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Spence (Jack) El Salvador Land Reform and Agrarian Revolution papers
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This collection consists of land reform documents from the government of El Salvador to the United States Department of State prior to and during the Salvadoran Civil War.
The Carter Administration was plagued with international crises: rebellion against Somoza in Nicaragua, Iran hostage crisis, Marxist guerrilla groups in Mozambique and Angola, a crisis in Cambodia, the USSR in Afghanistan, with Ronald Regan pushing Carter to respond on all of these issues. In October 1979 there was a coup in El Salvador by reformist colonists who ushered in military leadership and a civilian cabinet of reformers. Leftists were being killed and disappeared by rightist death squads, with the military as the main suspect. The government changed hands multiple times in a short period of time that was marked by assassinations and exiles. Ultimately the cabinet was run by the Christian Democratic party, which acted as a veil for military rule. Assassinations had reached staggering numbers, and in early March 1980 the Carter administration appeared to back the new cabinet and offered it military aid, along with support for an agrarian reform bill that hoped to redistribute the source of wealth, social standing, and political power among the people. The rich and powerful used their political influence and loopholes to ensure that they held onto the most valuable land, while the peasants were given underdeveloped, and often inarable areas. The influential religious figure Archbishop Oscar Romero publicly and repeatedly denounced the aid to the military, but the agrarian reform is decreed, and implementation begins rapidly. In late March, Archbishop Romero was assassinated while celebrating a mass. The country moved to war in the ensuing months, with the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) being created by a partial unification of 5 leftist guerilla groups. The United States viewed the military government of El Salvador as an ally during the Cold War as well as a valuable trade partner, so they continued to support the regime through financial means.
7.31 Linear Feet 12 boxes
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Department of Special Collections at specol@usc.edu. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
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