Responding to Bolivian Democracy: Avoiding the Mistakes of Early U.S. Cuban Policy

By Morales, Waltraud Quesier | Military Review, July-August 2006 | Go to article overview

Responding to Bolivian Democracy: Avoiding the Mistakes of Early U.S. Cuban Policy


Morales, Waltraud Quesier, Military Review


FOR MORE THAN 50 YEARS, U.S. Government policy has been to promote democracy in Latin America. The election of Eve Morales as president of Bolivia is perhaps the strongest evidence to date that countries on the Andean Ridge are achieving that often-stated policy goal. By all accounts, Morales's election gave him the first true public mandate in Bolivia's history. But Morales's platform, even since taking office, has included anti-foreign and anti-U.S. commitments that have disconcerted some U.S. policymakers (and to some extent European and Latin American policymakers as well). In turn, these policymakers have declared Morales a threat. That kind of reaction is premature, however, and could undermine long-term U.S. policies concerning human rights and democratic values.

The purpose of this essay is threefold: first, to consider whether failed U.S. relations with revolutionary and reformist regimes in the past, especially with Castro's Cuba, offer any lessons for building an effective U.S. policy toward the new Morales government; second, to analyze the key aspects of Bolivia's current social, political, and economic situation; and third, to evaluate the validity of North American concerns.

The U.S. and Latin American Revolutionary Movements

Revolutionary movements in Latin America have been especially challenging to U.S. interests. Overall, the United States has been inconsistent in its approach to these movements and omen unfaithful to its own stated policies or to the humanitarian and democratic values that supposedly underpin its policies. (1)

U.S. policies toward revolutionary change in the hemisphere (and in other parts of the world) have been shaped by three factors: consideration of larger strategic concerns in other regions of the world, especially fear of global threats and Great Power rivalries; ideological and moral imperatives such as anticommunism and democratic enlargement; and protection of the economic interests of the private sector and the free market. (2)

As a result, in almost all of Latin America's major revolutions (Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, and Nicaragua--Bolivia in 1952 being the one exception), the United States treated revolutionary change as a threat to its interests. It believed such change would have an adverse impact on U.S. investors and would decrease U.S. political influence because new governments would adopt "more independent domestic and foreign policies and ... [would be] less likely to conform to U.S. policies." (3)

To be fair, in the cold war setting of the era, U.S. policy largely hinged on genuine security concerns associated with the Great Power rivalry pitting Western democracies against nations aligned with the communist Soviet Union and Maoist China. However, legitimate concerns about Latin America often degenerated into a single-minded obsession with anticommunism, an obsession that viewed popular revolutionary movements with suspicion and as little more than Soviet and Communist Chinese surrogates. U.S. policymakers justified subversive actions and militaristic confrontations with revolutionary regimes throughout the region, including those in Guatemala and Cuba, by citing the need to stem communism.

One such intervention occurred in Guatemala in 1954, when a CIA paramilitary operation overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. As its codename suggests, Operation Success was initially viewed as a political victory. But it was a success only in the most mechanistic, superficial sense, and only for the short term. (4) In its aftermath, Guatemala descended into 30 years of authoritarianism, civil war, and ultimately ethnic genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The Guatemala case can hardly be considered a long-term success when viewed against the standard of human rights values upon which America was founded. In fact, only relatively recently has something like a democracy appeared in Guatemala. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Responding to Bolivian Democracy: Avoiding the Mistakes of Early U.S. Cuban Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.