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Timeline: 1988

Jan 2  In the Soviet Union, the government newspaper Izvestia reports that Soviet tourists would now be allowed to travel to East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria and a number of other Communist-ruled countries without first acquiring a visa.

Jan 10  In Israel, according to polls, an overwhelming majority support the "iron fist'' response to Palestinian unrest by the government and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Jan 13  The Israeli Army, stunned by more than a month of protests in the occupied territories, is sealing off refugee districts and ordering Palestinians to stay in their houses, sometimes for days at a time.

Jan 13  Taiwan's ruler, Chiang Ching-kuo, 77, son of Chiang Kai-shek, dies. The vice president he had selected, Lee Teng-hui, a bright native-born Taiwanese, succeeds him as president and will end the martial law that has existed in Taiwan since Chiang Kai-shek's forces arrived there in 1949.

Jan 15  President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua agrees to direct talks with the Contras and for national elections.

Jan 17  In East Germany, around 120 dissidents demonstrate and quote a communist heroine, Rosa Luxemburg (murdered in 1919) who said "Freedom is always the freedom for others to think differently." Police arrest dozens, including Stephan Krawczyk, 32, a popular anti-establishment folk singer.

William R. Higgins

William R. Higgins

Jan 29  The Jihad Brigades issue a communique with instructions on ways of fighting the Israeli army: burn Israeli vehicles, attack Israeli economic interests, refuse to pay taxes, and eliminate collaborators.

Feb 2  In East Germany, dissents have responded to arrests with more demonstrations. Rather than create further unrest the government issues dissidents exit visas, including one to Stephan Krawczyk. And, fearing Gorbachev's new policies, East Germany is banning publications from the Soviet Union.

Feb 17  US Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins, serving with the United Nations and monitoring a truce in southern Lebanon, is taken prisoner by a group suspected to have ties with Hezbollah. He is to be tortured and to die in captivity.

Feb 21  On his television show, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart confesses to an unspecified sin (an affair with prostitute Debra Murphree) and announces he will temporarily leave the pulpit.

Mar 1  Wal-Mart is opening its first super-center, in Washington, Missouri, designed for one-stop shopping. Because of consumer support Wal-Mart is on its way to becoming the world's largest retailer, in two years to surpass Sears, K-Mart and J.C. Penney. A new era of mega-stores is developing, which is diminishing sales for small retailers in old town centers.

Mar 16  Regarding the Iran-Contra scandal, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Mar 20  Fighting has erupted along the Honduras-Nicaragua border, with accusations of assaults by the Contras and accusations that Nicaraguan forces have crossed into Honduras. Honduras, allied with the United States, sends Air Force jets to bomb Nicaraguan troop positions. A US infantry battalion moves to within 42 miles of the Nicaraguan border.

Mar 24  Leaders of the Sandinista government and the Contra guerrillas sign a 60-day cease-fire agreement that will begin on April 1. The Contras will not be required to disarm during the truce, and the Sandinista government will begin to release anti-Sandinista prisoners, including former members of the Somaza dictatorship's National Guard.

Mar 25  In Bratislava, Slovakia, around 2,000 Catholics holding candles rally against controls on the Church by Czechoslovakia's communist government. Police break up the rally. Some are beaten and arrested.

Apr 11  The Last Emperor (directed by Bernardo Bertolucci) wins 9 Oscars.

Apr 16  In Italy, the Marxist-Leninist Red Brigade (Brigate Rosse), whom Lenin would have described as politically infantile, have lost most of their support. But they are still at it. In a move to counter what they see as their isolation they seek to attract Islamic radicals. They kill Senator Roberto Ruffilli.

May 15  After more than 8 years in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union begins withdrawing its armed forces and says all will be out in February,1989.

May 16  A report by US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop states that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.

May 22 Hungary's Communist Party removes János Kadar from power. Kadar had taken power when the Soviet Union crushed Hungary's liberal Communist regime in 1956.

May 27  The US Senate ratifies Reagan's INF Treaty with the Soviet Union. Four conservatives vote against it. One is Jesse Helms of North Carolina, another is Malcolm Wallop of North Carolina who has spoken of the Soviet Union as having "broken most every treaty they have ever signed.''

May 31  President Reagan is on the third day of his first visit to what he has called the evil empire. In a toast, President Reagan says, "Mr. General Secretary, allow me to raise a glass to the work that has been done, the work that remains to be done. And let us also toast the art of friendly persuasion, the hope of peace with freedom, the hope of holding out for a better way of settling things."

