Alongside the development and implementation of imperialist policies (see posts from 9/19/2013 to 9/27/2013), the United States government pursued a policy of Pan-Americanism, seeking to establish an institutionalized Inter-American economic and political system under its control.
During the presidency of Benjamin Harrison (1889-93), Secretary of State James Blaine proposed a “Pan-American system.” It was the start of a long-term strategy “to convert the Latin American government and peoples into co-participants in the domination exercised over them” (Regalado 2007:123). From 1889 to 1942, twelve Inter-American meetings were convened in pursuit of the objective of establishing an international Inter-American System under US control.
In the Inter-American conferences of 1889 to 1942, there was considerable resistance from Latin American nations to the Pan-American project, and therefore little progress was made toward its implementation. In the 1923 conference in Santiago de Chile, the Latin American governments proposed a multilateral guarantee of the independence of all of the states of the region, which the United States refused to accept. In 1928 in Havana, the Latin American nations rejected a proposal by the United States to institutionalize the right to intervention. The 1933 conference in Montevideo accepted an Argentinean proposal for a non-aggression treaty. In 1936 in Buenos Aires, the United States was unable to obtain conference support for a proposal to increase the powers of the Pan-American organization. And in 1938 in Lima, a US proposal for creating an Inter-American consultative committee was rejected (Regalado 2007:123-26).
With the arrival of the United States to a position of hegemonic maturity at the conclusion of World War II, the United States was able to establish the Pan-American institutionalization of neocolonialism. At the 1945 conference in Mexico, “the Latin American countries—with the exception of Argentina, which was not invited—supported the United States in its efforts to build the postwar world order. In this meeting, steps were taken toward the institutionalization of the Inter-American system” (Regalado 2007:126). In 1948, the Organization of American States (OAS) was created. In 1954, “OAS declared that communist activity constitutes an intervention in the internal affairs of the Americas and affirmed that the installation of a communist regime in any state in the Western Hemisphere would imply a threat to the system, which would require an advisory meeting to adopt measures”(Regalado 2007:127).
Although the Organization of American States expelled socialist Cuba in 1961, for the most part OAS was not highly effective as an instrument of neocolonial domination from 1948 to 1980. During this period, the neocolonial system was developed, not through the institutionalized cooperation of Latin American states in OAS, but through unilateral action by the United States. After 1980, with a more aggressive pursuit by the United States of its imperialist objectives, OAS has been ignored as a structure for the implementation of US foreign policy.
It might appear that, as an organization of all American states, OAS has the possibility to become a forum for a Latin American and Caribbean challenge to US imperialism and neocolonial domination. But OAS has never functioned in this way. When a new challenge to US imperialism emerged in the Americas at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the neocolonized nations formed (in 2011) a separate organization, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC for its initials in Spanish), an organization that includes Cuba and excludes the United States and Canada.
Pan-Americanism, then, is the institutionalization of the cooperation of the neocolonized nations of Latin America and the Caribbean in the US imperialist project of neocolonial domination. With growing strength of the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean through union and integration since 2004, and with the productive and commercial decline of the United States since the 1970s, Pan-Americanism is no longer a viable project.
Regalado, Roberto. 2007. Latin America at the Crossroads: Domination, Crisis, Popular Movements, and Political Alternatives. New York: Ocean Press.
Key words: Third World, revolution, colonialism, neocolonialism, imperialism, democracy, national liberation, sovereignty, self-determination, socialism, Marxism, Leninism, Cuba, Latin America, world-system, world-economy, development, underdevelopment, colonial, neocolonial, blog Third World perspective, Pan-American, Organization of American States, OAS