Cold War Chronology

The basics of the following chronology are taken from the terrific book by Stephen G. Rabe: The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.(xi-xxiv)

Good Neighbor Policy under FDR


Act of Chapultepec: pledge of collective security

Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
Re: 1945 (February-March) Act of Chapultepec and 1947 Rio Treaty


Truman Doctrine
Marshall Plan
Kennan's Mr. X article

1947 Rio Treaty: a Western Hemisphere military alliance against aggression (what type of aggression)
Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
Re: 1945 (February-March) Act of Chapultepec and 1947 Rio Treaty


February 1948: Communists take power in Czechoslovakia coupétat

At Ninth International Conference of American States (Bogotá, Colombia, April 1948)
Organization of American States (OAS) is established.

Organization of American States

Pan-American Students Conference April 1948
Attended by Fidel Castro


September 1949: USSR now has an atomic weapon

1 October 1949: People's Republic of China>>Communists are victors in the civil war


February 1950: McCarthy alleges Communist infiltration in US government

April 1950: NSC 68/2: confront the USSR everywhere with military power

April 1950: Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Edward Miller: Miller Doctrine>>to fight communism the US may not abide by the non-intervention principle

May 1950: NSC 56/2 authorizes military aid for Latin America to combat communism.

June 1950 Korean War begins


Korean War continues


Korean War continues

US context: McCarthy accusations continue against Communists in US

March 1952 Cuba: Fulgencio Batista come to power
He was really the kingpin as early as 1933

June 1952 Guatemala: Decree 900 expropriation of land, including some of United Fruit
Who was the Guatemala President


20 January 1953 Dwight Eisenhower as President

Joseph Stalin (died 5 March 1953)

March 1953 NSC 144/1: US cannot observe the non-intervention principle
[As part of FDR's Good Neighbor policy, we suggested that US would no longer intervene in Latin America as we had under the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.]

26 July 1953 Cuba: Castro's assault on Moncada army barracks fails

27 July 1953: Korean War ends

August 1953 Iran: CIA-backed coup against the government of Premier Mohammed Mosaddeq

August 1953 Guatemala: Eisenhower approves PBSUCCESS to overthrow government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
CIA Director Allen Dulles


Vietnam context: French defeated at Battle of Dienbienphu (May 1954)
Geneva Conference (April-July 1954) ends the war of French (financed by US) against Viet Minh
French will leave. US will take over.

June 1954 Guatemala: CIA-backed overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.
Carlos Castillo Armas becomes the new President.

September 1954 Guatemala: PBHISTORY finds no link in between Arbenz and international communism
This is the US dilemma. Even if the country had communists in its leadership, was it a communist threat.

Events in the 1948 Czechoslovakia coup made us say yes.état

1954 Doolittle Commission Report
Put back into timeline
This is good, especially the line about 1948 Czech coup,_1954


Vietnam context: US will soon take over


Vietnam context: US owns the war

Suez crisis (Oct-Nov 1956)

Hungarian Revolution
Crushed by Soviets (Oct-Nov 1956)

2 December 1956 Cuba: Castro lands in Cuba on Granma. Many are killed
Survivors (including Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Che Guevara) get to mountains in eastern part of the island


Vietnamese context: US there with advisors

March 1958 Cuba: US cuts off arms shipments to Batista

May 1958 Venezuela: On VP Nixon's trip, crowds in Venezuela assault his entourage.
Influences his later views on Latin America

September 1958 Chile: Leftist Salvador Allende almost victorious in Presidential election


Vietnam context: US there with advisors

January 1959 Cuba: Castro comes to power

April 1959 Cuba: extensive agrarian reform law

April 1959 Cuba: Castro meets Nixon in Washington


Vietnam context: US there with advisors

February 1960 Cuba: Cuba signs a commercial agreement with the Soviet Union.
US freaks.

March 1960 Cuba: Eisenhower authorizes a program to try to oust Castro

November 1960 Guatemala: MR-13 Rebellion, protesting social injustice and US involvement in the country.
Guatemala comes back onto radar screen


Vietnam context: US there with advisors (total will grow to 16,000 under JDK

3 January 1961 Cuba: US breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba

6 January 1961 USSR: Nikita Khrushchev's "Wars of National Liberation" speech.
We can understand how scary this all sounded: our back yard threatened

20 January 1961 US: JFK begins his term in office

1 March 1961 US: Peace Corps is established

March 1961 US: Kennedy announces Alliance for Progress economic aid program.
Part dealt with military support

Alliance for Progress and Peace Corps, 1961–1969
Alliance for Progress

17-19 April 1961 Cuba: Cuban exiles invade at Bay of Pigs and are defeated

Bay of Pigs--Milestones: Office of the Historian

30 May 1961 Dominican Republic: Dictator Rafael Trujillo assassinated
He had kept out leftists.
US will invade in 1965.

June 1961 US: JFK has a summit meeting in Vienna with Soviet Premier Khrushchev.

