Latin America – United States relations: Wikis


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The United States has always had a special conception of its relationship with the nations of Latin America.

In the Cold War era the U.S. establishment feared socialism and in some cases overthrew or undermined democratically elected governments perceived at the time as becoming left-wing or unfriendly to U.S. interests.[1] Examples include the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, the 1973 Chilean coup d'état and the support of the Nicaraguan Contras. The '70s and '80s saw a shift of power towards corporations, and a polarization of the political election systems of many of the Latin American nations.[citation needed] Recently several left-wing parties have gained power through elections and have not been attacked. In particular Venezuela has been critical of the U.S.. Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador currently have governments sometimes seen as aligned with Venezuela. Left-wing governments in nations such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are more moderate. Governments in Peru and Colombia have closer relations with the U.S..


19th century to World War I

The 1823 Monroe Doctrine, founder of United States isolationism, theorized the imperative for the US to break with Europe and focus on the continent of America.

US Secretary of State James G. Blaine formulated the Big Brother policy in the 1880s, aiming to rally the Latin American nations behind US leadership and to open Latin American markets to U.S. traders. Blaine served as United States Secretary of State in 1881 in the cabinet of President James Garfield and again from 1889 to 1892 in the cabinet of President Benjamin Harrison. As part of the policy, Blaine arranged for and lead as the first president the First International Conference of American States in 1889. A few years later, the Spanish–American War in 1898 provoked the end of the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean and the Pacific, with the 1898 Treaty of Paris giving the US control over the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam, and control over the process of independence of Cuba, which was completed in 1902.


The Panama Canal

Theodore Roosevelt, who became President of the United States in 1901, believed that a U.S.-controlled canal across Central America was a vital strategic interest to the United States. This idea gained wide impetus following the destruction of the battleship USS Maine, in Cuba, on February 15, 1898.[citation needed] The USS Oregon, a battleship stationed in San Francisco, was dispatched to take her place, but the voyage—around Cape Horn—took 67 days. Although she was in time to join in the Battle of Santiago Bay, the voyage would have taken just three weeks via Panama.

Roosevelt was able to reverse a previous decision by the Walker Commission in favour of a Nicaragua Canal, and pushed through the acquisition of the French Panama Canal effort. Panama was then part of Colombia, so Roosevelt opened negotiations with the Colombians to obtain the necessary permission. In early 1903 the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed by both nations, but the Colombian Senate failed to ratify the treaty.

In a controversial move, Roosevelt implied to Panamanian rebels that if they revolted, the U.S. Navy would assist their cause for independence. Panama proceeded to proclaim its independence on November 3, 1903, and the USS Nashville in local waters impeded any interference from Colombia (see gunboat diplomacy).

The Panama Canal Zone—which was established on shaky legal grounds[2] and cut the country of Panama in half—led to incidents such as Martyrs' Day and the United States invasion of Panama.

The victorious Panamanians returned the favor to Roosevelt by allowing the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone on February 23, 1904, for US$10 million (as provided in the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, signed on November 18, 1903).

The U.S. president then formulated the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, in 1904, which asserted the right of the United States to intervene in Latin American nations' affairs[3]. In its altered state, the Monroe Doctrine would now consider Latin America as an agency for expanding U.S. commercial interests in the region, along with its original stated purpose of keeping European hegemony from the hemisphere. In addition, the corollary proclaimed the explicit right of the United States to intervene in Latin American conflicts exercising an international police power.

The Roosevelt Corollary and the Dollar Diplomacy

When the Venezuelan government under Cipriano Castro was no longer able to placate the demands of European bankers in 1902, naval forces from Great Britain, Italy, and Germany erected a blockade along the Venezuelan coast and even fired upon coastal fortifications. Though United States Secretary of State Elihu Root characterized Castro as a "a crazy brute", President Theodore Roosevelt was concerned with the prospects of penetration into the region by the German Empire. Roosevelt threatened military action against the European powers, who retreated and later negotiated with Castro. This incident was a major stimulus behind the Roosevelt Corollary and the subsequent U.S. policy of Dollar Diplomacy in Latin America.

During the presidency of Juan Vicente Gómez, petroleum was discovered under Lake Maracaibo. Gómez managed to deflate Venezuela's staggering debt by granting concessions to foreign oil companies, which won him the support of the United States and the European powers. The growth of the domestic oil industry strengthened the economic ties between the U.S. and Venezuela.

Banana Wars

US Marines with the captured flag of Augusto César Sandino in Nicaragua in 1932.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the US carried on several military interventions in what became known as the Banana Wars. The term arose from the connections between the interventions and the preservation of US commercial interests, starting with the United Fruit corporation, which had significant financial stakes in production of bananas, tobacco, sugar cane, and various other agricultural products throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the northern portions of South America.

