 to 1949, demands to right economic, social, and political wrongs appeared across the isthmus. During these years, the region was ignored by U. S. policymakers, who were more concerned with the military containment of communism in Europe and Asia than with the social and political foment in Central America. Greater awareness of the pressures for change between 1944 and 1949 contributes to a better understanding of the contemporary crisis.
This study of Central American politics, as seen by U. S. policymakers, is based upon the diplomatic records and personal papers of those individuals. Each of the five countries--Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua--is presented separately because the situation varied in each nation. The conclusion draws together the similarities and differences among the reform movements in each of the five nations.
I am indebted to the University of North Florida's Quality Improvement Program, the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and the Harry S. Truman Library Institute for grants to support research. The hospitality of Marty and Teri Galvin, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, enabled me to spend numerous days in the National Archives. The contribution and patience of typist Mary Ellen Wofford are appreciated. Although space does not permit the acknowledgment of all librarians and archivists who