Final Draft - History of U.S. involvement in Latin America

This discussion topic submitted by Phillip Buerk ( at 3:14 pm on 6/4/99. Additions were last made on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Phillip Buerk
GLG 599
A Brief History of U.S. involvement in Latin America

I. Monroe Doctrine - 1823
A. pre-1823

1. U.S. wished to displace Great Britain as the commercial and territorial powers in the western Hemisphere

2. 1797 - Spain, which controlled much of Latin America, opened its ports to neutral countries, due to conflicts in Europe
a. U.S. export trade increased from 3% to 12%, from 1796 to 1806

3. 1803 Louisiana Purchase from France, which gave the U.S., Louisiana
a. This increased the desire to acquire Texas and Florida, as well as blocking the sale of those two territories to other European powers
4. 1811- No -Transfer Resolution - ordered occupation of West Florida, on the grounds that Spain could not control insurrections (U.S.
Settlers), and there was a need to prevent foreign occupation
a. This is significant because it is the first instance the U.S. used the "need to forestall intervention by non-American powers"
5. 1819 - Adams-Onfs Treaty - U.S. Annexed Florida
6. 1822 - President Monroe recognized the independence from Spain of new, sovereign states - Chile, Argentina (the United Provinces of Rio
de la Plata), Peru, Columbia and Mexico.
a. The new colonies then came under British neo-colonialism
1. G.B. negotiated commercial treaties, and gave loans
B. Monroe Doctrine
1. Political statement to Europe
a. American continents are free and independent and from then on are not to be considered subjects for future European colonization
b. Declaration that any attempt to extend into the America's by a European power would be a threat to American "peace and safety"
1. This declaration was not a declaration of interference in existing European colonies, but any future interference in independent countries
would be considered "unfriendly" toward the U.S.
2. U.S. lacks strength to enforce
a. In the next 20 years there were 4 different interventions in Latin America by Great Britain, that clearly challenged the Monroe
pronouncement, but the U.S. was unable to do anything about
3. Statement for the future
a. Although, the U.S. was unable to prevent future interventions by European powers, the stage was set for the U.S. to demonstrate that the
Western Hemisphere was to be controlled by the U.S.
b. Moral justification so U.S. could set-up a sphere of influence throughout Latin America
II. Cuba
A. Pre-revolution Cuba
1. Consideration of Cuba as a part of Florida - Since conception of the Union
2. U.S. Manifest Destiny
a. 1848- Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo - Annexed 1/3 -1/2 Mexico
b. 1853- Gadsden Purchase - southern parts of New Mexico and Arizona
B. 1898- Spanish American War
1. Increased U.S. capital in Cuba
a. Largest national sugar company was U.S. owned
b. $50 million invested in Cuba
2. 2/98 USS Maine blows up in Havana Harbor
3. 8/98 Spanish surrender
4. U.S. realized not to try and take over colonial role of Spanish
C. 1901 - Cuban Constitution
1. U.S. was given informal political control - Platt Amendment
a. U.S. was given legal authority to intervene
b. U.S. was given legal authority to preserve independence of Cuba
c. U.S. was given territorial concessions for U.S. Navy base
D. Cuba was given preferential trade status
1. Exports increased to dependence on the U.S. market
a. 1898 - $15 million
c. 1914 - $131 million
E. Result of U.S. success in Cuba - belief U.S. could transform unstable, undemocratic countries into developed western states
III. Panama Canal
A. Hay-Herra'n Treaty with Columbia
1. Settlement to build a canal through Nicaragua
a. Columbia rejected the treaty over money and sovereignty
B. Panamanian Revolution - 1903
1. U.S. supported revolutionary Philippe Bunau-Varilla
a. Acknowledged Panama as a country 3 days after the start of the uprising
b. U.S. gained sovereignty over 10 miles wide canal zone
c. U.S. was given permission to defend canal zone however it deemed necessary, including intervention
d. Panama received $10 million, and $250 K annually
e. The treaty was to be in affect forever
IV. Guatemala
A. 1944 Revolution
1. U.S. did not support or oppose revolution to overthrow dictator Ubico
2. New presidential administration under Juan Jose' Are'valo
a. Reformist government, middle class revolutionaries
3. United Fruit Company
a. Largest private enterprise in the country
b. Controlled International Railways of C.A.
4. 1953 - new government began limiting land size of UFCO
a. Acreage went from 233,973 to 172,532
5. Government sought to control foreign control of commerce
a. Petroleum
b. Electric power
c. Land ownership
6. 1954 Revolution
a. CIA assisted, supported by the United Fruit Company
1. Returned land to UFCO, and returned control of railroad control
2. Started 30 year civil war

"The Emergence of Latin America in the Nineteenth Century" Second Edition. Bushnell, David & Macaulay, Neill. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

"The Hovering Giant: U.S. Responses to Revolutionary Change in Latin America 1910-1985" Blasier, Cole. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.

"America and the Americas: The United States in the Western Hemisphere" Langley, Lester D. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.

"Exporting Democracy: The United States and Latin America" Edited by Lowenthal, Abraham F. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

"The United States and Latin America: An Historical Analysis of Inter-American Relations" Connell-Smith, Gordon. London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1974.

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