The United States in Honduras, 1980–1981

An Ambassador’s Memoir


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About the Book

Honduras occupies a strategic geographic position in Central America. Having served as ambassador to Honduras during both the Carter and Reagan administrations, Jack R. Binns offers a unique perspective on the pivotal period from 1980 through 1981, as the country moved from a relatively benign military dictatorship to a democratic constitutional leadership.
Using classified correspondence, Binns covers the attack on the U.S. Embassy, the deception laid upon the Embassy and State Department by the Central Intelligence Agency over Sandinista-Contra policy, the flood of Salvadoran refugees, economic and human rights conditions, and the collapse of a military coup. He discusses the consequences of an inadequate U.S. policy formulation in Central America: the effort to overthrow the Sandinista regime was a costly failure, U.S. support of the Salvadoran military enlarged the conflict, and U.S. activity in Honduras encouraged human rights abuses.

About the Author(s)

Retired from the Foreign Service, Jack R. Binns lives in Tucson, Arizona. His articles have appeared in such publications as The Arizona Daily Star, The Baltimore Sun and Foreign Service Journal.

Bibliographic Details

Jack R. Binns
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 407
Bibliographic Info: 16 photos, map, notes, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [2000]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7756-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Abbreviations ix

Introduction 1

1. Getting There Was Half the Fun 5

2. Learning the Ropes 24

3. The Circus Begins: Challenges and Diversions 58

4. New Administration Brings Confusion, Interagency Conflict 92

5. Improving Environment Sours Quickly 119

6. Damage Control, Honduran Schemes and Covert Plans 145

7. Policy Vacuum Continues as Troubles Mount 186

8. Transition Crisis Reached as My Replacement Is Named 213

9. Efforts to Block Elections and Conflict with U.S. Military 254

10. Coup Attempt Fails as I Wind Up 279

11. Tying Up Loose Ends: Some Important Later Events 300

12. Summing Up 309

Notes 319


I. Instructions for New Ambassador 349

II. Hondurnan Armed Forces, Strength and Structure, 1980–1981 357

III. Concerns About Regional Policies and Objectives 359

Bibliography 367

Index 383

Book Reviews & Awards

“useful…substantial bibliography”—Catholic Library World; “a truly comprehensive account of Binns’ tenure as chief of mission”—Foreign Service Journal; “valuable”—American Committees on Foreign Relations Newsletter; “fascinating…astute”—British Bulletin of Publications; “An invaluable resource to researchers.”—David Lazar (former State Department director for Central American affairs).