In 1982, María Rosa Segura de Martini was the wife of a wealthy Argentine businessman, living in a fashionable neighborhood in Buenos Aires. In the aftermath of the Malvinas War, with the edifice of military dictatorship crumbling under the weight of economic stagnation and human rights protests, Martini and several friends pondered the looming democratic transition. How, they wondered, could Argentina build civic engagement, particularly among women, in a country where years of violent ideological conflict had destroyed political activity and erased a proud constitutional tradition?1 Their answer lay in beauty products. Martini’s brother, a regional salesman for Mary Kay and Avon, suggested that she “sell democracy like cosmetics,” advice that she took literally. Convening small groups of women to discuss the political opening, Martini grew her circle exponentially, eventually incorporating it as a non-profit, Conciencia (Conscience). Calling themselves divulgadores (disseminators), Conciencia’s employees envisioned themselves as “missionaries” for the democratic faith, holding civic education seminars for Argentine citizens ahead of the 1983 presidential elections. In 1985, Conciencia was given free air time by the government to broadcast public service announcements to voters before national legislative elections, and in 1986 Conciencia provided background briefings on policy issues to members of the Argentine congress. By 1992, the organization had developed into a regional nongovernmental organization (NGO) focusing on all aspects of civic education in Latin America. Though Conciencia’s aims were avowedly non-partisan, its mission responded to a very specific set of ideas about the role of civil society in emergent democracies. The reach of the state was receding throughout Latin America, Martini told the New York Times in 1986, “opening up space for individual and group initiatives.” And it was civil society’s responsibility to fill those gaps in governance. Otherwise, she warned, “the state will begin to expand again. A golden opportunity to break with statism will have been lost.”2 For an organization that prided itself on the virtues of voluntary association and the free market, Conciencia had an unlikely partner: the U.S. government. In its formative years, between 1984 and 1988, Conciencia received over $530,000 in funding from the newly created National Endowment for Democracy (NED).3 U.S. funding, channeled through the Overseas Education Fund, the international arm of the League of Women Voters—and later through Delphi International, a U.S.-based contracting firm—helped Conciencia to expand its operations throughout Argentina and the region. In a private letter to a U.S. diplomat in Argentina in 1985, NED president Carl Gershman lauded Conciencia as “a model for other countries in Latin America.”4 As the organization grew, it linked with similar organizations in the region that were also receiving U.S. funding to develop civil society in formerly authoritarian regimes, like the Center for the Study of Politics (CEDEP, Centro de Estudios Políticos) in Guatemala and the El Salvadoran Trust for the Integration of Women in Development (PIMUDE, Patronato Pro-Integracion de la Mujer al Desarrollo). Today, the United States relies on networks of NGOs and civil society organizations to support key foreign policy goals of advancing and consolidating democratic governance and ensuring the protection of human rights.5 The roots of this U.S. effort to link the growth of civil society in an overt way to state power can be found, I argue, in the public-private democracy promotion programs that exploded in the 1980s, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. These initiatives were remarkably diverse, including legal and logistical support for labor unions; funding for organizations that raised voter awareness and encouraged participation in transitional elections; the purchase of ballot paper and other election-day supplies; and the provision of seed money for think tanks seeking to spread free market ideas. Using U.S., Guatemalan, and Chilean records, I argue that the NED and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) democracy promotion programs were not simply a cynical extension of the Reagan administration’s national security policies, or the harbingers of a wave of democracy that their supporters claimed. Instead, democracy promotion emerged in the 1980s at a crossroads between these two poles. On the one hand, U.S. money and expertise constructively supported the practical aims of local civil society groups in achieving transitions to civilian rule. On the other, the success of those transitions reinforced a growing ideological consensus in U.S. foreign policy institutions that the spread of free elections and free markets was universal and worthy of U.S. support, regardless of the costs, limits, and tradeoffs. 1980s democracy promotion programs were the stepchildren of covert U.S. support to foreign individuals and civil society groups in the 1950s and 1960s, designed to counter Soviet political organizing efforts.6 The CIA officers who oversaw those front operations—which included backing anticommunist labor unions through the American Federation of Labor and providing support for non-communist voices through organizations like the Congress for Cultural Freedom—also identified voluntary associationalism as the heart of American soft power.7 More directly, democracy promotion efforts were descendants of the large-scale nation building programs favored by modernization theorists in the 1960s.8 These programs—most notably the Alliance for Progress in Latin America—sought to advance democracy by bringing about a “middle class revolution” that would propel traditional societies into modernity.9 Development programs sought to empower disenfranchised populations, but often sat uncomfortably alongside—or were corrupted by—support for military and oligarchic elites, thus foreshadowing the contradictions of Reagan’s promotion of elections amidst violent counterinsurgency campaigns in the 1980s.10 The differences between the democracy promotion institutions that emerged in the 1980s and earlier efforts at political warfare and modernization reflected the shifting milieu of Cold War policymaking. In the context of the early Cold War, covert cultural and political organizing helped maintain plausible deniability where open U.S. support would have jeopardized the legitimacy of groups on the anticommunist Left, or when those groups were politically unpalatable to U.S. audiences.11 And while modernization programs aimed to spark political development, the social scientists designing these programs favored industrialization and economic growth as the key variables that would propel the “take-off” of traditional societies.12 If the global shifts of the late 1960s and 1970s had undermined both the appeal of covert action and faith in government-led development, the Reagan revolution had tapped into a powerful new strain of the U.S. development impulse.13 Advocates of democracy promotion simultaneously flaunted the overtness of U.S. aid while celebrating the independence of civil society groups that received it, thus affirming a vision of democratic development in which the state’s role was submerged. Old CIA hands might have might have spoken of “democratic values” to justify aiding civil society, and modernizers may have debated elections as an element of modernization. But the democracy promoters of the 1980s lived by a creed that emphasized party-building, elections, and democratic civil society as the tools that would empower transitioning regimes to join the community of liberal democracies. In spite of the current enthusiasm among historians of U.S. foreign relations for tracing transnational linkages, for noting the agency of non-state actors in influencing the salience of norms like human rights, and for highlighting the role of public-private institutions in projecting U.S. visions of modernization abroad, democracy promotion programs in the 1980s and 1990s have yet to receive comprehensive treatment.14 Two persistent tendencies in the historical literature on U.S. foreign relations explain this omission. The first is the weight of longstanding debates over the ideas that have animated U.S. grand strategies from the founding to the present. These debates have done much to highlight liberal democracy and free markets as fundamental tenets of U.S. ideology, a basis for exceptionalism, and a justification for empire.15 The practical effect has been to treat democracy promotion as an ideological inevitability, which in turn limits inquiry into specific policies and programs designed to promote democracy at specific moments and in distinct international contexts. Recent works on the CIA’s cultural and political warfare, along with studies of modernization programs, have admirably addressed two such gaps for the Cold War period.16 Meanwhile, for the Reagan years, a focus on U.S. grand strategy has prolonged an unsatisfying debate between scholars applauding democracy as a key component of Reagan’s global vision, and those decrying it as a trope which corrupted a cosmopolitan ideal of human rights.17 More detailed studies of the ways that democracy promotion policies enmeshed U.S. power with government and nongovernmental institutions abroad have been stifled by a second tendency: the cynical treatment of such efforts as foreign interventions aimed at achieving narrow national security objectives.18 Drawing on the deep roots of revisionism, many scholars dismiss democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy as disingenuous in its origins.19 In this literature, programs like NED support for anticommunist trade unions or opposition newspapers are treated as sanitized versions of covert action, and Reagan’s rhetorical emphasis on democratization is interpreted as political cover for otherwise unpalatable policies of military aid and support for counterinsurgent repression.20 While scholars continue to mine transnational connections between U.S. power and local institutions to explore human rights, development, and modernization, cross-border activism in the name of explicitly political rights has not captured the imagination of historians in the same way. Taking the emergence of the U.S. democracy promotion impulse as a serious historical development and drawing on international archival research that illuminates how funding and expertise played out in specific local contexts will allow scholars to clarify how the concepts of democracy, human rights, and development became enduringly linked in post-Cold War U.S. foreign policy. Further, a detailed focus on U.S. involvement in elections and democratic transitions offers scholars of U.S. foreign relations the opportunity to engage with the efforts of areas studies scholars—especially Latin Americanists—who are increasingly interested in how U.S. power shaped political cultures and processes of state formation during the Cold War.21 Although U.S.