Central America During the Cold War Syllabus

Central America During the Cold War (PDF)

Central America during the Cold War:

Violence, Resistance, U.S. Intervention, and Democracy in the 20th Century

HIST: 4301 CRN: 12345, Fall 2016

Tuesday & Thursday, 1:30-2:50 am

LART 318


Professor: RaeAnn Swanson, Ph.D Student


LART 320 C, Ext. 5875

Office Hours: Monday 1-3pm, Wednesday 1-3pm and by appointment

Course Description & Objectives:

Throughout the 20th century Central America has undergone vast economic, political, and social change. In the context of the Cold War, this course covers the themes of violence, resistance, U.S. intervention, and democracy experienced in many Central American countries. The readings are interdisciplinary and consist of books or individual chapters, journal articles, newspaper articles, nongovernmental organization (NGO) publications, and primary sources. The course will rely heavily on class discussion and student participation is mandatory. This class is designed for junior and senior history majors, but may be taken by any students with an interest in the topic.

Required Readings:

Booth, John. A, Christine J. Wade, and Thomas W. Walker. Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2010.

Gradin, Greg. The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin American in the Cold War. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Assigned articles and chapters will be provided in PDF format or available through Jstore.

Course Requirements: 

General Classroom Rules: Attendance is required. Please arrive on time for class. Assigned readings and assignments need to be completed by the beginning of class. Late papers will be accepted up to 24 hours late, but will be penalized 25 points. Participation in discussion of readings is expected of all students and is an important aspect of this class. Short writing assignments will be assigned to help facilitate class discussion. Student conduct in this class should be fitting to a university classroom. Students should pay attention during class, take notes, and put cell phones away. Laptops and other electronic devices are acceptable for note taking purposes only.

Academic Honesty: Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this classroom. Using any work that is not your own without proper citation qualifies as plagiarism. If you are found to be cheating or plagiarizing, you will be subject to disciplinary action. According to sections 1.3.1 of the UT Regents’ Rules and Regulations, “It is the official policy of the University that all suspected cases or acts of alleged scholastic dishonesty must be referred to the Dean of Students for investigation and appropriate disposition. It is contrary to University policy for a faculty member to assign a disciplinary grade such as an “F” or a zero to an assignment, test, examination, or other course work as a sanction for admitted or suspected scholastic dishonesty…” In short, anyone caught cheating will be reported to the Dean of Students.

Students with Disabilities: I will make any reasonable accommodation and support for students with special needs. Please see me personally before or after classes during the first two weeks to discuss any special needs you might have. You can also contact the Center for Accommodations and Support Services (CASS) in the East Union Building, Room 106 within the first two weeks of classes. The CASS can also be reached by phone: (915) 747-5148 voice or via email: cass@utep.edu or via its website: http://sa.utep.edu/cass/


Class participation and attendance- 150 points

Small response papers- 200 points (25 points each)

Essay- 150 points

Final Paper- 500 points (Proposal with Bibliography, Rough Draft, Peer Review Activity, and Class presentation 50 points each (200 points total) and final draft is 300 points)

Grading Scale:

A 900-1000

B 800- 899

C 700- 799

D 600- 699

F 599 and below.

Essay Instructions:

Students will be given two broad essay questions designed to incorporate the topics discussed in class. Choose one question to write your essay over. The essays need to bring in specific examples from the readings. Essays must be at least 750 words (around three pages double spaced) and follow the essay format that includes an introduction paragraph that contains a thesis statement and three main points you will cover, at least three body paragraphs for your main points, and a conclusion that wraps up the essay by summarizing your main points and reiterating your thesis.

Research Paper Instructions:  

Each student will submit a 12 to 15-page research paper over a topic of their choosing that relates to one or more topics covered in the course. These papers must be computer-generated, double-spaced, with one-inch margins and 12 pt. font (Times New Roman). Students will be expected to turn in a one-page project proposal that includes a bibliography with at least four secondary sources and 10 primary sources on October 4th and give a short, informal presentation in class that day about the topic. Each student will set up individual meetings to go over their topic with the professor during the 10th week of classes, October 25th and 27th, at which time a five-page draft is due. An 8-10 page rough draft will be due on November 17th. Students will bring the draft to class and participate in peer editing workshop. Final drafts are due by 5:00 pm on December 12th during finals week and may be submitted electronically via email.

Weekly Schedule:

Week One: Introduction

  1. August 23rd – Introduction to Class. *In class workshop on reading secondary sources.
  1. August 25th – Background information- read Understanding Central America 1, 2, 3 pp. 1- 59 and Melvyn P. Leffler, “Cold War and Global Hegemony, 1945-1991,” OAH Magazine of History 19, 2 (March 2005): 65-72. Article available through Jstore. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper over the reading that defines globalization and neoliberalism and addresses U.S. intervention in Central America, the causes of poverty, and the origins of the cold war. These papers will be used for class discussion and turned in for points at the end of class.

Week Two: Defining the Cold War in Latin America

  1. August 30th – Read Greg Grandin, “Living in Revolutionary Time: Coming to Terms with the Violence of Latin America’s Long Cold War,” pp. 1-42 and Gilbert M. Joseph, “Latin America’s Long Cold War: A Century of Revolutionary Process and U.S. Power,” pp. 397- 414 from Greg Grandin and Gilbert M. Joseph, Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence During Latin America’s Cold War (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010). PDFs will be provided.
  1. September 1st – In class workshop on evaluating primary sources.

Week Three: Costa Rica

  1. September 6th – Read Understanding Central America 4, pp. 61-79.
  1. September 8th – Read Kyle Longley, “Peaceful Costa Rica, the First Battleground: The United States and the Costa Rican Revolution of 1948,” The Americas 50, 2 (October 1993): 149-175. Article available through Jstore. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper- for half of the paper use the reading to discusses the experiences of Costa Rica during this time. Use the other half of the paper to define primary and secondary sources, list general examples of each and where you might find them, and included at least one specific example from Longley’s article of a primary and secondary source. *In class workshop on finding secondary and primary sources.

Week Four: Nicaragua

  1. September 13th – Read Understanding Central America 5, pp. 81-109 and Héctor Perla Jr., “Heirs of Sandino: The Nicaraguan Revolution and the U.S.- Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement,” Latin American Perspectives 36, 6 (November 2009): 80-100. Article available through Jstore.
  1. September 15th – Read Anja Nygren, “Violent Conflicts and Threatened Lives: Nicaraguan Experiences of Wartime Displacement and Postwar Distress,” Journal of Latin American Studies 35, 2 (May 2003): 367-393. Article available through Jstore. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper that uses this week’s readings to analyze the experiences of Nicaraguans during this time.

Week Five: El Salvador

  1. September 20th – Read Understanding Central America 6, pp. 111-134 and Michael E. Allison and Alberto Martín Alvarez, “Unity and Disunity in the FMLN,” Latin American Politics and Society 54, 4 (Winter 2012): 89-118. Article available through Jstore.
  1. September 22nd – Read Adán Quan, “Through the Looking Glass: U.S. Aid to El Salvador and the Politics of National Identity,” American Ethnologist 32, 2 (May 2005): 276-293. Article available through Jstore. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper that uses this week’s readings to analyze the events in El Salvador including the rise of the FMLN and U.S. intervention during this time. *In class workshop on crafting Chicago style citations

Week Six: El Salvador continued

  1. September 27th – Movie Voces Inocentes (Innocent Voices)
  1. September 29th Voces Inocentes continued

Week Seven: Guatemala

  1. October 4th– Read Understanding Central America 7, pp. 135- 158. *Proposal due, short explanation of topics in class* Proposals should be a one-page explanation of your project with a bibliography that includes at least four secondary sources and 10 primary sources.
  1. October 6th – Carlota McAllister, “A Headlong Rush into the Future: Violence and Revolution in a Guatemalan Indigenous Village,” in Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence During Latin America’s Cold War, ed. Greg Grandin and Gilbert M. Joseph (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 276-308. PDF provided.

