Archives Unbound: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

From Mafia activities in Cuba to the Mexican Revolution, and from political instability in Latin America to foreign relations in Caribbean states, this collection provides a broad variety of resources for the study of the varied, rich culture and history of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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  • Caribbean History

    Crisis in the Dominican Republic: Records of the U.S. State Department Central Files, February 1963-1966 - The Dominican Republic has experienced many setbacks on the road to democracy. Dominican political history has been defined by traditions of “personalism,” militarism, and social and economic elitism which has undermined its efforts to establish a liberal constitutional rule. This collection includes State Department, U.S. Embassy, and Dominican republic governmental dispatches, instructions, and miscellaneous correspondence dealing with topics such as political affairs and government; public order and safety; military affairs; social matters (including history and culture); economic conditions (including immigration and emigration); industry and agriculture; communications and transportation; and navigation. The material is in English, making the information contained in these files particularly accessible.

    Federal Surveillance of the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño - This collection highlights the FBI’s efforts to disrupt the activities of the largest of the Puerto Rican independence parties, Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, and compromise their effectiveness. In addition, these documents provide an insightful documentary history and analysis of why independence was the second-largest political movement on the island, (after support for commonwealth status), and a real alternative. These documents provide invaluable additions to the recorded history of Puerto Rico. 

    Feminism in Cuba: Nineteenth through Twentieth Century Archival Documents - This collection, compiled from Cuban sources, spans the period from Cuban independence to the end of the Batista regime. The collection sheds light on Cuban feminism, women in politics, literature by Cuban women, and the legal status of Cuban women.

    The Mafia in Florida and Cuba: FBI Surveillance of Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante, Jr. - This collection comprises materials on Santo Trafficante, Jr., Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano, including FBI surveillance and informant reports and correspondence from a variety of offices including, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, New York City, New Orleans, Atlanta, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago; Justice Department memoranda, correspondence, and analyses; Newsclippings and articles; Domestic Intelligence Section reports; Transcriptions of wiretaps, typewriter tapes, and coded messages; Memoranda of conversations.

    U.S. and Castro's Cuba, 1950-1970: The Paterson Collection - The declassified records that comprise this collection provides a detailed account of the diplomatic, economic, military, and cultural relationship between the United States and Cuba in the era of Fidel Castro (1926–2016). Included are extensive official records gathered from presidential libraries, government archives, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of State (DOS). The collection was originally built by historian Thomas G. Paterson (b. 1941) during his more than 25 years of research and writing on U.S.-Cuba relations in the Cold War period.

  • Central America

    Nicaragua: Political Instability and U.S. Intervention, 1910-1933 - The United States occupation of Nicaragua was part of the larger conflict known as the Banana Wars. The formal occupation began in 1912, although several other operations were conducted before the full-scale invasion. The United States military interventions in Nicaragua were intended to prevent the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal by any nation but the United States. Nicaragua assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Chamorro-Bryan Treaty. The occupation ended as Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary, led guerrilla armies against U.S. troops. The onset of the Great Depression made it costly for the U.S. government to maintain the occupation so a withdrawal was ordered in 1933. 

    Nicaragua: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - The documents in this archive trace development primarily during the administration of President John F. Kennedy. Reports on commerce abound, including memoranda from the embassy in Managua on total sugar production estimates that may enter the United States. Memoranda on social welfare include a survey of government-sponsored social welfare organizations as well as details on the National Social Assistance Lottery and the National Committee for the Anti-Tuberculosis Campaign. From the embassy at San José (Costa Rica) various items are included, such as: “Central America Common Market Meetings Completed”; “Pure Oil Company Not ‘In’ Oil Refinery Deal”; and “Tripartite Treaty of Commerce” [between Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua] “Goes into Effect” (August 1962). 

  • Latin American History

    Evangelism in Latin America: Correspondence of the Board of Foreign Missions, 1854-1911 - The American Presbyterian Church was committed at its inception to the belief that it is a missionary church and that every member is a missionary. The establishment in 1837 of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Foreign Missions signaled the beginning of a worldwide missionary operation destined to embrace some fifteen countries in four different continents. The records offered here provide invaluable information on social conditions in Latin America and on efforts to spread the gospel during the nineteenth century. Documenting the church’s educational, evangelical, and medical work, these are records mainly of incoming correspondence from the mission field and outgoing correspondence from the Board headquarters.

    Foreign Relations between Latin America and the Caribbean States, 1930-1944 - Organized by country, this collection covers a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, and economic issues. It sheds light on the foreign relations interactions between Central American and South American countries. In the Caribbean, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic are represented. This collection includes cables, memoranda, correspondence, reports and analyzes, and treaties.

    Foreign Relations Between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean States, 1930-1944 - This collection covers a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, and economic issues between the U.S. and Latin America. It sheds light on American foreign relations and  interactions between the U.S. and Central and South American countries. In the Caribbean, Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic are represented. This collection includes cables, memoranda, correspondence, reports and analyzes, and treaties.

  • Mexico

    Colección Revolución, 1910-1921 - This collection was collected and collated by members of the Committee on Historical Research of the Mexican Revolution, under the direction of Isidro Fabela in 1958, in preparation for the publication of historical documents on the Mexican Revolution. This collection reproduces documents from various archives, under the protection of the Archivo General de la Nación, and is divided into the following documentary series: (1) The Flores Brothers revolutionary activities MAGO: movement Comun in the Baja California region; (2) Revolution and regime Madero: correspondence, reports, and military activities, reports on the political situation in some States; (3) Emiliano Zapata, the Plan of Ayala and his agrarian policy: land deals, reports of troops and mail operations; (4) Revolution and regime Constitutionalist: circulars, laws, decrees, and manifestos; and, (5) Sovereign revolutionary Convention: together prior to the sessions and sessions held 1914-1915.

    Cuartel General del Sur, 1910-1925 - The collection contains correspondence addressed to Emiliano Zapata; combat reports; relations with troop commanders and officers; promotion and appointment requests; allegations of abuses committed by military personnel; applications for food, uniforms, and ammunition; letters and telegrams on the transfer of prisoners. Document types include transcripts, journals, laws and draft laws on land, drafts of circulars and manifestos by General Emiliano Zapata; and documents relating to the signing and ratification of the Plan de Ayala organizations.

    Emiliano Zapata, 1901-1919 - This collection comprises documentation related to the activities of Emiliano Zapata and the Liberation Army of the South. It consists mainly of correspondence exchanged between the headquarters and the camps and regional commands. Documents include requests for economic aid; guarantees to people for jobs and food; complaints of abuses; reports, promotions, and notifications to the troops and brigades, as well as information on pay. The documentation also includes acts or proceedings on revolutionary and civil trials; correspondence with municipal or State authorities in connection with problems of land, water, control of finance, trade, etc.; and, information concerning the revolutionary Convention sovereign.

    Revolution in Mexico, the 1917 Constitution, and Its Aftermath: Records of the U.S. State Department - This collection comprises U.S. State Department documents related to the Mexican Revolution, which began in 1910 and continued sporadically until the new Constitution was adopted in 1917, through to and including the election of Calles. There are accounts of major military and political events, such as the growing opposition in 1910 to the regime of Porfirio Diaz; the forced resignation of Diaz in 1911, and the election of the revolutionary leader, Francisco I. Madero, as President; the assassination of Madero in 1913, followed by the military dictatorship of Victoriano Huerta; the growing unrest and the revolt against Huerta that brought about his resignation in July 1914; the arrest of American marines at Tampico and the military occupation of Veracruz by the U.S. in April 1914; the Convention at Aguascalientes in the latter part of 1914, an unsuccessful attempt by the revolutionary leaders Venustiano Carranza, Francisco "Pancho" Villa, and Emiliano Zapata to settle their differences; the defeat of Villa in 1915 by the Carranza forces under command of Alvaro Obregon and the de facto recognition by the United States of the Mexican Government under Carranza; the U. S. expedition into Mexico under General Pershing to pursue Villa after his raids across the border in March 1916; the revolt resulting in the death of Carranza in 1920 and the election of Obregon as President; the de jure recognition of Mexico by the U.S. in 1923; and the election of Plutarco Elias Calles as President in 1924.

  • South America

    Argentina: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - This archive focuses on Argentina after the era of Juan Perón. In this period civilian administrations traded power, trying, with limited success, to deal with diminished economic growth and continued social and labor demands. The documents offer insight into various aspects of the Argentine economy. Examples include the minister of public works discussing a program in “highways, railroads, and water transport” (June 1960); a report on the newly appointed undersecretary of mines requesting that the embassy’s economic counselor has the U.S. government “examine the possibilities of procurement of tungsten” (June 1961); and a resolution by the National Cinematographic Institute requiring that all films exhibited in motion picture theaters feature Spanish subtitles “accompanied by written proof that the dialogue has been translated and subtitled in Argentina” (April 1962). 

    Bolivia: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - The backstory to this archive revolves around the rise of the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR), which emerged as a broadly based party. Under President Victor Paz Estenssoro (1907-2001), the MNR “introduced universal adult suffrage, carried out a sweeping land reform, promoted rural education, and nationalized the country's largest tin mines. Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided.” In 1964, a military junta overthrew President Paz Estenssoro at the outset of his third term. Documents in this collection offer insight into the U.S. state department during the Cold War. Examples include analysis of labor union leadership and its relationship to Communists “united in opposition” and attempting to impose a “Fascist regime in Bolivia.” Periodicals such as Prescenia and El Diario are characterized as “organs at service of Communists” (December 1960). The embassy notes how El Pueblo, the Communist newspaper in La Paz, reports a Pravda correspondent expressing “great interest in ‘promoting’ relations with USSR” (March 1962).

    Brazil: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - This archive focuses on Brazil in the early 1960s. Sample documents include a report from Recife on the cultivation and export of pineapples, “especially in the states of Pernambuco and Paraíba,” as “an increasing source of foreign exchange for the Northeast.” A November 1962 memorandum details the issuance of 40 billion cruzeiros in new currency “to meet runs on commercial banks during the political crisis, gradually flowing back to the Bank of Brazil following the return of normal conditions.” The collection covers the period following the resignation from the presidency of Janio Quadros in 1961 and the succession of Vice President Joao Goulart, whose years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and the increasing influence of radical political elements. The armed forces, alarmed by these developments, staged a coup on March 31, 1964, during the administration of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.

    Chile: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1930-1963 - The records in this massive archive range from the era of the Great Depression to the height of the Cold War. The period of Radical Party dominance (1932-1952) saw the emergence of a strong middle-class party and its role as the key force in coalition governments. In this era, the state steadily increased its participation in the Chilean economy. Documents include negotiations with British nitrate interests (March 1934); U.S. state department concern of a possible “crisis in Chilean copper production” (October 1940); troops on alert following the refusal of telephone and electric company employees to obey orders to end a strike (January 1950); a student strike at the University of Concepción demanding adequate financing for the university (April 1950); and a U.S. embassy report noting “Chilean Roman Catholic Church Initiates Own Agrarian Reform Program” and “Moscow Conference Attracts Chileans” (July 1962). 

    Colombia: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - The documents in this collection offer a snapshot of Colombia at the height of the Cold War. Numerous records track the impact of the Castro revolution in Cuba, for example: “Colombia Tourist Agent Visits Embassy Regarding Prospective Travel of Colombians on Planned USSR Flights Between Havana and Moscow”; and naval equipment on loan: “Colombian Navy would like to lease … from the United States Navy, under similar terms as those contained in the lease for the Floating Dry Dock.” On the economy: National Coffee Federation tabulations (September 1960); and “it was a sellers’ market during December for anyone holding dollars for sale as the Colombian peso continued to fall in relation to the dollar. The free market has advanced nervousness since October” (15 January 1963).

    Ecuador: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - The documents in this archive trace developments primarily during the administration of John F. Kennedy. Included here are plans by the U.S. Air Force, under an existing understanding between Quito and Washington, to commence photograph mapping operations in Central and Western Ecuador. Documents on commercial affairs include a report on the robust market of U.S. ophthalmic goods in Ecuador with continuing competition expected “from French, German, Swiss, and Japanese products”; and a proposed visit by U.S. fisheries consultants (June 1962).

    Peru: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - Documents in this collection describe U.S.-Peruvian relations during the Cold War. Examples include: “Both Prensa Latina and Agence France Presse in Lima are staffed by Communists and Pro-Communists”; “Yugoslav ship calls in Peru”; memoranda on U.S. military interest in obtaining permission for essential air transportation traffic transit in Peru; and a letter from Texas Petroleum Company to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs regarding litigation between the Peruvian Government and the Company. Other records include: “Change in Method of Tax Payment for Foreign Mining Companies in Peru” (January 1960); and “Peruvian ‘Rights’ in Antarctica” (May 1962). 

    SUR, 1931-1992 - SUR, one of the most important and influential literary magazines published in Latin America in the twentieth century, is now available in an easy-to-use electronic format. This collection includes images of the complete magazine, including covers, photographs, and advertisements, more than 50,000 pages; a comprehensive electronic index of 6,300 entries, correcting mistakes and inconsistencies found in the index published in the magazine; and a set of images of manuscripts from the first issue as well as an unpublished set of letters by Victoria Ocampo. The collection allows users to search by author, title, genre, keyword, and full-text, with a user-friendly interface in Spanish or English. 

    Venezuela: Records of the U.S. Department of State, 1960-1963 - Documents in this collection illustrate Cold War contexts, the role of the United States in Venezuela’s foreign affairs, and the centrality of oil in the Venezuelan economy. Examples include a U.S. Department of State telegram titled “Communist Subversion in Venezuela,” which details “three foreign Communists” being held on “charges of conspiring to overthrow the government, illegally purchasing arms and disseminating Red propaganda...” Illustrations of the Castro-Communist insurgency in Venezuela include a letter from Ambassador Stewart C. Allen to the Secretary of State that details a detachment of Marines being sent “[to] guard Maracaibo Lake installations and security installations elsewhere being strengthened. “Meanwhile arrest extremist labor leaders continuing in oil fields on direct instructions [to] State Governors from President” (October 1962). Other documents detail a range of issues, such as clarification of Venezuelan boundaries; multiple balance sheets for the Central Bank of Venezuela; and police corruption in Zulia, one of Venezuela’s twenty-three states. 

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