-funded democracy promotion programs touched nearly every country in the hemisphere, I focus here on the cases of Guatemala and Chile, showing how democratic political organizing between 1984 and 1988 meshed U.S. foreign policy objectives in Latin America with transitions from authoritarian rule underway in two staunch Cold War allies. While the similarities between the two cases are instructive about the motivations for the administration’s broader turn to democracy promotion, the differences reveal important details about the way that democracy promotion became institutionalized in U.S. foreign policy. In Guatemala, U.S. organizing efforts helped empower the civil society that supported the election of a reformist civilian leader in 1985. However, because that election was used in turn to justify increasing military aid, U.S. policies weakened the civilian government’s ability to pursue meaningful reforms called for by civil society groups. Meanwhile, U.S. democracy promotion programs in Chile were part of a successful effort to pressure General Augusto Pinochet to oversee a transition to civilian rule. Because of Pinochet’s intransigence on the specific issue of democratization, the regime treated U.S.-supported efforts as provocative interventions in Chile’s internal affairs. But the United States carefully calibrated policies to avoid pressures on human rights while empowering a moderate opposition. U.S. democracy promotion efforts under Reagan contributed power and expertise to the reawakening of liberal politics in Latin America, but tensions between U.S. policymakers’ goals of democracy, free markets, and national security remained thoroughly unresolved. Growing Civil Society Abroad The NED had associationalism written into its DNA. The idea for an independent foundation responsible for spreading democratic institutions abroad originated not with Reagan policymakers, but among U.S. civil society organizations in the 1970s. In a 1973 book titled Developing Democracy, William A. Douglas of the AFL-CIO argued that competing with Soviet appeal in the Third World required developing political institutions just as resolutely as promoting infrastructure and industry.22 In 1978, the bipartisan American Political Foundation (APF) undertook a study of the German party institutes, inquiring how the U.S. government might replicate the model by funding independent civil institutions abroad.23 Reagan referenced the study in his Westminster address in June 1982 and, in November, the administration provided $400,000 of federal funding through USAID to complete it.24 The APF study, submitted to Reagan in July 1983, recommended the creation of a “quasi-nongovernmental organization” (QUANGO) that would channel congressionally-appropriated funds to grant projects designed to develop pluralist institutions abroad.25 Grants would be administered through four “core institutes” that were independent of the state: the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute for International Affairs (IRI), both international wings of the respective parties; the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI), established by the AFL-CIO to promote international free labor education; and the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), overseen by the American Chamber of Commerce.26 The proposal garnered widespread bipartisan support and the NED was created by law on November 17, 1983. Though the NED was officially nonpartisan, new director Carl Gershman’s leadership was a reminder of the NED’s origins among neoconservatives who believed that promoting a U.S. brand of social democracy abroad could counteract the appeal of the international communist Left.27 To Gershman, leadership of the NED was an extension of his earlier, ideological work as the U.S. representative to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights and as executive director of Social Democrats, USA in which he advocated using human rights and democracy promotion to challenge the Soviet Union. Now, he believed, the ideals that had guided his own activism were part of a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy explicitly linking democracy with the advancement of human rights.28 Democracy, Gershman told a Chilean audience in 1985, is “the only system that combines the principles of self-determination for the nation and self-determination for the individual,” and “offers a way to resolve social conflicts without resort to violence and to reduce the appeal of extremist ideologies.”29 To Gershman, the NED would allow the United States to eschew direct pressure on foreign governments to respect human rights, while building political institutions that could protect those rights from within. The Reagan administration’s enthusiastic embrace of the NED proposal was the result of both ideological and political factors directly related to its Latin America policy in 1984. The administration was desperate to develop public and congressional support for its policies in Latin America. Bolstered by the final report of the bipartisan Kissinger Commission on Central America—which Gershman, as a lead consultant, had helped to draft—the administration jettisoned its unqualified support for anticommunist dictatorships in Latin America and adopted a rhetorical emphasis on political, economic, and social development in the region. On the diplomatic level, promoting liberal democracy in Latin America meant weaning dictatorships and military regimes from unconditional U.S. support in the form of military aid, economic assistance, and access to international loans. After 1984, NED and USAID programs augmented these initiatives from below, providing money and expertise to democratic advocates seeking to shape transitional regimes in countries like Argentina and Guatemala. In countries like Chile and Nicaragua, where the state opposed political openings, they helped to create and reinforce opposition movements. In essence, the NED and USAID became operational arms of the Reagan administration’s turn to democracy promotion policy. Reagan’s policies eschewed earlier state-led models of development rooted in Cold War liberalism and instead championed institutions and civil society groups outside of the state, operating in conjunction with a vibrant private sector.30 Thus while Reagan fashioned a neoliberal approach to development he simultaneously drew on a deeply rooted associational vision of democracy in which civil society groups like political parties, unions, trade associations, and interest groups were seen to embody citizens’ interests and serve as a check on the power of the state.31 The associational structure of the NED—incorporating the most mainstream of U.S. interest groups—made it broadly appealing to policymaking audiences by championing U.S. ideals while submerging the central role of state funding and power. NED operators recognized that being too obviously aligned with the state would jeopardize the NED’s mission. As one FTUI memo put it, “If the [NED] came to be viewed as an agent of the US Government its essential character as a private entity [and] labor’s credibility as an independent non-government group developing its own relationships and making its own decisions about who to help and how to help them would be seriously undermined and the impact hopelessly counterproductive.”32 Such public-private efforts were not novel—to the contrary, they followed a long tradition of government “hiding” in plain sight.33 Despite the domestic appeal of the NED’s public-private structure, interventions in foreign politics had predictably contentious consequences. Responding to early criticism—such as a controversy over the FTUI allegedly supporting a military-backed candidate in the 1984 Panamanian election—the NED typically argued that its status as a QUANGO protected it from partisan biases and policy direction from the administration. The Endowment’s mission, as described in the 1985 annual report, was “to strengthen the processes of democracy, not to influence them in any direction, and to demonstrate a commitment to democracy in different countries irrespective of their ideological coloration.”34 The NED simply would serve as a “magnet” for democratic groups across the globe.35 But in fact, the Endowment’s early activities in Latin America demonstrate that Carl Gershman, NED officials, and U.S. diplomats saw the NED’s activities as a means of achieving the administration’s foreign policy objectives. The State Department collaborated closely with the NED to guide the grant-making process towards identified goals. In 1984, for example, U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua Anthony Quainton suggested that the State Department “consult with NED to determine its willingness and ability to develop a special program for the Nicaraguan opposition.”36 Diplomats would typically field and help to vet grant requests, and they might work with contracting organizations to assess the effectiveness of a given project.37 In 1985, U.S. ambassador to El Salvador Thomas Pickering wrote to Gershman: “The embassy is prepared to work closely with the American Chamber of Commerce to ensure that U.S. money is well spent.”38 NED rhetoric also downplayed the extent to which funding for labor, the private sector, and political parties subjected that support to ideological interests that were not shared throughout the sectors they represented. The NED’s support for labor diplomacy in Latin America, for example, was extremely contentious throughout the broader labor movement. The AFL-CIO had long pursued a collaborative relationship with the State Department and the intelligence community in support of non-communist union activity in Latin America, primarily through the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD). With NED funding, the AFL-CIO used the FTUI to re-brand anticommunist labor programs in terms that emphasized the role of unions in developing democracy.39 While the NED championed labor’s role in expanding union rights under authoritarian governments, rival union