Forgotten Battlefields

Faculty Mentor(s): 
Lydia Chavez (Graduate School of Journalism)
Student Apprentice(s): 
Rene Flores

While the United States has embarked on another war in Iraq, we have yet to take a serious look at what the country accomplished during the 1980s in Central American and the Caribbean. We spent more than $2 billion in military aid to prevent a leftist takeover in El Salvador and to unseat one in Nicaragua. U.S. troops were sent to Honduras, Grenada, Panama, and Haiti. Issues of human rights were front and center in the national debate to approve or deny military and economic aid. As we folded our tents and left, many promises were made to strengthen the judicial and social systems left behind. Countries that acted as base camps for U.S. involvement were supposed to benefit by receiving U.S. attention and economic assistance. What happened when the U.S. left? This is the central question of the project.

The project involved collecting narratives for El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Haiti, and Grenada. These narratives were used for a fall graduate seminar and a spring freshman seminar. The spring semester involved writing, editing and redrafting for publication. The apprentice, Rene Flores, was invited to continue with the project through the year and participate in the seminars.