How did U.S Foreign policy affect the development of Latin America?     

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout American history there has always existed a special relationship between the U.S and Latin America. Beginning with the Monroe doctrine (1823), which claimed the U.S, had a natural right to cultivate and colonize Latin American nations, and that this right was not shared by the U.S’s European rivals.

In the early 20th century this relationship grew as the U.S began to advocate for Latin American independence, in exchange for greater influence and control. The Panama Canal highlights this relationship, as Roosevelt offered Panamanian independence from Columbia in exchange for allowing the U.S to build its canal. In addition, the trend of creating “banana republics” in Latin America became popular. Banana republics were the nicknames for large American owned plantations and factories that offer work for locals in exchange for the right to sale and manufacture goods in Latin America.

More recently U.S policy towards the region has been defined by important transnational themes, such as the Cold war, drug trade and terrorism. All these issues have caused substantial U.S activities in Latin America and have undoubtedly affected their development as independent and strong nations. Many of these nations are still very much developing into truly modern industrialized countries, in part to the great U.S involvement, aid, and influence in the area. It is fair to say that the U.S has intervened in all Latin American affairs and has tried to guide these nations in some ways and exploited them in others.