The United States and Inter-American Security, 1889-1960

By J. Lloyd Mecham | Go to book overview

XIII Caribbean Turbulence (1949-1960)

It is no longer thinkable that a problem arising between two or more American States should be foreign to our essentially common political solidarity.

GUILLERMO SEVILLA SACASA, 1949

S INCE THE PERFECTING of the peace apparatus of the American republics at Rio de Janeiro in 1947 and at Bogotá in 1948, there has been no paucity of international incidents to put the security commitments to test. These controversies were strictly inter-American affairs, confined almost exclusively to the Caribbean area. Because of the weakness of the countries involved it was possible in most instances to induce or pressure their acceptance of peaceful settlement. For this reason it does not necessarily follow that the security procedures would be equally effective in controversies between stronger Latin-American states. Nevertheless, the lessons learned and experiences gained from applying the Rio treaty and other procedures to these minor controversies should serve at least two useful purposes. (1) They establish precedents in the "methodology" of applying the pacts, and so should obviate delay or confusion in any really serious future controversy. (2) The numerous instances of successful recourse to the pacts, even though the incidents have often been trivial, create a "climate" of public expectation that all controversies, no matter what the status of the contestants, must be submitted to the same procedures. Moreover, it is a matter of simple fact that a small brush fire, if neglected, can result in a great conflagration. It is for these reasons, therefore, that we examine the application of security commitments to inter-American controversies.

Caribbean interventionism. Since the controversies of the post- Bogotá years which were responsible for the invoking of the Rio treaty or recourse to the Inter-American Peace Committee arose from the constant interference by Caribbean and Central American govern

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