BEFORE the World War, generally speaking, Latin America was on the periphery of international relations. It did not exert much influence in international affairs, and its foreign relations were mainly with the countries of the western hemisphere, particularly the United States. For the other countries of the world the blue ribbon position in diplomacy might be the ambassadorship in Paris or London; for the Latin American countries it was at Washington. The economic interests of some of the Latin American countries were largely with Europe, but the political relations of all of them with Washington were of vital importance. In comparison, those with other countries were relatively unimportant, with the possible exception of the relations of Argentina with Great Britain.
As the result of the great war-time demand for their cereals, meats, sugar, nitrates, and manganese, Latin Americans were led to change their attitude of mind towards the rest of the world. They discovered that their countries occupied an important place in world economy, and this greatly increased their pride in their own continent and also their self-confidence. Then immediately after the war they were invited to join the League of Nations on a footing of equality with all other nations of the world, including the Great Powers of Europe. This further enhanced their self-esteem, courage, and prestige. During the colonial period the Latin American peoples had been absolutely dominated by Spain and Portugal (except for French rule in Haiti). After their achievement of independence and during the nineteenth century they lived largely in the shadow of the United States. Today they have a growing determination, and it is particularly strong on the part of the stronger and more progressive states, to lead their own lives without acknowledging the tutelage of any other people or state.
The wars of the French Revolution and those waged by Napoleon compelled the European nations to concentrate attention upon the problems of their own continent. This gave opportunity to the Latin American nations to secure
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