The influence of the United States on Latin America has not been largely degrading, but instead, largely beneficial to Latin America. It has helped to produce an advanced, cultured, and self-sufficient society opposed to an alien culture of materialism and selfishness.
Arguments to support these statements can be made on an economic, political, social, and cultural level. The United States for a long time has held a “hegemony by default” and chosen to apply it in various ways.This has benefited Latin America greatly, although there are always costs to go along with the benefits,.First to be examined is the United States economic influence in Latin America. There are many instances and examples of United States influence in the economic theater. We see the beginning of large scale economic influence in Latin America after the First Pan-American Conference in 1889.We see Pan-Americanism replacing the Monroe Doctrine and Latin America becoming the grounds on which the commercially powerful and equally anxious United States can spread it’s wings.
Two excellent examples of U.S. economic influence and it’s positive effects were Nelson Rockefeller’s International Basic Economy Corporation and Henry Kaiser’s automobile industries.The most important lesson gleaned from Rockefeller and Kaiser would be that of their introduction of “corporate social responsibility” to Latin America. They helped ignite small-investor participation in stocks, as well as facilitated local ownership.Although it is true that not all United States economic presence was beneficial, we see that when handled responsibly with the goal of gradually incorporating a sense of locality, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Rockefeller felt that Latin America needed a middle class resembling that of the United States, and both he and Kaiser saw that economic development was the cornerstone to stability and freedom in a fledgling society.Many of the economic benefits to Latin America came in the form of simple, cold, hard cash. Dollar signs being put up. Taxing large American businesses produced large amounts of many Latin American nations’ incomes. At times they represented one-fifth or more of the total collected taxes in Latin America.
Aside from the money, U.S. economic influence brought over much more. Technology, communications, and transportation, all key elements in the growth of any civilization, Rome, Greece, Egypt, all were brought over by foreign business, namely the United States.
President Truman had attempted to send technical and economic help under a far fetch of the Marshall Plan, but to little avail.So much of this work was done by American businesses.Latin America was undergoing a dramatic transition from a largely colonial, and in some aspects, primitive society and existence to becoming a major player in the new globally integrated world of homogenous markets.Although large portions of locality and other elements of uniqueness would be lost, the incredible speed at which Latin America became modernized is uncanny. Even with obvious wrongdoing on the part of such companies as the United Fruit Company in Guatemala, International Petroleum Corporation in Peru, and the International Telephone and Telegraph in Chile, the modernization that resulted was immensely important in the rise of Latin America. .
This is largely due to the fact that a vast majority of the large businesses penetrating Latin America from the United States were vertically integrated. By vertically integrated, I mean that they owned and operated all aspects of their business. They owned the raw materials, the processing and finishing services, as well as the transportation of the finished product. What this meant for Latin America was that every time an American business came to set up shop on their continent they brought everything with them. These corporations came with their telegraph wires, they brought their roads, their railroads, their steamships, their need for labor, and land, all brought by one company.
The rise of Latin America has to thank in large part these businesses. In the process of their attempts at profit, they brought along some modern civilization. They brought communication to a silent, separated society, and transportation to largely immobile people.In his 1893 speech regarding U.S. imperialism, entitled “The Significance of the Frontier in American History”, Frederick Jackson Turner states “economic power secures political power.” Would this hold true in Latin America.
There are simple examples, such as El Salvador. Here, the United States aggressively established and enforced political stability. Although initially startling many people not used to this type power and rule, democracy was put into place, although frequently threatened by rebels.
There are also more complex, intricate, process-oriented examples. An excellent example of U.S. military muscle being used for good is the quashing of revolution in the Dominican Republic in the 1960’s, ending bloodshed and placing Joaquin Balaguer in power, he would successfully rule for twelve years.
A perfect example of economic power securing political power would be Brazil, we look back to the Kaiser and Rockefeller times and see that and implicit part of being “socially responsible” was getting the right men in the right offices.These, although not all, American businesses brought stability to a nation by giving support to a leader.The general trend with U.S.
intervention is not of a tyrannical power hungry monster, but more of a world leader. A country realized its abilities as a role model and lead.Many fledgling Latin American countries admired the United States. The American Constitution demanded respect not only for its effectiveness but also for its longevity. These countries had never seen a constitution last more than a generation. The best example of this is the Argentine Constitution of 1853.
After Juan Manuel de Rosas was ousted, this largely federalist document emphasized certain powers given to the provinces along with the setup of a national administration. It contained guidelines for a president, Congress, Supreme Court, obviously mirroring the United States. This constitution, like the U.
S. Constitution, still survives today.