Crisis in the South Atlantic: The Reagan Administration and the Anglo-Argentine War of 1982

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

Early on the morning of April 2, 1982, Argentine military forces landed on the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) in the southern Atlantic Ocean. Argentina had maintained a claim to the islands dating to its independence from Spain in 1816; beginning in 1833, however, the United Kingdom had established a presence on the islands and developed them as a British colony. The issue of the islands’ future sovereignty had been the subject of intermittent and inconclusive negotiations between the two countries since the 1960s. Within hours of the invasion, the Argentines overwhelmed the small British garrison, forcing its surrender. In subsequent days, the military junta led by General Leopoldo Galtieri formalized Argentine control over the territory (as well as over other British South Atlantic possessions in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) and expelled the British administration. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher condemned the landings as an act of aggression against the wishes of the islands’ inhabitants who, she argued, favored overwhelmingly continued association with the United Kingdom. She ordered the deployment of a naval task force to the region.

Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of England is welcomed by Secretary of State Alexander Haig upon arrival for a visit to the United States. (Department of Defense)

Amidst a situation that initially struck some U.S. policy makers as an anachronistic “Gilbert and Sullivan battle,” this crisis presented the Ronald Reagan administration with a formidable foreign policy dilemma. Although the United States had proclaimed its neutrality on the question of the islands’ sovereignty since the mid-nineteenth century, the clash between Argentina and the United Kingdom created conflicts among Reagan’s foreign policy team. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick did not want to alienate the Argentines, regarded by the administration as key partners in halting the perceived expansion of Soviet-directed communist influence in the Western Hemisphere. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger argued strongly to support the British. The United Kingdom was one of Washington’s closest allies and Weinberger feared the administration’s failure to vigorously support the Thatcher government would tacitly condone the Argentines’ actions and encourage other countries to employ similarly aggressive methods. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., argued that Cuba and the Soviet Union stood poised to exploit the crisis and expand their influence in South America if the United States failed to prevent an escalation of hostilities. In such an environment, he advocated an even-handed “honest broker” approach toward both sides.

Containing the crisis and preserving Washington’s relationships with both governments hinged upon the conclusion of a negotiated settlement. Having failed to persuade Galtieri to refrain from landing on the islands, after much internal debate, Reagan dispatched Haig to the United Kingdom and Argentina for talks with Thatcher and Galtieri on April 7. The backdrop to Haig’s mission was ominous: in addition to an increasingly bellicose war of words between the Argentine and British governments, Britain’s mounting military buildup in the region raised the possibility of actual hostilities.

Haig shuttled between London and Buenos Aires for two rounds of intensive discussions over the next fortnight, but failed to broker a peaceful solution. Supported by most Britons, Thatcher insisted on a return to the status quo ante. Any other result would, she believed, imply moral equivalence between the British and Argentine positions, validate Argentina’s aggression, and diminish the islanders’ right to self-determination. Moreover, Thatcher stipulated that no negotiation over sovereignty could occur until Argentine forces withdrew. The Argentine Junta held its own suspicions about U.S. impartiality, refused to make concessions that might prejudice its claims to sovereignty over the islands, and viewed the dispute as a matter national honor. A series of detailed proposals and counterproposals failed to break the diplomatic impasse. Following a successful British operation to retake South Georgia and with growing indications of the Thatcher government’s readiness to seek a military solution, Argentina officially rejected Haig’s final peace proposal on April 29.

The following day, after a meeting of the National Security Council, Haig announced the breakdown of negotiations, administration support for the British position, and the suspension of military and economic aid to Argentina. On May 5, Weinberger met with British Defense Secretary John Nott to finalize arrangements for the fulfillment of British requests for military materiel as part of a broad range of political, diplomatic, and military measures undertaken by the United States in support of the Thatcher government.

Despite this public tilt toward the British position, the Reagan administration continued its efforts to control the conflict and to mitigate the fighting’s impact upon U.S. interests. Indeed, most Latin American countries viewed U.S. support for Britain as a betrayal of the hemispheric solidarity embodied in the 1947 Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Treaty). In addition to offering broad support for peace initiatives undertaken by the Peruvian president and U.N. General Secretary Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the administration pressed the belligerents to draw down their military engagement. Ambassador-at-Large General Vernon Walters met secretly with the Argentine Junta, while Reagan attempted to personally intercede with Prime Minister Thatcher. Over the course of two tense telephone conversations in late May, Reagan failed to persuade Thatcher to refrain from “scoring total victory” in the South Atlantic in order to avoid toppling the Junta.

