THE CENTRAL AMERICA FACT BOOK by Tom & Deb Preusch Barry

THE CENTRAL AMERICA FACT BOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thorough, well-documented if partisan investigation of the extent and consequences of North American government and business influence over Central American politics and economics. Barry and Preusch, founders and directors of the Resource Center in Albuquerque, NM, and co-authors of The Other Side of Paradise: Foreign Control in the Caribbean, argue that the US prescription for Central America consists of more of precisely the kinds of things that have made the area a center of poverty and instability. Among their points: the US encourages more investment by ""transnational corporations"" that ""create patterns of economic development that meet their own global needs for resources, labor and markets but only rarely correspond with the actual development needs of their host countries."" Thus industries introduced by ""TNCs"" are of the ""wrap-and-pack"" and ""screwdriver"" type--where items manufactured in developed countries are assembled in Central America and immediately shipped back abroad. Similarly, crops encouraged by TNCs and western banking and aid groups consist of food for export, which use valuable land that ought to be used to feed the local population. Barry and Preusch decry US government involvement in the area, whether it be by encouraging governments that support American economic policies or by the massive military buildup of the 80's (which, they argue, at best only postpones solving the fundamental social and economic tensions that produced the Sandinistas). Of particular interest: the authors' account of how the Reagan Administration uses such ""humanitarian"" groups as the Peace Corps to further its foreign and business policies; how the US has paid Israel to become a key arms supplier in various Central American countries; how ""private"" anticommunist groups have, like Israel, become proxies for the US in sensitive areas. Supported with myriad statistics, it makes a useful reference.

Pub Date: June 5th, 1986
Publisher: Grove