groups and factions within the AFL-CIO protested that the AIFLD and FTUI were aiding repression in Latin America by partnering with government-friendly unions.40 In the private sector as well, the relationship between civil society and democracy proved to be problematic. The NED and the U.S. Chamber portrayed CIPE programs—seminars, courses, and training programs—as democracy promotion by arguing that they addressed a lack of understanding about the market that had worsened under the state-led development policies in Latin America in the previous two decades.41 In reality, expanding the clout of the business interests meant empowering a sector typically allied with conservative military governments, and which was ill-disposed to socioeconomic reforms offered by emergent democratic political regimes. USAID’s funding model had since the 1960s relied on partnerships with local organizations and institutions to facilitate economic development. In the 1980s, Reagan appointees expanded the organization’s mission to include democracy promotion. Again Latin America proved to be a laboratory for this approach, as signaled by the creation of the Latin America Office of Democratic Initiatives (ODI), which oversaw several major projects related to democracy and human rights in the Western Hemisphere. The first was a “Democracy Promotion Election Assistance Program,” that sought to institutionalize the role played by USAID in the 1982 constituent assembly elections in El Salvador. USAID contracted with Eddie Mahe Jr., Inc., an electoral consultancy whose namesake had pioneered direct mailing techniques in the Republican Party, to determine how it could “strengthen the democratic process around the world by improving the quality of elections.”42 The second USAID program of note was the “Central America Initiative,” an umbrella project designed to carry out the recommendations of the bipartisan Kissinger Commission, which explicitly conflated economic reform and democratic institution-building.43 Like an ideational feedback loop, the diversity of programs supported under the heading of “democracy promotion” seemed to affirm the NED’s vision of vibrant international pluralism thriving without direct involvement of the U.S. state. But this vision was as simplistic as it was misleading. In reality, the new democracy promotion bureaucracy increased the power of specific interest groups to channel state funding abroad. These programs were carried out within the guidelines set by overriding U.S. security and economic objectives. As the cases of Guatemala and Chile illustrate, the disconnect between the NED’s vision of associationalism and the type of democracy that public-private cooperation could be reasonably expected to achieve was a salient one. Guatemala: “If You Want Peace and Progress, Vote Like this!” After years of cruel military dictatorship, Guatemala in the mid-1980s witnessed the slow re-emergence of civil society organizations that sought the realization of human rights, labor rights, and civil rights amidst the return to civilian rule. That transition was the result of a calculated strategic move by the military government of General Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores. In 1983, Mejía and other officers had toppled General Efraín Ríos Montt in a coup, due to the perceived failure of his counterinsurgency campaign. Despite Ríos Montt’s oversight of a genocide that murdered an estimated 70,000 Guatemalans from 1982–1983, his inclination for social development programs—namely the introduction of a value-added tax and the prospect of agrarian reforms—had alienated conservative allies in the private sector, the Catholic Church, and the military.44 To Mejía and other conservatives, Ríos Montt’s greatest failures lay in Guatemala’s economic stagnation and international isolation. Although Reagan was an outspoken supporter of Ríos Montt, U.S. officials shared the frustration that the two countries were unable to resume overt military assistance due to congressional restrictions stemming from Guatemala’s egregious human rights record. Ríos Montt’s dismissal of external criticism for the ongoing campaign of state terror reflected an apparent decline in U.S. power in the region.45 This impression became even stronger in November 1983 when the murder of several Guatemalan USAID employees prompted George Shultz to recall the U.S. ambassador, Fred Chapin.46 Mejía’s coup presented the Reagan administration with a new opportunity to resume military assistance and increase economic aid. To realize that opportunity, the Reagan administration would have to pressure the regime to make demonstrable progress on human rights. In response to the murder of the USAID employees, congress placed new restrictions on foreign aid that would drastically reduce U.S. assistance to Guatemala through USAID programs. The administration urged Mejía to demonstrate his commitment to ending political violence, stressing that progress towards elections “could provide a basis for a deeper and stronger relationship in the future.”47 It was “imperative,” Reagan’s national security advisor Robert McFarlane wrote to the President in late 1983, that the United States “find ways to work with a moderate government that can defeat the communist guerrillas and neutralize the violent right.”48 Motivated by the urgent need to attract foreign aid for Guatemala’s flagging economy, the Mejía government calculated that civilian elections would improve Guatemala’s image abroad. Promising that the military would respect the autonomy of the newly created Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE, Tribunal Supremo Electoral), grant autonomy to universities and unions, and guarantee human rights, the Mejía regime laid out an electoral timetable to guide the democratic transition.49 These were deliberate moves. By publicizing Mejía’s “intention to steer the political life of the nation to an early and safe return to the democratic system” the foreign ministry hoped to galvanize international, and particularly U.S., support.50 Guatemalan officials’ calculations were astute. Guided by the playbook written in El Salvador two years earlier, Reagan officials seized on the electoral timetable as the primary justification for renewing U.S. aid.51 Following elections for the Guatemalan Constitutional Assembly in July 1984, the United States requested $300,000 in funding to train Guatemalan military officers in the United States, the first time such assistance had been offered since 1977. The newly appointed U.S. ambassador, Alberto Piedra—a conservative political appointee whose primary backer was Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC)—later remembered that his priority upon arriving in Guatemala in August, 1984 was to “reestablish free elections in a democratic process.”52 Unlike in El Salvador, where U.S. officials had been deeply immersed in the electoral process from the outset, the Reagan administration found itself with little influence to keep the Guatemalan process on track.53 In the absence of such influence, newly active civil society organizations took on special importance for U.S. policymakers. NED and USAID programs became a key link between the local efforts of trade unions, media outlets, and political parties to increase participation and Reagan officials’ strategic goal of promoting free and fair elections. Through USAID, the administration provided money and assistance to the Guatemalan TSE in the form of a $322,100 grant to the Inter-American Center for Election Advising and Promotion (CAPEL—Centro Interamericano de Asesoría y Promoción Electoral). With USAID funding, CAPEL, a regional organization that operated under the auspices of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, provided training to 400 Guatemalan educators who in turn trained almost 13,000 Guatemalans to serve as polling monitors on election day.54 USAID also awarded a grant of $234,000 directly to the TSE to purchase ballot paper from Portals, Inc., a security paper company located in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Administration documents make clear that officials explicitly viewed these civil society programs as tools of foreign policy.55 In a memo to cabinet secretaries, McFarlane wrote: “[t]he State Department and AID should encourage the [NED] to fund projects related to the upcoming elections. Projects now being considered to print ballot paper and train ballot watchers should be given high priority.”56 And yet, even as officials celebrated the overtness of U.S. support for democratization, they were simultaneously careful to ensure that U.S. involvement remained obscure. The USAID director in Guatemala told his associates that he wanted to “avoid any hint of U.S. interference in the election process, and assure that our support reinforces the perception that this is truly a Guatemalan initiative.”57 He had good reason. In late 1985, Mario Sandoval Alarcón, a leader of the conservative National Liberation Movement (MLN, Movimiento Liberación Nacional), launched a petition calling on the U.S. Congress to investigate interference in the elections, claiming that the U.S.