North-Americans advocating imperialism in the pre-World War I era often argued that these conflicts helped central and South Americans by aiding in stability. Some imperialists argued that these limited interventions did not serve US interests sufficiently and argued for expanded actions in the region. Anti-imperialists argued that these actions were a first step down a slippery slope towards US colonialism in the region.

Some modern observers have argued that if World War I had not lessened American enthusiasm for international activity these interventions might have led to the formation of an expanded U.S. colonial empire, with Central American states either annexed into Statehood like Hawaii or becoming American territories, like the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. This view is, however, heavily disputed, especially as, after a decrease in activity during and after World War I, the U.S. government intervened again in the 1920s while again stating that it was without colonial ambitions. The Banana Wars ended with the 1933 Good Neighbor Policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt; no American colonies had been created.

The countries involved in the Banana Wars include:

Though many other countries in the region may have been influenced or dominated by American banana or other companies, there is no history of U.S. military intervention during this period in those countries.


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."[4] 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."[5]

Expulsion of Germans to the U.S. from Latin America during World War II

After the United States declared war on Germany, the Federal Bureau of Investigation drafted a list of Germans in fifteen Latin American countries it suspected of subversive activities and demanded their eviction to the U.S. for detention. In response, several countries expelled a total of 4,058 Germans to the U.S. Some 10% to 15% of them were Nazi party members, including some dozen recruiters for the Nazi's overseas arm and eight people suspected of espionage. Also among them were 81 Jewish Germans who had only recently fled persecution in Nazi Germany. The bulk were ordinary Germans, who were residents in these states for years or decades. Some were expelled because corrupt Latin American officials took the opportunity to seize their property, or ordinary Latin Americans were after the financial reward that U.S. intelligence paid informants. Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico did not participate in the U.S. expulsion program.[6]

1940s–1960s: the Cold War and the "hemispheric defense" doctrine

"Most Latin Americans have seen their neighbor to the north (the United States) growing richer; they have seen the elite elements in their own societies growing richer - but the man in the street or on the land in Latin America today still lives the hand-to-mouth existence of his great, great grandfather... They are less and less happy with situations in which, to cite one example, 40 percent of the land is owned by 1 percent of the people, and in which, typically, a very thin upper crust lives in grandeur while most others live in squalor."

U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, in a speech to Congress on United States policy in Latin America [7]

Officially started in 1947 with the Truman doctrine theorizing the "containment" policy, the Cold War had important consequences in Latin America, considered by the United States to be a full part of the Western Bloc, called "free world", in contrast with the Eastern Bloc, a division born with the end of World War II and the Yalta Conference (February 1945). It "must be the policy of the United States", Truman declared, "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures." Truman rallied North-Americans to spend $400 million to intervene in the civil war in Greece, while the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (created by the National Security Act of 1947) intervention in this country was its first act of birth. By aiding Greece, Truman set a precedent for U.S. aid to regimes, no matter how repressive and corrupt, that request help to fight communists [8]. Washington began to sign a series of defense treaties with countries all over the world, including the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 which created NATO, and the ANZUS in 1951 with Australia and New Zealand. Moscow response to NATO and to the Marshall Plan in Europe included the creation of the COMECON economic treaty and the Warsaw Pact defense alliance, gathering Eastern Europe countries which had fallen under its sphere of influence. After the Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union, the Korean War (1950-53) was one of the first conflicts of the Cold War, while the US would succeed France in the counter-revolutionary war against Viet-minh in Indochina.

In Latin America itself, the US defense treaty was the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (aka Rio Treaty or TIAR) of 1947, known as the "hemispheric defense" treaty. It was the formalization of the Act of Chapultepec, adopted at the Inter-American Conference on the Problems of War and Peace in 1945 in Mexico City. The US had maintained a hemispheric defense policy under the Monroe Doctrine, and during the 1930s had been alarmed by Axis overtures toward military cooperation with Latin American governments, in particular apparent strategic threats against the Panama Canal. During the war, Washington had been able to secure Allied support from all individual governments except Uruguay, which remained neutral, and wished to make those commitments permanent. With the exceptions of Trinidad and Tobago (1967), Belize (1981), and the Bahamas (1982), no countries that became independent after 1947 have joined the treaty. The next year, the Organization of American States was created in April 1948, during the Ninth International Conference of American States held in Bogotá and led by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. Members states pledge to fight communism in the Americas. 21 American countries signed the Charter of the Organization of American States on 30 April 1948.

Operation PBSUCCESS which overthrew the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in 1954 was to be one of the first in a long series of US intervention in Latin America during the Cold War. It immediately followed the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran (1953).

1960s: the Cuban Revolution and the U.S. response

"The slogan 'we will not allow another Cuba' hides the possibility of perpetrating aggressions without fear of reprisal, such as the one carried out against the Dominican Republic or before that the massacre in Panama — and the clear warning stating that Yankee troops are ready to intervene anywhere in America where the ruling regime may be altered, thus endangering their interests."

