North America 1983: Central American Crisis
In 1979, left-wing Sandinista forces [[WNicaraguan_Revolution|overthrew the government in Nicaragua]], with a similar revolution threatening to topple the junta in El Salvador a little over a year later. Fearing the spread of communism in Central America, the US stepped in, supporting the brutal government of El Salvador and secretly backing counter-revolutionary forces (or Contras) in Nicaragua. While these wars were raging, a pro-Cuban faction seized power in Grenada. With the support of a number of Caribbean nations, the US promptly invaded, restoring stability and democracy to the small nation.
25–28 Dec 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan▲
In 1978 the pro-Soviet Nur Muhammad Taraki had seized power in Afghanistan and established the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, but was overthrown by Hafizullah Amin in September 1979 and murdered the following month. Amin maintained Soviet military support but Afghan–Soviet relations began to quickly deteriorate nonetheless. On Christmas Day the Soviet Union landed troops in Kabul and began securing key points in the country, killing Amin on 27 December and installing a more pliant Babrak Karmal as leader.
10 Jan 1981 Salvadoran Civil War begins▲
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)—a merger of the leftist Unified Revolutionary Directorate with the Salvadoran Communist Party—launched an insurrection against the brutal Revolutionary Government Junta in control of El Salvador. The US-supported junta responded with scorched earth tactics, resulting in a decade-long civil war between the two sides.
21 Sep 1981 Independence of Belize▲
Despite continued Guatemalan claims to the country, the United Kingdom recognized the independence of Belize—called British Honduras until 1973. George Cadle Price—Belize’s First Minister and then Premier since 1961—became the new nation’s first Prime Minister but would be defeated in elections in 1984. Due to Guatemala’s continued hostility, the UK retained about 1500 British troops in the country until 1994.
1 Nov 1981 Antigua & Barbuda independent▲
Antigua and Barbuda gained independence from United Kingdom and joined the Commonwealth of Nations.
17 Nov 1981 National Security Directive 17▲
United States President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Directive 17, authorizing covert support to counter-revolutionary (Contra) forces operating to overthrow the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Heavily backed by the CIA, the Contras opened up fronts in the north and southeast of the country and began carrying out assassinations against members of the Nicaraguan government.
19 Sep 1983 St Kitts & Nevis independent▲
The British associated state of Saint Christopher and Nevis became independent as the Federation of Saints Kitts and Nevis.
25 Oct–6 Nov 1983 Operation Urgent Fury▲
In Operation Urgent Fury, United States-led forces invaded and occupied Grenada, deposing the ruling People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG) in a short campaign. The invasion was in response to turmoil in the island nation, in which the Cuban-supported PRG had arrested and executed Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and set up a Revolutionary Military Council under Hudson Austin. After a short period of occupation, democratic rule was restored in Grenada in 1984.