Friday, June 28, 2013

The U.S. and the Axis in Latin America

In the late 1930’s the United States took various substantive steps to check Axis penetration of Latin America. President Franklin Roosevelt, anxious to displace the influence of Fascist military missions in Latin America (which intermingled Fascist propaganda with military training), initiated a program of military assistance to Latin America which successfully displaced the Axis powers. The success of the U.S. effort centered on Washington’s willingness to underbid its competition and offer supplies and quality technical assistance at bargain prices. By acquiring a supply monopoly on military goods, the U.S., in addition to benefiting its own industries, gained a significant degree of economic and political leverage over Latin American military establishments, thus helping to prevent the rise of anti-American nationalism in the armed forces. Such leverage was a potent instrument in the defense of U.S. interests in Latin America. The roots of U.S. massive military involvement in Latin America in the 1950’s and 60’s were established during the Good Neighbor period.

By the late 1930’s defense considerations indicated that the proper course for the U.S. was to ward off Axis influence in Latin America by tying the Latin American economies more closely to its own. The U.S. economic offensive helped to curb growing Axis penetration in the Hemisphere. The Volta Rendonda steel complex, the Export-Import Bank’s most dramatic project, for example, was undertaken to pre-empt Brazil’s steel industry from German and Japanese interests. Similarly, other credits helped to circumscribe Axis influence.

A brief history of the causes and methods of U.S. intervention in Latin America from the Spanish American War to the era of the Good Neighbor Policy.

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