Che Guevara, April 16, 1967 [9]

The 1959 Cuban Revolution headed by Fidel Castro was one of the first defeats of the US foreign policy in Latin America. Cuba became in 1961 a member of the newly created Non-Aligned Movement, which succeeded to the 1955 Bandung Conference. After the implementation of several economic reforms, including complete nationalizations, by Cuba's government, US trade restrictions on Cuba increased. The U.S. stopped buying Cuban sugar, on which Cuba's economy depended the most, and refused to supply its former trading partner with much needed oil, creating a devastating effect on the island's economy. In March 1960, tensions increased when the freighter La Coubre exploded in Havana harbor, killing over 75 people. Fidel Castro blamed the United States and compared the incident to the 1898 sinking of the USS Maine, which had precipated the Spanish-American War, though admitting he could provide no evidence for his accusation.[10] That same month, President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the CIA to organize, train, and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro, which would lead to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.[11][12]

Each time the Cuban government nationalized American properties, the American government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960. Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the Soviet Union, leading the US to break off all remaining official diplomatic relations. Later that year, U.S. diplomats Edwin L. Sweet and Wiliam G. Friedman were arrested and expelled from the island having been charged with "encouraging terrorist acts, granting asylum, financing subversive publications and smuggling weapons". The U.S. began the formulation of new plans aimed at destabilizing the Cuban government, collectively known as the "The Cuban Project" (aka Operation Mongoose). This was to be a co-ordinated program of political, psychological, and military sabotage, involving intelligence operations as well as assassination attempts on key political leaders. The Cuban project also proposed false flag attacks, known as Operation Northwoods. A U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee report later confirmed over eight attempted plots to kill Castro between 1960 and 1965, as well as additional plans against other Cuban leaders.[13]

Beside this aggressive policy towards Cuba, President John F. Kennedy tried to implement in 1961 the Alliance for Progress, an economic aid program which proved to be too shy. In the same time, the U.S. suspended economic and/or broke off diplomatic relations with several dictatorships between 1961 and JFK's assassination in 1963, including Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Peru. But these suspensions were imposed only temporarily, for periods of only three weeks to six months. However, the US finally decided it best to train Latin American militaries in counter-insurgency tactics at the School of the Americas. In effect, the Alliance for Progress included U.S. programs of military and police assistance to counter Communism, including Plan LASO in Colombia.

The nuclear arms race brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy responded to the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba with a naval blockade—a show of force that brought the world close to nuclear war.[14] The Cuban Missile Crisis showed that neither superpower was ready to use nuclear weapons for fear of the other's retaliation, and thus of mutually assured destruction. The aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis led to the first efforts at nuclear disarmament and improving relations. (Palmowski)

By 1964, under President Johnson, the program to discriminate against dictatorial regimes ceased. In March 1964 the US approved a military coup in Brazil, overthrowing left-wing president João Goulart, and was prepared to help if called upon under Operation Brother Sam.[15] The next year, the US dispatched 24,000 troops to the Dominican Republic to stop a possible left-wing take over under Operation Power Pack.

Through the Office of Public Safety (OPS), an organization dependent of the USAID and close to the CIA, the US assisted Latin American security forces, training them in interrogation methods, riot control, and sending them equipment. Dan Mitrione, in Uruguay, became infamous for his systemic use of torture.

1970s: the era of the juntas

Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the local implementation in several countries of Che Guevara's foco theory, the US waged a war in South America against the "Communist subversives", leading to support in Chile of the right-wing, which would culminate with Augusto Pinochet's coup in 1973 in Chile against democratically-elected Salvador Allende. In a few years, all of South America was covered by similar military dictatorships, called juntas. In Paraguay, Alfredo Stroessner was in power since 1954; in Brazil, left-wing President João Goulart was overthrown by a military coup in 1964; in Bolivia, General Hugo Banzer overthrew leftist General Juan José Torres in 1971; in Uruguay, considered the "Switzerland" of South America, Juan María Bordaberry seized power in the June 27, 1973 coup. In Peru, leftist General Velasco Alvarado in power since 1968 planned to use the recently empowered Peruvian military to overwhelm Chilean armed forces in a planned invasion of Pinochetist Chile. A "Dirty War" was waged all over the continent, culminating with Operation Condor, an agreement between security services of the Southern Cone and other South American countries to repress and assassinate political opponents. Militaries also took power in Argentina in 1976 [16], and then supported the 1980 "Cocaine Coup" of Luis García Meza Tejada in Bolivia, before training the Contras in Nicaragua where the Sandinista National Liberation Front, headed by Daniel Ortega, had taken power in 1979, as well as militaries in Guatemala and in El Salvador. In the frame of Operation Charly, supported by the US, the Argentine military exported state terror tactics to Central America, where the "dirty war" was waged until well in the 1990s, making hundreds of thousands "disappeared."

