INSIDE CENTRAL AMERICA: The Essential Facts Past and Present on El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica by Phillip Berryman

INSIDE CENTRAL AMERICA: The Essential Facts Past and Present on El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Costa Rica

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first-rate effort to inject some reason and facts into the national debate over U.S. policy in Central America. The author, a pastoral worker with 20 years experience in the region, knows it, and its peoples' aspirations to be rid of oppressive governments and foreign domination, deeply. Much of the debate over U.S. policy in Central America, he writes, ""is misplaced in that it fails to grasp that the core of the policy has been essentially military."" Berryman uses a simply syllogism to set out the illogic of present U.S. policy and why it inevitably must change: ""1. U.S. policy in Central America is aimed at overthrowing the Sandinista government (or forcing it to change so thoroughly that it is no longer revolutionary) and at defeating insurgency in El Salvador (and Guatemala). 2. However, these aims cannot be realized with the present level of means--that is, funding and organizing the anti-Sandinista contras, and propping up the Salvadoran army and government. 3. Therefore, the U.S. will have to either escalate its means (including eventually sending U.S. combat personnel) or revise its aims, that is, accept a negotiated settlement."" Berryman begins with a concise history of the region and ends with a chronology of negotiations there between 1980 and 1984. He writes of complex events in a clear, simple style amending the framework of a negotiated settlement he believes can be achieved, one that would respect both the legitimate security concerns of the U.S. and the region's urgent need for peace and renewal. In sum, a useful primer for anyone trying to understand contemporary Central America's hazardous state.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1985
Publisher: Pantheon