Oscar is an American author born in Honduras; he is a graduate of Yale University and has published five books in the areas of literature and the social sciences and numerous articles in refereed journals. He lives with his wife and three young children in Washington, DC

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Reviews from readers: "We had been sitting in the living room in front of a fire -- my spouse was in his reading chair and I was on the couch. I began to read Central America in My Heart. First one poem, then another. By the end of the second poem, he had come over to me with tears in his eyes and he lay down with me as I continued to read aloud this lovely 'sea music' written with such eloquence. We held each other and were swept away by the beauty, the sensuality, the soul of Oscar's words, his love for you and your children, and for life. We didn't read all of it. Such profound art cannot be absorbed, nor should it be, at one sitting. We were so moved by the honey of Oscar's words that all we could do was cry and hold each other and feel grateful for our love and for having been priviledged to be reading this lovely poetry. The sacredness of this experience for us both was simply inexpressible.


I opened Central America in My Heart with the idea that I would read a few poems before going to sleep, but found myself pulled on and on, so that I could not turn out the light before I had read all of the book. The poems in the first section struck me with their passion and sensuality, while the concluding section was lacerating in its grief and anger. When I finished the final "Warning," I felt that it was addressed directly to me: I am a person of inadequate social conscience, to be as kind as possible to myself, and therefore must accuse myself of being one of "the assassins who ... make us their accomplices." It took me a while to sleep. You have your own voice, as you don't need me to tell you; except in the sense that all good poetry occupies the same world, you don't remind me of anyone but you. Thank you.


In Central America in My Heart, Gonzales expresses nostalgia for the beauty of his native Honduras, sharing his passion and sense of loss. Vacillating between rage and undying love, Gonzales's poems express his deep cultural appreciation for the people of his homeland while he reveals their struggles and berates a corrupt and unjust political and economic system. Inspired by Pablo Neruda, Roberto Sosa, and Jorge Luis Borges, Gonzales hopes to "lessen the antipathy within Honduras and awaken a social consciousness" through his poems, which are presented in both Spanish and English. Gonzales was awarded Yale University's coveted Theron Rockwell Field Prize in 1991 for his anthology of poems Donde el plomo flota (Where Lead Floats). He was the first undergraduate to receive the award. "



Where are most of the rural poor located in Central and Latin America and why are they there? This book argues that hillside regions account for a large proportion of the rural poor in Latin America. These populations have been displaced from productive farmlands by intensive agricultural development. Thus, projects that simply focus on agricultural development will not necessarily lead to poverty reduction, but may sometimes increase poverty if displaced rural populations are not taken into account. A wide array of policies, technologies and institutional arrangements are presented to provide solutions to the problem of rural poverty in Latin America.


A high percentage of lands in Latin America is characterized by problems of erosion, deforestation, sedimentation and loss of biodiversity. To face these problems, governments, NGOs and international agencies have traditionally recurred to the implementation of soil conservation practices, reforestation and the establishment of protected areas. Meanwhile, notable changes in land use and production practices which do not depend primarily on the implementation of any particular project have gone unnoticed, but have had a favorable and substantial impact over natural resources. If policies had concentrated on establishing the appropriate conditions to stimulate this type of spontaneous change, perhaps policies would have had more success than those which were actually implemented.


This book discusses the interactions of agricultural and economic growth in lieu of poverty reduction and environmental protection programs. There are tradeoffs when programs with different objectives are implemented and solutions must incorporate a balance between competing goals. To illustrate these development strategies, three cases of land use intensification are presented: horticultural production in the Guatemalan highlands, coffee production in Honduras, the “farmer to farmer” movement in Nicaragua. These case studies are compared to two cases of land use extensification: depopulation in the north and east of El Salvador as a result of the Civil War and the abandonment of pastures in Costa Rica to illustrate the interactions between policies and de facto actions by the local populations.




The title for this book “Loved in the Beloved Transformed” alludes to the mystical poetry “Dark Night of the Soul” by Saint John of the Cross. According to literary critic Manuel Duran, in this book “the poet achieves to beautifully communicate what is inexpressible, he moves towards distant horizons in mystical ships like Rimbaud, and arrives at eternal and unexplored sites, on secret shores where only mystery resides.  Poetry like an adventurous danger, poetry that pursues and reaches the unattainable, a poetry of vertigo that tries to communicate to us --and achieves-- what the poet pursues and reaches as a man, as an enamored man, as a man for whom love is not only a victory, but a passage towards the knowledge of the absolute, towards, “the incomprehensible sensation of eternity on my lips”.



Hurricane Mitch and the Livelihoods of the Rural Poor in Honduras. This paper assesses the extent to which Hurricane Mitch affected the rural poor in Honduras and whether national and international aid efforts succeeded in providing relief. One of every two surveyed households incurred medical, housing, or other costs due to Mitch. One in three suffered from a loss in crops. One in five lost assets. One in ten lost wages or business income. Relief was most often provided by churches and NGOs. It consisted mainly of food, clothing, and medicine, and it amounted to less than one tenth of the losses incurred by households.


In the area of international development, Oscar’s work focused on poverty alleviation programs to improve education, combat malnutrition, reduce infant mortality, and empower women in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These programs include the largest welfare program in Honduras, the social network program in Nicaragua and interventions in African countries to increase women's incomes and food security, intergenerational transfers, property rights, and land reform. He has also worked extensively in environmental research on projects aimed at providing resources for farmers who live in less favored lands such as hillsides prone to degradation, deforestation and desertification, to give rural populations the tools needed to encourage the sustainable use of natural resources. He is currently working on issues related to reconstruction in the Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina.


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Paper presented at LASC Conference, October 2007

The rise of Central American dictators: how did Somoza, Ubico, Carias and Martinez come to power?

by Oscar Gonzales Abstract

Central American dictatorships arose in the mid-20th century in Nicaragua (General Somoza, 1936-1956), Guatemala (General Ubico, 1931-1944), Honduras (General Carías, 1933-1949) and El Salvador (General Martínez, 1931-1944). These strongmen would govern their nations with an iron fist for at least a decade. U.S. foreign policy--influential since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823--played an important part in the establishment of these dictatorships. In particular, U.S. economic policy guided by the Export-Import Bank and military policy guided by the establishment of private armies, played a pivotal role. The Export-Import Bank was created in the late 1930's by the Roosevelt administration to increase U.S. political leverage in Central America. The U.S. government replaced the private bankers as a source for funds, and intrinsically linked the administration's political aims with the Central American's economic needs. Through the Export-Import Bank the Roosevelt administration, used reciprocal trade negotiations, and forced Central American governments to impose tariffs on British, French and German products, at the expense of loosing those beneficiary markets, and to lower tariffs for U.S. products, encouraging the rise of agricultural mono-economies throughout the isthmus. In terms of military and political influence the Roosevelt administration built deep ties with Latin American military men and helped to create private elite armies such as the Guardia Nacional in Nicaragua to provide support in maintaining the dictatorships in power. Local ambassadors such as Arthur Bliss Lane in Nicaragua, Sumner Welles in Honduras, Sheldon Whitehouse in Guatemala and Charles Curtis in El Salvador played a pivotal role in supporting the dictatorships. Several insurrections ensued against the dictatorships, including a rebellion organized by Cesar Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua and Farabundo Marti in El Salvador, whose legacy would be claimed during the Cold War by the FMLN and FSLN. Understanding the policy roots of instability in Central America in the rise of dictatorships can thus help to explain insurrections that arose in the 1970's and 1980's.

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