Placing their own actions within the US doctrine of "National Security" against "internal subversion", the authoritarian regimes who had crushed left-wing opposition began a transition to neoliberal economic policies. Chile thus became one of the laboratory of shock therapy, under the supervision of the Chicago boys influenced by Milton Friedman's monetarism.

With the election of President Jimmy Carter in 1977, the US moderated for a short time support to authoritarian regimes in Latin America. It was during this year that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, an agency of the OAS, was created. At the same time, voices in North America began to denounce Pinochet's violation of human rights, in particular after the 1976 assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C..

1980s–1990s: democratization and the Washington Consensus

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1981 meant a renewed support for right-wing authoritarian regimes in Latin America. In the 1980s, the situation progressively evolved in the world as in South America, despite a renewal of the Cold War from 1979 to 1985, the year during which Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Konstantin Chernenko as leader of the USSR, and began to implement the glasnost and the perestroika democratic-inspired reforms. South America saw various states returning progressively to democracy. This democratization of South America found a symbol in the OAS's adoption of Resolution 1080 in 1991, which requires the Secretary General to convene the Permanent Council within ten days of a coup d'état in any member country. However, in the same time, Washington started to aggressively pursue the "War on Drugs", which included the invasion of Panama in 1989 to overthrow Manuel Noriega, who had been a long-time ally of the US and had even worked for the CIA before his reign as leader of the country. The "War on Drugs" was later expanded through Plan Colombia in the late 1990s.

Reagan's support of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the 1982 Falklands War against the Military Junta in Argentina also led to a change of relations between Washington and Buenos Aires which had been actively helping Reagan when the Argentine intelligence service was training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government (Operation Charly). The 601 Intelligence Battalion, for example, trained Contras at Lepaterique base, in Honduras, under the supervision of US ambassador John Negroponte. While the US were fighting against Nicaragua, leading to the 1986 Nicaragua v. United States case before the International Court of Justice, Washington, D.C. supported authoritarian regimes in Guatemala and Salvador. The support to General Ríos Montt during the Guatemalan Civil War and the alliance with José Napoleón Duarte during the Salvadoran Civil War were legitimized by the Reagan administration as full part of the Cold War, although other allies strongly criticized this assistance to dictatorships (i.e., the French Socialist Party's 110 Propositions).

In fact, many Latin American countries view the 1982 conflict as a clear example of how the so called Hemispheric relations works.[17] A deep weakening of hemispheric relations occurred due to the American support given, without mediation, to the United Kingdom during the Falklands war in 1982. Some argue this definitively turned the TIAR into a dead letter. In 2001, the United States invoked the Rio Treaty after the September 11 attacks but Latin American democracies did not join the War on Terror. (Furthermore, Mexico withdrew from the treaty in 2001 citing the Falklands example.)

On the economic plane, hardly affected by the 1973 oil crisis, Mexico refusal in 1983 to pay the interest of its debt led to the Latin American debt crisis and subsequently to a shift from the Import substitution industrialization (ISI) policies followed by most countries to export-oriented industrialization, which was encouraged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO). While globalization was making its effects felt in the whole world, the 1990s were dominated by the Washington Consensus, which imposed a series of neo-liberal economic reforms in Latin America. The First Summit of the Americas, held in Miami in 1994, resolved to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA, Área de Libre Comercio de las Américas) by 2005. The ALCA was supposed to be the generalization of the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico, which came into force in 1994. Opposition to both NAFTA and ALCA was symbolized during this time by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation insurrection, headed by Subcomandante Marcos, which became active on the day that NAFTA went into force (January 1, 1994) and declared itself to be in explicit opposition to the ideology of globalization or neoliberalism, which NAFTA symbolized.

2000s: democratic socialism

The political context evolved again in the 2000s, with the election in several South American countries of socialist governments.[18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26] This "pink tide" thus saw the successive elections of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela (1998), Lula in Brazil (2002), Néstor Kirchner in Argentina (2003), Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay (2004), Evo Morales in Bolivia (2005)(re-elected with 64.22% of the vote in Bolivian general election, 2009), Michelle Bachelet in Chile (2006), Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (2006), Rafael Correa in Ecuador (2007) and most recently Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (August 15, 2008) and Jose Mujica in Uruguayan general election, 2009. Although these leaders vary in their policies and attitude towards both Washington, D.C. and neoliberalism, while the state they govern also have different agendas and long-term historic tendencies, which can lead to rivalry and open contempt between themselves, they seem to have agreed on refusing the ALCA and on following a regional integration without the United States' overseeing the processus [27]. In particular, Chávez and Morales seem more disposed to ally together, while Kirchner and Lula, who has been criticized by the left-wing in Brazil, including by the Movimento dos Sem Terra (MST) landless peasants movement (who, however, did call to vote for him on his second term [28][29]), are seen as more centered. The state of Bolivia also has seen some friction with Brazil, while Chile has historically followed its own policy, distinct from other South American countries and closer to the United States. Thus, Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University, declared in a May 2006 interview:

