U.S. Latin America Relations State Departments Leading Essay

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U.S. Latin America Relations

State Departments leading expert on the Soviet Union, George F. Kennan, sent his famous "long telegram" to the state department from his post in the U.S. embassy in Moscow in February 1946, wherein he enunciated his realist views of U.S.-Soviet relations in the Cold War. What was needed, in his view, was a "long-term, patient, but firm and viligant containment of Russian expansive tendencies." He went onto outline the importance of Latin American countries to U.S. empire: "the military significance to us of the Latin American countries lies today rather in the extent to which we may be dependent upon them for materials essential to the prosecution of a war, and more importantly in the extent to which the attitudes of the Latin American peoples may influence the general political trend in the international community…" He goes onto make suspect claims, demonstrating, at the least, an iota of contempt for the people of the southern hemisphere: "it seems to me unlikely that there could be any other region of the earth in which nature and human behavior could have combined to produce a more unhappy and hopeless background for the conduct of human life than in Latin America." (Holden & Zolov)Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on U.S. Latin America Relations State Departments Leading Assignment

During the Cold War, covert action by the United States Central Intelligence Agency, for and against foreign governments, political parties, labor unions and other groups and individuals, served as a keystone instrument of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. Covert action was indeed authorized from the very top. In the Doolittle Comission Report of 1954, to contain Communism was situated as official policy, and one means of achieving this goal was "an aggressive, covert, psychological, political and paramilitary organization more effective, more unique and, if necessary, more ruthless than that employed by the enemy. No on should be permitted to stand in the way of the prompt, efficient and secure accomplishment of this mission. U.S. covert action in the world crept eventually into popular culture, such as in lyrics and film. The Clash's song Washington Bullets, from the album Sandinista, is one such example: (Holden and Zolov)

And in the Bay of Pigs in 1961,

Havana fought the playboy in the Cuban sun,

For Castro is a colour,

Is a redder than red,

Those Washington bullets want Castro dead

For Castro is the colour...

...That will earn you a spray of lead

When Bolivia was defeated by Paraguay in the Chaco War of the 1930's, a government perceived by the people to be loyal only to the upper class had lost much of its legitimacy. There was widespread dissatisfaction amongst the working class and farmers of Bolivia. The loss of territory and lives had discredited the ruling class, whilst participation in the armed forces had given farmers a political consciousness. From the end of war until the Revolution of 1952, new ideologies stirred amongst the working classes and their demands became more audible.

The Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) grew to be a party with a broad base of support. Denied victory in the president election of 1951, the party thereafter succeeded in coming to power the following year through revolution, which began with a hunger march through La Paz that was supported by most sectors of civil society. The military was demoralized and calls by the high command for unity in the armed forces failed. Many officers, in fact, went abroad during the period, charged each other with coup attempts, or deserted. By the onset of 1952, the MRN attempted to gain power by force, plotting with General Antonio Seleme, the junta member in charge of the internal administration and the national police. The party, on April 9, seized arsenals and distributed them to civilians. Armed miners marched on La Paz, successfully blocking troop access to the city. At the close of three days fighting, the army had surrendered, and Paz Estenssoro assumed the Presidency on April 16, 1952.

(Global Security)

Many referred to the multiclass MNR as "reluctant revolutionaries." The party did not look to the Soviet Union for a model of government, but, instead, to Mexico. During the first year of Estenssoro's presidency, however, the more radical faction in the party compelled MNR to carry about high-frequency reform. And so therefore, universal sufferage was established in July 1952, and the party quickly purged officers from the armed forces considered to be sympathetic with Conservative Parties, reduced troop size and military budget. Plagued by infighting, the party eventually dissolved in 1964, leaving Bolivia in chaos.

The U.S. government responded to the Bolivian Revolution of 1952 with massive economic assistance, despite that the country was one of the weakest in Latin America. By the end of the 1950's, Bolivia was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America. By 1958, one-third of the Bolivian national budget was aid from the U.S. government. The aid funded highways construction, food imports, health and educational services and the country's military forces. The U.S. received Bolivia's cooperation in blocking or moderating some of the social and economic reforms embarked upon by the radical wing of the revolutionary movement. The implementation of economic stabilization measures was carried out based on demands from Washington, and further U.S. aid was a condition of the nation's success. In 1956, put in charge of the stabilization effort in Bolivia was U.S. lawyer George Jackson Eder, a stark monetarist, who deemed the only way in which inflation could be controlled was through the cutting of government spending; cuts in government spending hit social services first. (Holden & Zolov)

In Cuba, revolution brewed at the end of the 1950's, when Fidel Castro led an insurgent army of eighty two guerilla fighters into Cuba on Dec. 2-1956. This attempted revolution was a failure. but, the small guerilla force received a boost when senior staff writer at the New York Times, Herbert L. Matthews, published a number of articles on the movement. Having been taken to Castro's camp in order to interview the revolutionary leader, Matthews secured for the times -- and Castro and his men -- not only articles in the Times, but, also, a picture of the armed leader, along with his signature. This demonstrated that Castro was, indeed, alive and active. The articles represented a sensational coup of sorts for the Times, a la classical American-style yellow journalism of the early twentieth century. Years later, at the tail-end of the 1970's, Castro boasted how he had tricked Matthews into believing his force was much larger than it had, in reality, been. In his article, Matthews wrote: "General Batista cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt… "Havana does not and cannot know that thousands of men and women are heart and soul with Fidel Castro…it does not know that hundreds of highly respected citizens are helping senor Castro, that bombs and sabotage are constant."

As soon as Fidel's July 26 movement succeeded in January 1959, relations between Cuba and the U.S. took a certain downturn. In question were the sweeping economic reforms carried out by Cuba, which were taken by Washington as signs of a communist takeover. In early 1960, Cuba re-embarked on diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, eventually sovietizing the Cuban political system in the 1970's. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower began the process that would, eventually, manifest into the Bay of Pigs, for which President John F. Kennedy would take the blame. Eisenhower secretly authorized the CIA to develop an invasion force of anti-Castro exiles. As the new Cuban government expropriated ever more property owned by U.S. investors, tensions mounted. Washington responded with an economic embargo on October 13, a mere two weeks before the U.S. presidential election. Both Kennedy and Nixon made statements in favor of U.S. government backing of an exile invasion force; this after both candidates had been briefed on the situation by the CIA. Nixon even spoke of "cutting off the significant items that the Cuban regime needs in order to survive, by cutting off trade…"

Operation Zapata, a U.S. sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs was only one of myriad cover operations conducted by and on behalf of U.S. state-enterprise interests against the Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The CIA, with Eisenhower's authorization, had trained 1,300 Cubans. On April 17, 1961, the exile force invaded Cuba with the belief that its arrival would spark a revolution, but, on the other hand, the force was easily suppressed by the regime and people. The failure worked against the United States, helping to legitimize Castro's control, for his regime had, after all, defeated the imperial United States. Kennedy had to admit the operations had their incipience in the United States.

(Holden & Zolov)

In 1973, the CIA, with the help of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, engineered the overthrow and assassination of democratically elected leader Salvadore Allende in Chile. Allende had engaged in a campaign to nationalize American-owned firms and land. The CIA enabled General Augusto Pinochet to replace Allende, who then tortured and murdered… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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