British victory in the field brought an end to the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas crisis. Following a three-week ground campaign, British forces re-captured the islands’ capital, Port Stanley, on June 14, forcing the surrender of all Argentine troops. Three days later, Galtieri resigned as Argentine president, the first step in the eventual return of civilian government to Argentina.

Central America, 1981–1993

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

Following his electoral victory in November 1980, President Ronald Reagan amplified the concerns expressed by President Carter and Congress about foreign support of Central American leftist guerrilla forces. In February 1981, a month after the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) launched a major offensive against the Salvadoran military, the Department of State issued a White Paper stating that Cuba and other Communist countries had played a central role in the political unification, military direction, and arming of the Salvadoran insurgents. Secretary of State Alexander Haigaccused the Sandinista government of exporting terrorism to El Salvador and in April 1981, Reagan terminated economic assistance to Nicaragua citing its involvement in supporting Salvadoran rebels. After several failed diplomatic attempts to dissuade Managua from supporting FMLN activities, Reagan opted to support a clandestine guerrilla force to quash the Sandinista training and arming of Salvadoran guerillas. These “Contras,” as in “counterrevolutionaries,” were primarily ex-Nicaraguan National Guard members who had gathered in Honduran territory. The Contras launched their first major attack against the Sandinistas in March 1982. In response, the Sandinistas undertook a dramatic build-up of military manpower assisted by Soviet and Cuban advisers and weaponry, mostly from the Soviet bloc.

Supporters of the Nicaraguan Contra rebels outside a protest against the Contras at Hurlburt Field, Florida. (Department of Defense)

Reagan’s efforts to strengthen the Contras met with opposition from a divided Congress and resistance in Nicaragua. Concerns about the ultimate goals of the Contras and the possibility of direct U.S. military involvement prompted Representative Edward Boland, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to sponsor legislation in December 1982 that prohibited the use of U.S. funds for the purpose of overthrowing the Sandinista government. The bill, signed into law by Reagan later that December, allowed assistance to the Contras for other purposes. Reagan continued to advocate increases in support for the Contras. He addressed a joint session of Congress in April 1983 asserting that the Sandinista government presented a threat to Central America and U.S. national security. American military exercises off the Nicaraguan coast and the invasion of Grenada in October 1983 demonstrated Reagan’s commitment to countering Communist threats in the region. Consequently, the Sandinistas decided to participate in the Contadora peace negotiations that had begun in January 1983 at the initiative of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama. Claiming success in rolling back Communism in Grenada, Reagan gained congressional increases of up to $100 million in non-military aid to the Contras. In October 1984, however, Congress ended the support after learning about the mining of Nicaraguan harbors and the destruction of an oil facility. In November 1984 Reagan’s re-election and Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega’s elevation to president in a controversial national election set the tone for additional confrontation.

Reagan redoubled his commitment to the Contras in his second term. In his 1985 State of the Union address he called them “freedom-fighters” who were risking their lives to “defy Soviet-supported aggression.” In June 1985 Congress agreed to $27 million in humanitarian aid for the Contras, but no military support. Sandinista victories against the Contra fighters, heavy Presidential lobbying, and an incursion into Honduran territory by Nicaraguan forces helped to sway Congress into approving $100 million for the Contras, with seventy percent allocated for military aid to be delivered in October 1986. However, the Iran-Contra scandal broke the next month. The Tower Commission reported that White House staff members had been using extralegal funds raised from arms sales to Iran and foreign donors to arm the Contras prior to October 1986.

Following the deaths of hundreds of thousands and a decade of economic devastation, peace initiatives eventually gained traction in Central America. Numerous efforts to establish a peace plan by regional leaders, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States had continued in the wake of the 1983 Contadora initiative. In August 1987, Central American leaders signed a peace accord at Esquipulas, Guatemala that had been shaped and promoted primarily by Costa Rican President Óscar Arias. The plan focused on democratization and regional security, backed with a system of verification. Meeting in Costa Rica in January 1988, Central American leaders cemented their commitment to implement the Guatemala peace accord. Nicaraguan President Ortega entered into negotiations with the Contras and the United States began to shift aid to humanitarian purposes. Nicaragua implemented the accord and held internationally supervised elections in 1990. Violeta Chamorro, former member of the revolutionary Provisional Government and widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the journalist and hero of the opposition who had been slain in 1978, was elected president and the Contras disbanded. The civil war in El Salvador lasted until 1991, when the FMLN reached a peace accord with the Salvadoran Government under United Nations supervision. In Guatemala, fighting between leftist groups and the military continued into the mid-1990s.

Washington continued to perceive threats in Central America after the end of the Cold War. On December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush dispatched over twenty thousand troops to invade Panama and arrest its head of state, Manuel Noriega. Noriega had nullified a presidential election won by opposition candidate Guillermo Endara that May. In addition, Bush had become opposed to Noriega’s continued leadership of Panama due to Noriega’s connections with drug smuggling and money laundering, as well as the declining security situation around the Panama Canal. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Bush administration implemented economic sanctions and increased local troop levels. The Panamanian legislature declared that a state of war existed with the United States on December 15 due to the escalating tension between the two countries. A U.S. serviceman was killed in Panama the following day; this and other events, including the harassment of a U.S. officer and his wife, precipitated U.S. action. Code-named Operation Just Cause, the fighting lasted for five days. After taking refuge in the Vatican Embassy, Noriega eventually surrendered to U.S. authorities and Endara regained his presidency. Noriega was tried in a United States court and convicted on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, and racketeering.

Central America, 1977–1980

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

The Carter administration’s preferred policy toward Latin America—stressing human rights and non-interventionism—was severely tested by events in Central America. In July 1979 the revolutionary Sandinista movement prevailed over Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza who had been a close U.S. ally. Facing the possible threat of a Marxist tide sweeping through the region, the Carter White House undertook multiple initiatives to moderate the revolution in Nicaragua.

A statue of Anastasio Somoza is pulled from its base by Sandinista guerrillas on July 10, 1979. (AP Photo)

In a series of speeches in 1977 President Jimmy Carter outlined his vision of a foreign policy based on protecting human rights, pledged to end the tradition of U.S. interventionism in Latin America, and offered to support the development of democracy through multilateral cooperation. Widespread poverty, a growing reform movement, and a corrupt and violent military dictatorship made Nicaragua a clear focus for Carter’s new approach. Somoza controlled Nicaragua’s politics, military, and much of its economy. Following his brother Luis Somoza’s direct and indirect rule of the country from 1956 to 1966, Somoza re-established a military dictatorship in the mold of his father Anastasio Somoza García’s two-decades of control from 1936 to 1956. Public outcry over Somoza’s abuses exploded after a devastating earthquake hit the capital city of Managua in 1972 and Somoza’s businesses, political cronies, and military subordinates embezzled most of the international relief donations.

The geo-politics of the Cold War transformed Carter’s policies toward Nicaragua from what might have been straightforward support for democratic reform to a torturous balancing act. While the middle-class, the business community, and the local Catholic leadership became increasingly critical of Somoza in the mid-1970s, a committed group of revolutionaries had already been fighting for decades to overthrow him. Inspired by the 1959 Cuban revolution and advised by the new Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Nicaraguan revolutionaries joined efforts to found the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). The name honored Augusto Sandino, who had fought against the U.S. Marines in the 1920s and opposed the creation of the Nicaraguan National Guard. In fact the Guard, headed by Somoza’s father, executed Sandino despite a surrender agreement in 1934. The Sandinista guerrillas had limited influence, but the growing public opposition to the Somoza regime in the later 1970s presented the opportunity for a breakthrough. Carter criticized Somoza’s abuses but carefully avoided any encouragement of the FSLN because of its Cuban ties and the Marxist orientation of its leaders. The assassination of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, the publisher of the opposition newspaper La Prensa, in January 1978 served as a catalyst for civil war. Though Somoza’s role in the crime was unproven, major demonstrations erupted. In August 1978, Sandinista guerrillas captured the National Palace and exchanged several hundred hostages for the release of prisoners, money, and safe passage out of country. The moderate opposition organized a general strike and in September 1978 the Sandinistas launched a series of coordinated attacks in major cities.

Carter sought solutions that would cool the boiling forces of revolution in Nicaragua and establish a path to democratic transition. The 17th Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States (OAS) agreed to a U.S. proposal for a political mediation in Nicaragua. Somoza and the moderate opposition accepted the mediation proposal and an International Commission of Friendly Cooperation and Conciliation, comprised of representatives of the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and the United States, arrived in October 1978. William G. Bowdler, the U.S. representative, was ultimately unable to convince Somoza to join with the moderates in a transition to free elections. Carter next opted to explore the possibility of a plebiscite on Somoza’s rule. In January 1979, Somoza rejected the idea of international supervision of a plebiscite vote and the mediation effort ended. That February, Carter terminated military assistance to the National Guard and asked that other countries cease assistance to the Sandinistas.

Events in Nicaragua soon outpaced Carter’s efforts to shape them. The Sandinista leadership joined with selected representatives from the moderate opposition to form a Provisional Government (PG), established in Costa Rica on June 16. On June 21, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance called for the replacement of Somoza with a broadly based transition government of national reconciliation, the negotiation of a cease-fire, humanitarian aid, and an OAS peacekeeping force. Two days later the OAS passed a resolution calling for the replacement of the Somoza regime. In Managua, Ambassador Lawrence Pezzullo pushed for an elaborate plan under which Somoza would resign and the Nicaraguan Congress would elect an interim successor. The successor would appoint a new head of the National Guard, call for a cease-fire, negotiate the gradual merger of the National Guard with FSLN forces, and finally transfer power to the PG within 72 hours. Following the script, Pezzullo informed Somoza on July 12 that his departure would minimize bloodshed and help to salvage the National Guard. Somoza departed for the United States on July 17. The Nicaraguan Congress then elected Francisco Urcuyo. Pezzullo’s plan collapsed when Urcuyo announced his intention to remain in power until the end of Somoza’s presidential term in 1981 and obstructed the cease-fire negotiations. On July 18 Pezzullo departed, the National Guard evaporated, and the PG declared itself the legitimate government of Nicaragua. Sandinista forces entered Managua on July 19 and oversaw the installment of the PG, renamed the Government of National Reconstruction (GNR), the next day.

Still aiming for influence, President Carter met with members of the GNR in the White House in September 1979 and encouraged moderation and respect for democratic values and human rights. That November, Carter asked Congress for $80 million in new supplemental aid funds ($75 million for Nicaragua and $5 million for other Central American states), in addition to the $50 to $70 million of fiscal year 1980 funds that he requested be reprogrammed for Nicaragua. A heated and lengthy congressional debate ended in May 1980 with an act authorizing $80 million in assistance to Central America for fiscal year 1980. The act required reports every six months from the Secretary of State on the status of human rights in Nicaragua and stipulated that the aid would be terminated if foreign forces in Nicaragua threatened the security of the United States or any of its Latin American allies.

The Nicaraguan revolution threatened to worsen an already unstable and violent situation in neighboring El Salvador. Autocratic military governments had prevailed in disputed elections in 1972 and 1977, and by 1979 the President, retired General Carlos Humberto Romero, had increased the repression against the leftist opposition. Convinced that Romero’s rejection of reform strengthened the prospects for revolution and the destruction of their institution, as had transpired in Nicaragua, a group of young military officers overthrew Romero in October 1979. The group established a five-man civilian military junta that was committed to reform and free elections but faced a violent landscape with frequent attacks by both left and right wing terror groups. The United States recognized the new government and provided security assistance and advisers, but the junta collapsed in January 1980 when the civilian members resigned after the junta failed to stem violence by the military and right wing groups. The Christian Democrats, the major reformist political party led by Jose Napoleon Duarte, joined with the military in a new junta government. By March 1980, with Duarte assuming a leadership role, the new junta undertook wide-ranging agrarian and financial reform and received increased U.S. security and economic assistance. Yet, the violence spiked with the murder of the archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, who had lamented the abuses of the military and criticized U.S. military aid to El Salvador. In December 1980, the abduction and murder of four U.S. churchwomen in El Salvador convinced President Carter to suspended assistance to the country. A Presidential mission sent by Carter to investigate the crime found complicity of the Salvadoran security forces either in the crime or in evading the investigation. In January 1981 guerrillas of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), named to honor the executed communist leader of the 1932 peasant uprising, launched a major offensive. The United States responded by providing military aid to the junta, citing progress in the investigation of the murders of the churchwomen and concern about external support for the guerrillas.