""On one side, you have a number of administrations that are committed to moderate economic reform. On the other, you've had something of a backlash against the Washington Consensus [a set of liberal economic policies that Washington-based institutions urged Latin American countries to follow, including privatization, trade liberalization and fiscal discipline] and some emergence of populist leaders."[30]

In the same way, although a leader such as Chávez verbally attacks the George W. Bush administration as much as the latter attacks him, and claims to be following a "democratic socialist" "Bolivarian Revolution", the geo-political context has changed a lot since the 1970s. Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, thus stated:

"La Paz has found itself at the economic and political nexus of the pink tide, linked by ideology to Caracas, but economically bound to Brasilia and Buenos Aires. One thing that Morales knew, however, was that he couldn’t repudiate his campaign pledges to the electorate or deprive Bolivia of the revenue that is so urgently needed.[27]

One sign of the US setback in the region has been the OEA 2005 Secretary General election. For the first time in the OEA's history, Washington's candidate was refused by the majority of countries, after two stale-mate between José Miguel Insulza, member of the Socialist Party of Chile (PS) and former Interior Minister of the latter country, and Luis Ernesto Derbez, member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and former Foreign Minister of Mexico. Derbez was explicitly supported by the US, Canada, Mexico, Belize, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Bolivia (then presided by Carlos Mesa), Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, while Chilean minister José Insulza was supported by all the Southern Cone countries, as well as Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. José Insulza was finally elected at the third turn, and took office on May 26, 2005.

Free trade and others regional integration

While the ALCA was abandoned after the 2005 Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas, which saw protests against the venue of US President George H. W. Bush, including Argentine piqueteros, free trade agreements were not abandoned. Regional economic integration under the sign of neoliberalism continued: under the Bush administration, the United States, which had signed two free-trade agreements with Latin American countries, signed eight further agreements, reaching a total of ten such bilateral agreements (including the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement in 2003, the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in 2006, etc.). Three others, including the Peru-United States Free Trade Agreement signed in 2006, are waiting for ratification by the US Congress [31].

The Cuzco Declaration, signed a few weeks before at the Third South American Summit, announced the foundation of the Union of South American Nations (Unasul-Unasur) grouping Mercosul countries and the Andean Community and which as the aim of eliminating tariffs for non-sensitive products by 2014 and sensitive products by 2019. On the other hand, the CAFTA-DR free-trade agreement (Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement) was ratified by all countries except Costa Rica. The president of the latter country, Óscar Arias, member of the National Liberation Party and elected in February 2006, has pronounced himself in favor of the agreement.[citation needed] Canada, which also has a free-trade agreement with Costa Rica, has also been negotiating such an agreement with Central American country, named Canada Central American Free Trade Agreement.

On the other hand, Chile, which has long followed a policy differing from that of its neighbours[citation needed], has signed the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (aka P4 free-trade agreement) with Brunei, New Zealand and Singapore. The P4 came into force in May 2006. All signatory countries are member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. The United States will be joining the group as well.[citation needed]

Bilateral investment treaties

Apart from binational free-trade agreements, the US has also signed a number of bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with Latin American countries, establishing the conditions of foreign direct investment. These treaties include "fair and equitable treatment", protection from expropriation, free transfer of means and full protection and security. Critics point out that US negotiators can control the pace, content and direction of bilateral negotiations with individual countries more easily than they can with larger negotiating frameworks.[32]

In case of a disagreement between a multinational firm and a state over some kind of investment made in a Latin American country, the firm may depose a lawsuit before the ICSID (International Center for the Resolution of Investment Disputes), which is an international court depending on the World Bank. Such a lawsuit was deposed by the US-based multinational firm Bechtel following its expulsion from Bolivia during the Cochabamba protests of 2000. Local population had demonstrated against the privatization of the water company, requested by the World Bank, after poor management of the water by Bechtel. Thereafter, Bechtel requested $50 millions from the Bolivian state in reparation. However, the firm finally decided to drop the case in 2006 after an international protest campaign [33].

Such BIT were passed between the US and numerous countries (the given date is not of signature but of entrance in force of the treaty): Argentina (1994), Bolivia (2001), Ecuador (1997), Grenada (1989), Honduras (2001), Jamaica (1997), Panama (1991, amended in 2001), Trinidad and Tobago (1996). Others where signed but not ratified: El Salvador (1999), Haiti (1983 - one of the earliest, preceded by Panama), Nicaragua (1995).


