With the impossibility of the reforms of the neocolonial system proposed by the Kennedy administration (see “The Alliance for Progress” 9/26/2013), US policy toward Latin America under Presidents Lyndon Johnson (1963-68), Richard Nixon (1969-74), and Gerald Ford (1974-76) abandoned efforts at economic reform of the neocolonial system. They returned to interventionism, alliance with the Latin American estate bourgeoisie, and support of military dictatorships, in reaction to the intensity of anti-imperialist popular movements that pervaded the region during the 1960s and 1970s.
During the Johnson administration, the United States intervened militarily in Panama in 1964 and in the Dominican Republic in 1965. It supported coups d’état in Brazil(1964), Bolivia(1964), and Argentina(1966). It provided economic and military assistance to governments that were participating in the US counterinsurgency strategy in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, El Salvador, and Uruguay (Regalado 2007:143).
The Latin American dictatorships of the period followed an approach first adopted in Cuba during the 1930s with Batista. They were based on the development of the military as an institution and the strengthening of its capacity to control the population through repression. They were different from “strong-arm or caudillista dictatorships” (Regalado 2007:143) that had been the norm to the 1960s, which were characterized by personal rather than institutional control. The new type of institutional military dictatorship was more able to carry out repression, and violations of human rights became systematic and widespread. “The repression unleashed by these dictatorships was not limited to the annihilation of revolutionary organizations that developed armed struggle, but in fact extended to the destruction of left-wing political parties and social organizations, and in many cases, also center and right-wing formations. This is understandable because the aim was not only to banish the ‘threat of communism,’ but also to use such dictatorships to wipe out the remains of developmentalism and its political expression, populism” (Regalado 2007:144).
Like the Johnson administration, the Nixon administration supported the institutional military dictatorships and, when necessary, intervened to establish them. “In response to the rise in nationalist and revolutionary currents in Latin America, the policy of the Nixon administration was to destabilize and overthrow governments that it considered a threat to the‘national interest’ of the United States, and to install new dictatorships, such as the governments resulting from the coup d’état that overthrew General Juan José Torres in Bolivia (August 1971); the in-house coup of Juan María Bordaberry in Uruguay (June 1973); and, in particular, the coup d’état in Chile on September 11, 1973, against Salvador Allende’s constitutional government”(Regalado 2007:147).
US support for institutional military dictatorships was integral to the neocolonial world-system. The structures of the core-peripheral relation promoted the underdevelopment of Latin America, thus generating popular anti-imperialist movements, which could lead to a national project of autonomous development designed to break the neocolonial core-peripheral relation. Repression was necessary to preserve the neocolonial system.
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, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford