Central America and South America have in general an unhappy history of wars, coups d’etat, assassination squads and military dictatorships for much of the 20th century. Latin American politics have also been crucially influenced by US government policy and US business interests and direct and indirect military and CIA intervention. The best known mode of resistance up to the 1970s has been guerrilla warfare: Castro’s overthrow of Batista in Cuba and the Sandinistas’ overthrow of Somoza in Nicaragua are the two key examples. Nevertheless, there is a long tradition of peasant and worker militancy (land occupations and strikes) which was predominantly nonviolent. From the 1970s the role of unarmed resistance in promoting the overthrow of dictators has become widespread. This resistance has mobilized trade union power, sometimes been supported by the Catholic Church, and been actively promoted by radical Catholics organized in the Service for Peace and Justice (SERPAJ) in 1974. Archbishop Romero, assassinated by the brutal rightwing regime in El Salvador in 1980 for his strong defence of human rights and the indigenous people, symbolized the role of some Catholic churches in resistance.
Not every country in Central and South America is covered in detail in this section of the bibliography, but omissions, such as El Salvador, are examined in some of the general and comparative studies listed below. Other general sources are: The Bulletin of Latin American Research and Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America with special issues such as ‘Social Justice’ (Spring 1998) and ‘Women in Latin America’ (Winter 1998), reflecting different voices, but giving prominence to Harvard-related research. Various groups in Servicio Paz y Justicia network have websites, some with some English translations.