Restores the region’s fraught history of repression and resistance to popular consciousness and connects the United States’ interventions and influence to the influx of refugees seeking asylum today

Product Code: 8938
ISBN: 9780807055410
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 304
Published Date: 05/10/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $15.95

At the center of the current immigration debate are migrants from Central America fleeing poverty, corruption, and violence in search of refuge in the United States. In Central America’s Forgotten History, Aviva Chomsky answers the urgent question “How did we get here?” Centering the centuries-long intertwined histories of US expansion and Indigenous and Central American struggles against inequality and oppression, Chomsky highlights the pernicious cycle of colonial and neocolonial development policies that promote cultures of violence and forgetting without any accountability or restorative reparations.

Focusing on the valiant struggles for social and economic justice in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras, Chomsky restores these vivid and gripping events to popular consciousness. Tracing the roots of displacement and migration in Central America to the Spanish conquest and bringing us to the present day, she concludes that the more immediate roots of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras lie in the wars and in the US interventions of the 1980s and the peace accords of the 1990s that set the stage for neoliberalism in Central America.

Chomsky also examines how and why histories and memories are suppressed, and the impact of losing historical memory. Only by erasing history can we claim that Central American countries created their own poverty and violence, while the United States’ enjoyment and profit from their bananas, coffee, mining, clothing, and export of arms are simply unrelated curiosities.

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Invisibility and Forgetting

Making the United States, Making Central America: Bananas, Coffee, Savages, and Bandits

The Cold War, Ten Years of Spring, and the Cuban Revolution


Guatemala: Reform, Revolution, and Genocide

Nicaragua: “Luchamos contra el yanqui, enemigo de la humanidad”

El Salvador: Si Nicaragua Venció, ¡El Salvador Vencerá!

Honduras: Staging Ground for War and Reaganomics

Central America Solidarity in the United States


Peace Treaties and Neoliberalism


Trump’s Border War


“A convincing case that much of Central America’s violent unrest can be laid at the feet of US leaders.” - Kirkus Reviews

Central America’s Forgotten History is more than a compelling account of how colonialism made and remade Central America and the United States from the distant past to Trump’s border wars. With rich detail and accessible analysis, Aviva Chomsky demonstrates how the colonial crucible itself is ultimately a fight over how history is remembered—and why such history is so important for advancing popular struggle.” - Steve Striffler, author of Solidarity: Latin America and the US Left in the Era of Human Rights

“I have been waiting for Central America’s Forgotten History for the past decade. This thorough and thought-provoking book revives the history that has long been severed from the Central American experience in US discourse, especially around immigration. Chomsky demonstrates that you can’t divorce centuries of colonialism and settler colonialism, US-supported dictators and death squads, and decades of neoliberal economic deprivation and dispossession from the people who arrive every day to the militarized US frontier. And just as important, in the long history of cross-border organizing she chronicles, there might be a solution in the solidarity to this crisis of displacement: not in more misguided border enforcement but—and this will be quite clear when you set the book down—in justice-based reparations.” - Todd Miller, author of Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security

“For decades, policy makers and the public have grappled with the problem of undocumented immigrants and have at the same time ignored the reasons why so many Central Americans, in particular, are fleeing in caravans of thousands to the US. These reasons lie in the history of that region - a history in which the US government is implicated in forcefully establishing the conditions so intolerable as to impel people to flee. Until we understand the US’ role and continued complicity in perpetuating these conditions, a true solution to the immigration ‘problem’ will remain out of reach. Professor Chomsky’s book illuminates this willfully forgotten history.” - Patricia Montes, executive director, Centro Presente

“Aviva Chomsky’s Central America’s Forgotten History is essential reading, an antidote to mainstream coverage that ignores the larger context of the crisis. Its roots, as Chomsky concisely and convincingly reveals, are deep, and many of them snake back to Washington, to a century of catastrophic security and economic policies.” - Greg Grandin, author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

“In this breathtaking book, Aviva Chomsky reminds us of the intertwined histories of Central America and the United States. With compelling arguments and rigorous evidence, Chomsky demonstrates how US policies allowed corporations to build astronomical wealth by impoverishing and exploiting the lives and labor of the people of Central America. Equally important, Central America’s Forgotten History chronicles Indigenous organizing and international solidarity movements. that should guide contemporary efforts to reform US foreign policies vis-à-vis the Global South.” - Paul Ortiz, author of An African American and Latinx History of the United States

“This is a text that is sorely needed, and there is nothing like it available, a brilliant, deeply researched, and concise ‘forgotten’ history, not only of Central America but also of US military occupations and interventions that have created the refugees at the US-Mexico border.” - Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Not “a Nation of Immigrants”

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