Jul 1  Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, conservative rebel who wants to stick with Latin, defies the Vatican and is excommunicated.

Jul 20  The Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, nominates Michael Dukakis for US President and Lloyd Bentsen for Vice President. In his acceptance speech, Dukakis speaks of the American dream, of community and people loving one another. He says, "It’s time to understand that the greatest threat to our national security in this hemisphere is not the Sandinistas, it's the avalanche of drugs that is pouring into this country and poisoning our children."

Aug 8  Iran has regained much of the territory that it had lost to Iraq early in their war. Iraq has bankrupted itself. The two countries create a truce, ending their eight years of war, a war that took at least one million Iranian lives and killed more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers.

Aug 8  In Burma, General Ne Win, socialist leader of a one party state, has resigned. It is the 8th day of the 8th month of the year '88 and seen as a favorable day for demonstrating for democracy. The military crushes the demonstration and makes it a favorable day for itself by grabbing political power.

Michael Dukakis, on tank

Candidate Dukakis

Aug 18  The Republican National Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, nominates George H.W. Bush for President and Dan Quayle for Vice President. In his acceptance speech Vice President Bush describes the US as a rising nation and a dominant force for good in the world and predicts that the 21st century will be another American century. He adds: "I hate war; love peace, and we have peace. And I am not going to let anyone take it away from us." He says he supports capital punishment, the right to own a gun to protect one's home, the right to say a prayer in school and that he believes in protecting the lives of innocent children and that his opponent (Dukakis) on all these points does not. He says he wants a kinder and gentler nation.

Sep 11  In Estonia, 300,000 demonstrate for independence.

Sep 13  While campaigning at the General Dynamics M1 Abrams tank factory, candidate Dukakis is filmed riding in a tank, behind a machine gun, and waving to the crowd and with a grin – a scene that will attract much ridicule.

Sep 17  The Summer Olympic Games begin in Seoul, South Korea. Sohn Kee-chung carries the Olympic torch into the stadium. He won the marathon in the 1936 Olympics but had to run as a member of Japan's team, Korea then under Japanese rule.

Sep 21  An television ad called "Weekend Passes" begins to run that faults Dukakis, governor of Massachusetts from 1975 through 1978, for having supported a prisoner furlough program that in 1986 allowed a convict, Willie Horton, serving a life sentence for murder, an opportunity to commit more heinous crimes. Dukakis will complain that the furlough program changed after he had left office. A study by a Republican campaign team has shown a significant number of voters who see this ad switch from Dukakis to Bush.

Sep 29  In the Soviet Republic of Lithuania, riot police break up a demonstration by tens of thousands, the crowd shouting "occupiers get out of here."

Oct 5  President Pinochet of Chile has been in power fourteen years. Results of a plebiscite guaranteed by the new 1980 constitution disappoints him. Fixty-six percent of those voting don't want him to continue as president. Pinochet wants to ignore the vote. He summons members of the military to his office. Air Force commander Fernando Matthel refuses to go along and so too do other generals. Dictators need others to rule, and Pinochet accepts that he will have to step down as President. A presidential election will be held in December 1989.

Oct 10  Algeria is officially socialist, with a collectivized agriculture. Members of the National Liberation Front, which took power in 1962, are believed to be enriching themselves. The economy has been foundering, despite recent moves to increase free enterprise. Unemployment is at 40 percent. Islamic fundamentalists, who have been growing in number, have joined with others against one-party. The army crushes four days of protests and rioting. Around 500 die, and outrage remains widespread.

Nov 8  George H. W. Bush wins the presidency, with 53.4 percent of the popular vote to 46.4 for Dukakis. The New Alliance Party proves its alliance small: its candidate, Lenora Fulani, wins only 0.2 percent of the vote. The Libertarian Party candidate, Ron Paul, wins 0.5 percent.

Nov 15  An independent State of Palestine is proclaimed at the Palestinian National Council meeting in Algiers.

Nov 16  In Pakistan's first open election in more than a decade, Benazir Bhutto's political party, the Pakistan People's Party, wins the largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly.

Dec 2  Benazir Bhutto is sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan, becoming the first woman to head the government of an Islam-dominated state.

Dec 7  Estonian becomes the official language of Estonia.

Dec 7  Speaking to the UN General Assembly, Gorbachev announces that by 1991 the Soviet Union intends to withdraw troops and tank divisions from its "Warsaw Treaty allies:" East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In these countries a new hope for change arises.

Dec 21  Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.

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