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Central America and the Caribbean Area

Central America and the Caribbean Area

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Published by David A. Meier

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Published by: David A. Meier on May 24, 2012
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Central America and the Caribbean Area

I. Geography Mainland, North to South: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. Major Islands (Greater Antilles): Cuba, Haiti/Dominican Republic (island of San Domingo, Puerto Rico (US), Jamaica (independent) and Trinidad. Island Systems (Lesser Antilles) North to South: Bahamas (Britain), Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands (US and UK), Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Dominica (independent), Windward Islands, Barbados, and Grenada.


United States' historic policies 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 1823 Emergence of the Monroe Doctrine supported by UK. 1840s to 1850s Manifest Destiny ideas about Central America and Caribbean. 1898 Spanish-American War and tutelage of Cuba Puerto Rico as US colony Cooperation with European states' debt collection by threats and gunboats: "Banana Republics." Use of marines to collect debts of American citizens and to avoid European intervention; propping up regimes. Intervention in Mexican Civil War (1912-1918) and in oil investors' quarrels in 1920s. Continued exploitation of illegal Mexican farm laborers. FDR's "Good Neighbor" policy 1933-1940 (exporting New Deal). The Second World War defense system in the Americas. Cold-shouldering Peron in Argentina 1946+. Overthrow of Arbenz Marxist regime in Guatemala in 1954. Bay of Pigs (Cuban invasion) 1961. Kennedy's alliance for Progress (foundered under Johnson, but not due to USA; resistance of the ruling classes. Cold-shouldering leftist regimes in Bolivia, Peru, & Brazil. Overthrow of Marxist regime in Dominican Republic in 1965. "Destabilizing" Allende regime in Chile in 1973. US ties to dictators in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Panama Canal Treaty 1979 and delayed withdrawal.


7. Fundamental Problems of the Area 1. 5. 6. 5. Strategic Problems 1. merchant class with education and ties ti US (formerly to Europe) Political culture of military dictatorship (not true in same sense for British colonies) Image of US as bully Evolution of Castro's Cuba into Soviet proxy IV. 7. 3. 3. 4. Poverty Population explosion Divisions both geographic and cultural Dominance of small landowning. Venezuela. Guerrilla country High cost of development Distance of Soviet Union from area versus closeness of the US The "band-aid" or "Marines" strategy The "colonial solution": subordinate integration into US economy Future revolutions: the Guianas. 2. 2. and Columbia Possibilities of partnership with US in Latin America as a whole 2 . 4.III. 6.

This resembles Nazi Germany. All social classes encouraged. Leftist Regimes: The Mexican Model 1. VI. helping with fertilizers. with frequent changes. Latent nationalism. One-party state but not totalitarian party. internal elections and fractions. 4. 3. insecticides. controlled. 8. not a classless society but egalitarian goals. workers. seeds. peasants. However. The rhetoric of development is found here as in the middle east. Current Reagan theme is repetition of (1) Alliance for Progress and (2) FDR's "Good Neighbor" policy -. Rightist Regimes 1. Rule by military juntas. but with little wealth there is little to show for the promises. and are swept away by new juntas. 3. and even murdered. 2. See VII. Investment by capitalists welcome but regulated in terms of wages and working conditions. trains military and police. Former colonies and existing colonies are run by a small educated minority with official democracy but little opportunity or education. 7. 5. 5. aids in fighting guerrillas. Some regimes are more than puppets." There is a dula track world in which an appearance of freedom and casualness really applies to American businessmen and tourists and to the small upper class. Assimilation of Indians but not forcibly. Non-alligned status leaning towards US. the dual track is exposed and broken: El Salvador. Ideologies rarely expressed. 6. Military rulers sometimes put in a civilian regime.V.neither of which worked. US supplies arms. 7. the lower class. Mixed economy with government ownership and government partnership in major branches of production. and leftists are more or less secretly intimidated. 4. When challenged by leftist or even democratic movements ruling juntas and their upper-class landowner and merchant backers resort to hired thugs ("death squads") sometimes drawn from the armed forces or from special police squads or "militia. and marketing. government owns land but rents it to individuals and groups. 6. but he is rarely a truly charismatic leader. when armed resistance begins. 2. Sometimes there is a long-term strong-man. but they rarely can cope with overwhelming economic and social problems by parliamentary democracy. 3 .

Cuba. development of a party-class. Governemnt of law. 2. VIII. Collectivized agriculture with private plots. Heavy dependence on USA. democratic centralism. Leftist Regimes: The Cuban/Nicaraguan Model 1. Jamaica. anti-Americanism. equality of treatment. Effort to eradicate bourgeoisie and create a new classless society. arms supplied from eastern Europe. Strong middle class with good education for many.VII. Not very useful model for others but a place to start. 7. 4. fear of Communism. Democratic Regimes (Non-Authoritarian) 1. Social class system open virtually all the way to the top. 3. One-party dominant (Marxist-Leninist). Regular and peaceful change of regimes. apparent "elections". 6. 3. 4 . Forcible integration of minorities. 4. State owned economy with the opportunity for foreign capital to enter needed branches under strict controls. 5. terrorism. 6. 7. Active nationalism. small service business allowed. 2. Pro-Soviet. 5. and Costa Rica. Puerto Rico. but not rural poor (urban poor don't avail themselves of it).

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