Beacon Press: Central America's Forgotten History
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Central America's Forgotten History

Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration

Author: Aviva Chomsky

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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.

At the center of the current immigration debate are migrants from Central America fleeing poverty, corruption, and violence in search of asylum in the United States. In Central America’s Forgotten History, Aviva Chomsky answers the urgent question “How did we get here?” She outlines how we often fail to remember the circumstances and ongoing effects of Central America’s historical political strife, which is a direct result of colonial and neocolonial development policies and the cultures of violence and forgetting needed to implement them.

Chomsky expertly recounts Central Americans’ valiant struggles for social and economic justice to restore these vivid and gripping events to popular consciousness. She traces the roots of displacement and migration in Central America to the Spanish conquest and brings us to the present day, where she concludes that the more immediate roots of migration from the three Northern Triangle countries (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, vegetables, clothing, and export of arms are simply unrelated curiosities.

Central America’s Forgotten History shows that if we want to create a more just world, we need to acknowledge the many layers of complicity and forgetting that underlie today’s inequalities.
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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”


Central America's Forgotten History

ISBN: 978-080705701-8
Publication Date: 4/20/2021
Size: x
Price:  $20.00
Format: Audio
Availability: In stock.
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