Week Eight: Guatemala Continued

  1. October 11th – Read the information on the main page of the National Security Archives “Guatemalan Death Squad Dossier: Internal Military Log Reveals Fate of 183 “Disappeared,”’ Kate Doyle, “Death Squad Diary: Looking into Guatemala’s Bureaucracy of Murder,” Harpers Magazine (June 1999), and look through the Dossier. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper over the Death Squad Dossier (Diario Militar) that answers what it is, how it was used, and why it is important. Be sure to bring in information from McAllister and Understand Central America. Begin movie “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator.”
  1. October 13th – “Granito” continued

Week Nine: Honduras

  1. October 18th – Read Understanding Central America 8, pp. 159-179 and Kirk Bowman, “The Public Battles over Militarisation and Democracy in Honduras, 1954-1963,” Journal of Latin American Studies 33, 3 (August 2001): 539-560. Article available through Jstore.
  1. October 20th– Read the Baltimore Sun’s four part series on the violence and U.S. intervention in Honduras. Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson, “When a Wave of Torture and Murder Staggered a Small U.S. Ally, Truth Was a Causality,” Cohn and Thompson, “Glimpses of the ‘Disappeared,” Cohn and Thompson, “Torturers’ Confessions,” and Cohn and Thompson, “A Survivor Tells Her Story.” *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper that uses this week’s readings to describe the experiences in Honduras during the cold war.

Week Ten: Individual Meetings, bring in at least five page draft

  1. October 25th– No Class, Individual meetings over research papers
  1. October 27th– No Class, Individual meetings over research papers

Week Eleven: U.S. Intervention

  1. November 1st – Read Susanne Jonas, “Central America as a Theater of U.S. Cold War Politics,” Latin American Perspectives 9, 3 (Summer, 1982): 123-128 and Robert H. Holden, “The Real Diplomacy of Violence: United States Military Power in Central America, 1950-1990,” The International History Review 15, 2 (May 1993): 283-322. Articles available through Jstore.
  1. November 3rd – Read Katherine E. McCoy, “Trained to Torture? The Human Rights Effects of Military Training at the School of the Americas,” Latin American Perspectives 32, 6 (November 2005): 47-64. Article available through Jstore. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper that uses this week’s reading to describe the U.S.’s intervention in Central America during the cold war. This can also draw on relevant readings from previous weeks.

Week Twelve: Democracy

  1. November 8th – Read Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre- Preface, Introduction, Ch. 1, 2, 3, and 4, pp. xi- 132.
  1. November 10th – Read Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre- 5 and the Conclusion, pp. 132- 198.

Week Thirteen: Democracy continued

  1. November 15th – Read Understanding Central America 9 and 10, pp. 181- 241. *Bring to class* a 250 word (one full page) response paper over Grandin and Ch. 9 and 10 that analyzes the differences and similarities in defining democracy in Central America.
  1. November 17th – *Bring rough draft of at least eight pages to class* in order to participate in the peer review session. The rough draft will be handed in with your final copy with the peer review sheet stapled on top. The rough draft will be worth 50 points. The Peer review will also be worth 50 points. *Essay question will be distributed at the end of class*

Week Fourteen: November 22nd & 24th– No School Thanksgiving Break

Week Fifteen: Legacy of the Cold War in Central America

  1. November 29th – Read Jenny Pearce, “From Civil War to ‘Civil Society’: Has the End of the Cold War Brought Peace to Central America?” International Affairs 74, 3 (July 1998): 587-615 and Susan D. Burgerman, “Building the Peace by Mandating Reform: United Nations-Mediated Human Rights Agreements in El Salvador and Guatemala,” Latin American Perspectives 27, 3 (May 2000): 63-87. Articles available through Jstore. *Hand in essays at the beginning of class*
  1. December 1st – Read José Miguel Cruz, “Criminal Violence and Democratization in Central America: The Survival of the Violent State,” Latin American Politics and Society 53, 4 (Winter 2011): 1-33, Marina Prieto-Carrón, Marilyn Thomson, and Mandy Macdonald, “No More Killings! Women Respond to Femicides in Central America,” Gender and Development 15, 1 (March 2007): 25-40, and NISGUA, “Sepur Zarco: Q’eqchi’ Women Set a Precedent in Guatemala with First-Ever Conviction for Sexual and Domestic Slavery,” March 2016. Articles available through Jstore.

Week Sixteen: Class Presentations

  1. December 6th– Student Presentations
  1. December 8th – Student Presentations Continued

Week Seventeen: December 12th– Final paper due by 5:00pm