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Central American History

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Despite this generally gloomy context for historical figures and for subsequent historians, many of our ideas about this period has slowly begun to change. This change has occurred not only because of recent research but also, and perhaps of more importance, because of the widespread discrediting of modern schemes of "development," of left-wing or right-wing parentage, traceable in one form or another to the Liberal project for change of the 1870s and thereafter. Central America was indeed changed, and dramatically so, by the coffee-based revolutions of the middle to late nineteenth century but not the way that many on the Liberal side both before and after the revolutions may have imagined. Central American state structures were solidified in this period, even if not in the form of nationhood and nationalism hoped for by Liberals of the time. Likewise, many policies critical for ultimate Liberal success with coffee culture were begun by their Conservative enemies. Moreover, a substrata of social, demographic, and ethnic processes continued during this Conservative interlude that the Liberals could, at best, influence, redirect, or reclassify but hardly comprehend, much less control

Whatever one's interpretation, no one denies a series of facts which illustrate that the relationship has indeed been difficult and fraught with error and misunderstanding on all sides, facts which even Sandinista spokesmen freely admit ( Borge 1985; Hooker 1985; Cabezas 1985a). The unhappy reality is that, since the Sandinista revolution, large numbers of Miskito have fled the country and many more have been involuntarily relocated internally. A great many Miskito have joined military forces in outright rebellion against the Sandinista regime and between these and the Nicaraguan army a state of war exists with all the human suffering which that implies. Apart from military violence, outside humanitarian agencies have generally reported little tangible evidence to support the extreme charges made by some of massive terror and genocide, but under the turbulent conditions on the Atlantic coast numerous individual instances of harsh governmental action in their dealings

As one might expect, one of the other states quickly introduced the subject of confederation before the meetings began. This time it was Honduras that proposed broadening the scope of the sessions to consider what Honduras felt was the "underlying principle of any Central American conference." The other nations agreed with numerous provisos. Guatemala's government felt that such a change in purpose would require time for study and urged a preliminary meeting for Guatemala City early in 1918 to draw up an agenda and to determine dates, places, and other details. Then El Salvador provoked an argument by suggesting that the United States and Mexico should be represented, too, as in 1907. The president of Nicaragua agreed to send a delegate provided



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