International School History - European Schools

S7 History - The Cold War - Reagan and Central America

Last update - 10 May 2023

Full episode here.

As the fighting continued in Central America, Washington was planning another operation -- on the British-governed Caribbean island of Grenada. When Grenada's left-wing prime minister, Maurice Bishop, was assassinated by extreme Marxists in 1983, the U.S. military had an invasion plan ready for Reagan's approval. The invasion, weakly opposed by a group of Cuban advisers on Grenada, was over in a few days. Within six weeks, their work done and Reagan's image enhanced, the U.S. troops left.

The Reagan administration also was funding Nicaragua's Contra rebels. That undeclared war upset the U.S. Congress, which curtailed the Contras' funds. To pay for the Contras, White House officials secretly sold arms to Iran, a scandal that, once discovered, came back to hinder Reagan's government.

By 1990, Nicaragua agreed to open and free elections, and Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega asked the Nicaraguan people to elect him president. His opponent was Violeta Chamorro, the widow of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, an opposition leader killed during the Somoza regime. When the votes were tallied, Chamorro won a narrow, yet stunning victory. The superpower struggle in Central America had given way to a quiet revolution at the ballot box.



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