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Young & Kent: International Relations since 1945. The Cold War and Latin America. American attempts to thwart indigenous challenges. Latin America’s geo-political differences. Tropical countries exporting tropical produce the price of which is unstable and difficult to control

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the cold war and latin america

Young & Kent:

International Relations since 1945

The Cold War and Latin America

American attempts to thwart indigenous challenges

latin america s geo political differences
Latin America’s geo-political differences
  • Tropical countries exporting tropical produce the price of which is unstable and difficult to control

e.g. Guatemala, Nicaragua

  • Temperate zone nations or nations with some temperate zones

e.g. Chile, Argentina, Uruguay

  • Countries with low population density

 e.g. Nicaragua

  • Countries with high population density

e.g. Guatemala

  • The dependency inherent in countries with exports dominated by small numbers of products most of which go to a single larger market
eisenhower and latin america 1953 1957
Eisenhower and Latin America 1953-1957
  • The social and economic problems

- the emergence of a strong middle class handicapped by the imbalance and inequality of large estates and a small landowning class

-large numbers of small holders or labourers

- the limitations of development policy because Eisenhower wished to rely on private investment

  • The political problems

- the American belief that non-communist left wing reformist movements would be taken over by communists and constituted a similar threat

guatemala and the results of arbenz s victory
Guatemala and the results of Arbenz’s victory
  • Economic conditions in Guatemala

- 2% of the population owned 70% of the cultivatable land

- much land left fallow by foreign companies to raise prices by limiting production

- United Fruit Company important due to influence in Washington, notably through the Dulles brothers (Allen head of the CIA, John Foster Secretary of State)

  • In 1951 the new president introduced measures to limit the power of foreign companies
  • The new democracy had four communist members in Arbenz’s parliamentary governing coalition
  • No members of the Arbenz government were communist
  • The United Fruit Company lost uncultivated land
  • The US government decided to use covert operations to remove the Arbenz regime
causes and consequences of the guatemalan coup 1953 54
Causes and consequences of the Guatemalan Coup 1953-54
  • The specific threat to private American interests
  • The general threat to Washington’s aim to preserve a capitalist socio-economic order as a vital part of Cold War strategy
  • The CIA dropping leaflets and explosive devices to mislead the public and contacting army officers to turn them against Arbenz
  • Covert operations were now linked to Eisenhower’s New Look defence strategy
  • Efforts at economic reform and democratization were abandoned by the new Arnas regime
eisenhower s cold war latin american policy 1957 1959
Eisenhower’s Cold War Latin American policy 1957-1959
  • The rejection of supporting dictators with 10 ousted
  • Increasing US government commitment to the economic development deemed necessary to promote democracy e.g. the 1958 regional development bank
  • The need to react to Soviet expansion proved to be a justification of, rather than a reason for, the policy because of Moscow’s limited involvement in Latin America even as measured by diplomatic representation
the cuban revolution and its consequences
The Cuban Revolution and its Consequences
  • January 1959: Fidel Castro’s overthrow of Batista had support from middle class Cuban reformists
  • Contacts between Castro’s brother Raoul and Soviet communists helped the revolution move leftwards and aroused US opposition which also inclined the revolution to turn to Moscow
  • Castro increasingly embraced nationalization in 1960 and the Eisenhower government planned his overthrow
  • US fear of the spread of Castro’s ideas in Latin America
kennedy and the alliance for progress
Kennedy and the Alliance for Progress
  • Kennedy desired a more dynamic US policy to prevent the Cuban revolution and its ideas becoming a more attractive alternative to capitalist democracy in Latin America
  • The Alliance for Progress was designed to give substantial government development aid to democratize politics through achieving greater economic prosperity
  • Alliance for Progress investment within the existing socio-economic structures made development more successful in terms of greater GNP. Yet investment was more of a failure in terms of the distribution of the surplus and decrease of inequality
  • The attraction and political acceptance of moderate reform was therefore reduced and the likelihood of radical revolution increased

- more dependence on foreign aid and enterprise

- less opportunity for indigenous enterprise as no growth in the internal market

- more landless labourers

kennedy and the bay of pigs
Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs
  • The operation was based on an Eisenhower CIA plan to covertly organize an invasion of Cuba and overthrow of Castro by Cuban exiles
  • Failed in April 1961 because of

- no support within Cuba for the exiles

- an ill chosen landing site

- Kennedy’s refusal to supply overt air support

johnson and the new quest for stability
Johnson and the new quest for stability
  • Johnson and the failure of the Alliance for Progress to prevent left wing regimes gaining power

- argument that the Alliance for Progress failed because it emphasized security more than development

- Under-Secretary Thomas Mann argument that stability could be produced by dependent regimes even dictatorial ones

  • Johnson assisted the removal of

- Jagan in British Guyana

- Goulart in Brazil

johnson and the dominican crisis
Johnson and the Dominican Crisis
  • President Trujillo’s assassination in 1961 led to the election of the radical anti-American regime of Juan Bosch
  • In 1963 the US supported a coup by Donald Cabral that led to Bosch’s supporters organizing a counter coup in 1965 that produced a conflict between the local military and civilian supporters of Bosch
  • In April 1965 Johnson dispatched American marines to prevent continued conflict
  • Causes of the intervention:

- the perceived need to stem changes in the economic and political order associated with the Cuban revolution

- to prevent any communists exploiting left wing reforms

- the growing US preference for stability produced by military dictators

  • Justifications for the intervention:

- the imminent communist menace

- the threat to law and order

- the threat to American lives

  • Consequences of the intervention:

- the Johnson Doctrine stating that the US will not permit the establishment of another communist government in Latin America

nixon kissinger and the allende regime in chile
Nixon, Kissinger and the Allende Regime in Chile
  • The problems faced by Allende:

- the CIA funding of his political opponents

- Kissinger’s reluctance to allow a democratic Marxist regime to survive after an electoral victory

- the attempts by the US to use its economic power to undermine Allende’s ability to govern the country effectively

- American contacts with his right wing military opponents

- the fall in the world market price of copper

  • The problems caused by Allende:

- ill thought out and badly executed land reform programmes

- falls in food production

- insufficient attention to the needs of key workers e.g. the Chilean truck drivers and copper miners

  • Allende’s overthrow

- American actions were not vital in directly orchestrating the actions that led to his murder and the military coup

- American policies did make a vital contribution to the problems of Chile with which the Allende government had to deal

reagan and latin america
Reagan and Latin America
  • Reagan attached new importance to the region

- to reverse what was regarded as the advance of Soviet interests in the Third World

- to provide support to ‘freedom fighters’

where those with radical left wing ideas had attained power or attracted popular support

- to invent a distinction between authoritarian (good) and totalitarian (bad) regimes

  • Reagan focused on Central America to avoid a repeat of the Sandinista overthrow of Somoza in Nicaragua
the nicaraguan revolution
The Nicaraguan revolution
  • Causes of Somoza’s depositon in July 1979

- resentment at the Somoza family running Nicaragua like a private fiefdom

- the growth in the number of landless labourers

- the failure to deal satisfactorily with the effects of the 1972 earthquake

- the ambivalence of the Carter regime towards supporting Somoza’s brutal dictatorship

  • Reagan’s response

- psychological warfare

- the ending of US and World Bank assistance

- finance political opponents in Nicaragua

- to create and arm a small guerilla forces in El Salvador which became known as the Contras

the impact of reagan s policy of supporting the contras in nicaragua
The impact of Reagan’s policy of supporting the Contras in Nicaragua
  • The murder of Nicaraguan government officials
  • The mining of Nicaraguan harbours
  • Reduced trade and infrastructure destruction
  • Social spending cut to pay for increased defence expenditure
  • Congress cutting aid to the Contras through the Boland amendment
  • The ‘Contragate’ scandal of Oliver North diverting money from the sale of arms to Iran to the Contras
us intervention elsewhere in central america and the caribbean
US intervention elsewhere in Central America and the Caribbean
  • El Salvador

- after Carter’s support for a military coup to remove General Romero in 1979 attempts at reform collapsed

- conflict between radical insurgents and extreme right wing death squads was not prevented by the liberal Duarte

- in the 1980s despite largely inventing the idea of significant Soviet involvement, US money was not always to maintain Duarte in power

- an agreement to end the killing was signed in 1991 but the extreme Right remained strong

  • Grenada

- the Marxist pro-Castro regime of Maurice Bishop was in power when Reagan stopped all aid to Grenada in 1981

- in 1983 Bishop was overthrown and replaced by a Revolutionary Military Council unable to prevent violence

- Reagan used this threat to 500 Americans on the island to justify military intervention which was supported by Eastern Caribbean leaders but American unilateralism was not welcomed by Mrs Thatcher (the Queen was head of state in Grenada) or the Organization of American States

key points and summary of analysis
Key points and summary of analysis
  • Throughout the post-war period foreign economic policy has been defined by the unequal relationship established by the United States government and private American companies with the countries of the region
  • Covert American operations in Guatemala were undertaken as part of ensuring American economic interests were protected
  • Such operations were also increasingly related to the Cold War requirement to ensure that the international socio-economic order was undisturbed by radical left wing movements in less developed regions.
  • Different US governments pursued different political strategies to achieve this goal
  • These explain the US oscillation between a preference for democratic or dictatorial regimes
  • The fear of the spread of the ideologies of the Cuban Revolution were the dominant feature defining the Cold War conflict not the spread of Soviet influence or economic power