In reply to the ALCA, Chavez initiated the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia signed the TCP (or People's Trade Agreement), while Venezuela, a main productor of natural gas and of petroleum (it is member of the OPEC) has signed treaties with Argentina, Brazil and Nicaragua, where Daniel Ortega, former leader of the Sandinistas, was elected in 2006 — Ortega, however, cut down his anti-imperialist and socialist discourse, and is hotly controversed both on the right-wing and on the left-wing. Chávez also implemented the Petrocaribe alliance, signed by 12 of the 15 members of the Caribbean Community in 2005. When Hurricane Katrina ravaged Florida and Louisiana, Chávez, who called the "North American Empire" a "paper tiger", even ironically proposed to provide "oil-for-the-poor" to North-Americans after Hurricane Katrina the same year, through Citgo, a subsidiary of PDVSA the state-owned Venezuelan petroleum company, which has 14,000 gas stations and owns eight oil refineries in the US [34][35].

Another rift with the ALBA and the U.S. occurred when the former rejected claims of U.S. intervention in the December 9, 2008 Nicaraguan elections. A strong ALBA [communique]] said: "We strongly reject the U.S. intervention in the internal issues of Nicaragua and we reaffirm that past elections are of exclusive competence of the Nicaraguan People and their institutions." Alba said in the communique published by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry. President Daniel Ortega, as well as the FSLN, have given examples of democracy, when contending at elections during the 1980s and peacefully giving the government to there successors."[36]

The U.S. military coalition in Iraq

In June 2003, some 1,200 troops from Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua joined forces along with Spaniard forces (1,300 troops) to form the Plus Ultra Brigade in Iraq. The Brigade was dissolved on April 2004 following the retirement of Spain from Iraq, and all Latin American nations, except El Salvador, withdrew their troops.

In September 2005, it was revealed that Triple Canopy, Inc., a private military company present in Iraq, was training Latin American mercenaries in Lepaterique in Honduras [37]. Lepaterique was a former training base for the Contras. 105 Chilean mercenaries were deported from the country. According to La Tribuna Honduran newspaper, in one day in November, Your Solutions shipped 108 Hondurans, 88 Chileans and 16 Nicaraguans to Iraq [38]. Approximatively 700 Peruvians, 250 Chileans and 320 Hondurans work in Baghdad's Green Zone for Triple Canopy, paid half price in comparison to North-American employees. The news also attracted attention in Chile, when it became known that retired military Marina Óscar Aspe worked for Triple Canopy. The latter had taken part to the assassination of Marcelo Barrios Andrade, a 21 years-old member of the FPMR, who is on the list of victims of the Rettig Report — while Marina Óscar Aspe is on the list of the 2001 Comisión Ética contra la Tortura (2001 Ethical Commission Against Torture). Triple Canopy also has a subsidiary in Peru [37].

In July 2007, salvadoran president Antonio Saca reduced the number of deployed troops in Iraq from 380, to 280 soldiers. Four salvadoran soldiers have died in different situations since deployment in 2003, but on the bright side, more than 200 projects aimed to rebuild Iraq have been completed[39].

Bolivia's nationalization of natural resources

2003 Poster for a photo exhibition of the Bolivian Gas War, which lead to the resignation of US-supported [40] president Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada and the subsequent election of Evo Morales, first Aymara president of Bolivia and opponent of US sponsored coca eradication programs.

The struggle for natural resources and the US defense of its commercial interests has not ceased a single instant since the zenith period of the Banana republics supported by the US. But the general context has changed a lot, and each country's approach has much evolved. Thus, the Bolivian Gas War in 2003-04 was sparked after projects by the Pacific LNG consortium to export natural gas — Bolivia possessing the second largest natural gas reserves in South America after Venezuela — to California (Baja California and US California) via Chile, resented in Bolivia since the War of the Pacific (1879-1884) which deprived it of an access to the Pacific Ocean. The ALCA was also opposed during the demonstrations, headed by the Bolivian Workers' Center and Felipe Quispe's Indigenous Pachakuti Movement (MIP). The US also opposed Chávez, quickly recognizing the government of Pedro Carmona during the 2002 coup attempt which briefly overthrew him.

A proof of the new geopolitical context can be seen in Evo Morales' announcement, in concordance with his electoral promises, of the nationalization of gas reserves, the second highest in South America after Venezuela. First of all, he carefully warned that they would not take the form of expropriations or confiscations, maybe fearing a violent response. The nationalizations, which, according to Vice President Álvaro García are supposed to make the government's energy-related revenue jump to $780 million in the following year, expanding nearly sixfold from 2002 [41], led to criticisms from Brazil, which Petrobras company is one of the largest foreign investors in Bolivia, controlling 14% of the country's gas reserves [42]. Bolivia is one of the poorest country in South America, and was heavily affected by protests in the 1980s-90s, largely due to the shock therapy enforced by previous governments [27], and also by resentment concerning the coca eradication program — coca is a traditional plant for the Aymara people, who use it for therapeutical (against altitude sickness) and cultural purposes. Thus, Brazil's Energy Minister, Silas Rondeau, reacted to Morales' announcement by condemning the move as "unfriendly." [43] According to Reuters, "Bolivia's actions echo what Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, possibly Morales' biggest ally, did in the world's fifth-largest oil exporter with forced contract migrations and retroactive tax hikes – conditions that major oil companies largely agreed to accept." The Bolivian gas company YPFB, privatized by former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada, was to pay foreign companies for their services, offering about 50 percent of the value of production, although the decree indicated that companies exploiting the country's two largest gas fields would get just 18 percent. After initially hostile reactions, Repsol "expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Bolivian government, while Petrobras retreated its call to cancel new investment in Bolivia [27]. However, still according to Larry Birns, "The nationalization's high media profile could force the [US] State Department to take a tough approach to the region, even to the point of mobilizing the CIA and the U.S. military, but it is more likely to work its way by undermining the all-important chink in the armor – the Latin American armed forces." [27]

U.S. controlling presence in the Triple Frontier

The Argentine film called Sed, Invasión Gota a Gota ("Thirst, Invasion Drop by Drop"), directed by Mausi Martínez, portrays the military of the United States as slowly but steadily increasing its presence in the Triple Frontera (Triple Frontier, the area around the common borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil). The overt reason for the increasing presence of U.S. troops and joint exercises, mainly with Paraguay, is to monitor the large Arab population which resides in the area. However, Martínez alleges that it is the water of the Guarani Aquifer which brings the Americans to the area, and she fears a subtle takeover before the local governments even realize what is going on.

Similar concerns were lifted following both the signature of a military training agreement with Paraguay, which accorded immunity to U.S. soldiers from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and was indefinitely renewable (something which had never been done before, while Donald Rumsfeld himself visited Paraguay and, for the first time ever, Paraguayan president Nicanor Duarte Frutos went to the White House), and the construction of a U.S. military base near the airport of Mariscal Estigarribia, within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia and 300 km of Brazil. The airport can receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguayan Air Force does not possess.[44][45]. The governments of Paraguay and the United States subsequently ostensibly declared that the use of an airport (Dr Luís María Argaña International)[2] was one point of transfer for few soldiers in Paraguay at the same time. According to the Argentine newspaper Clarín, the U.S. military base is strategic because of its location near the Triple Frontier, its proximity to the Guaraní Aquifer, and its closeness to Bolivia (less than 200 km) at the same "moment that Washington's magnifying glass goes on the Altiplano [Bolivia] and points toward Venezuelan [president] Hugo Chávez — the regional devil according to the Bush administration — as the instigator of the instability in the region" (El Clarín [45]). In October 2006, US President George W. Bush was reported to be negotiating for purchase of a 400 km² ranch near Marriscal Estigarribia [46][47].

But Paraguay decided in October 2006 not to renew the immunity granted to US soldiers. The other members of the Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, which is a Major non-NATO ally, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela, which is in the process of entering it have so far refused to grant immunity to U.S. troops [48].

