Latin American Civilization: History and Society, 1492 to the Present

By Benjamin Keen | Go to book overview

22
THE TWO AMERICAS

AFEELING of great admiration dominated the attitude of Latin American leaders toward the United States from the era of independence to the closing years of the nineteenth century. That feeling, explains the Mexican philosopher Leopoldo Zea, "derived from the negative attitude of the Latin American toward his own historical and cultural heritage." But in the case of some, notably among the Mexicans, the sentiment of admiration was tempered by resentment and misgivings about past and prospective territorial losses to the young colossus of the north. Others, like the Chilean Francisco Bilbao, already questioned the North American scale of values, setting Latin love of beauty and the spiritual values against alleged Yankee materialism and egotism.

After 1890 the increasingly aggressive foreign policy of the United States toward some of its southern neighbors rapidly depleted the Latin American reservoir of good will toward the republic of the north. The Yankeemania of Domingo Faustine Sarmiento turned into the Yankeephobia of Manuel Ugarte, Eduardo Prado, and Rufino Blanco Fombona. The transition in attitude was strikingly revealed in the writings of Josí Marti, epic chronicler of the United States from 1880 to 1895, whose reportage, long favorable to the United States, grew increasingly hostile toward the end of his journalistic career.

Latin American ill will toward the United States, stimulated by many North American acts of intervention, reached a climax in the 1920s. Official awareness of the adverse economic and political effects of this hostility, and pressure from an aroused public in the United States, brought a gradual revision of policy toward Latin America and flowered into the Good Neighbor Policy under the second Roosevelt. Between 1933 and 1945 the old onesided treaties were abrogated, the right of intervention was completely abandoned, and economic and cultural relations were greatly expanded. The Good Neighbor Policy proved its value during the critical years of World War II.

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