-supplied ballot paper “contained chemicals that could alter the results.”58 Meanwhile, NED support for Guatemalan civil society groups helped facilitate the transition from authoritarian rule to civilian governance. Although the NED typically justified these activities in terms of bolstering the technical aspects of electoral politics, in reality NED programs reflected the particular aims and ideologies of the institutions that administered and received funds. Public opinion polling provides one such example. In 1984, IRI used NED backing to facilitate the first national opinion poll of potential Guatemalan voters.59 Conducted in Indian languages as well as Spanish, the survey was used to “design voter education and mobilization campaigns” ahead of the transition. Though ostensibly non-partisan, the survey reflected U.S. parties’ interest in sharing data-driven campaigning processes with like-minded parties abroad.60 In the discourse used by the NED and Reagan administration officials, the growth of civil society was synonymous with the expansion of democracy. In 1984, the NED made a direct, discretionary grant of $127,500 to fund projects of the Center for Political Studies (CEDEP, Centro de Estudios Politicos). The NED 1985 annual report explained that CEDEP was founded by Guatemalan pro-democratic businessmen who were “anxious to provide a nonpartisan political forum where politicians and emerging political groups could find neutral ground to discuss public issues.”61 In 1985, the NED awarded a second grant to CEDEP of $152,450, which supported a “highly effective nonpartisan get-out-the-vote campaign,” as well as public service announcements targeting Guatemalan voters.62 A closer look at NED support shows how “nonpartisan” funding empowered networks of political actors and institutions—in this case, Guatemalan Christian Democrats—that advanced a specific type of democracy emphasizing elections and free markets. The founder of CEDEP, Iván Danilo Barillas Rodríguez, was a major figure in the Christian Democratic party and close associate of presidential candidate Vinicio Cerezo. NED funding was administered by Caribbean-Central American Action (C/CAA), a Washington-based non-profit interest group which, essentially functioned as a lobby for the Caribbean Basin Initiative, a Reagan-backed trade plan designed to lower tariffs, and which was favored among Guatemalan private sector organizations eager for new regional export markets.63 Although the NED touted CEDEP as a civic organization, its role was more akin to a trade association, and U.S. funding underwrote activities and materials that advanced neoliberal criticisms of the military government’s economic policy. U.S. support for labor unions provides the most obvious example of how the policy of advancing credible elections through civil society organizing was tied to the administration’s national security goal of marginalizing the Left. Support for Guatemalan labor was particularly contentious because, from 1978 to 1983, unions had become targets of state terror under the military governments of Fernando Lucas García and Ríos Montt. Previously home to one of Latin America’s most powerful labor movements, by 1981 only two percent of the Guatemalan workforce was unionized.64 Early in 1983, the Ríos Montt regime had declared that it would honor the right of unions to organize, but at the same time it explicitly discouraged unions from participating in politics.65 This decree notwithstanding, Ríos Montt included Juan Francisco Alfaro, organizer of the Confederacion Unidad Sindical de Guatemala (CUSG), a conglomerate of non-leftist trade unions, in his official Council of State. Ríos Montt was present at the CUSG’s inauguration, and Alfaro explicitly declared that the federation would espouse “faith in government.”66 The U.S. embassy applauded the CUSG’s creation, calling it the “most significant trade union development in years.”67 In the aftermath of the Mejía coup, the CUSG took advantage of loosening restrictions to become involved in the presidential elections, and it turned to NED programs to aid in this effort. The first NED grant, awarded in 1984 through the FTUI, allowed CUSG leaders to educate local union leaders in preparation for the constituent assembly election process.68 In 1985, a $100,000 NED grant administered by the FTUI helped CUSG to expand its voter education and mobilization efforts. The NED credited these initiatives with the estimated eighty percent of organized workers who voted in the presidential elections.69 By the middle of 1985, CUSG claimed to have the largest membership of all unions in Guatemala—somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 members—and to be central to the rejuvenated union movement.70 Other unions, however, were suspicious of the CUSG’s proximity to the regime and, particularly, U.S. funding; they characterized the CUSG as “pro-management” and a “tool of imperialism.”71 One labor pamphlet decried the CUSG’s political focus as a thinly-veiled attempt to create an establishment labor party. “The leadership of the CUSG are showing interest in creating a political party with an electoral base of laborers,” the pamphlet alleged, “where the leaders use the movement to boost their positions in government without solving the workers’ problems—substituting the interests of political parties for those of the workers.”72 Internally, FTUI officials in Washington deflected this criticism by arguing that other Guatemalan union federations were Marxist fronts.73 Nonetheless, NED and USAID programs helped to create the circumstances for a credible election that supported the administration’s claims of political improvement in Guatemala. The election, which took place in two rounds in October and November 1985, pitting Cerezo against centrist Jorge Carpio Nicolle of the Civic National Union, was a major event in Guatemalan public life. Before the vote, the TSE ran illustrated instructions for voters in major newspapers underneath the headline “Si Quieres Paz y Progreso ¡Vota Asi!” (If you want peace and progress, Vote Like This!).74 CEDEP, the NED-funded think tank, ran similar ads with a slogan that read “Your vote is the expression of a free people.”75 The head of CAPEL, the USAID-supported organization that had trained poll watchers, called the election “the first step in a prolonged effort of change in the distribution of wealth and the structure of power.”76 On the day of the final vote, the centrist newspaper El Gráfico trumpeted: “Today, Guatemala decides its destiny.”77 Cerezo won the vote handily, ushering in only the fourth democratically-elected administration in Guatemala’s previous half century. The TSE noted significant voter participation of 69.2 percent in the first round and 65.3 percent in the runoff—numbers that it celebrated even though they fell short of publicly stated expectations.78 In its official historical document of the elections, the TSE suggested that international support had given the event its greatest salience: “[T]he most notable development consists of the progressive internationalization of democracy.”79 Cerezo’s status as Guatemala’s first freely elected civilian president in almost 20 years was fundamental to his political legitimacy. In this sense, not only had U.S. policymakers supported a return to civilian government, but through electoral aid, they had provided Cerezo with political capital to pursue his domestic and international policy agenda. At home, he took actions to realize social justice and expand civilian authority. In September 1985, he announced a plan to repossess unused government land and distribute it among the nation’s poorest farmers. The country’s rich greeted this rural development program—a direct contradiction of his campaign promise not to pursue land reform—with ambivalence.80 While the threat of a coup remained serious, Mejía reassured Guatemalans that the army would take its orders from the civilian government.81 In foreign relations as well, Cerezo used his identity as a democrat to strike an independent approach. Guatemala would pursue “active neutrality” in Central America, Cerezo announced, engaging as an honest broker with all of its Central American partners, including Nicaragua. Correctly perceiving that this would frustrate U.S. officials who wanted Guatemala’s support in the expanding Contra war, Cerezo told Vice President George Bush in a February 1986 meeting, “we are confident that the democracies of the world will support our democracy.”82 Ironically, while Reagan policymakers applauded Cerezo’s victory, their narrow emphasis on elections and free markets limited Cerezo’s ability to pursue the reforms that he envisioned. Cerezo’s critics have portrayed these shortcomings as inevitable or, worse yet, the result of deliberate U.S. pressure on the Christian Democrats to accommodate military and private sector elites. But this analysis does not capture the contradictions in U.S. support—at once celebrating Cerezo’s election while reinforcing the limits posed by the entrenched forces of the Right. In private conversations with the State Department, Cerezo stressed that U.S. military aid was a liability. Cerezo preferred to “use the economic aspects of security assistance for Guatemala’s benefit,” he told U.S. counterparts, but to defer military aid, using it as an incentive to compel the military to respect the autonomy of the civilian government. The State and Defense Departments, however, preferred to reactivate military aid quickly to “reward the Guatemalan military for facilitating and defending democratic elections and ensure U.S. leverage.”83 Over Cerezo’s protests, U.S. officials looked to bolster Guatemala’s counterinsurgency capabilities.84 U.S. eagerness to deepen military ties empowered the military, which, for instance, forced Cerezo to amnesty military officers in past cases of missing and killed citizens.85 To be certain, Cerezo and the Christian Democratic Party supported the military’s counter-insurgency efforts against leftist guerrillas.86 Nonetheless, U.S. officials interpreted Cerezo’s limited efforts to impose civilian control as proof of the “professionalization” of security forces that advanced their claims of improving human rights in Guatemala. What were once ignored or excused by Reagan officials as regrettable excesses by the Right in violent civil war were now diagnosed as signs of “corruption in state institutions” that nominally answered to civilian leadership.87 These views made it nearly impossible for Cerezo to establish oversight. In the words of Ambassador Oscar Padilla-Vidaurre, Cerezo was “still not free to operate and must whisper in his own office.”88 In the economic realm, Cerezo’s commitment to carry out social reform ran up against the private sector’s entrenched support for free markets. After initially pursuing policies of economic stabilization that pleased conservative supporters, Cerezo turned to a plan that would pay off Guatemala’s “social debt” by creating jobs and expanding social services. A 1987 proposal to increase tax revenue was vehemently rejected by elements of the private sector.89 In some cases NED programs subsidized those critical voices. Starting in 1986, the NED disbursed two grants administered by IRI for the Center for Socio-economic Studies (CEES, Centro de Estudios Economicos-Sociales), founded by Manuel Fernando Ayau, a U.S.-trained market economist. Ayau’s pro-capitalist gospel had been featured earlier in CEDEP publications, but the IRI grants allowed CEES to become a hub from which trade associations, banks, and investors could influence the policy process. In addition to holding conferences designed to promote “free market solutions for economic problems,” NED funding subsidized the provision of that analysis to Guatemalan legislators.90 Ayau might have been a logical partner for the Republican Party. But why were U.S.-funded groups now serving as critics of the regime that democracy promotion programs had championed? This was the bizarre logic of using U.S. dollars to develop civil society in order to check the power of the state. On the strategic level, the elections represented a powerful example that democracy could counteract the appeal of revolutionary, one-party states like Nicaragua. “When given a free choice,” Reagan wrote to Cerezo, “the people always choose freedom over dictatorship.”91 When the two leaders met in October 1987, Reagan gifted the Guatemalan president a copy of The Federalist in Spanish. “May the wisdom of the framers … help you in your endeavor in Central America,” he inscribed inside the book’s cover.92 Post-election realities belied the ideological victory that Reagan and his supporters wanted to claim. The shortcomings were most obvious to the beneficiaries of U.S. support. After 1987, the CUSG became a leading critic of the Cerezo regime’s austerity measures and, in 1988, joined with openly leftist unions in a general strike.93 Tellingly, Juan Francisco Alfaro acknowledged that CUSG leaders had “learned the importance of moving in a political direction” from U.S.-supported labor education programs.94 U.S. money had helped facilitate elections in Guatemala, but the democracy that resulted looked markedly different than the vision enshrined in Reagan officials’ rhetoric. Chile: Odd Man Out? In the case of Chile, U.S. democracy promotion efforts occurred in the context of steadily declining relations between the Reagan administration and General Augusto Pinochet after 1984. The 1980 Chilean constitution mandated that, after eight years of transition, a nationwide plebiscite would affirm or reject a single candidate put forth by the regime to oversee the final steps of democratization. Pinochet’s refusal to start that transition, State Department officials believed, was making it more difficult for the moderate opposition to present a reasonable alternative to Chilean voters. They worried that further setbacks would increase the power and appeal of the armed Left. “The key to protecting long-term U.S. interests is strengthening the disorganized moderates, specifically weaning them away from the radical Left” Assistant Secretary of State for inter-American affairs Tony Motley wrote in late 1984.95 Official U.S. support for moderate political groups required tradeoffs. Motley himself was reluctant to intervene in Chileans’ internal affairs. In meetings with Chilean officials in Santiago during February 1985, Motley conveyed that the United States was becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of clarity on the transition timetable.96 But upon returning to the United States, Motley told reporters that it would be inappropriate for a “gringo” to “muscle” Pinochet.97 Motley’s trepidations notwithstanding, a growing U.S. interest in jumpstarting the transition led officials to engage with the Chilean opposition, albeit tentatively at first. In early 1985 Motley met with leaders of the Democratic Alliance (AD, Alianza Democratica) and the Christian Democratic Party, who urged “U.S. pressure but not interference to get Pinochet to the negotiating table.”98 Motley urged the AD to keep up pressure on Pinochet, but encouraged opposition groups to base their negotiations on moderate principles: respect for private property, no accommodation with communists, and accepting the 1980 constitution as the starting point for talks with the government. During 1985, two key personnel changes made the United States more inclined to develop direct links with moderate groups. First, Elliott Abrams replaced Motley as assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs. Although Motley had demonstrated that he was no Reagan ideologue, he also had shown over time that he was more content to manage bilateral relationships with authoritarian governments in Latin America than to apply meaningful pressure on behalf of human rights. Abrams was cut from a different cloth. While he remained vocally anticommunist, Abrams looked disdainfully upon Pinochet’s totalitarian behavior. More than any other Reagan official, Abrams embraced the fundamental importance of human rights, and viewed electoral democracy as the key to a U.S. policy that would promote human rights and weaken communist governments. Indeed, correspondence between Abrams and George Lister, a diplomat who liaised with Latin American opposition groups, suggests that Abrams’ disapproval of the Chilean regime was profound: In 1983, after a meeting with the opposition, Abrams wrote to Lister “it’s going to be a terrific place when these guys throw Pinochet out.”99 The second personnel change was the confirmation of Harry Barnes as the U.S. ambassador in Santiago in late 1985. Barnes, a career diplomat savvy in handling human rights issues and with broad support in the U.S. Congress, arrived ready to establish links with Chilean opposition groups.100 Together, these changes reflected the evolution of U.S. policy in the State Department in 1985. After the United States abstained from key votes for loans to Chile in the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank, Abrams called Chile the State Department’s “biggest disappointment,” for seeing political freedoms regress while other regional allies moved toward democracy.101 When several angry Republican legislators voiced their displeasure to the State Department over the denial of the IADB loan, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Edward Fox took the opportunity to explain the administration’s strategy. “The objective of the Administration,” he wrote to members of Congress on behalf of George Shultz, “is to promote the restoration of democracy by encouraging, through active diplomatic efforts, pro-transition forces in the Government and pro-negotiation forces in the opposition to reach a consensus on a democratic transition timetable.” By identifying “pro-negotiation” forces, Fox made clear that U.S. policy was designed to avoid jeopardizing U.S. economic and security interests. “It has been our experience,” Fox wrote, “that successful transitions to democracy are those where the two issues of security and democracy are addressed simultaneously.”102 Once again, NED programs provided a vehicle to pursue U.S. policy goals where local circumstances limited direct U.S. influence. Linkages between transnational civil society organizations and local Chilean groups that opposed the Pinochet regime allowed the administration to develop ties with the opposition while maintaining a posture of non-intervention. The Chilean embassy in Washington had paid close attention to the NED’s creation, although it did not initially see the Endowment as controversial. In memos to the foreign ministry, the Chilean ambassador had portrayed the NED as an election year ploy for Reagan to soften his policies in Central America. “Once again,” the ambassador wrote when the NED was inaugurated in 1984, “the president is reconciling foreign policy needs and electoral objectives.”103 Those assessments changed, however, as the Chilean foreign ministry began to perceive NED programs as part of a broader U.S. effort to pressure Pinochet towards democratization. Like in Guatemala, NED funding in Chile featured support for anticommunist labor unions, but in the Chilean case U.S. democracy aid placed a far greater emphasis on political organizing. Direct party-building initiatives between the Republican and Democratic parties and Chilean political groups visibly linked U.S. democracy promotion efforts with Pinochet’s opposition. In 1985, NDI hosted a meeting of the Chilean opposition in Washington. The Chilean embassy took note of this meeting, reporting to the foreign ministry that NDI arranged for opposition leaders to meet privately with State Department officials, including Abrams.104 The NED claimed that this NDI conference led directly to the creation of the Chilean National Accord for a Full Transition to Democracy (National Accord) and marked “the first official collaboration of the entire range of democratic opposition groups within the country.”105 The U.S. embassy in Chile later contradicted this claim when, in response to complaints by Pinochet supporters, Charge d’Affairs George Jones claimed the United States had “nothing to do” with the creation of the Accord.106 Whether one accepts the veracity of the NED’s claim, the creation of the National Accord exemplified the type of political development that U.S. policymakers and NED officials favored—one focused on elections that would facilitate a moderate transition. Bringing together a wide spectrum of Chile’s political groups, from the socialist Left to the moderate Right, the National Accord’s plan was explicitly political: it called for direct presidential elections to be held instead of the 1989 yes-no plebiscite, a more independent legislative body, and freedom to amend the 1980 constitution. “There is ample consensus in all U.S. sectors that [the National Accord] is reasonable and moderate,” the Chilean ambassador in Washington concluded.107 NED programs in Chile linked U.S. institutions to an independent civil sector that had become the primary refuge for silenced politicians and regime critics in the absence of politics. Between 1986 and 1987, for example, the NED gave $352,000 to the James F. Byrnes Center at the University of South Carolina to partner with two prominent Chilean think tanks—the Latin American Faculty of the Social Sciences (FLACSO, Facultad Latinomericana de Ciencias Sociales) and the Center for Public Studies (CEP, Centro de Estudios Publicos)—on a study of “a more realistic and consensual set of political strategies for a transition to democracy.”108 These programs and others funded with U.S. money had a technical emphasis, and were not designed to lend momentum to the growing popular movement to oust Pinochet. But they played an important role in creating space for civil society organizing as it became clear that Pinochet could not delay the constitutionally-mandated transition indefinitely. Early in 1986, Secretary of State George Shultz included Chile on a list of Latin American dictatorships that he called “odd men out” in the hemisphere; the list included Chile alongside Cuba, Nicaragua, and Paraguay.109 Pinochet soon shifted efforts to manipulating the transition process, combining intense repression of political activity with a shrewd campaign aimed at solidifying the dictatorship’s popular support base. The opposition continued to argue for direct presidential elections with multiple candidates. The State Department supported the opposition’s plan, but recognized that Pinochet was unlikely to agree to it. When Pinochet announced that he would proceed with a yes-no plebiscite in which he would run as the lone government candidate, U.S. officials consented on the condition that adequate rules exist to prevent fraud.110 The announcement that the plebiscite would be held in 1988 completely refocused U.S. democracy promotion efforts, overtly linking political-diplomatic strategy with the efforts of non-governmental actors to facilitate the vote. In particular, the creation of the “Concertación de Partidos Por el NO”—a group of fourteen opposition parties ranging from the Right to the moderate Left who sought to win a simple majority—in February 1988 was a watershed moment. In Santiago and Washington, the Reagan administration encouraged unity among Pinochet’s foes, and applied deliberate pressure on regime officials to ensure the fairness of the plebiscite.111 Throughout 1988, Abrams met regularly with the Chilean ambassador, Hernán Felipe Errázuriz, to press U.S. interests. These meetings were antagonistic, with Abrams citing evidence of Chilean repression and voicing U.S. concerns that Pinochet would not follow through with a clean vote.112 In Santiago, Chilean officials were outraged at Ambassador Barnes’s visible alignment with the No campaign, which earned him the nickname “Dirty Harry” in regime-friendly media outlets.113 The administration choreographed high-level pressure on Chilean officials with NED and USAID programs equipped to ensure the fairness of the plebiscite. These were crucial interventions because technical assistance counteracted the institutional advantages that the regime held over the opposition. Public officials were conscripted or intimidated into openly supporting the “Sí” campaign, which used Chile’s vast public treasury to outspend the No on advertisements at a margin of nearly 30-to-1.114 Under these circumstances, U.S. policy not only pressured the regime to play fair, but also gave the opposition the means to counteract foul play. The United States spent approximately $2.9 million in public funds on democratization efforts in Chile in the run up to the plebiscite. This included a $1 million special appropriation made by Congress to the NED in Chile in 1988, and a $1.2 USAID grant to CAPEL—the same organization that had trained poll-watchers for the Guatemalan election in 1985—to fund a voter education project run by a Chilean organization, CIVITAS.115 This was in addition to the $3 million that the NED spent to fund Chilean labor groups, academic conferences, and private sector organizations engaged in campaigning for the plebiscite after 1985.116 These funds supported programs that served technical ends. IRI spent roughly $300,000 to dispatch Republican pollster Richard Wirthlin to Chile to develop polls that would “[supply] vital statistics on voter preferences” ahead of the plebiscite. These surveys, developed in conjunction with conservative academic and civil society groups, not only proved a vital source of intelligence regarding the campaign but also, in the words of one observer, “modernized politics” in Chile.117 With a much larger budget, NDI focused on voter registration, outreach, and developing the capacity to verify the results. In addition to annual NED grants totaling $415,000 that funded civic education and election observers, NDI received $515,000 of the special congressional appropriation for a variety of political programs meant to guarantee the fairness of the plebiscite.118 U.S. democracy promotion efforts helped the opposition gain an advantage. Whereas in 1987, NDI noted that only 1.6 million of over 8 million eligible voters were registered, by the time of the plebiscite, the voter rolls included more than 7 million. Indeed, a Chilean academic involved in the No campaign later wrote that the single greatest difference between plebiscite results of 1980 and 1988 was the existence of reliable voter lists.119 Although U.S. and transnational democracy workers were carrying out technical work, most understood their efforts to be explicitly anti-Pinochet. One AID official confirmed as much when he told an interviewer in 1988, “[w]e’ve helped register millions of voters and we consider each one of those a vote against Pinochet.”120 Chilean officials saw U.S. efforts as provocative interventions. When NDI officials in Santiago met with a vice minister at the foreign ministry about an observer delegation, the minister protested that Chile rejected “all attempts at foreign intervention in Chilean internal affairs.”121 Other officials understood that international electioneering was a game they would have to play. In the lead-up to the plebiscite, the foreign ministry cabled the embassy in Washington and suggested that the ambassador meet with IRI and “[ask] bluntly about a way to influence the composition of the bipartisan delegation”—or, he suggested, find similar funding for IRI to send observers who were more sympathetic to the regime’s transition plans.122 Ultimately, U.S. technical assistance proved crucial during the pivotal moments of the plebiscite. On the evening of October 5, 7.2 million Chilean voters cast votes in the election, with a 55 percent majority voting “No,” effectively ending Pinochet’s term in office. As U.S. officials had feared, the regime withheld vote totals as they came in, and Pinochet made plans to ask military officials to give him extraordinary powers to deny the results. However, owing largely to its separate polling and verification apparatus—created in part with U.S. funding and assistance—the No campaign was able to publicize the results while the regime obfuscated them. Aware of these public returns, Pinochet’s military junta refused to comply with the general’s wishes to nullify the election. While Pinochet waited inside the presidential palace to meet with his advisers, Air Force General Fernando Matthei confirmed publicly that the No vote had won. To judge U.S. democracy promotion as a thorough success, however, is to adopt the narrow emphasis on political interests espoused by Reagan officials and congressional Democrats who supported these programs in Chile. For Abrams, Barnes, and Shultz—the policymakers most inclined to confront Pinochet—U.S. policy had always been geared towards empowering moderate non-communist factions through a transition to an electoral democratic regime. Pinochet’s unexpected loss in the plebiscite had achieved that, paving the way for the 1989 election of Patricio Aylwin, a Christian Democrat who Reagan officials had applauded through the plebiscite as he distanced his party from the communist Left.123 Following his victory, the United States rewarded Chile by approving several key Inter-American Development Bank Loans, and preparing to expand military cooperation.124 It is more telling to consider what U.S. pressure, so carefully calibrated to the technical aspects of the plebiscite process, did not do. U.S. pressure did not hold Pinochet accountable for the human rights violations that occurred during his rule. In fact, U.S. democracy promotion programs in Chile were notable for their lack of engagement with human rights organizations that had become some of the most active members of Chile’s civil opposition under the dictatorship. Nor did U.S. policies use the Pinochet regime’s economic livelihood as a point of pressure. Despite destructive inflation, rising unemployment, and reports of corruption, U.S. policymakers continued to revere Chile as a model of free market development. U.S. democracy promotion programs marked a major evolution of U.S. policy away from open support of the dictator, but they answered to policies that endorsed only a paced transition that would not jeopardize status quo power arrangements.125 The success of U.S. policy lay in the flexibility exhibited by U.S. policymakers to constructively support the practical and technical needs of the opposition groups that campaigned for the No vote. Yet for Reagan policymakers the contradictions within—and the limits of—that success were obscured by another apparent victory in a broader sweep of liberal ideals. *** To many scholars, democracy promotion efforts in Latin America in the 1980s are the ultimate caricature of U.S. ideology that spurred countless interventions in the developing world throughout the Cold War. Yet, as I have argued here, focused attention on the experiences of specific democracy promotion programs—tracing the paths of money and expertise that flowed into the region, empowering certain elites and weakening others—offers a more nuanced picture of the neoliberal development model that took hold at the end of the Cold War. For it was in these programs that the link among democracy, human rights, and free market growth was forged in the institutions of U.S. foreign policy. Thanks in large part to the perceived success of democratic transitions in places like Guatemala and Chile, U.S. foreign policy today continues to employ overt assistance to ostensibly independent civil society groups capable of overseeing elections or holding elected governments accountable for malfeasance, corruption, and human rights abuses. Reagan and his top foreign policy officials liked to speak of a “wave of democracy” that not only beckoned such support, but to which U.S. efforts actively contributed. For its part, the NED saw itself as a major component in this historic movement. “When historians look back upon the 1980s,” the NED annual report triumphantly declared in 1987, “they are likely to conclude that the most significant global trend of the decade was the resurgence of democracy.”126 Contemporary critics and historians alike have looked upon the Reagan administration’s self-congratulation with suspicion. The amount of money disbursed through democracy promotion efforts in Latin America was dwarfed by spending on military assistance and training. And yet it must be acknowledged that democracy aid during the Reagan years played a constructive role in the proliferation of civilian transitions in the Western Hemisphere. To the organizers and grant recipients who used transnational funding to get out the vote, to democratic politicians who benefitted from international support for censored opposition newspapers and restricted unions, and to the diplomats and policymakers who sought creative ways to support civilian politicians, even token amounts of aid to civil society development were meaningful contributions to expanding political freedom in the region. The fault in U.S. democracy promotion efforts in the 1980s lay in the relationship between the limited practical successes overseen by its agents and the ideological appeal that enticed Reagan officials and other supporters to see these developments as validating a faith in liberal democracy’s universal appeal. Privately, officials might admit that democracy, security, and development were not easily reconciled goals. In 1985, Elliott Abrams wrote to George Shultz regarding the success of USAID development aid to Central America. That aid was shrinking government interference and bringing economic gains, Abrams noted approvingly. If the successes continued, he wrote, “we can demonstrate the superiority of the open, free enterprise-oriented model of development over that represented by Nicaragua.” The problem, however, was that “[e]merging democracies in the region remain fragile and require nurturing.” The challenge for decisionmakers was to craft policies that would “improve economic results without causing unacceptable damage to other foreign policy objectives.”127 Publicly, Reagan officials were loath to acknowledge those competing interests and the limits they placed on political freedom. They championed a vision of democracy that idealized civil society organizations working together voluntarily to realize a moderate path between revolution and repression, advocating free market success, and thereby guaranteeing human rights. Promoters of democracy did not see themselves as state-supported policy agents working on technical policy issues associated with elections; they envisioned themselves as “missionaries.” It was this secular liberal faith that led the NED to declare in 1987—prefiguring the argument later popularized by Francis Fukuyama and his acolytes—the triumph of a “pro-democratic consensus that exists in the West.” Because democracies tend to be pro-U.S., more peaceful, stable, and prosperous, the NED argued, U.S. interests required that “we support those who are struggling to establish democratic systems and defend democratic values.”128 This self-righteous and self-reinforcing discourse further enshrined democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy while burying ever deeper its costs, limits, and contradictions. Footnotes * I wish to thank the participants of workshops held at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for contributing to the development of this article. I am also grateful for the helpful commentary provided by two anonymous reviewers for Diplomatic History. 1 Shirley Christian, “Democracy Calling: It’s Women’s New Selling Job,” New York Times, November 20, 1986, A4; María Rosa Martini and Sofia L. de Pinedo, “Women and Civic Life in Argentina,” Journal of Democracy 3, no. 4 (July 1992): 138–46. 2 Christian, “Democracy Calling.” 3 National Endowment for Democracy, Annual Report 1984 (Washington, DC, 1984); NED, Annual Report 1985 (Washington, DC, 1985); NED, Annual Report 1986 (Washington, DC, 1986); NED, Annual Report 1987 (Washington, DC 1987); NED, Annual Report 1988 (Washington, DC, 1988). 4 Letter, Carl Gershman to Robert C. Felder, American Embassy Buenos Aires, September 16, 1986, box 7, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Papers series I, Library of Congress (hereafter LOC). 5 Saba Imtiaz, “In Pakistan, U.S. Aid Agency's Efforts Are Yielding Dubious Results,” New York Times, September 13, 2015, A8. On state co-optation of NGOs, see Akira Iriye, Global Community: The Role of Organizations in the Making of the Contemporary World (Berkeley, CA, 2002), 207. 6 Patrick Iber, Neither Peace nor Freedom: The Cultural Cold War in Latin America, (Cambridge, MA, 2015); Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (Cambridge, MA, 2008); Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (New York, 2000); Scott Lucas, Freedom’s War: The U.S. Crusade Against the Soviet Union, 1945–1956 (Manchester, UK, 1999). 7 Wilford, Mighty Wurlitzer, 6, 51–69, 77–116. 8 On modernization theory and its policy implications, see Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America (Baltimore, MD, 2003), 174–202; Michael E. Latham, The Right Kind of Revolution: Modernization, Development, and U.S. Foreign Policy from the Cold War to the Present (Ithaca, NY, 2011). 9 Latham, Right Kind of Revolution, 126. On the Alliance for Progress, see Latham, “Ideology, Social Science, and Destiny: Modernization and the Kennedy-Era Alliance for Progress,” Diplomatic History 22, no. 2 (Spring 1998). 10 On Latin America, see Thomas C. Field, Jr., From Development to Dictatorship: Bolivia and the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy Era (Ithaca, NY, 2014); Stephen M. Streeter, “Nation-Building in the Land of Eternal Counter-Insurgency: Guatemala and the Contradictions of the Alliance for Progress,” Third World Quarterly 27, no. 1 (2006): 57–68. 11 Patrick J. Iber, “‘Who Will Impose Democracy?’: Sacha Volman and the Contradictions of CIA Support for the Anticommunist Left in Latin America,” Diplomatic History 37, no. 5 (2013): 995–1028. 12 On the debate over political democracy as a feature of modernization, see Gilman, Mandarins, 138–54. 13 On the shifts of the 1970s, see Latham, Right Kind of Revolution, 157–75. 14 Notable exceptions include Robert Pee, Democracy Promotion, National Security, and Strategy (New York, 2016); William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (New York, 1996), esp. 73–116; Nicolas Guilhot, The Democracy Makers: Human Rights and International Order (New York, 2005); William King, The Origins of Neoconservative Support for Democracy Promotion (M.A. thesis: University of Calgary, 2007). 15 Robert Kagan, Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century (New York, 2007); Tony Smith, America’s Mission: the United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ, 2012); Michael Cox, Timothy J. Lynch, and Nicolas Bouchet, eds. U.S. Foreign Policy and Democracy Promotion: From Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama (New York, 2012); Jeremi Suri, Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama (New York, 2011). 16 See works referenced in notes 6 and 10 above. 17 Edward A. Lynch, The Cold War’s Last Battlefield: Reagan, the Soviets, and Central America (Albany, NY, 2011); Henry R. Nau, Conservative Internationalism: Armed Diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman, and Reagan (Princeton, NJ, 2013), 171–76; Chester Pach, “The Reagan Doctrine: Principle, Pragmatism, and Policy,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 36, no. 1 (2006): 75–88. 18 One recent text that exemplifies how these often messy efforts at democracy promotion can be historicized is Gregory F. Domber, Empowering Revolution: America, Poland, and the End of the Cold War (Chapel Hill, NC, 2014). The most comprehensive overview of democracy promotion efforts in Latin America remains Thomas Carothers, In the Name of Democracy: U.S. Policy towards Latin America in the Reagan Years (Berkeley, CA, 1991). 19 William Appleman Williams, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (1959, repr. New York, 2009), 12–13. 20 William M. LeoGrande, Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977–1992 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1998), 543–44; Greg Grandin, Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism (New York, 2006), 128; Walter Lefeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America, 2nd. ed. (New York, 1993). On Reagan’s use of elections for political purposes see Terry Karl, “Exporting Democracy: The Unanticipated Effects of U.S. Electoral Policy in El Salvador,” in Crisis in Central America: Regional Dynamics and U.S. Policy in the 1980s, ed. Nora Hamilton, Jeffry A. Frieden, and Manuel Pastor (Boulder, CO, 1988), 174–78; and Stephen Rabe, The Killing Zone: The United States Wages Cold War in Latin America 2nd ed. (New York, 2016), 176–77. 21 Steve J. Stern, “Between Tragedy and Promise: The Politics of Writing Latin American History in the Late Twentieth Century” in Reclaiming the Political in Latin American History: Essays from the North, ed. Gilbert M. Joseph (Durham, NC, 2001), 32–80. 22 William A. Douglas, Developing Democracy (Washington, DC, 1972), xiii. 23 Report, George Agree to Marilyn Zak, April 13, 1982, folder “7- AID Interim Reports,” box 1, NED Papers series I, LOC; King, Origins, 114–15. 24 Memo, William Clark to David Stockman, January 11, 1983, box OA 85, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Subject Files, Ronald Reagan Library (hereafter RRL). 25 Report, American Political Foundation Democracy Program, “The Commitment to Democracy: A Bipartisan Approach,” (Washington, DC, 1983), 15. 26 Memo, Jack Loiello to Allen Weinstein, January 10, 1983, folder “22- Chron Files Jan 83,” box 1, NED Papers Series I, LOC. 27 On the NED’s intellectual relationship to human rights, see Guilhot, Democracy Makers, 91–100. 28 King, Origins, 115. 29 Speech, Carl Gershman, “New Perspectives in Relations Between the United States and Latin America,” Universidad Católica de Chile, January 8, 1985, Folder “12- Trips, 1985 March, Latin America,” box 7, NED Papers series II, LOC. 30 Latham, Right Kind of Revolution 175–82. 31 William J. Novak, “The American Law of Association: The Legal-Political Construction of American Civil Society,” Studies in American Political Development 15 (Fall 2001); Brian Balogh, The Associational State (Philadelphia, PA, 2015), esp. “Introduction: Toward an Associational Synthesis.” 32 Memo, “Questions and Answers on Labor and the National Endowment for Democracy,” folder “30- Core NED Institutes, FTUI, 1985,” box 7, NED Papers Series III.1, LOC. 33 Balogh, Associational State, introduction. 34 NED, Annual Report 1985, 4. 35 Ibid. 36 Cable, Managua to Department of State, March 6, 1984, box 28, Executive Secretariat, NSC: Subject File, RRL. 37 See, for example, Memo from Harry Barnes to Gershman, folder “37- Personal Office File: Barton, Christopher,” box 2, NED Papers series II, LOC. 38 Letter from Pickering to Gershman, April 15, 1985, folder “30- State Department 1984,” box 7, NED Papers series II, LOC. 39 NED, Annual Report 1984, 14. 40 Andrew Battista, “Unions and Cold War Foreign Policy in the 1980s: The National Labor Committee, the AFL-CIO, and Central America,” Diplomatic History 26, no. 3 (summer 2002): 435. 41 NED, Annual Report 1984, 26. 