Latin America and the Cold War

Topics: Cold War, United States, World War II Pages: 7 (2506 words) Published: March 14, 2014
To What Extent did the Cold War bring about Significant change in U.S Relations with Latin America?

The Cold War period for the United States meant a shift in foreign policy, prioritizing ideological and anti-Communist issue. U.S policy towards Latin America notably changed in this respect to incorporate a heightened sense of hegemonic and interventionist power over the Americas differing from earlier U.S sovereignty in the region. This new change in policy mainly manifested itself in the area of Central America. During the different periods of the Cold War, the United States intervened in Latin American domestic affairs both directly through their own military and indirectly through CIA trained proxy forces to safeguard their assets and contain communism. Significantly with the Eisenhower Administration of whom initiated the overthrow of the reformist Guatemalan government in 1952 and ending with Reagan who centred his policies on the overthrow of Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The Cold War period furthermore appeared to be a period where the U.S. paired with intervention, also attempted to provide an increased amount of economic aid and concessions to Latin American countries as incentives to avoid the communism, for the Alliance for Progress by Kennedy in 1961 which although many of the agreements lead to failure, it still marked a change in U.S.- Latin American relations. Undoubtedly the growth of communism, the Soviet Union influence and ideological dispute served to change the way in which the U.S acted towards Latin America. However, there are strong continuations with U.S.- Latin American relations, which remain constant before, throughout and after the Cold War most importantly the sovereignty over the area and the protection of U.S interests regarding economy and security.

Where the Cold War brought about the most significant change in U.S policy towards Latin America was in its increased priority in blocking communist expansion in its own hemisphere. From the end of the 1940s toward the end of the 1980s, this priority meant an acute increase in U.S interventionism either covertly or overtly to prevent the spread of communism. The USA had this call for ideological security in the region that took precedence in its policy and in frequent cases reaching the aggressive extremes of supporting harsh-line right wing dictators preventing not only the spread of communism but also democracy. This in itself acts of proof that the battle against communism was more important than that of installing democracy. As the US emerged as one of the new world hegemonic powers post-WWII, Roosevelt´s Good Neighbour policy of non-intervention or interference in Latin American domestic affairs had moved towards a more militarized foreign policy at the dawn of the Cold War exhibited greatly by the propositions made at the 1947 Rio de Janeiro Conference to create a more defensively united American bloc with the Inter- American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. George Kennan bluntly stated in a 35-page report on his tour of Latin America, that the area would be too weak to overcome communist power and that it was vital to keep it in US spheres of influence. Moscow would try and harness the already existing anti-American feelings to eliminate US influence in the zone. This report included demands that the US should provide incentives at all costs to resist communism including more severe measures of repression; “In general, therefore, it would be wise for us to avoid putting direct pressure on Latin American governments with respect to communist activities, except where those activities have some highly direct and offensive relationship to American interests. Where this is not the case, we must resort to indirection”. (Kennan, 1950, p. 182) For Kennan, if the US policy did not adapt to intervene in Latin American affairs in the name of containing communism, it could cause “global embarrassment” (Kennan, 1950, p. 183) for the...

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