Central American Defense Council (Condeca)
Central American Defense Council (Condeca)
The Central American Defense Council (Condeca) is a special regional defense organization established in 1965. Its founding member states were Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Costa Rica and Panama were offered observer status. Panama accepted observer status but opposed U.S. pressure to upgrade its status to full membership; Costa Rica refused membership at any level. CONDECA was closely linked to the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Panama and thus enjoyed substantial U.S. backing. Its establishment was considered the military phase of a growing movement toward Central American integration.
CONDECA emphasized development of coordinated military action against guerrilla activity to counter any perceived Soviet penetration of Central America and to foster cooperation between the national armies of the region. CONDECA proved ineffective, and its military coordination was hampered by the withdrawal of Panama in 1968, Honduras in 1973, and Nicaragua in 1979. In 1983, however, CONDECA was revived at the insistence of the Reagan administration that Nicaragua was destabilizing the region. El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, with U.S. backing, reestablished CONDECA. The revival was criticized for being under the influence of Washington and for undermining the Contadora peace initiative. Despite the original intention to coordinate regional strategy, CONDECA's revival only served to strengthen the relationship between the Pentagon and the military governments of the region. With the end of the cold war and increased political stability in Central America, CONDECA ceased to exist.
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Heather K. Thiessen
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