The 8-December Murders in Surinam and United States Reactions

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The 8-December Murders in Surinam and United States Reactions

    The 8-December Murders in Surinam and United States Reactions During the Early 1980s

Date: 9 June 2006

Caroline Wentzel

    Student number: 9609059

MA Thesis English Language and Culture

    Specialisation: History of International Relations

    Supervisors: Dr. M. Kuitenbrouwer and Dr. P. Franssen


    Lida, Herman and Emmanuel

Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Table of contents


Chapter 1:

    Political and Social Developments after the Coup d'état of

    February 1980

    ? 1.1 The Revolution of the Sergeants: How

    "Old Politics" Became New Politics-----------------------------5

     ? 1.2.1 A Promising Start---------------------------------------------------6

     ? 1.2.2 Unity Becomes Diversity------------------------------------------8

    ? 1.2.3 The Left-Wing Fraction Loses the Lead------------------------ 10

     ? 1.2.4 Left-Wing Politics Regain Influence-----------------------------12

    ? 1.3 Protest Arises against Bouterse's Politics------------------------13

    ? 1.4 Conclusion-----------------------------------------------------------17

Chapter 2:

    The 8-December Murders: The Actual Events and the

    Direct Outcome

     ? 1.1 The December Murders-------------------------------------------18

    ? 1.2.1 The Scenario and Its Contrivers---------------------------------18

    ? 1.2.2 The Victims-------------------------------------------------------- 21

    ? 1.2.3 The Execution of the Scenario-----------------------------------24

     ? 1.2.4 Determining the Level of Involvement-------------------------31

    ? 1.3.1 Surinam: The People Protest------------------------------------ 35

    ? 1.3.2 Surinam: Political Reorganisation------------------------------ 36

    ? 1.4.1 International Reactions: The Netherlands----------------------37

    ? 1.4.2 International Reactions: Latin-America

     and the United States----------------------------------------------39

    ? 1.4.3 International Reactions: International Organisations---------42

    ? 1.5 Conclusion-----------------------------------------------------------43

Chapter 3:

     United States Policy towards Latin America During the Early 1980s

     ? 1.1 Reagan and Latin America---------------------------------------46

    ? 1.2 United States Foreign Policy toward Latin America

     After World War II-----------------------------------------------46

    ? 1.3 South America-----------------------------------------------------51

    ? 1.4.1 Central America and the Caribbean ----------------------------54

    ? 1.4.2 Nicaragua-----------------------------------------------------------57

     ? 1.4.3 Grenada-------------------------------------------------------------60

    ? 1.5 Conclusion----------------------------------------------------------63

Chapter 4:

     United States Actions and Reactions to Political and Social

    Developments in Surinam

    ? 1.1 The United States and Surinam---------------------------------65

    ? 1.2 Four Stories--------------------------------------------------------66

    ? 1.3 American and Dutch Intelligence Activities------------------69

    ? 1.4 Surinam versus Grenada-----------------------------------------71

    ? 1.5 Conclusion---------------------------------------------------------74


    List of works cited-------------------------------------------------------------------79


     I------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 84

     II------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 85

     III----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 86

     IV----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 87

     V------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 88


    On 25 November 1975 Surinam became a sovereign state. Its former mother country, The Netherlands, made an agreement with Surinam concerning development aid. Surinam was to receive a golden handshake worth 3,5 billion Dutch guilders. Unfortunately, the received aid was invested in unrealistic and prestigious projects. Most of the financial aid fell prey to corruption. The Netherlands, as well as many other countries involved, lost their faith in the Surinamese government. Amongst the Surinamese themselves, the armed forces were the most dissatisfied with the government's policy.

     On 25 February 1980 sixteen sergeants led by sergeant-major Desi Bouterse carried out a coup d'état. The international community were willing to accept the change of power, hoping that the corruption which had developed during the previous period of the so-called old politics would come to an end. Nevertheless, a seemingly hopeful situation soon turned hopeless. The initially moderate-minded military leaders became divided amongst themselves. Desi Bouterse became increasingly interested in left-wing ideologies. Bouterse and his advisors expounded left-wing policies which encountered great resistance from both the people and the National Military Council. Bouterse and his supporters increasingly felt as though they were slowly being driven into a corner. This growing anxiety eventually led to the brutal murder of fifteen of Surinam's most prominent members of society. These murders took place during the night of 8 December 1982 and are therefore known as the December murders.

    The December murders were not just a local Surinamese concern. The political reorientation in Surinam and its attendant violence became an issue in international politics concerning not only the former mother country, The Netherlands, but possibly also the United