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Podcast series: “Under The Shadow” of the U.S.

Rights Action recommends this podcast series by Michael Fox, in co-production with NACLA and The Real News Network.


The general public, educators, journalists and activists - Americans and Canadian alike - will learn from and appreciate this moving and informative series.


“No country in Latin America has remained free from

the shadow hanging over them.

The shadow of the United States. The shadow of the Monroe Doctrine."


Under the Shadow of the U.S.


This podcast series takes listeners across Latin America to the scenes of some of the region’s most devastating, revolutionary, and historic moments. In Season 1, journalist Michael Fox dives deep into the past of Central America, uncovering the history of U.S. intervention and its lingering effects in the region today.


Episode 1 – The Beginning: Monroe and Migration

In this episode, we look back on the history of the Monroe Doctrine and the devastating impact on the region. The list of U.S. invasions, occupations, coups and sanctions is endless. Hundreds. From Mexico to Panama. The Caribbean. Colombia to the tip of Chile and Argentina.


No country in Latin America has remained free from the shadow hanging over them. The shadow of the United States. The shadow of the Monroe Doctrine. Two hundred years ago, on December 2, 1823, then-president James Monroe delivered his State of the Union address to Congress. In his address, he laid out what would become both one of the most consequential and devastating ideas for Latin America—the Monroe Doctrine.


We look back on the history of the Monroe Doctrine and the devastating impact on the region.


In the second half of the episode, we meet migrants walking North toward the United States on the edge of Central America. A very real manifestation, right now, of the never-ending impact of U.S. intervention in Latin America.


Episode 2 – Guatemala: United Fruit

Host Michael Fox looks at the outsized role of the U.S. banana corporation, United Fruit, in Central America. You literally can't talk about the history of Central America in the 20th Century without mentioning the UFCO (United Fruit Company). Fox goes in search of the legacy of the company today. He travels to the Guatemalan town of Tiquisate, which was built by the company. We dig into the past and the 1954 CIA coup, which overthrew the democratically elected president in the name of U.S. corporate interests.


We also look at the inauguration of Bernardo Arévalo—the son of the country’s first democratic president—who was sworn in on January 14, 2024


Episode 3 – Guatemala: The Disappeared

Host Michael Fox visits a memorial for the disappeared on the outskirts of the Guatemalan town of San Juan Comalapa. He walks back in time to the 1980s, into the country’s genocide of Indigenous peoples, uncovering the overwhelming support from the United States and then President Ronald Reagan in the name of fighting the so-called “communist threat.”


Between 1962 and 1996, 200,000 Guatemalans were killed and 45,000 were forcibly disappeared. For the majority of families, the whereabouts of those lost loved ones are still unknown, even decades after security forces abducted them. Most of the victims of the conflict were Indigenous. Most of the perpetrators were members of government forces.


Episode 4 – El Salvador: The Innocent Victims

Host Michael Fox heads to San Salvador, where he visits a memorial for the innocent victims and looks at the legacy of El Salvador's armed conflict today. In the 1980s, El Salvador was ground zero for the U.S. intervention in Central America. The United States funneled over $6 billion to El Salvador in mostly military aid and police and security training throughout the country’s 12-year civil war, which lasted from 1980 until 1992. The violence and the U.S. support for the country's bloody authoritarian regimes had a deadly cost, claiming the lives of and tens of thousands of innocent victims.


Episode 5 – El Salvador: Rebel Radio

Today, we look at Radio Venceremos—a grassroots guerrilla radio station that broadcast throughout El Salvador’s Civil War, denounced violent state repression, and inspired a nation. In this episode, Michael Fox visits the Museum of Word and Image, the home of the archives of Radio Venceremos. He hears from former members of the radio about the revolutionary project and the U.S. and Salvadoran military attempts to shut it down.


Episode 6 – USS Honduras

In the 1980s, Honduras was also ground zero for U.S. operations in Central America. It was a base of operations for the U.S.-trained, funded, and backed Contras, in their war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. And it was a staging ground for U.S. military involvement and CIA missions in the region.


Within the country, that meant using the same strategy seen throughout the rest of the region: state repression, disappearances, torture, and the overwhelming presence of the United States.


In this episode, host Michael Fox visits Honduran family members of the disappeared and the walls of the largest U.S. military base in Central America.


Update 1 – Arévalo, Presidente

Michael Fox returns to Guatemala, speaking to political scientist Jo-Marie Burt about the significance of President Bernardo Arévalo's inauguration.


Update 2 – Bukele, Presidente

Michael Fox returns to El Salvador for the presidential elections, which incumbent Nayib Bukele won in a landslide. He sits down for an in-depth conversation with Dartmouth assistant professor of Latin American Studies Jorge Cuéllar.


… More episodes to come on Honduras, Nicaragua, …


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