America's Imperialism in Latin America: a Historical Study

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About this sample


Words: 2478 |

Pages: 5|

13 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 2478|Pages: 5|13 min read

Published: Dec 3, 2020

U.S Imperialism in Latin America has changed the culture and affected the economic structure of many countries in Latin America. The U.S became a world power sometime in the 1870’s as a result of the newly found power the U.S began to invade its neighboring countries in order to advance its own economy. The countries of Latin America are in physical and economic ruin due to U.S Imperialism. The countries that are most affected by U.S Imperialism are Cuba, Haiti, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Cuba has been highly affected by U.S Embargos and U.S troops in Cuba. European countries were becoming less dependent on Cuban sugar which made Cuba more susceptible to U.S because the U.S became the only major country buying it’s sugar. Seeing that Cuba’s main source of income was the trade of sugar between the U.S the U.S used this to their advantage in order to gain more control over the Cuban economy.

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The U.S continued to dominate the Cuban Government throughout the 1920’s. On July 5th, 1960 the U.S ended the long lasting sugar quota with Cuba and the relations between the two states continued to fall apart rapidly. Many Cuban refugees tried to flee to the shores of Florida but were turned away by U.S border patrols. On January 3rd, 1961 the United States broke diplomatic ties with Cuba. The U.S. embargo was tightened further in March 1962 to cover any product that contained any material from Cuba. “Extraterritorial application of U.S. law, it nevertheless made it more difficult for Cuba to open to trade or for change within Cuba to occur. But such penetration is difficult if not impossible with the U.S. embargo and the Helms-Burton legislation.” Michael Tkacik wrote in his article Cuba and the United States: Revolution, Nationalism, and Enemies Next Door. Then in 1962 The United States decides to place another embargo on any products containing material from Cuba. The continuous interference of the U.S in Cuban trade affairs has left the Cuban economy broken. Since 1899 the U.S has had control over Cuba, even though the U.S granted Cuba sovereignty in 1902 the U.S restrictions on the country due to the Platt Amendment has still given the U.S most control over the income of products and currency in Cuba.

Not only has the U.S affected Cuba by interfering in the economy but also by military action. In 1895 Cuba was still under the control of Spain but was in the middle of a revolution. The Revolution started with a man named Jose Marti. “Marti was fearful of replacing Spanish domination with U.S. domination. He was forced to walk a thin line between seeking U.S. support in his revolution, but not so much U.S. involvement that they would simply replace the Spanish and still deny Cuba self-determination”, Michael Tkacik wrote. Marti was killed in his first battle on May 19th, 1895. The revolution continued without him. Tensions grew and the U.S decided to interfere. The U.S sent a battleship called U.S.S Maine to Havana to protect Americans that were in Cuba. While there the U.S.S Maine mysteriously exploded. 200 American soldiers died due to the explosion. The U.S offered Spain $300 million for Cuba but Spain rejected the offer. On April 25th, 1898 the U.S declared war on Spain and thus began the Spanish-American War. The U.S was a growing power and felt the need to test the waters on just how well they could compete with other global powers. The U.S saw Cuba as an economic gain to its growing country. They saw the opportunity to get rid of European interference in the Western Hemisphere which would ultimately lead to the U.S becoming the dominant country in the Western Hemisphere.

