Paper 3

11. "The main aim of Franklin Roosevelt's policy towards Latin America (1933-45) was to improve relations between the two regions." Assess the validity of this statement.

Emily Johnson

Thesis: The Good Neighbor Policy implemented by FDR in the 1930’s and 1940’s represented a departure from earlier, more militaristic approaches and seemed to be a genuine attempt to achieve cordial relations between the two regions.

  • Previous policies towards Latin America had been very violent/manipulative in nature
    • Teddy Roosevelt – “Big Stick Diplomacy”: very harsh, based primarily on maintaining Latin American cooperation through the use of the military and violence
    • Taft – “Dollar Diplomacy”: step away from the forceful nature of Roosevelt’s policy, but still very manipulative; used the US’ economic power over Latin America to keep it in check
    • Constant US military intervention/occupation (ex. Haiti)
  • The public began to see the US as being little better than the imperialists they claimed to be against -> so in the early 30’s FDR stated in his inaugural address that the policy of the US is to be a good neighbor to Latin America and to treat them with respect
    • Renouncing military intervention, renouncing violence
    • Training national guardsmen to help Latin America
    • Removing remaining military personnel from previously occupied areas (such as Haiti)
    • Revoking of the Platt Amendment (authorized US occupation of Cuba)
    • Low tariffs to improve Latin American economy, allowed flow of raw materials into the region untouched
    • Protection against possible incursions by European aggressors promised to Latin America
  • Conclusion
    • The US’ policy shift towards Latin America represented a move towards cordiality between the two regions that was highlighted by the removal of troops, the increased economic freedom granted, and the general aid given to them.
    • Sadly, this was not to last after the war, as the increased tension between the US and the USSR rendered Latin America as no more than territory to grab and influence in the US’ eyes.
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