DURING the brief period that has elapsed since President Roosevelt assumed office on March 4, 1933, the relations between the United States and the other American republics have undergone a transformation for the better which has seemed nothing short of miraculous to those familiar with inter-American affairs. That relations between the United States and the other nations of this Hemisphere had been increasingly unsatisfactory over a period of many decades was generally recognized by public opinion in the United States. Occasionally attempts had been made to remedy conditions, but these efforts were partial and tentative in character and it was clear that no real improvement could become possible until the whole continental policy of the United States, both political and economic, had experienced a radical change, and until it was based upon new foundations of justice and of reason.
On the political side, the peoples of the twenty Latin American republics had uppermost in their minds the numerous interventions by the United States in the smaller republics of the Caribbean in disregard of the inherent sovereignty and independent rights of those nations. By no means less rankling was the attitude of patronizing and domineering superiority which had crystallized in these acts of physical interference. On the commercial side, the economic policy which had culminated in the Smoot-Hawley tariff had dealt a staggering blow to the vital interests of many of the Latin American republics and, as an immediate consequence, had gravely prejudiced the export trade of the United States.
In 1933 suspicion of the real motives of the United States was rife throughout the Latin American world. Antagonism and hostility were openly and even officially voiced, as at the Inter-American Conferences of 1923 and of 1928. Propaganda against the United States found a fertile field. The slogan, "Buy only from those who buy from us," directed against exports from the United States, was published far and wide.
In his first inaugural address, President Roosevelt announced that his Administration would maintain the policy of the "good