Central America’s Stalled Progress

Central America’s Stalled Progress

On this episode of The Time of Monsters, Jeffrey Gould and Doug Bell discuss how the region is haunted by the counterrevolution of the 1980s.


In two previous podcasts, we talked about the strong left resurgence in Latin America that is shaping up to be a second “pink tide.” But the new “pink tide” is much stronger in South America than Central America, where the left is often stalled, even in countries where it holds power.

To examine the special history of the region, I turned to Jeffrey Gould, who has known the area well as an activist, documentary filmmaker, and scholar since the 1970s. Currently distinguished visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Gould is author of many books on social movements in El Salvador and Nicaragua, most recently Solidarity Under Siege (2019). In this discussion we’re joined by frequent podcast guest, journalist Doug Bell.

Among the topics we take up are the “minor utopias” that occasionally rise up in the region through grassroots organizing, the counterrevolutionary violence from death squads that these movements confront, the American support for counterrevolution particularly under Ronald Reagan, the need for cooperation between the radical left and more center-left, and the persistence of authoritarianism in political institutions.

Jeffrey brings a lifetime of engagement with Central America to the discussion and provides a truly illuminating survey of crucial recent history.

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