The North-South Dialogue and Economic Diplomacy

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

The North-South Dialogue refers to the process through which the developing and newly independent nations of the “third world,” predominantly in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, engaged the industrialized countries of North America and Western Europe in negotiations over changes to the international economic system during the 1970s.

After World War II, many nations of Latin America became increasingly frustrated with U.S. trade and tariff policies. At the same time, nationalist movements in Asia and Africa helped lead to widespread decolonization. Membership in the United Nations had risen from 51 countries in 1945 to 100 in 1960 and 150 by 1979. The sudden influx of new countries changed the balance of power in the General Assembly and made possible the establishment of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, or UNCTAD, in 1964. UNCTAD created a forum through which the “southern” or “third world” nations could propose economic policies, engaging industrial democracies of the “north.” The term “North-South Dialogue” was used to distinguish this dynamic from the East-West conflict of the Cold War, and to stress the point that development issues were just as pressing as the ideological conflict between communists and capitalists.

Several factors increased the willingness of the industrialized nations to negotiate. One was the rising power of oil-producing countries in the Arab world, and another was the U.S. loss in the war in Vietnam, which demonstrated to both the world and the industrialized North that not even wealth and power were enough to guarantee military victory. Both of these issues drew Western attention toward the global balance of economic power. Additionally, the dialogue began in a period of relaxed East-West tensions, which meant that the industrialized world could give more attention to issues like development. The Newly Industrializing Economies, meanwhile, believed the entrenched international economic system benefited developed countries at the expense of the developing world. They hoped to facilitate a reorganization of the international economic system to rectify this imbalance.

The North-South Dialogue addressed issues pertaining to trade and tariffs, international finance, foreign aid, and the governance of multinational companies and institutions. During the era of détente in the 1970s, when East-West tensions were more relaxed, there was a willingness among industrialized nations to cooperate. Even as détente began to falter in the mid-1970s, the parties to the North-South Dialogue continued their discussions.

U.S. policies and relations with the other Northern powers inevitably served to help or hinder progress in the dialogue. For example, changes in trade policies between the United States and Western Europe could serve to distract these countries from their negotiations with the industrializing countries or cause them to extend new levels of control over their interactions within their respective spheres of influence in the developing world. Late in the 1970s, the increasing conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union finally served to sour the prospects for continuing North-South discussions, as the industrialized nations renewed their focus and redirected their resources to the Cold War and paid less attention to development issues. By September of 1980, the discussions in the United Nations that had characterized this dialogue had lost their momentum. Although some dialogue on these issues continued, it remained a series of discussions on economic issues and never presented the workable solution that its proponents had hoped it would.

There are many ways to interpret the high point of the North-South Dialogue in the 1970s. Some economists have reviewed the southern proposals for broad changes in world economic policy and concluded that they were either fundamentally unworkable or designed to benefit only certain segments of the Third World; others counter that the proposals were necessarily extreme in order to establish a firm position from which to open negotiations with the industrialized North. Either way, the exact implementation of the proposals presented through UNCTAD was always unlikely, because they centered on the Southern ideal and would have required the economically-powerful North to concede every point. The North-South Dialogue can also be viewed as a political struggle between the world’s “haves” and “have-nots.” In this view, the discussions became a vehicle through which the South could unite and assert power within the United Nations and other international organizations to counter the ability of the North to dictate the course of world affairs.

The Allende Years and the Pinochet Coup, 1969–1973

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

Relations between the United States and Chile deteriorated in the 1960s due to U.S. concerns regarding the Chilean Left and the rise of Chilean nationalization of certain industries, especially copper. The Alliance for Progress, signed in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, was designed to prevent the spread of socialism throughout the hemisphere. The Alliance allowed for monetary investment in Latin American countries that would help bolster infrastructure, education, and champion democratic governments, and Chile was one of the primary recipients of aid. The prospect of the nationalization of two of the leading Chilean copper companies, Anaconda and Kennicott—both owned by corporations based in the United States—along with the growth of socialist sentiment throughout the hemisphere led the United States to overtly and covertly send aid and assistance to the Chilean Government, as well as to political parties such as the Christian Democratic Party (PDC).

