In order to illuminate the inter-play between national and international levels of analysis, this dissertation research addresses long-term patterns of human rights abuse in Cuba, El Salvador and Nicaragua, from the late 1960s and 70s to the present day. This research enables the construction of detailed, event-centred analytic narratives on the history of human rights abuse in each country, and highlights key turning points in long-term human rights abuse patterns. The research addresses how international variables, including international normative pressures, serve to influence actual patterns of human rights abuse. Because of the qualitative nature of the research, this dissertation addresses not only change in relative levels of human rights abuse overtime, but also change in the type and visibility of abuse. By incorporating both internal (within-state) and external (international) variables, this analysis enables a better understanding of why human rights abuse patterns change within countries.