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)

Note to me: make sure the students understand the Cold War context.

1917 Bolshevik revolution; desire to export the revolutionary ideas and make converts

1920s Red Scare in US; J. Edgar Hoover in his first job--FBi

Depression time and WWII

Post-war: weapons race
Churchill Iron Curtain speech
The way Soviets were manipulating elections (fear of this later in Latin America)
1948 Czecholslovakia coup
Berlin blockade

Accusations of spies in the land

1949 China
1950 Korea

Joseph McCarthy

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 coup

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.


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.
How connect with Che's focos and 3 Vietnams.
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

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.


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

March 1963 Guatemala: US encourages military to take power to keep former Guatemalan President Juan Jose Arevalo from making a comeback

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

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


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


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

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 - Milestones: Office of the Historian

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

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


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

March 1973 Chile: Allende's Unidad Popular 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 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.

June 1976 Chile: Kissinger meets in Santiago with Pinochet assuring him of US backing. Kissinger 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.

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


20 January 1977 US: President Jimmy Carter. Emphasis on human rights.
Jimmy Carter and Human Rights, 1977-1981--Milestones: Office of the Historian


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.

October 1979 El Salvador: Dictator General Carlos Humberto Romero overthrown by a military-civilian coalition that pledges to bring reforms

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

Date ?? 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

Date ?? 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

November 1989 El Salvador: Six Jesuits murdered by military


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

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


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