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Spain’s Post-Franco Emergence from Dictatorship to Democracy

Spanish leader Francisco Franco died November 20, 1975 at the age of 82 after 36 years in power, first as a dictator, then as head of a semi-pluralist authoritarian system. His regime was held responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 political dissenters, many during the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939. Franco persecuted […]

Chile’s 1988 Plebiscite and the End of Pinochet’s Dictatorship

The 1970s and 1980s were a long, dark time for Chile. The September 11, 1973 coup against Socialist president Salvador Allende led to the brutal dictatorship under Commander-in-Chief Augusto Pinochet, who immediately began to round up thousands of opponents in stadiums and elsewhere and have them killed. In 1980, a new constitution was approved, which […]

“You’re nothing but a two-bit dictator” – Dealing with the DR’s Rafael Trujillo

Known as “El Jefe,” or “The Chief,” Rafael Trujillo ruled as dictator of the Dominican Republic for more than 30 years. During this time, more than 50,000 people were killed under Trujillo’s oppressive and corrupted regime. He was assassinated in 1961, less than a year after Ambassador Joseph Farland left the Dominican Republic. Farland served […]

The Last Ones Left: Inside the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

With a simple “good luck” from President Richard Nixon, Ambassador Joseph Farland set out to Pakistan, unsure of what to expect. Having previously worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) during World War II, Ambassador Farland was always cautious of those around him. Thus, when he entered this post, he had been preparing for […]

A Georgian Spring Amidst Autumn: The Rose Revolution from a U.S. Perspective

Revolutions are always exciting times for U.S. Foreign Service personnel, and the November 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia was no different. Denny Robertson served as a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) election observer. When President Shevardnadze’s government allegedly rigged a parliamentary election, Robertson saw first-hand how Georgians took to the streets and protested […]

Brief Portraits of the Ghanaian People—A Collection of FSO Personal Perceptions

With a rich history, beautiful landscape, and friendly people, Ghana is one of the most welcoming countries in sub-Saharan Africa. One of the buildings at the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, even has the word “Akwaaba,” meaning “Welcome!” spelled in giant letters across its side, reflecting the well-known hospitality of the Ghanaian […]

60 Minutes in Central America: The Politicization of Development During the Cold War

Complex geopolitical realities, poor leadership, and economic dysfunction characterized the Cold War in Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador. USAID (United States Agency for International Development) played a crucial role in strengthening the political and economic institutions of these countries. Its ability to work and achieve success in Cold War conditions was nothing short of extraordinary. […]

How Soviet Astronauts Met Stars in America

Two Soviet astronauts—a general and a scientist—come to visit the United States. They ride roller coasters at Disneyland, donkeys at the Grand Canyon, and a presidential plane through the sky—and then, they drop in on an A-list Hollywood party. It’s not the opening line of a joke, or the premise of a comedy film—it happened, […]