See also

Binational relationships


  1. ^ "Latin America's Left Turn". Retrieved 23 March 2008. 
  2. ^ Shoultz, Lars. "Beneath the United States" pg. 166-169. The U.S. violated Colombian sovereignty in that they supported the secession of Panama through the use of the U.S. navy. Senator Edward Carmack was quoted as saying, "There never was any real insurrection in Panama. To all intents and purposes [sic] there was but one man in that insurrection, and that man was the President of the United States."
  3. ^ Glickman, Robert Jay. Norteamérica vis-à-vis Hispanoamérica: ¿oposición o asociación? Toronto: Canadian Academy of the Arts, 2005.
  4. ^ Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. "First Inaugural Address." Washington DC. 04 Mar 1933.
  5. ^ Edgar B. Nixon, ed. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Foreign Affairs: Volume I, 559-60.
  6. ^ Adam, Thomas, ed (2005). Transatlantic relations series. Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : a Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Volume II. ABC-CLIO. p. 181-2. ISBN 1851096280. 
  7. ^ Inter-American economic affairs Volumes 15-16, by Institute of Inter-American Studies in Washington D.C., Inter-American Affairs Press, 1975
  8. ^ LaFeber, Walter. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945–1992 7th ed. (1993)
  9. ^ "Latin America and the United States: A Documentary History", by Robert H. Holden & Eric Zolov, Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0195129946
  10. ^ Fursenko and Naftali, The Cuban Missile Crisis. p40-47
  11. ^ Bay of Pigs Global
  12. ^ Castro marks Bay of Pigs victory BBC News
  13. ^ Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders Original document
  14. ^ "Cold War", Dictionary of the Social Sciences. Craig Calhoun, ed. Oxford University Press. 2002.
  15. ^ Bell, P M H (2001). The World Since 1945. Oxford University Press. 0340662360. 
  16. ^ According to the National Security Archive, the Argentine junta led by Jorge Rafael Videla believed it had United States' approval for its all-out assault on the left in the name of "national security doctrine". The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires complained to Washington that the Argentine officers were "euphoric" over signals from high-ranking U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. See ARGENTINE MILITARY BELIEVED U.S. GAVE GO-AHEAD FOR DIRTY WAR, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 73 - Part II, CIA classified documents released in 2002
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ Correa highligts new socialism in Latin America
  19. ^ Sao Paulo Journal; Lula's Progress: From Peasant Boy to President?
  20. ^ Venezuela championing a new socialist agenda
  21. ^ Argentina's Néstor Kirchner: Peronism Without the Tears
  22. ^ Socialist takes oath as Uruguay president
  23. ^ Neo-liberalism and the New Socialism – speech by Alvaro Garcia Linera (Vicepresident of Bolivia)
  24. ^ Chile's Socialist President Exits Enjoying Wide Respect
  25. ^ Daniel Ortega - the Sandinista is back as president of Nicaragua
  26. ^ Paraguay's new president believes in God and 21st-Century Socialism
  27. ^ a b c d e The Aftermath of Bolivia’s Gas Golpe, Larry Birns and Michael Lettieri, Political Affairs Magazine, July 5, 2006
  28. ^ Interview with Geraldo Fontes of the MST, In Motion Magazine, March 26, 2005 (English)
  29. ^ MST calls for Congress-Brazilian people alliance, Radiobras, 23/06/2005 (English)
  30. ^ Bolivia's Nationalization of Oil and Gas, US Council on Foreign Relations, May 12, 2006
  31. ^ Le Figaro, 8 March 2007, George Bush défie Hugo Chavez sur son terrain (French)
  32. ^ Latin America: Bilateral Trade Deals Favor U.S. Interests
  33. ^ Bechtel vs Bolivia, The Democracy Center, URL accessed on 14 March 2007
  34. ^ Chavez offers oil to Europe's poor, The Observer, May 14, 2006
  35. ^ Chavez' Surprise for Bush, New York Daily News, September 18, 2005, mirrored by Common Dreams
  36. ^
  37. ^ a b Capítulos desconocidos de los mercenarios chilenos en Honduras camino de Iraq, La Nación, September 25, 2005 - URL accessed on February 14, 2007 (Spanish)
  38. ^ Latin American mercenaries guarding Baghdad’s Green Zone, December 28, 2005
  39. ^ (Spanish) Contingente IX con menos soldados a Iraq, La Prensa Grafica, July 15, 2007
  40. ^ The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on October 13 declaring its support for Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, calling for "Bolivia's political leaders [to] publicly express their support for democratic and constitutional order. The international community and the United States will not tolerate any interruption of constitutional order and will not support any regime that results from undemocratic means." This statement followed the death of 60 Bolivians during the police and army repression, in particular in El Alto, the Aymara suburb of La Paz "Call for Respect for Constitutional Order in Bolivia". US State Department. October 13, 2003. Retrieved April 2006. 
  41. ^ "Bolivia's military takes control of gas fields". Reuters. May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  42. ^ "Bolivia gas under state control". BBC News. May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  43. ^ (Portuguese) "Ministro de Minas e Energia classifica decreto boliviano de "inamistoso"". Folha de Sao Paulo. May 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-02. 
  44. ^ "U.S. Military Moves in Paraguay Rattle Regional Relations". International Relations Center. December 14, 2005. Retrieved April 2006. 
  45. ^ a b US Marines put a foot in Paraguay, El Clarín, September 9, 2005 (Spanish)
  46. ^ "Pres. Bush buys 100,000-acre (400 km2) ranch in Paraguay". SF Bay Area Independent Media Center. October 19, 2006. Retrieved October 2006. 
  47. ^ "Gobernador admite que hay versiones de que Bush compró tierras en el Chaco". Neike Periodismo Independiente. 11 October 2006. Retrieved October 2006. 
  48. ^ Paraguay Hardens U.S. Military Stance, The Washington Post, October 3, 2006

Further reading

  • Mellander, Gustavo A.; Nelly Maldonado Mellander (1999). Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Editorial Plaza Mayor. ISBN 1563281554. OCLC 42970390.
  • Mellander, Gustavo A. (1971). The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years. Danville, Ill.: Interstate Publishers. OCLC 138568.
  • When States Kill: Latin America, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror, ed. by Cecilia Menjivar and Nestor Rodriguez, University of Texas Press, 2005
  • Rodríguez Hernández, Saúl, La influencia de los Estados Unidos en el Ejército Colombiano, 1951-1959, Medellin, La Carreta, 2006, ISBN 958-97811-3-6.

External links


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