The United States: Influence owards Latin America

Table of Contents


The United States had the greatest influence towards Latin America in the early 1970s. The Latin American countries include Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Cuba. These are some of the countries which the United States had the greatest influence in terms of economic growth and political decisions. The United States is seen to be meddling with the affairs of Latin American countries. The Latin American states leaders criticized the United States a lot. The United States however played its role of making various developments in these countries. The United States is considered as a super power where various countries depend on it for financial assistance. The relationship of the United States however with other countries was mutual in that the United States formulated policies which guided the Latin American countries. For instance, the United States policies were based on various things such as fight against narcotics drugs, terrorism, human trafficking, improvement of health, food assistance in cases of hunger and many others. A country like Argentina had a good relationship with the United States because they shared common interests and coordinated policies together. Both countries agreed to work together to end terrorism, drug abuse and ensuring that the regions stayed in peace. The security programs formulated by the United States department of security were implemented by Argentina to help in security matters. This was to make sure that regional stability was maintained (Goldstein and Pevehouse, p. 159).

Relationship between Latin America and the United States is very vital. The United States is economically good and is mostly depended upon by Latin American governments. Issues to deal with infrastructure are mostly funded by the United States government. If the United States government fails to support the Latin America in its development projects, it may lead to failure of development projects. If the economy of the United States fails, it affects all the dependants. This is the reason why the United States plays a major role in ensuring that its economy remains stable at all cost. The United States also has historical military influence in the Latin America countries. The United States’ foreign policy during the cold war showed how its influence it had in making various decisions. The United States established various military bases throughout the Latin America country. The military bases were meant to help in fight against drugs and terrorism. Activist in Latin America however, argued that the military priorities were misplaced. They argued that the United States military were only hiding behind fighting drugs but they were after other missions. The training of the military in the United States’ soil was also of great concern.

Most Latin American countries military trained in the United States, for example, Colombian and Venezuelan soldiers trained in the United States. The United States government also channeled its aid through military. Military was responsible for distributing aid to the Latin American countries. Most of the Latin American countries had rebels which attacked the soldiers and the citizens. For instance, Colombia had guerillas which killed most of the troops. The United States helped in fighting these guerillas by providing aid through arms and equipping the military. It also increased the sales of weapons to the Latin America states. It provided guidelines to purchase the weapons in order to avoid weapon reaching the guerillas. The United States policy however focuses mainly on the economic and peace in the Latin America states. This is shown by the trade patterns which the United States made with the people of the Latin America states. The United States gave financial assistance to the Latin American governments which became very high and they were not able to pay their debts. These debts tied the Latin American countries to the United States, hence having great power over them. This also made the Latin American states to observe that United States was becoming a threat to the economies of the Latin American countries (Leonard and Bratzel, p. 103).


The United States also struggled for Latin America to adopt capitalism. This is where people are allowed to hold private property and trade freely with other countries. This was seen as a way of the United States to settle their own interest economically in terms of investments. According to Karl Marx (1818-1883), the capitalist control the economy (bourgeoisie), they control the means of production and others (the proletariat) were the laborers in the farms of the wealthy. Those who had capital held power over the poor and they manipulated them to work for them. The laws also protected the powerful from physical attacks by the poor. Karl Marx emphasizes that there was inequality in society and those who were poor were in conflict with the rich. Those who were in authority had also influence on how production is done to favor them economically. The United States was considered the bourgeoisies and the people of Latin America were seen as the proletariats.

The United States were seen by the human rights activists as people who had gone to Latin America to take away their wealth. This is because they had the opportunity dealing with those issues at hand. It was however difficult for the Latin American to control the United States due its complexity in handling them because they had all the powers. The United States were usually people who have power and the laws tend to protect them. They also use their economic autonomy to manipulate the decisions made by the Latin American people. However the United States were criticized when they were out of the Latin America states. But they also used their influence to determine the political outcome of the people. The majority in the head of states in the Latin American countries were the supporters of the United States foreign policy (Sweet, p. 87).

