Manifest Destiny, a concept developed in the last decades of the 18th Century, ascribed to the United States the special mission of bringing its system of economic, social and political organization, first, to all of North America, and later to the entire Western Hemisphere.
The expansion into the West was completed in the late 19th Century: the Native Americans were virtually annihilated, and the Mexican neighbors lost almost half of their territory.
In 1823, U.S. President James Monroe proclaimed his Doctrine, also known as the Doctrine of America for the Americans, which stated that any interference by any European power in the emerging Latin American republics would be considered an unfriendly act against the United States. Thus the U.S undertook the right and duty to “protect the region”, in a paternalistic gesture that soon proved to be axiomatic expansionism.
In the early 20th Century, newly-proclaimed President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, issued an addendum to the Monroe Doctrine known as the Roosevelt Corollary: “In the Western Hemisphere, the committment of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may compel it, despite its reluctance to do so… to act as an international police force.”
In 1912, U.S. President William H. Taft said that “the day is not far when three Stars and Stripes flags, at three equidistant points, will mark our territory: one at the North Pole, another at the Panama Canal and the third at the South Pole. The whole Hemisphere will be ours, as it already belongs to us morally, because of our racial superiority.”
Years later, in the 1960’s of the 20th Century, as part of U.S. strategy to counter the influence of the liberation ideas promoted by the Cuban Revolution in Latin America, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed the Alliance for Progress, a program of alleged economic complementation with Latin America which maintained the foundations of unequal exchange.
Since the 1980’s, a relentless neoliberal orientation was imposed on the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean in order to model their economies to the requirements of U.S. imperialism in its current stage.
With its typical prescriptions of privatization, market opening, and liberalization, neo-liberal policy engendered development strategies supposedly aimed at achieving the insertion of Latin America in the globalized world economy. The “free” world market – which is in actual fact controlled by the developed countries and their large transnational corporations- would displace Latin America´s domestic markets and their regional trade that would inevitably be subordinated to the world market.
According to neo-liberal discourse, the market – freed from all official regulation – would be able to guarantee, automatically, for each country, commercial advantages that would determine their access to the benefits derived from these exchanges.
But the harsh and cruel reality in the years of neo-liberal reign demonstrated that, without regulations and with privatization as its supreme formula, the market did not generate development. Instead, it deepened social injustice, poverty, exclusion, illegal riches for a few, corruption, and humiliating imperialist domination over the region. Brutal military dictatorships were required to impose the rules of the game, but not even these could quench for long the popular rebellion and the social movements.
In 2001, Gen. Colin Powell, at the time U.S. Secretary of State, admitted in a speech that “our goal is to ensure for U.S. companies the control of a territory stretching from the Arctic to Antarctica and free access for our products, services, technologies and capital throughout the Hemisphere, without any obstacles.”
With the same motivations which five centuries ago led the British Empire to defend “freedom of the seas” in the world – because it had a fleet against which no other nation could compete. U.S. imperialism has currently been promoting the banner of “free trade” with the enormous advantage provided by its vastly superior level of economic development in the continent.
Today, when the imperialist discourse is as aggressive as it was in its worst moment in the past, and Washington declares asymmetric wars and launches crusades against Third World nations under false accusations of terrorism, drug trafficking, violations of human rights and other crimes of which the superpower stands out as the greatest global violator, the political landscape in the continent is changing rapidly.
The Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States [CELAC], a forum of unity in diversity recently held in Havana, with the participation of almost all the heads of state and governments of the region, is living proof.
January 29, 2014.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3975.html