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The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of the administration of United States President Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America. The United States wished to have good relations with its neighbors, especially at a time when conflicts were beginning to rise once again, and this policy was more or less intended to garner Latin American support. Giving up unpopular military intervention, the United States shifted to other methods to maintain its influence in Latin America: Pan-Americanism, support for strong local leaders, the training of national guards, economic and cultural penetration, Export-Import Bank loans, financial supervision, and political subversion. The Good Neighbor Policy meant that the United States would keep its eye on Latin America in a more peaceful tone. On March 4, 1933, Roosevelt stated during his inaugural address that: "In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others."[1] This position was affirmed by Cordell Hull, Roosevelt's Secretary of State at a conference of American states in Montevideo in December 1933. Hull said: "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another" (LaFeber, 376). This is apparent when in December of the same year Roosevelt again gave verbal evidence of a shift in U.S. policy in the region when he stated: "The definite policy of the United States from now on is one opposed to armed intervention."[2]



During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the sovereignty of many Latin American nations had been routinely undermined by more powerful countries. Whenever a wealthy nation felt its debts were not being repaid in a prompt fashion, its citizens' business interests were being threatened, or its access to natural resources were being unfairly impeded, military intervention or threats were often used to coerce the respective government into compliance.

Constant interventionism became increasingly unpopular in the United States, however.[citation needed] American anti-imperialist groups felt it was too imperialistic for the United States to conduct foreign affairs without regard for the ramifications of economic-centered ventures such as large investments in Latin American interests. From the advent of the United States, isolationists such as George Washington agreed that a flagrant display of United States power was detrimental but for different reasons such as fear over future political effects of angering Latin American and European nations. These groups felt that American intervention in Latin America had bred a culture of resentment and anti-Americanism in the region, which was beginning to manifest in the form of ultra-nationalist and protectionist measures by those countries' governments.[citation needed] In addition, members of the mentioned groups objected to the exorbitant expenses involved in raising armies to help govern Latin American countries. This opposition increased heavily during the Great Depression, as these isolationist thinkers believed that the money being used for imperialism could be put to better use to help the people negatively affected by the Depression.

The U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934 offers a prime example of U.S. imperialism. Anger over an aerial bombing of Les Cayes and the killing of an unarmed civilian Marchaterre contributed to the change in American foreign policy[3]

After World War II, the United States began to shift its focus on aid and rebuilding efforts in Europe and Japan. These American efforts largely neglected the Latin American countries, though American investors and business did have some stake in the nations to the South. As a response, the influence of Marxism rose during the Cold War era in Latin America.

The tangible results of the policy included the withdrawal of US Marines from Haiti and Nicaragua in 1934, the annulment of the Platt Amendment, and the negotiation of compensation of Mexico's nationalization of foreign assets in the oil industry in 1938. The policy had a cultural component too, resulting in the radio program Viva America, for instance, and the 1942 Walt Disney film Saludos Amigos.

See also


  1. ^ Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. "First Inaugural Address." Washington DC. 04 Mar 1933.
  2. ^ Edgar B. Nixon, ed. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Foreign Affairs: Volume I, 559-60.
  3. ^ Bellegarde-Smith, Patrick. Haiti: The Breached Citadel Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2004.(111)

External links

Cited works

  • LaFeber, Walter. The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad, 1750 to Present, 2nd ed. NY: Norton, 1994.
  • Norton, Mary Beth. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. 7th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

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