A crowd of marchers show their support for Allende. (U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

In September 1964, PDC candidate Eduardo Frei was elected President of Chile, beating out third-time candidate Salvador Allende from the Front for Popular Action (Frente de Acción Popular or FRAP) party. Frei’s campaign received funds from the U.S. Government to help ensure his election. His administration focused on improving housing, agrarian reform, and increasing access to education. Frei also negotiated an agreement with the Anaconda copper company on the nationalization of copper mines. There were many critics of the Anaconda agreement, even within Frei’s PDC, and nationalization became an important issue in the 1970 presidential election.

The three candidates for the presidency in the 1970 elections were Radomiro Tomic for the PDC, former president Jorge Alessandri representing the National Party (PN), and Salvador Allende, candidate of the Popular Unity (Unidad Popular or UP) party, a leftist coalition which had replaced FRAP. The U.S. Government used covert funds in Chile during this election period, not for any one candidate’s use but to prevent Allende’s election. U.S. support had some impact on the election, but Allende still received over one third of the popular vote. Alessandri also garnered over one third of the vote, trailing Allende by only one percentage point. A run-off election in the Chilean Congress was scheduled for October 24, 1970.

Neither the Richard Nixon administration, nor the current Chilean Government, nor U.S. companies with businesses in Chile (Anaconda, International Telephone & Telegraph, Kennicott) wished to see an Allende presidency, fearing his Communist sympathies. The 40 Committee, the U.S. National Security Council committee that reviewed proposals for covert actions, held numerous meetings leading up to the October run-off elections. The debate over whether and how to engage in covert actions in order to prevent an Allende victory was vigorous. At the same time, the Chilean military leadership had splintered into two distinct camps regarding the viability of a military coup: those who were willing to stage a military coup, represented by two factions under General Roberto Viaux and General Camilo Valenzuela, and those (personified by General René Schneider) who believed that any attempt by the military to influence the election was unconstitutional. After two failed attempts by Valenzuela’s supporters to kidnap Schneider, a third attempt was made by Viaux on October 22. The kidnapping attempt went horribly wrong and Schneider was shot. He died several days later. There were no further attempts by the Chilean military to influence the upcoming run-off election.

On October 24 the Chilean Congress voted to elect Allende president by a large margin, and on November 3 he was officially sworn in as President of Chile. After Allende’s inauguration, Nixon stated that U.S. relations with Chile would continue, but would be cooler than during previous administrations. The administration feared that Allende would create a Communist government in Chile. U.S. policymakers also took steps to severely limit further credits or aid to Chile.

On December 21, 1970, Allende proposed an amendment to the Chilean constitution that would authorize the expropriation of the mining companies. The Chilean Congress passed the nationalization amendment on July 11, 1971, and it became law five days later. This plan was unique in Latin America because of a clause that Allende had introduced that cited “excessive profit-taking.” This maintained that foreign-owned mining companies made exponentially more in Chile than other similar companies. While expropriation of U.S. assets was usually based upon a percentage of market value, in this case U.S. companies received little or no money at all for the nationalized mines. At the same time, Chile also gained control of the Chilean telephone company, of which ITT owned a majority. Relations between the two countries soured as the battles over the nationalization continued throughout the entirety of the Allende administration.

Allende wanted to reform health care, agriculture, and education, and was invested in further nationalization of businesses. He increased the percentage of farms and businesses that were nationalized. Wages increased throughout the administration, and for the first few months, inflation was held at bay. On the surface, the reforms appeared to be successful. It became clear, however, that the successes were not balancing out the problems. Rising wages produced a boom in consumerism, and Chile had to rely on imports to meet demand. The price of copper dropped, which severely affected the country’s balance of payments. In addition, the Chilean Government was running out of foreign sources of aid.

These issues led to a series of demonstrations and strikes from 1971 to 1973. On June 29, 1973, in the midst of widespread protests and strikes, Lieutenant Colonel Roberto Souper led a failed coup attempt against Allende. In a radio address Allende called for the people to support his administration and help defeat the unlawful coup, and called in General Carlos Prats to deal with the rebel forces. Prats, like Schneider, believed that the military should remain apolitical, and the coup was aborted by late morning. Although Prats was key in stopping the coup, by August he lost the support of much of the army. Prats was succeeded as Defense Minister and Army Commander by General Augusto Pinochet on August 24, 1973.