“The geo-strategic value of Cuba would only grow with the Panama Canal (1914). Socially, manifest destiny, or the notion that the United States had a duty to expand its way of life and culture, justified such actions”, Tkacik wrote. Spain surrendered after the first battle. “As Marti had feared, rather than freeing Cuba, U.S. intervention seemed simply to replace one colonial power with another”, Tkacik wrote. Under the control of U.S armies Cuba was given public services and better sanitation. Many revolutionists saw the U.S taking over as a poor choice because they promised Cuba freedom from Spain just to take over the country itself. It was a distasteful move on the U.S’s part seeing that the U.S also fought for independence in 1776 from Great Britain. By the 1900’s, however, the U.S began to prepare the government for independence. The U.S drafted the Platt Amendment which stated the following “The Platt Amendment put various restrictions on Cuban sovereignty. For example, Cuba was forbidden from entering into any treaty with any foreign power that might impair Cuban independence (in U.S. eyes). Cuba could not allow any other foreign power to obtain control over any portion of the island. Cuba was not allowed to contract for any public debt that could not be covered by its current revenues and Cuba was required to allow the United States to lease naval basing rights, providing the United States with the naval base at Guantanamo Bay. But probably the most offensive language to Cubans was that Cuba agreed to allow the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs in order to assure Cuban independence or to protect life, property, and individual liberty.” Cuba was granted independence under the Platt Amendment on May 20th, 1902. Cuba grew economically but as Cuban’s had feared the U.S continued to interfere politically. The U.S interfered in 1906 which was only four years after Cuba was granted sovereignty. In 1909 Cuba was given back independence but in 1912 the U.S sent Marines back to Cuba.

The back and forth of freedom and being controlled by the U.S led many Cubans to have anti-American feelings. By March of the 1960’s the U.S was training troops to invade Cuba. People question why the U.S felt the need to use so much force on a country that had little value economically to the U.S. The U.S was a thriving country with or without Cuba so why did they interfere? The answer can be found in almost every international confrontation that the U.S has been involved in. The grow of communism. The U.S has a strong belief that communism should be ended. The U.S also has a strong pride and do not like it when the their pride is damaged. “To fully understand why the United States reacted so forcefully, one must place the Cuban revolution in the broader context of the Cold War. The United States saw itself as engaged in a zero-sum conflict with the Soviet Union, where any victory for the Soviets was a U.S. loss. Cuba not only represented a U.S. loss, but it was a loss right in America's backyard. Furthermore, Cuba was still viewed as a vital strategic area for the control of Latin America. A hostile Cuba could (and did) support unfriendly revolutions throughout Latin America. On top of this, the 1950s had seen the United States lose some level of its predominant role in world politics. As other countries rebuilt following the devastation of World War II, it caused anxiety among U.S. leaders who sought to maintain the United States' clear superiority. Not only were assorted states moving closer to the United States in terms of power and less willing to comply with its demands, but the Soviets had nuclear weapons and China and other states had 'gone Communist.' The 'loss of Cuba,' therefore, appeared to be a significant threat”, Tkacik explained this in his writings. The U.S has done this time and time again, they continue to force their way of life on other countries. As a finally statement on U.S imperialism in Cuba, “For more than 100 years, the United States has caused incalculable misery and suffering for the Cuban people. Any moves by the Bush administration against Cuba must be resolutely opposed. On the other hand, Fidel Castro is not a communist and Cuba is not a socialist society. The Cuban people need to make a genuine revolution to build a genuinely liberating society”, Raymond Lotta wrote in the article U.S Imperialism, the Cuban Revolution, and Fidel Castro.

The U.S doesn’t end their rein with Cuba, they also interfere with Haiti. At the beginning of the 20th century Germany had a high influence in Haiti. The U.S was fearful that European countries would control the country because through 1911 and 1915 seven Haitian presidents were assassinated. In 1914 the U.S sent in marines to Haiti. The U.S removed $500,000 from Haiti’s national bank for “Safekeeping”. In 1915 the president was assassinated and the U.S decided to take over to prevent an anarchy but most people know the main motives for the U.S taking over was to protect American assets in Haiti and prevent German invasion. Once again the U.S proves the point that they are power hungry and out for personal gain at the expensive of other countries. Haiti fell under the control of the U.S and the U.S forced a pro-American president into office. The U.S continued to have control over Haiti and allowed certain laws like allowing foreigners to own land, this was outlawed before to keep other countries from controlling Haiti but the U.S changed this law. Uprisings in the 1920’s led the U.S to begin to withdraw from Haiti. Like Cuba the U.S prepared local government officials for independence. The U.S finally withdrew in 1934 but still maintained economic ties. Haiti still continues to be in poverty even after the U.S left. The U.S did not help the state that Haiti was in and actually left the country worse off without the help of U.S military. Haiti and Cuba are not the only countries that have been affected by U.S imperialism. The Dominican Republic has also been victim to the power hungry country that is The United States of America. The Dominican Republic is the neighboring country to Haiti on the Islands of Hispaniola. The United States never had full control over the Dominican Republic but they did have control over Haiti which was right next door. While Haiti was under the control of the U.S the U.S made a permanent border separating the Dominican Republic from Haiti. For a while the border allowed more structured trade between the two states and allowed the U.S to impose tariffs to help pay off European countries. Many people argue that the U.S had an agenda to make the Dominican Republic a developed white nation and leave Haiti in poverty with a more black population. “Perhaps the most infamous outcome of the US occupation was the creation of a national military force and the subsequent rise to power of General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. During his brutal dictatorship (1930–1961), Trujillo mobilized a state-sponsored anti-Haitian nationalism through the nationalist intelligentsia, state institutions, and the media. This official version of dominicanidad posited the Dominican Republic as a civilized and modern (white) nation in contradistinction to the poverty and primitivism (blackness) associated with Haiti”.

