The 20th Century
aspect is "dollar diplomacy" based on economic needs in the foreign
country. Another aspect is "gunboat diplomacy" helping countries
put down uprisings which are deemed against the U.S. interests.
This continues for most of the 20th century, including Haiti,
Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Columbia (Panama Canal).
Mexico gains independence from Spain in early 19th century. The
land reform issue. The unpredictability of complex varieties of
political factions. The contentious intervention by the moralistic
President Wilson in 1913. The Revolutionary Party of Mexico comes
to power and has long rule. There is some land reform in the 1930s
and 1940s but the Mexican elite remain allied with the American
Reform and Dictatorship.
countries find a balance between dictatorship and reform. In
Argentina, strong-man Juan Peron forms alliance with labor, placates
the elite, fosters modern capitalism, yet is an admirer of Nazi
Germany. During FDR's "New Deal," U.S. implements its "Good
Neighbor" policy but is more rhetoric than reality, with a
continuation of "gunboat diplomacy."
After the 1898 Spanish-American War, Cuba has political not economic
independence. The Batista dictatorship. Havana becomes an open
city. Revolutionary upheaval. Castro, a nationalist aiming to
overthrow an unpopular dictator, is not a Communist and is not
supported by the Cuban Communist Party. Castro is charismatic,
comes to power on January 1, 1959. His pluses: land reform, income
redistribution, education reform, food distribution, health care
achievements. The initial revolutionary ideals become a
dictatorship. Cuba is seen as threat to business interests. U.S.
attempt to overthrow ends in Bay of Pigs disaster. U.S. imposes
economic boycott and continues efforts to subvert. Aided by Russia,
Cuba becomes an echo of Russia. Castro identifies himself as
Communist. The Missile Crisis.
Effect of The Cuban Revolution.
It encourages revolutionary activity in Latin America. The U.S.
supports most right-wing military dictators. Military aid by U.S.
includes training of torture techniques, known as "interrogation
methods" at an army base in Georgia. The episodes of President
Allende's assassination in Chile, and the Contras in Nicaragua, as
examples of continued U.S. "gunboat diplomacy."
Role of the Catholic Church.
Normally expected to be hostile to revolutionary movements, but
significant segments of the Catholic Church show support for the
underclass, acting on a human view of the message of early Jesus,
The 21st Century.
direction of civilian leadership.
Hostility or skepticism of U.S. policy. More inclined toward
democracy, land use reform in Chile and Brazil. Limitations of debt
burden lead to compromises and dissatisfaction.
Nature of Latin American economy.
Export economy in Brazil with 1 or 2 major products has dire
consequences. Peasants are driven from land for the export crops,
move to shantytowns around cities. Depletion of Brazil's rain
forest has wide environmental impact. A more favorable product
would be rubber from rubber trees, a renewable product. The
question in economic development is how much, how little; benefit
versus environmental impact. In Venezuela, strong-man Hugo Chavez
is using oil revenues to help the poor. Controlling that oil makes
him the enemy of the U.S. and U.S. business interests.
Future of Latin America.
This is an open question. There is the fall of many dictatorships
and increase of democratic rule and reform. Yet, there remains the
military legacy, the role of U.S. policy, and the heavy debt
burden. Latin America has a remarkable and varied history.