Contemporary revolution in Latin America; United States and Latin America, part 1
The following program is produced by the University of Florida's school of journalism and communications under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters.
The University of Florida presents the United States and Latin America Part 1 attempt in a series of recorded documentary reports on the contemporary revolution in Latin America. Your reporter is the distinguished American journalist and editor of The Christian Science Monitor or windy Canada.
In today's world the need for the United States to maintain favorable relations with the 20 Latin American Republics is never seriously challenged in trade and investment. Latin America stands head and shoulder above the rest of the world in importance to the United States. Two way trade reaches over 8 billion dollars annually. American private investment has passed the 9 billion dollar mark. While our government has invested more than two and one half billions in this region but perhaps of even more significance is the strategic value of Latin America in the Cold War. Hotel Matthews of the New York Times had described this region as a world at our doorstep on which to a considerable degree we depend for our existence as a world power. If we were deprived of the raw materials of the area or its markets continues Matthews our economy and our security would be gravely perhaps vitally affected. Matthews warns us it is an area where no hostile power can be allowed to gain a foothold. For strategically this is our soft underbelly. The biting criticism in the anti Yankee ism levelled by Latin Americans at the United States as reported in almost every day's press is certainly not a new development in our long search for a workable Latin American policy. Indeed Latin Americans have viewed the United States as a colossus of the north for more than a century and a half. Throughout most of the 19th century and well into the 20th century much of Latin American literature including point three has been directed against the United States and its policies surprisingly enough however. Our relations with Latin America got off to a fairly good start. The United States was the first outside nation to recognize these newly established republics as they fought for and won their independence from Spain Portugal and France. The United States a very young nation still struggling to maintain its newly won independence very quickly discovered the strategic importance of this region to its security. In December 18 23 we issued a foreign policy statement that has since become known as the Munroe doctrine. It was conceived by then Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and delivered as part of President James Monroe's message to Congress. The essence of the doctrine is contained in this one sentence directed toward European powers.
We don't like their foreign to candor and to be amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and security.
The initial reaction of Latin America to the Monroe Doctrine was anything but favorable. Many students of Hemispheric Affairs see in the doctrine one of the first stumbling blocks. You know historically troubled relations with Latin America.
You know when the Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed in 1923. There was comment all over the western hemisphere it was all over the world of course about what our objectives were and it didn't take the Latin Americans long to realize that we were trying to do something that they didn't quite understand and it made them suspicious of us immediately and the Monroe Doctrine has tended to make them continue in their suspicion of us over the years. Director of the University of Florida school of bitter American studies Dr. Curtis will discuss the early effects of the Monroe Doctrine with a faculty member I don't I think you know Dr. West or you as a professor of history have a number of comments to make on this early period the 19th century because it was such a critical period.
But Dr. Melgen I think in part the reaction the initial reaction against the Monroe Doctrine was based upon disappointment. Dr. Donald West editor of the Hispanic American Historical Review during the Latin American wars of independence the Latin Americans anticipated and hoped for substantial aid from the United States.
But no official aid was forthcoming. It's true that men like Henry Clay spoke strongly in favor of assisting Latin America and statues of him and appeared in various of the Latin American countries. But United States was not in a position to help anyone militarily or economically. Basically this was an attempt to guarantee the security of the United States and nothing more. It was unilateral doctrine as is the case with most of the major aspects of any nation's foreign policy. Later on later presidents interpreted the Monroe Doctrine and manners to make it possible for for them to carry out policies which may not have. Affected directly Western Hemisphere security.
One of those later presidents with a new interpretation for the Monroe Doctrine was Theodore Roosevelt. His Roosevelt corollary I should in an age of protective imperialism and dollar diplomacy.
One of the things that we insisted on at that time was pretty much the sanctity of American investments.
Professor of Latin American economics at the University of Florida. Robert Bradbury explains the meaning of the Roosevelt corollary.
And one of the modifications of the Monroe Doctrine was the Roosevelt corollary that if we sat under the no doctrine that a European nation could not intervene in Latin American affairs we were morally responsible to be the collecting agency for our bad debts where a Latin American nation refused to pay. This led in the 20th century to our sending Marines into Central American republics and who Haiti and Santa Domingo in order to collect debts. Also this increase in our economic interest in Latin America. And as a result of the war with Spain our acquisition of territories over seas forces cause us to be interested in the construction of the Panama Canal the Panama Canal episode is unanimously agreed upon in both North and South America is one of the truly black pages in American history.
There is no doubt that the United States intervened in the Panamanian revolt against Colombia that we prevented Colombian troops from lending there. Dr. Wister comments on Theodore Roosevelt's role.
He Teddy said that it was his policy to speak softly or walk softly and carry a big stick and the sound of them using it first but only after the.
Panama ferret was no longer amusing. The treaty we signed with Panama after Panamanian independence was probably the most rapid action of this thorn ever taken by the United States and this is one of the things which caused some eyebrows to be raised with regard to our part in the whole affair.
It has been written that our intervention in Panama. What with all the diplomatic legal and financial manipulations it's something that most Americans wish they could forget. Without of course losing the canal this episode as well as other interventions in Mexico Cuba Haiti Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have left a legacy of mistrust that still exists in Latin America. By the 1920s this kind of imperialism did not sit comfortably with the American people. Besides we had emerged as a stronger nation after World War One and a sense of security came over the nation. The Kellogg pre-owned act in 1988 outlawing will remove the Bawd least designed to outlaw remove the possibility of European intervention in Latin America.
On paper and so the stage was set for the good neighbor policy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was not the first American statesman to use this famous phrase over a century before Secretary of State Henry Clay had used it to describe his Latin American policy. President Lincoln used the phrase good neighborhood in a message to the Senate in 1862. President elect Herbert Hoover in a goodwill tour through Latin America promised the Latins that his administration would act as a good neighbor. But it remained for if we are to give the phrase eloquence as well as application.
I thought that OK best place ever. I don't think I've made up the number. Back then after oh I don't know for a fact. All right let me. Back. Up like an average of thank you for you have your back pretty much and I am whatever.
This is Jules Dubois our Latin American correspondent of The Chicago Tribune.
Good Neighbor Policy did bring a smile and communication to Latin American the famous have to be our smile and his communication he talked to them regularly and sent emissaries around to put the precautions for that good neighbor policy was Herbert Hoover. He's the one who started rolling the FDR in his inaugural address gave it a name and impetus the Latin Americans love slogans by slogans as easily as they buy lottery tickets. And if we can promote a good slogan and back it up with some effective measures and we've got it made we would want to have at it.
And as far as Latin America was concerned so we're the good neighbor policy. Probably for a while in the Cold War and the Marshall plan established a new focus for United States policy.
Faced with the immediate danger of the economic and political collapse of Western Europe United States responded in one hundred forty eight with the introduction of the Marshall Plan this massive aid program excluded our southern neighbors. Consequently Latin American dreams of a continuing wartime industrial boom and prosperity were cruelly shattered. One of the most consistent complaints heard in Latin America is that ever since V-J Day this region has been neglected by Washington. A Colombian businessman and former diplomat described to a group of Colombia's hope for the future.
Bae it is so important.
But I will just add ministration by recognizing that the net in American countries that was very important for the United States and you know consequently you know has done in the past of Europe and not on those countries going to the communist orbit in those areas.
But we recognize that the 19 Americans and particularly the Colombians have been faithful friends and and eyes and feel very bad about having been in the nasty place in a nation of programs not only of mutual cooperation in terms of global defense.
Certainly the dissatisfaction with United States policies in Latin America has been deeply rooted in economics. The postwar world had created new problems for our sister republics during the war because of the United States's great need for their raw materials and the on availability of many imports from other parts of the world. Latin America accumulated almost 4 and one half billion dollars in gold and foreign exchange holdings. Then in the wake of post-war inflation the Latin American nations stood helplessly by as the purchasing power of their dollar reserves dwindled. The Truman administration removed domestic price ceilings the price of many products which the Latin Americans need rose sharply.
Studies show that Peru for example was forced to pay more than twice as much for household appliances automobiles and radios as it previously paid. Before the war. You know Ed. that an American somehow felt the United States responsible for the chronic fluctuations in the prices paid for their own basic export products coffee metals cotton bananas are technically known as the instability of commodity prices. This condition has nontechnical effects that the entire population feels the pinching of the pocketbook the tightening of the trouser belt. Latin Americans see themselves caught in the center of a large pair of economic scissors one blade represents the depressed prices of their commodity products the other blade is the steadily increasing costs of imports mostly from the United States. The dean of a medical school near Cali Colombia told us of the effect on coffee growers in his country when the price of coffee on the world market dropped nearly 50 percent in less than five years.
That means that those families don't as coffee growers I receive in for this same airport on what they were receiving five years ago and they are importing goods from the state. I bought 40 pounds and more probably the cost because farming equipment in my chin area and all the things that we need have been slow is slowly going up in price. I know where the money is going down. So really they these people are receiving about 25 percent of what they were receiving five years ago for the same effort that tends to create bad feelings of course during most of the post-war period when aid was forthcoming from the United States.
It was rather likely to be military aid. This may have pleased the Latin American militarist but it certainly built up resentment on the part of those citizens who were trying to raise their country's level of living men like Dr. Gabriele Velasquez former Minister of Public Health and past director of education in the department of value in Colombia who has this to say 0 3 0 8 in the past year and with some exceptions was for military aid.
I remember. And then they go about four or five years ago while we were struggling in requesting money for improving education handled even in loans. I wasn't invited to see a demonstration of their new jet that were given a very low price to our government. On one of the military out the chairs proudly came to me and said What do you think of this beautiful get given for such a small price. And I said well I dream of eight universities that I can build with the same amount of money each of those what about a million dollars in United States military aid.
America was part of our program to aamod our friends in the struggle against communism. This had been the chief concern of our foreign policy since 1970 when President Truman said in effect that we would have to defend ourselves at great distances rather than waiting to meet a communist threat on our beaches. A direct result of this exclusively anti-communist policy was the support and the appearance of support which we gave to cruel corrupt dictators by professing to be anti communist dictators such as Batiste in Cuba to Helio in the Dominican Republic their own in Argentina Somoza in Nicaragua. Perry's Heman is in Venezuela. These men are despised by their people who are able to secure the favor of the United States. Even as late as December 1968 noted Latin American advocate of democracy who say figures could be rate an American audience for embracing dictators.
The United States have had too much complacency to like everyone to lie once when the regimes that were hated with the people. And the United States has. Overlooked Latin America and this terrible attitude of not knowing what is going on. I'm not making any distinction between a democratic movement and a dictatorial one. In not knowing who the leaders were in not knowing what was going on or who wanted honest reform honest and honest and democratic social movement and who is what I think the purpose of United States in doing this that is maintaining dictators is to keep the land America from communism.
Mario are you a Cuban exile attending the University of Florida. His is typical of student opinion throughout Latin America.
But I would say that that just creates resentment on the part of the Latin American countries. I could cite for instance the example of Nicaragua. Where the sons of a former dictator samosa are now details of the country. This former dictator samosa was sending power by the United States and they live on a hill which it's on top of the city of my now was the capital of Nicaragua and this heel is also rounded by tanks and military force and the only other building besides the. So residents Elisa most often is the United States embassy which is inside that military fence there so that that creates an identification between the dictators which are hated by the people and the United States and naturally when those dictators are overthrown then the natural reaction of the people is against the United States and toward the only other leading country in the world namely Russia or communism.
Another factor we're hoping to create a climate of anti-Americanism or is the failure of many Latin Americans to make a distinction between American businessmen and the United States government. A few horrible examples among the many shining ones in our business community operating in Latin America gave the United States a black eye difficult to live down.
In general the ill feelings come from a mutual lack of understanding observations from a Chilean born assistant editor of the McGraw-Hill trade magazine industry Sankyo gets it too gentle to be Americans who are sent to Latin America do not know the language nor do they make much of an attempt to learn it while there they are right there. The Americans are usually sent on shore in short time assignments without a proper orientation program here in the United States before they go down there.
Investment of dollars in Brazil.
Has taken on a form which is not very healthy criticism from one of Brazil's most successful businessmen and industrialists.
Antonio buying a company could come to Brazil especially after the Second World War when the United States had practically a monopoly on the World Trade and the ability to deliver manufacturing goods and practically make a profit which it wanted to make and in as much as the Sherman Anti-trust laws did not go beyond the boundaries of the United States.
This enabled certain American firms to get together on the local market as they probably did in all foreign countries.
And I have a different set of rules for that foreign business from what they had in that domestic company.
A Brazilian director of Willis overland of Brazil tells us what sort of American company his country would welcome and what kind should stay out.
It is only a question of going to them and the firm proposal of coming to establish I mean the point I'm not a playa by night. I wanted to make a quick profit and get the hell out.
We've been listening to the nature of the resentment Latin Americans had against our foreign policy a resentment that had been building up under both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.
These were the widespread feelings of Latin Americans in the spring of 958 when Vice President Richard M. Nixon set off for a goodwill tour of South America was the State Department aware of how Latin America felt. TIME two months before the Nixon trip the scene hearing room of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations questioning Senator William Fulbright Democrat Iraq and so do you believe Mr. rubato that there is widespread discontent in Latin America with United States policies. And so from Assistant Secretary of State for enter American affairs Roy rubato No sir I do not.
No one in Washington realized clearly how deep the reason was against United States policy. When Vice President Richard Nixon took off on an 18 day tour of Latin America this spring but he began to show early in the trip.
Correspondent Wells church who accompanied Nick's reporting his observations later that year over CBS Radio we noticed that a normal guy in Argentina a better guy in Bolivia.
The crowds were quite cool and the Latin reporters questions sometimes hostile. And in Lima Peru the first demonstrations broke out.
The vice president was stoned and spat upon.
The violence reached a crescendo when Mr. Nixon arrived in Caracas the capital of Venezuela. Then the Vice President's car was rushed by the mob which was obviously led by communists and communist sympathizers. They threw a rock shattering the limousine glass windows and Mr. Nixon's very life was in danger and afterward he told reporters what went through his mind at that very moment.
My thoughts were with regard. What are you going to do in the next minute the next five minutes.
You don't think in terms of world politics and him it's very common when somebody is banging on your window and the vice president also expressed a velocity that might guide the United States in its relations with countries of Latin and South America.
One rule we must never forget in international relations as well as in political or business affairs is that we must never take our friends for granted. What we must get across there as well as in other parts of the world is this very simple message that we the government the people of the United States want for other peoples. Just what we have for ourselves independence for our country freedom for our people. And the greatest possibilities for economic progress that can be devised.
One of the repercussions of the entire affair was a sweeping study of our relations with our neighbors to the south and a reappraisal of the aid programs we sponsor him. Latin America some of the changes resulting from the hard luck we were forced to take in ourselves as a result of the attacks on Vice President Nixon are starting to have an effect reaching long into the future.
Looking at the Nixon trip with all the advantage that comes with hindsight it's not possible to say it gave our Latin American policy a new direction as a direct result of his jolting experience. Mr Nixon came to a number of reasonable conclusions and policy ideas. One was a new formula for handling dictators. A coup hand shake leaving the brakes the Abrazo for our Democratic friends. Mr Nixon believed a widespread misunderstanding of our motives existed in Latin America. He believed that our diplomats were wilfully out of tune with Latin American opinion because of too much contact with the elite. Not enough contact with the political opposition labor leaders the people. He believed that we should try to do something about protecting these nations from wild fluctuations of prices paid for their basic export products and finally believe the United States should assert its Democratic leadership more vigorously in Latin America. You know to stem the tide of communism is rising appeal. Mr. Nixon felt if the trip had called attention of our government and our people to the pressing problems of Latin America then it was well worth those agonizing moments in Caracas. Next week's program we'll examine the evolution of our current Latin American policy.
In. The United States and Latin America. Part one is the 10th in a series of weekly documentary reports on the contemporary revolution in Latin America. The program is now rated by the distinguished journalist and editor of The Christian Science Monitor. Very windy. This series is produced in cooperation with the University of Florida school of into American studies.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
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- This program, the first of two parts, explores the complicated relationship between the United States and Latin America.
- A documentary series on problems facing Latin America, including panel discussions at program conclusion. The series is hosted by Erwin Canham, editor at the Christian Science Monitor.
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- United States-Latin American relations
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Host: Canham, Erwin D. (Erwin Dain), 1904-1982
Interviewee: Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Interviewee: Worcester, Donald E. (Donald Emmet), 1915-2003
Interviewee: Dubois, Jules, 1910-
Interviewee: Velasquez, Gabriel
Interviewee: Church, Wells
Producing Organization: University of Florida
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-54-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Contemporary revolution in Latin America; United States and Latin America, part 1,” 1961-11-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 22, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_500-00003k7q.
- MLA: “Contemporary revolution in Latin America; United States and Latin America, part 1.” 1961-11-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 22, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_500-00003k7q>.
- APA: Contemporary revolution in Latin America; United States and Latin America, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_500-00003k7q