Sino-Soviet split (1961)


Vietnam context: US there with advisors

August 1962 US: Office of Public Safety (OPS) program to train Latin American Police Forces

October/November 1962: US-USSR: Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban Missile Crisis--Milestones: Office of the Historian

December 1962 Brazil: Robert Kennedy travels to Brazil to tell President Joao Goulart of US displeasure with him


Vietnam context: US there with advisors

September 1963 Dominican Republic: Military overthrows President Juan Bosch
When and why did US get disillusioned with the military government?

22 November 1963 US: Kennedy is assassinated


Vietnamese context: US there with advisors

March 1964 US: Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Mann>>Mann Doctrine>>US will work with military rulers to prevent communism

1964 Thomas Mann doctrine

April 1964 Brazil: Brazilian military overthrows President Goulart

September 1964 Chile: Eduardo Frei, supported by US, defeats Salvador Allende, in the Presidential election


Vietnam context: March 1965 US: Lyndon Johnson commits ground troops to Vietnam

April 1965 Dominican Republic: US invades

2 May 1965 US: Johnson Doctrine>>US will prevent communism in this hemisphere

1965 LBJ doctrine


Vietnamese war continues

March 1966 Guatemala: Their military begins Operation Limpieza, a counter-insurgency campaign against mostly
urban targets.

April 1966 US: Senator J. William Fulbright's "Arrogance of Power" speech
Critic of the Dominican Republic invasion and US policy in Vietnam

J. William Fulbright

June 1966 Dominican Republic: Joaquin Balaguer, backed by US, wins the Presidency

October 1966 Bolivia: Che Guevara enters Bolivia to lead a revolution

Cultural Revolution in China (1966-1976)


October 1967 Bolivia: Che Guevara is captured and killed

Vietnamese war continues

October 1967: I leave for Vietnam


January-February 1968: Vietnamese context: Tet offensive

April 1968: Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

June 1968: Death of Robert F. Kennedy

September 1968: I begin my MBA program at the Stanford Business School

September 1968 Medellin, Colombia: Conference of Latin American Bishops
Call to organize the poor at the local level.
Beginnings of liberation theology

December 1968 Brazil: Military rulers issue Decree 5 outlawing dissent in the country.
Think through how a dictatorship can subvert democratic institutions in a country.
Look at what is happening in today's Venezuela.


Vietnamese context: war continues, as do protests in US
The protest movement saw the sending of advisors to Central America as a slippery slope to another war.

20 January 1969 US: President Nixon begins term as US president

Henry Kissinger his foreign policy advisor

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger will not apologize


Vietnam context: war continues

September 1970 Chile: Salvador Allende wins a plurality of votes for President
US worried about a "second Cuba."

15 September 1970 Chile: US starts Project FUBELT to block Allende from Presidency

22 October 1970 Chile: General Rene Schneider assassinated by Chilean military

24 October 1970 Chile: Chilean legislature ratifies election results>>Allende is installed as President

The Allende Years and the Pinochet Coup, 1969–1973

9 November 1970 Chile: US policy paper NSDM 93>>US hostility to Allende


Vietnam context: war continue

1971 Chile: Allende in office

December 1971 Brazil: Nixon hosts military dictator Emilio Garrastazu Medici. They agree to oppose Allende.


Vietnam context: war continues

1972 Chile: Allende in office

Nixon to China (February 1972)

Nixon to Soviet Union (May 1972)

December 1972 Nicaragua: Earthquake destroys Managua.
Dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle embezzles relief aid from international donors.


1973 Oil Crisis

Vietnam context: January 1973 US: Paris Accords end the Vietnam War

March 1973 Chile: Allende's "Unidad Popular" party gains legislative seats

June 1973 Uruguay: Military seizes power

August 1973 Chile: Chilean truckers strike.

11 September 1973 Chile: Chilean military (led by Augusto Pinochet) overthrows Allende, who commits suicide.

24 September 1973 Chile: US grants diplomatic recognition to Pinochet government.

Pinochet will rule as dictator over Chile for the next 17 years

October 1973 Argentina: Juan Peron returns after 18 years in exile and wins Presidency. His new wife, Isabel Martinez Peron, is elected Vice President.


July 1974 Argentina: Juan Peron dies in office and his wife Isabel Peron succeeds him.

August 1974 US: President Nixon resigns the Presidency because of Watergate. Ford takes over.

September 1974 Chile: Chilean General Carlos Prats and wife are assassinated in Argentina by Chilean agents

1974 US: Congress abolishes the Office of Public Safety training because of purported human rights abuses in countries such as Uruguay


November 1975 Chile: Operation Condor (a form of state-sponsored international terrorism).
Military dictators in Southern Cone countries will hunt down political leftists wherever they are in exile.