42 USAID Contract #PDC-0086-C-00-6221-00, September 30, 1986, USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse. accessed July 26, 2017, http://dec.usaid.gov. 43 United States National Bipartisan Commission on Central America, The Report of the President’s National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (New York, 1984), 47–49. 44 “Guatemala,” Center for Justice and Accountability, accessed July 26, 2017, http://www.cja.org/article.php?list=type&type=294>; Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Terror in the Land of the Holy Spirit: Guatemala under General Efrain Rios Montt 1982–1983 (New York, 2010), 80–82. 45 CIA Report, “Guatemala: Reluctant Central American Partner,” November 23, 1984, Digital National Security Archive Guatemala and the U.S. Collection (hereafter DNSA Guatemala). 46 “Interview with Ambassador Frederic Chapin,” May 25, 1989, Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (Washington, DC, 1989), 29–32, accessed July 26, 2017, http://www.adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Chapin,%20Frederick%20L.1989.toc.pdf. 47 Memo, Shultz to Reagan, November 30, 1983, box 90378- Guatemala, Constantine C. Menges Files, RRL. 48 Memo, Robert McFarlane to Reagan, December 8, 1983, box 90378- Guatemala, Constantine C. Menges Files, RRL. 49 Guatemalan Foreign Ministry Annual Report, “International Policy” July 1984, Dirección General de Relaciones Internacionales y Bilaterales (hereafter DIGRIB) 1984, Guatemalan Foreign Ministry Archive (hereafter MRE). 50 “Memoria de Labores 8/83-7/84” 27 July 1984 in DIGRIB 1984, Guatemala MRE; James LeMoyne, “Guatemala Fights its Bad Guy Image,” New York Times, December 25, 1984, 3. 51 Memo, Shultz to Reagan, November 30, 1983. 52 ADST Interview with Alberto Piedra, September 26, 1981 (Washington, DC, 1998), 10. 53 Memo, Platt to McFarlane, June 6, 1985, box 46, Oliver North Files, RRL. 54 See the final report, Strategy for Guatemalan Democratic Initiatives, prepared for USAID/Guatemala by Checchi and Company Consulting, Inc. March 20, 1989, 18. 55 Ibid. 56 Memo, McFarlane to Shultz, James Baker, Caspar Weinberger, Block, and George Casey, June 21, 1985, box 46, Oliver North Files, RRL. 57 Undated memo, Roma Knee “Assistance for Guatemala Election,” folder “Recommendation Promote Democracy,” box 8, RG 286, U.S. AID, U.S. National Archives II. 58 “MLN Wants US Investigation,” Foreign Broadcast Information Service (hereafter FBIS) IV, November 13, 1985, 13, translation from Prensa Libre (Guatemala City), November 9, 1985; “U.S. Envoy Accused of ‘meddling’ in Elections,” FBIS IV, December 3, 1985, trans. El Grafico (Guatemala City), November 30, 1985. 59 NED, Annual Report 1984, 35. 60 Ibid. 61 NED, Annual Report 1985, 9. 62 “Comunicado de Prensa,” October 17, 1985 in Guatemalan Supreme Electoral Trubunal, Memoria Oficial 1985, (Guatemala City, 1985), 54. 63 On C/CAA, see Ann Crittenden, “Caribbean Aid: Troubled Plan,” New York Times, April 30, 1982, D1; on CBI and the Guatemalan private sector, see James Painter, Guatemala: False Hope, False Freedom: The Rich, the Poor, and the Christian Democrats (London, 1987), 75–76. 64 Fact Sheet, Guatemala Solidarity Committee, June 1, 1981, Politics and Government 6.1.b, reel 56 Guatemala News and Information Bureau Archive, 1963–2000 microform, Princeton University Library (hereafter GNIB). 65 Inforpress Article #539, April 29, 1983, Politics and Government 6.1.b, reel 56, GNIB. 66 Ibid. 67 Tom Barry and Deb Preusch, AIFLD in Latin America: Agents as Organizers (Albuquerque, NM, 1990), 22. 68 NED, Annual Report 1984, 18. 69 Ibid., 8. 70 FTUI memo, Eugenia Kemble to Samuel Haddad, January 15, 1985, box 11, NED Papers Series III.1, LOC. 71 Al Weinrub and William Bollinger, The AFL-CIO in Central America (Oakland, CA, 1987); Henry J. Frundt, Refreshing Pauses: Coca Cola and Human Rights in Guatemala (New York, 1987), 177–78. 72 CNUS Pamphlet “Between Two Fires,” August, 1986, Politics and Government 6.2.2.c, reel 57, GNIB. 73 Council on Hemispheric Affairs Memo, “The National Endowment for Democracy: Opening Pandora’s Box,” introduced by Hon. Richard L. Ottinger, Congressional Record, June 10, 1984 (Washington, DC, 1984), 17617–18. For FTUI response see memo, Kemble to Haddad. 74 Advertisement in El Gráfico, November 2, 1985, Hemeroteca Nacional de Guatemala (hereafter Hemeroteca). 75 Advertisement in El Gráfico, November 1, 1985, Hemeroteca. 76 Felix Loarca, “‘El Inicio del Cambio,” El Gráfico (Guatemala City), November 2, 1985, Hemeroteca. 77 El Gráfico, December 8, 1985, Hemeroteca. 78 For a pessimistic assessment of this “abstentionism,” see Ricardo Gatica Trejo, “Tranquilas las Eleccciones,” El Gráfico, December 8 1985, Hemeroteca. 79 TSE, Memoria, 3. 80 Stephen Kinzer, “Walking the Tightrope in Guatemala,” New York Times, August 31, 1986, A32. 81 “Ejército Obedecerá a Cerezo,” El Gráfico, December 11, 1985, Hemeroteca. 82 White House memo, January 14, 1986, box 91176 Guatemala, Latin American Affairs Directorate, NSC, RRL. 83 Memo, Allen Holmes and Elliott Abrams, “Reviving the US-Guatemalan Bilateral Security Relationship,” December 30, 1985, DNSA Guatemala. 84 Edward Cody, “Guatemala's Unspoken Bargain: Civilian Rulers Block Prosecution of Rights Abuses by Military” Washington Post, July 3, 1986, A26. 85 Robert J. McCartney, “Guatemala to Air Issue of Missing; Panel Will Probe Cases but Prosecution of Officers Barred,” Washington Post, February 25, 1986, A9. 86 Jennifer Schirmer, The Guatemalan Military Project: A Violence Called Democracy (Philadelphia, PA, 1998), 185–204. 87 State Department Memo, “Guatemala’s Disappeared 1977–86,” March 28, 1986, DNSA Guatemala. 88 Undated Guatemalan embassy report, DIGRIB 1986, Guatemala MRE. 89 On Cerezo’s changing economic priorities, see Painter, False Hope, 130–35. 90 Memo, Keith Schuette to Gershman, “Grant Status Report, July-December 1987,” January 15, 1988, box 1, NED Series II, LOC. 91 Letter, Reagan to Cerezo, April 9, 1986, box 91176 Guatemala, Latin American Affairs Directorate, NSC, RRL. 92 Copy of La Federalista front matter, box 92385 Guatemala, Latin American Affairs Directorate, NSC, RRL 93 “Trade Union Revitalization with Tendencies toward Modernizing the Economic System,” Central American News Agency, March 3, 1986, Politics and Government 6.1.c, reel 56, GNIB. 94 Frundt, Refreshing Pauses, 296. 95 Memo, Tony Motley to Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam, “U.S. Policy toward Chile,” December 20, 1984, DNSA Chile and the U.S. Collection (hereafter DNSA Chile). 96 Cable, Santiago to State Department, February 21, 1985, DNSA Chile. 97 Howard Kurtz, “U.S. Official Receives Little Assurance from Chile's Pinochet,” Washington Post, February 2, 1985, A12. 98 Cable, Santiago to State Department, February 2, 1985, DNSA Chile. 99 Memo, Abrams to Lister, November 28, 1983, George Lister Papers, Benson Latin America Collection, University of Texas Austin, accessed July 26, 2017, https://law.utexas.edu/humanrights/lister/chile/chile.php. 100 Oficio Secreto Recibido (Secret Received Memo) #65, Embassy of Chile in Washington, D.C. (hereafter EmbaChile Washington), November 7, 1985, Central Archive of the Chilean Foreign Ministry (hereafter Chile RREE). 101 Bernard Gwertzman, “A Rights Review Points to Gains in the Latin Region,” New York Times, February 14, 1985, A1. 102 Letter, J. Edward Fox to Senators, as copied in Oficio Secreto Recibido #19, EmbaChile Washington, April 2, 1985, Chile RREE. 103 Oficio Reservado Recibido (Classified Received Memo) #56, EmbaChile Washington, February 24, 1983, Chile RREE. 104 Oficio Secreto Recibido #16, EmbaChile Washington, March 25, 1985, Chile RREE and Oficio Reservado Recibido #196, EmbaChile Washington, June 6, 1985, Chile RREE. 105 NED, Annual Report 1985, 16. 106 “U.S. Official Refutes Statements on Accord’s Origin,” FBIS VI, October 23, 1985, trans. Radio Chilena (Santiago), October 22, 1985. 107 Oficio Secreto Recibido #58, EmbaChile Washington, September 23, 1985, Chile RREE. 108 NED, Annual Report 1986, 31–32. 109 Joanne Omang, “Shultz Puts Chile on List of Latin Dictatorships,” Washington Post, March 30, 1986, A18. 110 Bradley Graham, “Pinochet Balks at U.S. Nudges; After 14 Years in Power, Chilean Runs for Office,” Washington Post, August 25, 1987, A12. 111 Memo, Shultz to Reagan, October 15, 1987, box 91528, Ludlow Kim Flower Files, RRL. 112 Telex Recibido #664-669, EmbaChile Washington, December 31, 1987, Chile RREE; Memo, Howard to Abrams, “Your Meeting on February 17 with Chilean Ambassador Hernán Felipe Errázuriz,” February 16, 1988, State Department Freedom of Information Act Virtual Reading Room (hereafter State-FOIA). 113 Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability (New York, 2003), 422–23. 114 CIA report, August 11, 1988, box 92348, Robert S. Pastorino Files, RRL. On the 30 to 1 margin, see memo from Abrams to Shultz, “Your Meeting with Chilean Foreign Minister Ricardo Garcia in Quito” August 10, 1988, State-FOIA. 115 Memo, Ink to USAID Administrator, November 18, 1987, box 91528, Ludlow Kim Flower Files, RRL. 116 These numbers are culled from NED annual reports, as well as summaries in Morley and McGillion, Reagan and Pinochet, 255–56 and Carothers, Name of Democracy, 158–59. 117 On “new techniques” in these surveys, see Jeffrey M. Puryear, Thinking Politics: Intellectuals and Democracy in Chile (Baltimore, MD, 1997); Cable, Santiago to State Department, “Republican Party Pollster says Pinochet Can’t Win,” October 5, 1988, State-FOIA. 118 NED, Annual Report 1987, 32–35; NDI, Chile’s Transition to Democracy: The 1988 Presidential Plebiscite (Washington, DC, 1989), 7. 119 Huneeus, The Pinochet Regime, 401. 120 Quote is from an unnamed USAID official in Carothers, Name of Democracy, 159. 121 Telex Enviado #827–828, EmbaChile Washington, August 1, 1988, Chile RREE. 122 Telex Enviado #843, EmbaChile Washington, August 1, 1988, Chile RREE. 123 Morley and McGillon, Reagan and Pinochet, 264. 124 Memo, Abrams to Shultz, November 18, 1988, box 92386, NSC Latin American Affairs Directorate, RRL. 125 Terry Lynn Karl and Philippe C. Schmitter, “Modes of Transition in Southern and Eastern Europe, Southern and Central America,” International Social Science Journal 128 (May 1991): 269–84. 126 NED Annual Report 1987, 3. 127 Memo, Abrams to Shultz, “The Central America Initiative: Proposals to Accelerate Economic Development,” September 14, 1985, box 4, RG 286: USAID National Archives II. 128 NED, Annual Report 1987, 5–6. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Diplomatic History – Oxford University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2018
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