Nicaragua's Other Revolution: Religious Faith and Political Struggle

By Michael Dodson; Laura Nuzzi O'Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

Four
Patterns of Political Development in the Americas

The Heritage of the Americas

When speaking to Latin Americans, presidents of the United States are fond of stressing that a common heritage unites the Americas. It is understandable that they would do so since diplomatic protocol requires that a basis for good relations be acknowledged. Of course, the matter goes deeper than this because U.S. presidents often find themselves addressing Latin Americans in response to a perceived crisis that affects mutual relations. They enter into such situations under the venerable shadow of the Monroe Doctrine, which has done yeoman duty justifying U.S. intervention for a century and a half. At least since the days of James K. Polk the Monroe Doctrine has been a cloak for the pursuit of U.S. interests in Latin America: it was helpful to think of that pursuit as always being for the mutual benefit of the United States and Latin America. 1

A typical example is provided by President John E Kennedy who, in response to the Cuban Revolution, created the Alliance for Progress, a foreign policy initiative by the government of the United States to promote economic and political development in Latin America. Just weeks before the CIA-sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, President Kennedy formally announced the Alliance program to a gathering of Latin American ambassadors, appealing for Latin American cooperation in these terms: "We meet together as firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization. For this new world of ours is not merely an accident of geography. Our continents are bound together by a common history--the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle--the revolt from colonial rule. And our people share a common heritage-- the quest for the dignity and freedom of man." 2 Certainly there are

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