Courtesy Reuters

Europe Versus the United States in Latin America

GEOGRAPHY and economics, aided by time and the progress of industrial science, afford more than sufficient explanation for the change recently witnessed in the relationship of Latin America to its two magnets of political and economic attraction, a change involving a gradual drifting away from Europe in the direction of the United States. The arguments advanced by nature have recently received the support of an enlightened foreign policy on the part of the United States -- a "good neighbor policy" which has succeeded in correcting many of the former errors and abuses of "dollar diplomacy" and "Yankee imperialism." To this have been added the help of a liberal commercial policy at Washington, resulting in the conclusion of reciprocal trade pacts between the United States and half of all the Latin American countries, and the development of air communications to such an extent that great physical distances between the two Americas have been drastically diminished.

As a matter of fact, the thing to be explained is why the change, under such unprecedentedly favorable circumstances, is not progressing at a faster pace. The recent Buenos Aires Conference for the Maintenance of Peace showed only too clearly that it indeed is not proceeding as rapidly as might be expected.


The factors working against the change are many, but three are outstanding: one, cultural or historical; two, political; and three, economic.

The cultural factor is recognizable at once by anyone familiar with the history of Latin America. The northern section of the American Continent was settled by religious émigrés and puritan pioneers eager to build a new world, different from, and freer and happier than, the old. The Spanish conquistadores -- the very name is revealing -- had no such dream. They had not set out to found a new world but to extend the old world and its civilization into new lands. Their discoveries and conquests were prompted by ambitions of mixed greed and glory which bound them inexorably to the old

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