March 1976 Argentina: Military overthrows Isabel Peron and begin a "dirty war" against political leftists.
Military rule will last until 1983.

June 1976 Chile: Kissinger meets in Santiago with Pinochet assuring him of US backing.
Kissinger, for show, delivers a speech defending human rights.

September 1976 Chile: Orlando Letelier, former Chilean Ambassador to US, is assassinated in Washington, D.C. by Chilean agents. Demonstrates international reach of Operation Condor.

September 1976 Panama: Treaties signed to give Panama control of the Canal by end of the century.


20 January 1977 US: President Jimmy Carter's term begins.
As opposed to Nixon/Kissinger and Reagan later, Carter's emphasis is on human rights.

Jimmy Carter and Human Rights, 1977-1981


January 1978 Nicaragua: Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, editor of La Prensa newspaper and critic of the Somoza dynasty, is assassinated. [His wife will later become President of Nicaragua.]


February 1979 Iranian revolution (Jan 1978-Feb 1979)

July 1979 Nicaragua: Dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle flees the country. Sandinistas take power.

November 1979: Beginning of Iranian hostage crisis

December 1979: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan


31 January 1980 Guatemala: Spanish Embassy fire

24 March 1980 El Salvador: Archbishop Oscar Romero assassinated while celebrating mass

April 1980: failure of Iranian hostage rescue attempt (Operation Eagle Claw)

December 1980 El Salvador: 4 US nuns murdered by Salvadoran military


20 January 1981 US: President Reagan takes office. No more human rights concerns.

February 1981 US: White Paper suggesting Nicaraguan Sandinista interference in El Salvador

March 1981 El Salvador: Reagan approves military aid. Country will get over $1 billion during the 1980s

November 1981 Nicaragua: NSDD 17 authorized by Reagan>>overthrow Sandinistas

November 1981 El Salvador: El Mozote massacre

Role of Honduras during all this period


April 1982 Argentina: Argentina invades Falklands, gets beaten, US supports Britain. Military dictatorship ends soon after.

July 1982 Guatemala: Operation Sofia attack on Mayan villages

December 1982 Guatemala: Reagan defends General Efrain Rios Montt who is moving against the Mayan villages

December 1982 US: Boland Amendment restricts aid to Contras


July 1983: Latin American leaders, Contadora Group, call for end of foreign intervention in Latin America

October 1983 Grenada: US invades the island.

December 1983 Argentina: Democracy returns to Argentina. Raul Alfonsin the President.


May 1984 El Salvador: US favorite Jose Napoleon Duarte wins the Presidency

1984 Argentina: Nunca Mas published. Exposes atrocities during dirty war


January 1985 Brazil: Democracy returns. Tancredo Neves elected President

February 1985 Nicaragua: President Reagan admits publicly that US policy is to overthrow the Sandinista government

1985 Reagan Doctrine

March 1985 Uruguay: Democracy returns. Julio Maria Sanguinetti as President


November 1986 US: Iran-Contra scandal

1986 Brazil: Archbishop of Sao Paolo publishes Nunca Mais, documenting human rights abuses of Brazilian military rulers


August 1987: Central American presidents sign a peace agreement
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez wins Nobel Prize for being a mediator of peace process


20 January 1989 US: President George H.W. Bush

November 1989 US: Berlin Wall comes down; end of the Cold War

US -Soviet Relations, 1981-1991

Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe, 1989

The Collapse of the Soviet Union

November 1989 El Salvador: Six Jesuits murdered by military

Operation Just Cause (20 December 1989-31 January 1990)


March 1990 Chile: Democracy returns. Pinochet gives up power. Patricio Aylwin the President

April 1990 Nicaragua: Sandinistas give up power. Violetta Chamorro as President

Iraq: Desert Shield>>Desert Storm (2 August 1990-28 February 1991)


August 1991 USSR: Soviet Union collapses


January 1992 El Salvador: war ends. Both sides sign a peace accord


20 January 1993 US: Bill Clinton takes office


December 1996 Guatemala: Civil war ends.


April 1998 Guatemala: Bishop Juan Jose Geradi murdered 2 days after release of his study Nunca Mas.

October 1998 Chile: Pinochet arrested in London. Spanish judge requested his extradition for human rights abuses.


February 1999 Guatemala: International commission report, Guatemala: Memory of Silence, documenting 1954-1996 human rights abuses

Date ?? 1999 Guatemala: Clinton apologizes for US role in their war

Date ?? 1999 Chile: Clinton declassifies records detailing US role in overthrowing Allende and supporting Pinochet


December 2000 US: US closes School of the Americas (five decades existed). It reopens in 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation