Ever since Haiti declared its independence from France in 1806, Latin America has been a region of revolution, revolt, coups, and military dictatorships. The modern Latin American countries of today have evolved from a plantation system economy that was built on the back of slave labor…
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In addition, the proximity to the US has made these nations a hemispheric concern as US business interests and political ideologies attempt to maintain a friendly environment to conduct business in. While the US promotes democracy and free elections around the world, our Latin American neighbors have been subjected to decades of US sponsored dictatorships to protect US economic interests and as a response to the fear of communism in the Western Hemisphere.
Much of the attitude towards Latin American dictatorships and the US willingness to accept them dates back to the era of the Big Stick policy of Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt believed that the close proximity of Latin America made it a vital strategic concern for the US. In an effort to rid the hemisphere of the postcolonial European influence, the US was ready to intervene in dramatic ways in the countries of Latin America. The US would intervene economically on behalf of the US corporations and even go so far as to take over the economies of these small nations. In 1895, Secretary of State Olney was prompted to state that "Today the United States is practically sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the subjects to which it confines its interposition" (qtd. in Bailey 318). During the 20th century, it became more impractical to intervene militarily in an attempt to quell worker uprisings or popular revolts. It was often more expedient and practical to install a puppet dictator that would address the political concerns of the US and protect their economic interests. During eight years of military occupation of the Dominican Republic 1916-1924 all constitutional rights and powers were suspended. There was a short period of democracy before the country fell victim to the Great Depression and the threat of a surging communist movement. To maintain control of the Dominican Republic, the US supported and backed General Trujillo was installed as the new dictator through a military coup (Atkins and Wilson 39). Though the next thirty years would characterize Trujillo as one of the most brutal dictators of the century, the US continued to support his regime due to his staunch anti-socialist stance.
A further evaluation of the events that have transpired in Guatemala in the last century can provide a lens with which to view many of the other nations in Latin America. During the last two centuries, dictatorships that were supported by the US would rise up throughout Latin America to protect US economic interests and the business of US corporations. Central America has several illustrations of the plantation economy nation that evolved into a US dominated 'banana republic'. The 1920s and 1930s presented several new challenges to the American fruteras. The major fruit companies such as United Fruit, Standard Fruit, and the Cuyamel Fruit Company had successfully fought off years of populace uprisings that called for workers' rights. Slavery had been abolished, but the workers in these countries were subjected to horrible working conditions. The company generally put down workers' protests using their own resources, but the US would intervene in some cases. The Great Depression saw commodity prices fall as the corporations' resources were stretched. These populists' worker movements would become aligned with
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“Latin American Politics: US Sponsored Dictatorships Essay”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/miscellaneous/1528670-latin-american-politics-us-sponsored-dictatorships.
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