Between June and September 1973, more protests and strikes crippled Chile. On August 22, the Chamber of Deputies charged the Allende government with breaching numerous sections of the Constitution. Allende refuted the allegations, stating that his actions were constitutional. By this time, it was clear that dissent in the military was rampant and that a coup would be successful if supported fully by the military.

On the morning of September 11, 1973, the military launched another coup against the Allende government. At 9:10 a.m., Allende made his final broadcast from the presidential palace, announcing that he would not resign the presidency and rallying his supporters with the cry, “Long live Chile! Long live the people! Long live the workers!” After the address, Allende purportedly joined in defending the palace, which was under heavy attack. Once it became clear that the military would take the palace, Allende told the defenders to surrender. Allende died during the final events of the coup: his death is now widely regarded a suicide.

On September 13, Pinochet was named President of Chile, whereupon he dismantled Congress and outlawed many Chilean leftist political parties. The takeover of the government ended a 46-year history of democratic rule in Chile. In June 1975, Pinochet announced that there would be no future elections in the country. Although the U.S. Government was initially pleased by the coup, concerns mounted about the new regime’s reported violations of human rights.

Debate continues on whether the United States provided direct support for Pinochet’s coup. The United States had a long history of engaging in covert actions in Chile; it had provided funds in support of electoral candidates, run anti-Allende propaganda campaigns, and had discussed the merits of supporting a military coup in 1970. A Senate committee was convened in 1975 to investigate U.S. covert involvement in Chile during the 1960s and 1970s. The report found that the United States had carried out covert actions in Chile during these years and had even considered a proposal for Track II, a covert action meant to organize a military coup to prevent Allende coming to power. However, it concluded that there was little evidence to link the U.S. Government to covert support of Pinochet’s coup.

Intervention in Haiti, 1994–1995

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

On September 30, 1991, a military coup under the leadership of Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras overthrew the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first popularly elected president in Haitian history. President George H.W. Bush called for the restoration of democracy, and worked with the Organization of American States (OAS) to impose a trade embargo on all goods except medicine and food. During his 1992 presidential candidacy, Bill Clinton criticized the Bush administration for its policy on refugee return and promised to increase pressure on the military junta by tightening economic sanctions.

USS America enroute to Haiti in September 1994, with a unique complement of U.S. Army Special Forces and the 160th Army Special Aviation Regiment embarked.

Unburdened by the Cold War international framework that structured U.S. foreign policy for nearly fifty years, the Clinton administration sought to outline new objectives for U.S. foreign policy, including novel uses for military power. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright outlined a U.S. policy of “assertive multilateralism,” with an increased role for the United Nations. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake emphasized the role of economic power in the new world order, and argued for a U.S. role in the “enlargement” of the community of free nations. The new administration, however, faced multiple challenges in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, North Korea, and Haiti that complicated their attempts to implement the broad strategies and objectives defined by the administration’s leaders.

Clinton appointed Lawrence Pezzullo as special envoy for Haiti, and as promised in his campaign, worked to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on the junta. On June 16 the United Nations voted to impose a ban on petroleum sales to Haiti. Cedras agreed to participate in talks sponsored by the United Nations and the OAS. The so-called “Governors Island Accord” signed by Aristide and Cedras on July 3 called for Aristide’s return to Haiti by October 30, 1993, an amnesty for the coup leaders, assistance in modernizing the Haitian Army, and the establishment of a new Haitian police force. The agreement provided for the suspension of U.N. sanctions once Aristide had assumed office in Haiti.

Despite indications that the Haitian military was backing away from the agreement, the United States dispatched the USS Harlan County with 200 U.S. and Canadian engineers and military police on board to prepare for the return of Aristide. On October 11 the ship was met at the pier in Port-au-Prince by a mob of Haitians, appearing to threaten violence. With the street battle in Mogadishu only a week past, the administration proved unwilling to risk casualties in Port-au-Prince. The ship pulled away the following day and returned to the United States, a significant setback for the Clinton administration.

Four days later, the United Nations Security Council imposed a naval blockade on Haiti. Through the following months the administration pursued a dual strategy, planning for military intervention while hoping that the threat of a U.S. invasion would coerce the Haitian leaders to surrender power. Pressure toward action continued to build, with Congressional Black Caucus members especially vocal in demanding an end to military rule in Haiti.

