Latin History During World War II


Latin History During World War II

After World War II until the 1980s, many Latin American leaders installed reforms to deal with new demanding issues in their country. These new reforms were frequently viewed by the United States as alarming due to the recent rise of communism in the world. Following almost a century of the alliance, Americans and Russians disagreement came to the front line when in 1917 the Communists seized power and established the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union would come to declared war on the capitalist nations of the West.


The two countries put all this aside in their mutual hatred for one another and fought against Germany during World War II. This alliance would come to an end between 1944-45 when Joseph Stalin looking to extend Soviet control used the Soviet army to control much of Eastern Europe. This cold war rivalry would soon emerge into a contest to obtain allies. The U.S. foreign policy following World War II confronted primarily in assisting the countries in Europe. The concentration of aid to Europe was an immense concern to the countries of Latin America. Latin America countries wanted the U.S. to stress economic development in the post-war era.

The U.S. believed that it needed to promote postwar economic development in Latin America but was unwilling to make a specific commitment for assistance. As a region Latin America ranked low on the U.S. priority list; other areas were seen as facing more immediate Soviet threats. The lack of attention by the U.S. to the pressing social. political and economic problems in Latin America would prove costly to the U.S. The cost would come in the form of new political views emerging to deal with the problems at hand. The U.S. would come to pay attention to Latin America, that it was supposed to at the beginning of the cold war, and take action to stop the spread of communism.

One of the first situations faced by the U.S. was Guatemala, lead by the soldier, and president of Guatemala, Jacobo (1951-54) whose nationalistic economic and social reforms singled out groups of conservative landowners, and conservative elements in the army, and U.S. companies stationed in Guatemala. The son of a Swiss pharmacist who had emigrated to Guatemala, Arbenz was educated at the National Military Academy of Guatemala. He later joined a group of leftist army officers that overthrew the Guatemalan dictator Jorge Ubico in 1944. In March 1951 he succeeded to the presidency, supported by the army and the left-wing political parties, including the Guatemalan Communist Party.


Arbenz made land reform the central project of his presidency, this led to a conflict with the largest landowner in the country, the United Fruit Company. As the land reforms increased, the U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, became increasingly alarmed, fearing the threat due to large American banana investments. The public view of Arbenz was that he was a friend of communists. The U.S., during the Eisenhower administration, began working in Honduras and El Salvador, helping to organize a counterrevolutionary army of exiles led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas. On June 18, 1954, a force of 150 invaded Guatemala from Honduras, the key to the invasion was not the exile force, but the regular Guatemalan army.

When Arbenz tried to arm his civilian supporters, the army blocked the move and forced Arbenz to resign on June 27, 1954, and went into exile. Castillo Armas would succeed Arbenz as president, reversed most of the reforms of the previous decade and offered generous concessions to foreign investors. During the fighting, Guatemala appealed to the UN Security Council to end the fighting, but the diplomatic offensive fell victim to big power politics by the U.S., which was chairing the council in June of 1954. Another situation in which the U.S. tried to impose its will on Latin America, was the invasion of at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961.

The invasion was financed and directed by the CIA, within six months of Castro\’s overthrow of Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista\’s in January 1959. Relations between the Castro government and the United States began to decline. The new Cuban government, under Fidel Castro, confiscated private property, sent agents to initiate revolutions in several Latin American countries, and established diplomatic and economic ties with leading socialist powers, such as USSR In June Congress had passed legislation enabling President Dwight D. to take retaliatory steps against Cuba. The United States cut off sugar purchases from Cuba and soon afterward placed an embargo on all exports to Cuba except food and medicine.

In January 1961, Eisenhower, in one of the final acts of his administration, broke diplomatic ties with Cuba. An invasion of Cuba had been planned by the U.S. CIA since May 1960. The course with the invasion had been debated within the new administration of President John F. Kennedy before it was finally approved and carried out. On April 15, 1961, three U.S. made airplanes piloted by Cubans bombed Cuban air bases. Two days later the Cubans trained by the United States and using U.S. equipment landed at the Bay of Pigs on the south-central coast. The invasion force was unequal to the strength of the Castro lead troops, and by April 19 the CIA lead force was turned back.

The Kennedy administration would suffer the consequence of the invasion, while critics charged the CIA with supplying faulty information to the new president. The captured members of the invasion force were imprisoned. This incident was crucial to the development of the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. During the 1980s the U.S. political scandal in which the National Security Council (NSC) became involved in secret weapons transactions and other activities that either was forbidden by the U.S. Congress. In early 1985 the head of the NSC, Robert C. McFarlane, undertook the sale of weapons to Iran, this and several succeeding weapon sales to Iran in 1986 directly opposed the U.S. government\’s policy of refusing to bargain with terrorists or to aid Iran in its war with Iraq.

This policy was based on the belief that Iran was a supporter of international terrorism. A portion of the money that Iran paid for the arms was redirected by the NSC and given to the Contras. The U.S. backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Marxist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. The financial movement was undertaken by NSC staff member Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. These activities violated the Boland Amendment, a law passed by Congress in 1984 that banned direct or indirect U.S. military aid to the Contras. The NSC\’s illegal activities became known in November 1986, which caused an enormous public commotion.


North lost their jobs and was prosecuted, President Ronald public image was tarnished, and the United States suffered a serious though the temporary loss of credibility as an opponent of terrorism. Throughout the Cold War era, many Latin American countries were forced to pursue alternative forms of government to deal with the economic, social, and political problems in their countries. This was due to the lack of attention, financially and politically the U.S. displayed to Latin America. Even though the U.S. failed to aid its southern neighbor, when Latin American leaders such as Arbenz, Castro, and the Sandinistas, took a different road then the U.S. desired it came at these leaders with a vengeance.

The U.S. showed no remorse in its plan to end communism, especially when it entered the western hemisphere. In my understanding of the cold war situation the U.S. used all means possible to defend democracy, and had they not taken the steps that they had, the world might be a different place then it is today. Being a superpower during this time period took a lot of responsibility, and the decisions of the time were believably the needed decisions of the time. When it came to Communism the U.S. has almost completed its plan with the fall of Russia and had they taken different steps other countries may have fallen to communism.






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