The Latin American countries were characterized by communism. This is where property is owned by the community or communally. There is no specific owner of the property but it is owned communally. The disadvantage of this principle is that the majority of the people tend to be lazy and denies revenue to run the government. The United States wanted to overcome communism in order to implement its foreign policy to the Latin American states. The United States government wanted the issue of private ownership of property in order for the country to develop. The United States however succeeded in implementing the capitalism policy against the soviet communism. However, the free market economy saw the Latin America states helping them greatly in the efficiency of the government in delivering services to the people. Free market economy also enabled the Latin America states to gain some independence economically because they were able to generate the income on their own. Reliance on the western countries went down. The United States policies on the Latin America states were meant to improve their living standards. It was also meant to review relationship with other countries and to enhance freedom amongst its people.

The United States claimed responsibility in ensuring that democracy and promotion of human rights were enhanced. They were also to make sure that reforms were instituted in the societies of the Latin American states. The United States also wanted to make the environment favorable for investment hence they adopted various policies which would make smooth operation of their business. This included legal protection and making sure that their investments were secure. This will therefore enhance the economy of the United States. All this were meant for the United States to meet their national interest and to improve the lives of the people in the third world countries. Various countries engaged in cold war to oppose the United States from implementing the capitalist system. However, the United States used various tactics to impose the policy. It included giving sanctions to countries that didn’t seem to support the United States bid to push the policy. Such sanctions included the withdrawal of the investments in that country, cutting off economic assistance, withdrawal of loans and grants to such countries and many others. Such countries would suffer economic setbacks until they conform to the United States policies. They would hence put efforts to make sure that they come into terms with the United States so as to regain these privileges. The United States would also go to an extent of deposing the governments which tend to oppose them. For example, in Haiti, the United States were involved in deposing the government in 1915. They put in place governments that seemed to be friendly with the United States. This was to enable the United States to have control over major economical interests. Latin America acts as a major source of raw materials for the United States industries. The United States wanted to expand their businesses in the Latin American countries and widen their investment regions (Munck and Munck, p. 213).

The United States intervention of Latin American countries was common in early 1960s. The United States marines were involved in various coups and settlement of wars. For instance the United States marines helped a lot in stopping the war between Honduras and Nicaragua. The United States successfully stopped the war and they have since stayed in peace despite some occasional tensions. The United States marines however occupied the state of Nicaragua to give support to the president who was elected by the people. The president seemed to follow the United States policies and therefore seemed to adhere to the United States’ policies. This also led to the formation of military academy in Nicaragua to help in training the troops. This also shows how the United States intervened a lot in Latin American countries. The United States also intervened a lot in the country of Panama. The United States intervened in Panama as they were constructing the road in Atlantic-pacific. Panama warned to take over the railroad and the United States was able to secure it from the people of Panama. The United States was also involved in writing the constitution of the people of Panama in a move which indicates its concerns on international relations. It also helped Panama secure land for the Panama Canal. This was through forceful acquisition of the land through its warships. The United States troops also occupied the soils of Panama which however shows their dominance in that country.

The occupation of the United States troops in Panama was to enable them maintain peace amongst the people in that country. The security in Panama was seen as a threat to the people and its national security was not well established. However, capitalism did not help the third world countries. Poverty continued to affect people negatively. People tend to look for greener pasture in urban settings. This has led to migration of people from rural to urban settlement. Residents who migrate to urban areas are the youths and the elites in society leaving the old and the weak in the rural areas. This also has led to people migrating illegally to developed countries like the United States in order to look for a survival way. It has become a major concern for the United States when illegal immigrants flock to their country. The United States should put their concentration as to why migration is happening in the Latin American and put in place measures to prevent people from migrating (Grandin, p. 174).

