Chapter 18 - Taking on Soviet-Cuban Imperialism in Latin America and Africa

 El Salvador. Second, in El Salvador, a coalition of parties overthrew General Carlos Humberto Romero in 1979 with those centrists at the head of the new coalition government determined to take the path of freedom and democracy. However, the new coalition was immediately severely threatened from within and without by far-left militants of the Communist Party of El Salvador (PCES), the Farabundo Liberation Front (FMLN), and the Revolutionary Democratic Front (FDR). Major support for a pro-Communist insurgency and a “final offensive” came from Fidel Castro himself and from the Sandinistas in neighboring Nicaragua. The Farabundo Front also joined with Nicaragua and Cuba in directing subversive actions in neighboring Honduras and Guatemala.

Grenada. Third was the Cuban-supported Communization of Grenada under Maurice Bishop in 1983 and Grenada’s resulting extensive interface with pro-Communists forces in the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

2. Reagan Sets a New U.S. Strategy: Campaign Platform 1980, Reagan’s First Year as President—1981

During his 1980 election campaign and then from the outset of his presidency in January 1981, Reagan made clear that the stepped-up Soviet-Cuban military and intelligence activities in Latin America of the 1970s would no longer be allowed to proceed virtually unexposed and unchallenged by the United States. Reagan’s new strategy would publicize the facts of Communist aggression and support those determined to resist the totalitarians and would encourage the principles and conditions of democracy. Vigorous U.S. alliance policies and public diplomacy campaigns were established to correlate with specific advisory, military, and economic assistance programs in support of allies beleaguered by the mounting threats of Soviet-Cuban sponsored insurgencies seeking to foreclose the path of democratic political and economic reform.

Election Platform—July 1980. “The Americas” section of Reagan’s authoritative policy document prepared for his candidacy and an early guide to his new Cold War strategy, the Republican Platform—1980, appeared within a broader section on “Peace and Freedom” and “Peace through Strength.” It minced no words about the reality of “Castro’s totalitarian Cuba,” aggressive Soviet actions, and the costs of President Carter’s weak responses. Thus:

[Carter and Decline] . . . the Carter Administration’s policies have encouraged a precipitous decline in United States relations with virtually every country in the region. The nations of South and Central America have been battered by the Carter Administration’s economic and diplomatic sanctions linked to its undifferentiated charges of human rights violations.

[Warfare and Revolution] In the Caribbean and Central America, the Carter Administration stands by while Castro’s totalitarian Cuba, financed, directed, and supplied by the Soviet Union, aggressively trains, arms, and supports forces of warfare and revolution throughout the Western hemisphere. Yet the Carter Administration has steadily denied these threats and in many cases has actively worked to undermine governments and parties opposed to the expansion of Soviet power. This must end.

[Marxist Threats] We deplore the Marxist Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua and the Marxist attempts to destabilize El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. We do not support United States assistance to any Marxist government in this hemisphere and we oppose the Carter Administration aid program for the government of Nicaragua. However, we will support the effort of the Nicaraguan people to establish a free and independent government.

[Soviets in Cuba] Republicans deplore the dangerous and incomprehensible Carter Administration policies toward Cuba. The Administration has done nothing about the Soviet combat brigade stationed there, or about the transfer of new Soviet offensive weapons to Cuba in the form of modern MIG aircraft and submarines. It has done nothing about the Soviet pilots flying air defense missions in Cuba or about the extensive improvements to Soviet military bases, particularly the submarine facilities in Cienfuegos, and the expanded Soviet intelligence facilities near Havana.

[Friends and Enemies] Republicans . . . pledge a strong new United States policy in the Americas. We will stand firm with countries seeking to develop their societies while combating the subversion and violence exported by Cuba and Moscow. We will return to the fundamental principle of treating a friend as a friend and self-proclaimed enemies as enemies, without apology. We will make it clear to the Soviet Union and Cuba that their subversion and their build-up of offensive military forces is unacceptable.

[Book pg. 424]