The Clinton administration built the diplomatic foundation for the operation in the summer of 1994, working to secure a United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) authorizing the removal of the Haitian military regime. On July 31 the Security Council passed UNSCR 940, the first resolution authorizing the use of force to restore democracy for a member nation. It provided for the reinstatement of the Aristide government and a six-month mandate for the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), which would maintain order after the operation. The U.N. mandate authorizing the intervention enabled the administration to recruit forces from Caribbean nations to serve in the post-invasion security force.

In early September planning and preparation for the invasion was completed under the code name Operation Uphold Democracy. The invasion force numbered nearly 25,000 military personnel from all services, backed by two aircraft carriers and extensive air support. Although the United States provided the vast majority of the forces, a multinational contingent from Caribbean nations agreed to serve in an operation conducted under U.N. mandate. The addition of these multinational forces shifted the operation from a U.S. military intervention to U.N.-sanctioned multinational action. The operation was scheduled for September 19.

With military action clearly imminent, former President Jimmy Carter led a delegation to Haiti in search of a negotiated settlement. Carter, Senator Sam Nunn, and General Colin Powell flew to Haiti on September 17, well aware that they had little time to reach agreement. President Clinton approved Carter’s mission, but insisted that the military operation would proceed as scheduled. The invasion forces launched with the negotiations in progress, without any certainty whether they would make an opposed or a peaceful entry on to Haitian soil.

The Haitian leadership capitulated in time to avoid bloodshed. Having launched the operation with the expectation of a forced-entry assault, the forces conducting the operation displayed remarkable discipline and flexibility in adjusting to this new and uncertain environment. General Hugh Shelton, commander of the invasion force, was transformed enroute to Haiti from commander to diplomat, charged with working out a peaceful transition of power. Shelton and Cedras met on September 20, 1994, to begin the process, and Aristide returned to Haiti on October 15.

Military planners had defined the conditions for hand-off to UNMIH as the restoration of basic order, the return of Aristide, and the conduction of a presidential election and subsequent peaceful transfer of power. The operation ended with the transfer to UNMIH command on March 31, 1995, and a peaceful election and transferal of power occurred on February 7, 1996. The operation yielded important lessons about the complexities involved in managing complex contingency operations, which were captured in PDD/NSC 56, “Managing Complex Contingency Operations,” issued in May 1997.

Alliance for Progress and Peace Corps, 1961–1969

The following is article is part of the United States Department of State’s “Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations” series. It is reproduced here under the public domain.

Growing out of the fear of increased Soviet and Cuban influence in Latin America, the 1961–1969 Alliance for Progress was in essence a Marshall Plan for Latin America. The United States pledged $20 billion in assistance (grants and loans) and called upon the Latin American governments to provide $80 billion in investment funds for their economies. It was the biggest U.S. aid program toward the developing world up to that point—and called for substantial reform of Latin American institutions.

President John F. Kennedy greeting Peace Corps volunteers. (John F. Kennedy Library)

Washington policymakers saw the Alliance as a means of bulwarking capitalist economic growth, funding social reforms to help the poorest Latin Americans, promoting democracy—and strengthening ties between the United States and its neighbors. A key element of the Alliance was U.S. military assistance to friendly regimes in the region, an aspect that gained prominence with the ascension of President Lyndon B. Johnson to power in late 1963 (as the other components of the Alliance were downplayed). The Alliance did not achieve all its lofty goals. According to one study, only 2 percent of economic growth in 1960s Latin America directly benefited the poor; and there was a general deterioration of United States-Latin American relations by the end of the 1960s.

Although derided as “Kennedy’s Kiddie Corps” by some when it was established in 1961, the Peace Corps proved over time to be an important foreign policymaking institution. By sending intelligent, hard-working, and idealistic young Americans to do economic and social development work (on 2-year tours) in the areas of greatest need in the Third World, the Peace Corps provided a means by which young Americans could not only learn about the world, but promote positive change. A significant number of Peace Corps Volunteers went on to work as officials in the U.S. Government.

The Peace Corps remains an important, vibrant foreign policy institution. Since the Peace Corps’ founding, more than 187,000 men and women have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries. There are 7,749 Peace Corps Volunteers currently serving 73 countries around the world.