The United States had great concern of the security in the Latin American states. The political stability of the third world countries was unpredictable hence the United States put in place measures to ensure stability in these countries. This was in order for the United States to conduct business in a secure environment. In cases of war, the United States was more concern on the people being tortured and left to suffer during wars. The United States pushed for protection of human rights through enactment of United Nations convention in the various countries. The main aim of the convention was to bring justice to those who went through torture. Torture, according to the convention was causing pain and suffering to someone in order to force him/her to admit to crimes committed by another person. These types of pain included, beating, electrocution, being poured hot water and many others. The United Nations convention therefore was meant to deal with these types of atrocities. It was also meant to prevent more torture in future. Various countries had experienced war in the past. For instance Peru experienced various wars and its citizens suffered a lot. Innocent citizens have suffered in such kind of wars. Measures had to be put in place to avert such suffering. Various Latin American states have inflicted suffering to the citizens during wars.

The United states usually use its machinery to torture its people. Examples of such tortures are rape, murder, arson, being expelled from your country and many others. The United Nation’s convention put in place procedures which would help curb crimes related to the war. It required countries to adhere to the rules and put a stop to torture. The United States government also made sure that people were safe enough within their boundaries. And those people who felt unsafe must not be forced by the state to come back home. The government officials were also to take full responsibility of their deeds. Investigations of tortures were to be carried out promptly. A committee was instituted to deal with claims of torture. They were responsible for taking complaints for persons tortured and monitor conventions. They were also responsible for instituting mechanisms that would resolve disputes and the U.S monitored the works of the committee with great concern in Latin America.

The relation between the United States and the Cuban authorities had the greatest problems in history. The United States made a hard line position against Cuba because of the restrictions of private businesses by the president of Cuba, Fidel Castrol. The president argued that the United States were paying people low wages and wanted to expel foreign farmers. Cuba didn’t want private ownership of property. The government pushed for restrictions on private ownership of property. Socialism was much embraced in the country. The United States dismissed the Cuban policies and they said that they were not acceptable all over the world. The United States pushed for the change of policy but it was met with various challenges. The presidential candidates did not criticize the current policy and various lobby groups did not support bid by the U.S to change that policy. However Cuba has adopted various changes in policies. Trade and investment have normalized and majority of Americans are involved in agricultural production. (Amstutz, p. 117)


The United States interests in Latin America would always be economic and controlled in terms of leadership of these countries. The United States influences greatly in terms of leadership and normally intervenes during the national elections of these countries. The United States should address the issue of economic injustices for the Latin America countries in order to stand on their own. It should also leave the people to decide on the type of the leader they want. People should be left to elect their leaders democratically. The United States also provided various humanitarian aids to the people of Latin America. It provided major help through provision of drugs to hospitals and immunization programs to the children of the poor nations. This is shown by the establishment of various organizations to help in health matters and through which funds is channeled by the international community. Provision of safe drinking water was also a priority by the United States government, hence it made sure that people in Latin American states got access to this facilities. This was done through providing funds to pump water from boreholes and many other sources.

During the crisis, the United States provided the aid needed to help the victims. This included providing relief food and necessary support needed by the people in Latin America. This was to reduce death in times of natural calamities like floods. The United States also made efforts to make sure that literacy levels was raised. Education was emphasized in Latin America in order to improve the living standards of the people since they could secure themselves well paying jobs to maintain them and their families. This was also to enable people to be enlightened and know current affairs and make decisive decisions. Despite all the efforts made by the United States to improve the living standards, the United States has adversely been criticized by the Latin American leaders. Recently, America leaders were rated least popular in the Latin American countries. This is because of historical injustices which seemed to be conducted by the United States authorities.

Works cited

  1. Amstutz, Mark R. International ethics: concepts, theories, and cases in global politics. 3rd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008
  2. Buckman, Robert. Latin America. 41st ed. Washington, D.C. Stryker-Post Publications, 2007
  3. Goldstein, Joshua and Pevehouse, Jon. International relations. 8th ed. New Jersey: Allyn & Bacon, 2008
  4. Grandin, Greg. Empire’s workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the rise of the new imperialism. New York: Owl Books, 2007
  5. Leonard, Thomas M. and Bratzel, John F. Latin America during World War II. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007
  6. Munck, Gerardo and Munck Luis. Regimes and democracy in Latin America: theories and methods. London: Oxford University Press, 2007
  7. Sweet, William Warren. A history of Latin. New York: Read Books, 2007
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