Reform, Yes; Communism, No! Eisenhower's Policy on Latin American Revolutions
Loretta Sharon Wyatt
Evaluation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's foreign policy toward Latin America has concentrated on his administration's negative relationships with the revolutionary governments of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala and of Fidel Castro in Cuba. The impression that has resulted is that American foreign policy during this era consistently opposed Latin American revolutions. However, Eisenhower and his advisers were not inevitably antagonistic to revolutions in that area, as American relations with Bolivia and Venezuela prove. In fact, American actions were guided by a policy that was more complex in one way and simpler in another than is generally thought.
The Eisenhower policy regarding Latin America can be criticized for the same reason that all preceding and subsequent official American attitudes toward the nations in this hemisphere can be criticized: they are ignored, neglected, or taken for granted unless and until there is a crisis in one of them which Washington perceives as potentially inimical to the best interests of the United States. On pragmatic grounds any country can be expected to conduct its foreign policy in such a way as to protect its interests and concerns. What is unfortunate is that the United States has consistently been far more interested in other areas of the world than in its own hemisphere, an attitude that may not ultimately be in its best interests. This is not to say that American leaders have not known better. Eisenhower recognized that "a region of the world of vital importance to the United States is Latin America, . . . whose weight in the scales of the balance of power has become steadily more important." 1 He and his two major advisers on Latin American matters, his brother Milton and the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, were well aware that Latin Americans resented "what seemed to them to be our preoccupation with other areas of the world." 2 Unfortunately, in practice the Eisenhower administration repeated the same pattern.