The United States has long been accused of imperialism, using its culture, its money, and its power to influence and corrupt other cultures, other economies, and other governments. The CIA itself has a notorious history of covert actions, from mere meddling to more serious threats of actual take-overs.
But just suppose that there is in the U.S. one man with the money, ambition, and intelligence to plan the take-over of a country, to set himself up as president/dictator, and that he has selected as his target the most violent and turbulent country in Latin America, El Salvador.
The story, Seeds of Change, takes place in early March of 1994, shortly before the first free national election after more than ten years of civil war. For five years, Jared Keith, with the unwitting assistance of Raimundo Delgado, plotted and meddled in the politics, agriculture, and economy of El Salvador. He provided scholarship money to its brightest, most disaffected youth, and then after their graduation, arranged to have them placed in soon-to-be-strategic positions in government, industry, the military, and the economy.
Through his research farm in Iowa, he developed a strain of genetically altered maize seed which he distributed in El Salvador, thereby almost bankrupting the agricultural sector. Through his bank in New York and its sister bank in San Salvador, he amassed large amounts of property. He arranged for trained men posing as guerillas to harass and terrorize poor and wealthy landowners alike. And he arranged for a bank employee of his, Ray Irving, to be the scapegoat.
When Ray Irving learns that he’s to be sent to El Salvador to arrange some final bank transactions, he fears he will not return to New York alive. Despite his attempts to keep from going, he flies to El Salvador certain of his impending death. At this point, he has no plan, just a vague hope things will work out.
César Navarro, a scholarship recipient with American-backed paramilitary experience, is returning to El Salvador. His mission is to help implement Raimundo Delgado’s plan to form a true republic, but he has his own agenda, revenge for a beloved sister’s death at the hands of the National Guard Anti-Communist League. Raimundo Delgado has promised Navarro that in exchange for his assistance, Delgado will give him his own estancia and the name of the man who led the raid on his family’s village.
At a remote agricultural research station in El Salvador, Avelino Flores and his assistant, Marguerite Gutierrez, decide to investigate the country’s wide-scale crop failures. On his return from San Miguel to meet a colleague, Flores is murdered. Marguerite flees the village, along with Pablo, a ten-year-old street urchin. She vows to continue Avelino’s investigations and enlists the unwilling help of Dr. William (Bill) Whitley, a sociology professor from the U.S. who is part of a team surveying the effects of crop failures on the country’s small farmers.
Carlos Solano, the Republican National Alliance (ARENA) party candidate for president, is murdered, and based on faulty evidence, blame is placed on the U.S. When Raimundo Delgado is kidnapped, blame is shifted to the Faribundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) party, formerly made up of guerillas opposing the government.
During the course of her investigations, Marguerite, Bill, and Ray unwittingly cause Keith’s plans to unravel.
In the end, Delgado is rescued, Keith flees the country, and Navarro learns that revenge can be double-edged.
But it is Irving who learns that an over-active imagination is no substitute for real life; that fear does not conquer all, and that bravery comes in all shapes and sizes; and that love is possible even for a mouse of a man who tiptoes around the edges of life.