Central America's Forgotten History: Revolution, Violence, and the Roots of Migration

Regular price $ 15.95

by Aviva Chomsky

Beacon Press

5/10/2022, paperback

SKU: 9780807055410


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 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.


"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

"A fiery, revelatory survey of Central America under U.S. domination...Chomsky challenges readers to acknowledge that Donald Trump's policies were 'only the most recent iteration of over a century of U.S. domination and exploitation of Central Americans.' A compelling historical synthesis, told with style and moral clarity." -- Library Journal, starred review

"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 An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States

"Aviva Chomsky does the work of helping us unforget the pillage, plunder, and violence rained on Central America by the United States. In-depth research and good storytelling do much to resurrect the devastating stories and history beneath the immigration headlines dominating our news cycle. A necessary and timely contribution." --Roberto Lovato, author of Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas

About the Author:

Aviva Chomsky is a professor of history and the coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State University. The author of several books including Undocumented and "They Take Our Jobs!", Chomsky has been active in the Latin American solidarity and immigrants' rights movements for over 30 years. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts.