chapter  4
25 Pages

U.S.-Latin American Relations from Carter to Reagan: Change or Continuity?

WithPaul E. Sigmund

The election of Ronald Reagan in November 1980 may not have actually led to victory parties in the capitals of the more conservative military regimes of Latin America, but it seemed clearly to indicate that there would be a significant change in United States (US) policy toward that area. Perhaps the most important of the criticisms of the Jimmy Carter policies was written by a former Democrat, Jeane Kirkpatrick, then associated with Georgetown University and the American Enterprise Institute. The Carter administration had maintained cool relations with the regime of General Carlos Romero before his overthrow in October 1979. The basic lines of the Carter policy—elections, reform, and human rights—thus remained the cornerstones of US policy toward El Salvador. The difference was that more emphasis was placed on military aid and on developing and training a reformed officer corps which would be more effective and less brutal and corrupt than the older officers.