Library of Congress

Puerto Rico: Our Link with Latin America

THE various nations of the western hemisphere have much in common as regards the manner of their birth, and all hold as their ideal a democratic form of government. It would seem on this account that there always should have existed a general sympathy and understanding between them. Undoubtedly this was so in the early decades of the last century, just after the United States had terminated her struggle for independence and when South America was battling for the same end. Many North Americans fought in the South American armies at that time. Miranda's first expedition was in large part composed of citizens of the United States. The great liberator, Bolivar, tried to build a state in central and northern South America to correspond to our nation. George Washington was venerated as a hero there as well as here. Shortly afterwards President Monroe, with the backing of Canning, promulgated the Monroe Doctrine, which had as its basic creed America for Americans.

Much might have been expected from such a beginning, but instead of growing together the two great divisions began to pull apart. Various causes were responsible. North Americans obtained business concessions in the southern countries and ruthlessly exploited them. Meanwhile, the South American countries contributed their part to the ensuing misunderstandings through the activities of corrupt officials or oppressive action. We further made ourselves unpopular through boundary arbitrations, etc. Perhaps even more damaging than the foregoing was the assumption on the part of the people of the United States that they were infinitely superior to the southerners.

I personally believe it is a good thing for a nation to have a firm conviction of its worth; but it should have the decency and the manners to keep that conviction to itself. We did not. We showed it constantly, and I am sorry to say at times we still do. We "high-hatted" South America. Very naturally the South Americans, who are sensitive and proud, resented this.

It is easy to believe

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