Pre-World War II

  • The history of Honduras is unique compared to the rest of Central America. It is due in part because there was not an elite in Honduras that tried to profit off its natural resources like bananas. Instead, it was neighboring Central American and foreign industries that took advantage of these resources. This fact is the major reason why the U.S. has not intervened extensively in Honduran politics.
  • In the 1910s, there was some conflict between political factions as to who should become president. Miguel Davila managed to remove President Manuel Bonilla from power in 1907 and become the new president. Based in New Orleans, Bonilla tried to mobilize an opposition force which the U.S. Navy did attempt to stop. In the end, the U.S. basically arbitrated between these forces, and the resolution was a general election in which Bonilla won the presidency. Nonetheless, the U.S. gave aid to each of the different sides of this relatively tame conflict.(23)


Post-World War II

  • Despite the relative benign of Honduran rulers, the people did remain the poorest of Central America. This became more a problem as large landholders began seizing land, as in El Salvador, away from the agrarian peoples living on the land in the 1950s and 1960s in order to extend their plantations and industry.
  • As unrest began unfolding throughout Central America, the Honduran government became a type of safety valve for the U.S. government to rely on for support. Thus, in turn, the government and military in Honduras began to be more repressive as the U.S. wanted it to use Honduras as a base of operations for anti-communist operations in Central America, most notably for the Contras (see Nicaragua). For this, Honduras was given hundreds of millions of dollars by the U.S., in particular towards the military.
  • The political uprooting occurring in Central America expressed itself in Honduras similarly with guerilla and leftist movements. Although in the 1980s Honduras had its own right-wing death squads, the Contras began to surpass the Honduran military in numbers and military weaponry which created instability.(24) The general situation of Honduras just deteriorated, because there was no consistent or prominent movement trying to the lead the population towards some improvement. On the other hand, also the U.S. did not have much use for Honduras except for the military, thus meaning that there was a type of open-ended strife and not any clear direction forward for poor Hondurans.

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