largely ignored.nNevertheless, the region is the linknbetween the Americas. Costa Rica, thenregion’s most prominent country, bordersnthe all-important Isthmus of Panama.nNorth of Guatemala are not onlynthe jungles of Yucatan, but Mexico’snnew oil fields. Guatemala, too, has somenoil reserves, and Honduras is conductingndrilling tests. What’s more, the strategicnimportance of Central America hasnlong been recognized by Fidel Castro,nwho, twenty years ago, saw an openingnin the chronic political impermanencenof the region and has been sending armsnand agents there ever since.nIn July of 1979, Cuba’s support wasncrucial to the overthrow of Nicaragua’snlong-time dictator, Anastasio Somoza,nby rebels calling themselves Sandinistas.nToday, the Nicaraguan government isncomposed mostly of Cuban-style revolutionaries.nThey are not firmly in control,nhowever, having some troublenwith the same Nicaraguan people whomnthey claim to love so much. The rulingnSandinista Frente of nine Marxists whonwere recognized by practically no onenwhen they marched into Managua lastnyear has issued economic decrees thatnhave been ignored or subverted, and thenresponse to Marxist indoctrination efforts,neven in the Sandinista army, hasnbeen somehow different from what wencan read in the American liberal press.nThe Nicaraguan revolution, with itsnomnipresent red-and-black flags andncrowds of heavily armed soldiers standingnaround, a year afterward, is a depressingnsignal to other Central Americanngovernments of what may come ifnthe living conditions of their peoplenare not improved. In Managua one seesnmiles of burnt and bombed-out rubble,nstill untouched, along the highway fromnAugusto Cesar Sandino InternationalnAirport to downtown. Moreover, therenis no downtown. The center of the citynis a vast empty area, left in ruins bynSomoza after the 1972 earthquake thatnkilled 10,000 people. There are a fewnshattered hulks of office buildings, usednas barracks for troops, surrounding thenChronicles of Culturenmultistory Bank of America, the onlyntall structure left standing. The oncebusynbusiness district is eerily deserted,nsave for a few miserable squatters in thenruins. Former building sites are overgrownnwith weeds and tangled vines, revertingnto the jungle. The Sandinistasnhave built a children’s playground, circumspectlynwithout structures of anynheight, near the bank building; it is saidnthat the area is riddled with geologicalnfaults.nIt is also reliably reported that Somoza,nafter the earthquake, pocketednmillions of dollars of donated relief fundsnand bought large tracts of cheap land onnthe outskirts of the city. The governmentnthen conveniently built roadsnthrough the land, and his ill-gottennholdings soared as much as one hundredfoldnin value. Thirty-five thousandnNicaraguans were killed in the anti-nSomoza revolution, and 100,000 werenwounded. The tragedy of Nicaragua is ansearing lesson to be rememberednthroughout Latin America.nGuatemala presents a crisis that isndeveloping more slowly. It is a mountainousnand beautiful land, which attractsntourists but hinders economic andnsocial development. The rugged volcanicnpeaks in the southwest quadrantnof the country are as high as 14,000 feetnabove sea level. Below are deep valleysnand, away from the cities and towns,nnearly impenetrable jungle. The harshnland tortured the Spanish conquistadorsnwho came searching for gold early innthe 16th century, and who establishednthe Kingdom of Guatemala, whichnoriginally encompassed all of the CentralnAmerican Isthmus, after years of fightingnthe Mayan and Quiche tribes. Thenwhite men massacred and enslaved thenIndians, and died in droves themselvesnin warfare and of tropical diseases. Europeannwomen did not arrive until yearsnafter the settlements had been established;nconsequently nearly all Guatennnmalans have some Indian blood, and 60npercent of them are pure Indian.nTo a very great extent, Guatemala’sncurrent bloody battle with Marxistnterrorists is affected by its demographynand geography. The Indians, whonare very poor, speak native languages inntheir mountain villages and often shunncontact with Spanish-speaking outsiders.nThey live in remote places with colorfulnnames like Quezaltenango and Chichicastenango,nwhich have become touristnstops, but yet have resisted governmentnefforts to raise their standard of living.nMeanwhile, the Indians have been thentarget of careful Marxist proselytizingnoriginating in Cuba. Castroite agents^nequipped with knowledge of Indian languages,nhave done a lot of work to implantndistrust of the government and itsnrepresentatives. In years past, of course,nCastro tried to export revolution bynsending middleclass students into thenfields to exhort peasants. That effortnlargely failed, and the symbol of its failurenwas the ignominious death of ChenGuevara in Bolivia. There is not muchnevidence that the new approach is working,nbut terrorists of the EGP (EjercitonGuerrillero Po^re—Guerrilla Army ofnthe Poor), who compose the outlawedncommunist party, are still murderingnfarmers, priests, soldiers and businessmen.nThen, too, official government effortsnto combat leftist terrorism are handicappednby violence committed by ultrarightngroups. Students, union leadersnand others—often known Marxists, butnnot always—who have criticized officialnpolicies have been murdered by secretivenright-wing organizations, e.g. then”White Hand.” It may be that the identitiesnof their members are less mysteriousnto well-placed Guatemalans thannto an American visitor who spends fivendays in the country. They are said tonbe both wealthy businessmen, long accustomednto having their own way, andnserious-minded but desperate commonnpeople who simply believe the Guatemalanngovernment is ineffective atnfighting communism. But the govern-n