VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > E. Latin America and the Caribbean, 1914–1945 > 3. Central America
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
(See 1906)
 
3. Central America
 
 
a. Overview
 
After the declaration of war on Germany by the U.S., the states of Central America severed relations with Germany and ultimately declared war, mostly in 1918 (Panama, April 7, 1917; Costa Rica, March 23, 1918; Nicaragua, May 8, 1918; Honduras, July 19, 1918; Guatemala, April 23, 1918). After the war almost all of them became members of the League of Nations (El Salvador joined in 1924, the others in 1920).  1
In the political sphere most of these states continued in unstable conditions, with numerous insurrections and regime changes. Common to all of them was the growing class consciousness of the laborers on banana, coffee, and sugar plantations which came to constitute an ever more formidable challenge to the ruling groups. Despite representative machinery, the governments in many states were essentially dictatorships. During the 1920s the U.S. government intervened frequently (including several prolonged occupations of Nicaragua, Cuba, and Haiti) to protect American interests and property. This policy, among other things, aroused much hostility toward the United States throughout Latin America, and was later replaced by the Good Neighbor Policy (1930s), which eschewed intervention.  2
 
1918, March 10
 
The Central American Court was dissolved after denunciation by Nicaragua and failure of the members to renew arrangements.  3
 
1921–22
 
The PACT OF UNION among Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, signed at San José (Jan. 19, 1921). The agreement set up an indissoluble and perpetual union, to be called the Federation of Central America. A provisional federal council was organized (June 17), and Vicente Martínez of Guatemala became president. On Oct. 10 the federal constitution was completed, but once again the project of union was to be frustrated. On Dec. 8 a revolution broke out in Guatemala, directed against the government's policy of federation. With the success of this uprising the whole scheme fell through and the federation was dissolved (Jan. 29, 1922). In the ensuing years there was chronic trouble over borders between the different states, with occasional danger of war.  4
 
1922, Dec. 4–1923, Feb. 7
 
A Central American conference met in Washington at the insistence of the U.S. government, which hoped to terminate the dangerous friction between Nicaragua and Honduras. A general treaty of neutrality was drawn up, provision was made for the creation of a Central American Court of Justice, and measures to limit armaments and to further economic development were envisaged. The majority of the states ratified the treaties by 1926, but little was done to put them into effect. (See Defense of the Western Hemisphere, 1939–1945)  5
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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