The U.S pressured their way of life onto the Dominican Republic and pushed for certain agendas. General Rafael Trujillo was a dictator who rose to power in the Dominican Republic due to U.S military occupation. Trujillo advocated for anti-Haitian groups and white supremacy. Trujillo felt the need to push for what the U.S wanted because it was the U.S that offered to train him in the military to become an officer. Trujillo rose quickly to higher power and in 1930 he appointed himself as a candidate for president. He formed a secret police that would kill anybody who openly supported the other candidate. Trujillo took control over major factories and removed Dominican peasants to make room for sugar plantations. Trujillo, along with his supporters, massacred thousands of Haitian immigrants. Trujillo continued his rule but over time lost support from Dominicans and was warned by foreign leaders to back down. “He who does not know how to deceive does not know how to rule.”- Rafael Trujillo. He was assassinated in 1961. The economy of the Dominican Republic saw improvement but only in the capital. The U.S promoted Trujillo to power which ultimately broke ties between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Once again the U.S has put its own beliefs and policies in Latin America. Panama was part of Columbia and in 1903 declared itself as an independent country with the help of the U.S. The U.S sought what many countries had only dreamed of accomplishing, building the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is a canal that cuts through the end of North America and the beginning of South. The canal took ten years to complete and when finished the U.S declared sovereignty over the Canal and the land around it. The economy of Panama was poor but the building of the canal offered jobs to the native people. The U.S never had control over Panama but the U.S has the most economic pull over Panama than any other country. The U.S returned the Panama Canal to Panama on December 31st, 1999. The U.S asked to keep its privileges to use the Canal when needed with a discount because to use the Canal it can cost a large boat up to $150,000 which is still less than traveling all the way around South America. Panama now has to pay for repairs and upkeep on the canal because the canal is the main source of income. Panama remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

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U.S Imperialism has stretched over most of Latin America. The U.S has brought over specific ideals and agendas to make the countries of Latin American more like the United States. The U.S’s main goal through the manifest destiny was to spread out, absorb land, and create an empire greater than all others. This belief has made the U.S believe that they have a right to conquer other countries and that being under U.S control will help the country grow. In all actuality the countries that the U.S has overtaken in Latin America were left in a worse state then to begin with. Most of the countries had rebellions, mass killings, and poor leaders put in place by the U.S government. The U.S has a habit of sticking their nose in foreign affairs and being the “bully” to smaller countries who can’t protect themselves. The U.S would never try to overtake Russia or China so why the countries of Latin America? The answer is simple, the U.S knows that they can take over these smaller countries with little problems and impose their policies but as the evidence shows this ruins the country that is being overtaken. U.S imperialism must be stopped in order to preserve the countries of Latin America.

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America’s Imperialism in Latin America: A Historical Study. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
“America’s Imperialism in Latin America: A Historical Study.” GradesFixer, 10 Dec. 2020,
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