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Latin America: Cold War Battlefield

Soviet-Latin American Relations

❶The Argentine intelligence service was training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government Operation Charly. The building of the Panama Canal absorbed American attention from

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US naval power proved decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark in Cuba against a Spanish garrison already facing nationwide Cuban insurgent attacks and further wasted by yellow fever. The result was the Treaty of Paris , negotiated on terms favorable to the U.

The war began exactly fifty-two years after the beginning of the Mexican—American War. It was one of only five US wars against a total of eleven sovereign states to have been formally declared by Congress.

The Venezuelan crisis of —03 was a naval blockade imposed against Venezuela by Britain , Germany and Italy and lasted from December to February With prior promises that no such seizure would occur, the US allowed the action to go ahead without objection.

Instead, he agreed in principle to submit some of the claims to international arbitration, which he had previously rejected. Germany initially objected to this, particularly because it felt some claims should be accepted by Venezuela without arbitration. President Theodore Roosevelt forced the blockading nations to back down by sending his own larger fleet under Admiral George Dewey and threatening war if the Germans landed. However, the blockade remained during negotiations over the details of the compromise.

The Washington Protocols agreement was signed on February 13, When the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague subsequently awarded preferential treatment to the blockading powers against the claims of other nations, the U. This incident was a major driver of the Roosevelt Corollary and the subsequent U. The amendment defined the terms of Cuban and U. On December 25, , Cuba amended its constitution to contain the text of the Platt Amendment. 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. Controversially, Roosevelt implied to Panamanian rebels that if they revolted, the U.

Navy would assist their cause for independence. When the Venezuelan government under Cipriano Castro was no longer able to placate the demands of European bankers in , naval forces from Britain, Italy, and Germany erected a blockade along the Venezuelan coast and even fired upon coastal fortifications. The blockade was maintained during negotiations over the details of refinacial the debt on Washington Protocols. In addition, the corollary proclaimed the explicit right of the United States to intervene in Latin American conflicts exercising an international police power.

Roosevelt first used the Corollary to act in the Dominican Republic in , which at the time was severely indebted and becoming a failed state. Knox followed a foreign policy characterized as "dollar diplomacy.

Steel that the goal of diplomacy should be to create stability abroad and, through this stability, promote American commercial interests. Knox felt that not only was the goal of diplomacy to improve financial opportunities, but also to use private capital to further U.

The growth of the domestic oil industry strengthened the economic ties between the U. The United States appears to have pursued an inconsistent policy toward Mexico during the Mexican Revolution , but in fact it was the pattern for U. In each case, the administration in Washington soon turned on its new friends with the same vehemence it had initially expressed in supporting them.

Madero to the presidency in November The first time was the United States occupation of Veracruz by the Navy in The second time, the U. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the US carried on several military interventions under principles of Big Stick policy in what became known as the Banana Wars. The term arose from the connections between the interventions and the preservation of US commercial interests. An example is 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.

US citizens 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. However, this view is heavily disputed, especially as, after a decrease in activity during and after World War I, the U.

Roosevelt ; no official American colonies had been created. 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. The Great Depression made overseas military expeditions too costly for the U. The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of newly elected American president Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America.

The United States wished to improve relations with its Latin American neighbors in a time of increasing international conflict. Giving up unpopular military intervention, the United States implemented its policy of Pan-Americanism to maintain its influence.

This policy supported strong domestic leaders, the training of national guards, economic and cultural penetration, Export-Import Bank loans, financial supervision, and political subversion. On March 4, , Roosevelt stated during his inaugural address that: Hull endorsed the resolution, "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.

Only Brazil contributed significant numbers of men to fight. It spent millions on radio broadcasts and motion pictures, hoping to reach a large audience. Madison Avenue techniques generated a push back in Mexico, especially, where well-informed locals resisted heavy-handed American influence. A deal was reached whereby , Mexican citizens living in the United States served in the American forces; over were killed in combat. After the United States declared war on Germany in December , 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.

In response, several countries expelled a total of 4, Germans to the U. 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 the Latin American 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.

Argentina , Brazil , Chile and Mexico did not participate in the U. 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.

Officially started in with the Truman doctrine theorizing the " containment " policy, the Cold War had important consequences in Latin America. 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. By aiding Greece, Truman set a precedent for U. 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 , Belize and the Bahamas , no countries that became independent after have joined the treaty. Secretary of State George Marshall.

Member states pledged to fight communism on the American continent. Also, the Inter-American Development Bank was established in In , Cuba became a member of the newly created Non-Aligned Movement , which succeeded the Bandung Conference. In March , 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 sinking of the USS Maine , which had precipitated the Spanish—American War ; he could provide no evidence for his accusation. Eisenhower authorized the CIA to organize, train and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro, which would lead to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion authorized by president John F. Every time the Cuban government nationalized US properties, the US government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, 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. 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". 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.

Senate Select Intelligence Committee report later confirmed over eight attempted plots to kill Castro between and , as well as additional plans against other Cuban leaders. Besides this aggressive policy towards Cuba, John F.

Kennedy tried to implement the Alliance for Progress , an economic aid program which proved to be too shy signed at an inter-American conference at Punta del Este , Uruguay, in August Elements of the left parties then formed the Armed Forces for National Liberation FALN , a communist guerrilla army, to overthrow the democratic Betancourt administration.

This drove the leftists underground, where they engaged in rural and urban guerrilla activities, including sabotaging oil pipelines, bombing a Sears Roebuck warehouse, kidnapping American colonel Michael Smolen, seizing soccer star Alfredo Di Stefano , and bombing the United States Embassy in Caracas. FALN failed to rally the rural poor and to disrupt the presidential elections.

At the same time, the U. However, 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. The nuclear arms race brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. In , 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.

The aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis led to the first efforts toward nuclear disarmament and improving relations. By , under President Lyndon Johnson, the program to discriminate against dictatorial regimes ceased.

In March , the U. Earlier the OAS issued a resolution calling the combatants to end all hostilities. On May 5, the OAS Peace Committee arrived in Santo Domingo and a second definite cease fire agreement was signed, ending the main phase of the civil war. Under the Act of Santo Domingo, OAS was tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace deal as well as distributing food and medication through the capital. The treaties failed to fully prevent violations such as small scale firefights and sniper fire.

On May 26, U. Balaguer emerged victorious in the elections, after building his campaign on promises of reconciliation. On September 21, , the last OAS peacekeepers withdrew from the island, ending the foreign intervention in the conflict. By , all of South America was covered by similar military dictatorships, called juntas.

In Peru , leftist General Velasco Alvarado in power since , 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 subcontinent, culminating with Operation Condor , an agreement between security services of the Southern Cone and other South American countries to repress and assassinate political opponents, which was backed by the US government.

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 into the s, making hundreds of thousands " disappeared ". With the election of President Jimmy Carter in , the US moderated for a short time its support to authoritarian regimes in Latin America.

At the same time, voices in the US [ who? The inauguration of Ronald Reagan in meant a renewed support for right-wing authoritarian regimes in Latin America. In the s, the situation progressively evolved in the world as in South America, despite a renewal of the Cold War from to , 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. However, at the same time, Washington started to aggressively pursue the " War on Drugs ", which included the invasion of Panama in 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. While the United States was officially neutral in the conflict, allegations that Reagan provided intelligence to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the war had a key role in the change of relations between Washington and Buenos Aires, as the military government had been actively helping Reagan.

The Argentine intelligence service was training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government Operation Charly. While the US were fighting against Nicaragua, leading to the Nicaragua v. In Brazil , this was taken by the academic establishment as a clear example of how the Hemispheric relations worked, leading to new perspectives in matters of foreign policy and international relations by the Brazilian establishment.

Some of these academics, in fact, argue that this definitively turned the TIAR into a dead letter [56] and the Mexican government withdrew from the treaty in citing the Falklands example, though notably Argentina itself is still a TIAR member. On the economic plane, hardly affected by the oil crisis , the refusal of Mexico in to pay the interest of its debt led to the Latin American debt crisis and subsequently to a shift from the Import substitution industrialization 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 s were dominated by the Washington Consensus , which imposed a series of neo-liberal economic reforms in Latin America. The political context evolved again in the s, with the election in several South American countries of socialist governments. Although these leaders vary in their policies and attitude towards both Washington, D.

The state of Bolivia also has seen some friction with Brazil, as well as Chile. On one side, you have a number of administrations that are committed to moderate economic reform. Bush administration as much as the latter attacked him, and claimed to be following a democratic socialist Bolivarian Revolution , the geo-political context has changed a lot since the s.

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. Momentum for the Free Trade Area of the Americas ALCA was lost after the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas , which saw strong protests against the proposal from members of the Anti-Globalization Movement from across the continent, however 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 , the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in , etc.

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 and sensitive products by 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.

Mercosur , the trade agreement between Argentina , Brazil , Paraguay and Uruguay with Venezuela currently suspended is also in negotiations to sign a wider free-trade agreement with the European Union , following the signing of similar agreements with the Andean Community , Israel [75] and Egypt [76] in August , among others. These negotiations between Mercosur and the EU are advancing rapidly again after stalling during the s. The agreement, originally signed on 4 February , is being renegotiated after the United States withdrew.

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.

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 International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes 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 Local population had demonstrated against the privatization of the water company, requested by the World Bank, after poor management of the water by Bechtel. However, the firm finally decided to drop the case in after an international protest campaign. 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: Others where signed but not ratified: El Salvador , Haiti — one of the earliest, preceded by Panama , Nicaragua The Brigade was dissolved in April following the retirement of Spain from Iraq , and all Latin American nations, except El Salvador, withdrew their troops.

In September , it was revealed that Triple Canopy, Inc. Triple Canopy also has a subsidiary in Peru. In July , Salvadoran president Antonio Saca reduced the number of deployed troops in Iraq from , to soldiers. Four Salvadoran soldiers died in different situations since deployment in , but on the bright side, more than projects aimed to rebuild Iraq were completed.

The struggle for natural resources and the US defense of its commercial interests has not ceased since the zenith period of the banana republics supported by the US. Fidel Castro was competing with the local Communist Party , most of whose members did not support him in his successful overthrow of Fulgencio Batista. When the United States imposed economic sanctions on the Cuban revolutionary regime, Moscow purchased Cuban sugar and provided oil and arms to Castro in , permitting him to survive.

The Soviet effort to establish medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba created the threat of a global nuclear war in October As became public only many years later, the Soviet commanding general had authority to use tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a U. Kennedy forced Soviet chairman Nikita Khrushchev to remove the missiles under threat of military action in exchange for a U. The USSR gave strong moral support to Allende but was unwilling to provide the hard-currency grants he needed to survive.

In the Sandinistas, a radical nationalist revolutionary movement, overthrew the dictatorial Somoza regime in Nicaragua while the Nicaraguan Communists stood by and watched. The Communist Party joined the Front late, as one of five guerrilla formations in an inconclusive armed struggle that continued into the early s. Radical nationalists took over the island of Grenada in They wooed Moscow ardently and won material support for their Marxist-oriented party, the New Jewel Movement, as well as arms, presumably to defend the movement from domestic or foreign enemies.

After the popular leader Maurice Bishop was assassinated and some of his authoritarian lieutenants took over, President Ronald Reagan ordered an invasion of the island, which ended the New Jewel Movement and its relations with the Soviet Union. Soviet trade with Latin America was minuscule before the s. When many Latin American nations established diplomatic relations with Moscow beginning in the late s, Soviet buyers began to show interest in nonferrous metals from Peru and Bolivia.

The difficulty was that none of the Latin American countries, except Cuba and Nicaragua, where trade was subsidized, were interested in Soviet exports. Its one triumph was the establishment of a Marxist-Leninist regime in Cuba, unexpectedly achieved through the July 26 Movement, not the Cuban Communists.

That victory was achieved and maintained at huge cost to the Soviet economy. The establishment of a network of Communist parties throughout the Western hemisphere is an unprecedented achievement, but no Communist party has seized control of a Latin American government by force.

The revolutionary parties that have taken power have been radical nationalist, not Marxist-Leninist, in their origins, and except in Cuba, all have been swept away.

Soviet priorities changed rapidly after Perestroika and domestic problems meant that less attention could be devoted to low-priority areas like Latin America, and the USSR could not afford to continue its assistance at the former high levels.

The December agreement with Cuba reduced Soviet aid and sought to put commercial relations on a business basis. The Cuban economy, cut off from its natural partners in the West, had been unable to stand firmly on its feet even with Soviet economic assistance.

These developments portended a grim future for the Cuban economy and the Castro regime. The emphasis on self-determination in Eastern Europe and inside the Soviet Union itself, which accelerated after the failed coup of August , made the formerly Moscow-dominated Communist parties in Latin America an anachronism. Moreover, the Soviet Union, usually perceived as the main enemy of the United States in Latin America, sought arms agreements, closer commercial arrangements, and aid from the United States.

Such arrangements were inconsistent with the support of national Communist parties, which the United States regarded as anti-American and destabilizing. In any case, Moscow set these parties loose. As a result, many were split by factionalism, and domestic and world events caused them to lose much of their popular support. As the cold war ended in Latin America, and the political geography of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was being redrawn, there were new trends in Soviet relations with Latin America:

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Soviet Assistance In Latin America soviet assistance in latin america Central America, – U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Trends and FY Appropriations from combating Soviet influence during the Cold War to advancing U.S. Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean by Foreign Aid Account.

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U.S. Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean Congressional Research Service 3 United States provided considerable support to Central American governments battling leftist insurgencies to prevent potential Soviet allies from establishing political or military footholds in the region. Soviet trade with Latin America was minuscule before the s. Prior to that time most Soviet interest was expressed in attempts to develop trade with the Río de la Plata countries (Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) and Brazil, seeking to purchase grain, coffee, cocoa, wool, hides, and the like.