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The Role of Foreign Powers in the History of Latin America Essay

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Updated: Feb 2nd, 2022

The history of Latin America is full of contradictory events related to the interference of foreign powers in its affairs. The United States had the most significant impact on Latin American history. The majority of historians have an opinion that both the impact of the United States and the impact of the other foreign powers have played a negative role in the history of Latin America, and Latin Americans have failed to understand how significant that role has appeared to be. The following paper aims to evaluate this position. Overall, the facts prove that Latin Americans did suffer a lot from foreign powers including the United States, and Latin Americans truly failed to understand and contain the abuses by people from the other countries.

Beginning from the foreign intervention to Latin America, the native people started suffering from the abuse of the newcomers. There are many examples of this bad tendency including the European Conquest, the age of piracy, the U.S. intervention during the period of Roosevelt’s presidency, the period of the spread of communism in the world, and the modern-day foreign intervention. Below, particular facts of the abuse and bad influence by foreign powers will be addressed in more detail.

During the European Conquest of Latin America, which took place in the 16th century, native people had to suffer from endless and bloody wars taking away the lives of millions of people, destroying countries, and wiping out entire nations and cultures (Kirkpatrick 21). Spain and Portugal managed to provide themselves with the gold from the New World for a few centuries ahead, but that was done by the price of Native Americans’ lives. Local people were cruelly deceived by the treacherous conquistadors who wanted their land, their riches, and their dissipation (Kirkpatrick 22). This period in the history of Latin America is by far the most eloquent with regards to the question of whether foreign powers had a bad impact on its development. Reflecting on the facts of the European Conquest, there are no doubts left that foreigners brought grief to Latin Americans, and robbed them of their riches and even their lives. The age of piracy also left its bad trace in the history of Latin America. Foreign pirates from England, France, and Denmark wanted a piece from a nice Latin American pie as well. They hoped to take away the gold that was left after the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors. Again, the territory was subjected to cruel acts of violence by foreign powers; this proves the fact that is under evaluation in this paper.

The massive U.S. intervention into the affairs of Latin America began in 1823, during the presidency of James Monroe. The Monroe Doctrine issued as a part of the foreign policy by the United States in the region restricted European countries from their access to Latin America, but it established the U. S. monopoly there (Cole 25). Beginning from this year, the United States started their active interference to the affairs of the Latin American countries. Such state of affairs stopped the development of the region as local countries began to depend on the United States. In the long run, this affected the economical and social situation in the region. Thus, the impact of the United States on the development of Latin America cannot be named positive as well. However, this impact cannot be either qualified as absolutely negative as it happened in the case of Spanish and Portuguese Conquest. This is explained by the fact that the United States not only dominated over the Latin American countries, but it also extended a helping hand in a number of situations including military interventions by the other countries, and assisting in coping with the economical hardships resulting from the consequences of the European Conquest, the age of piracy, and the further foreign expansion in the region by the European countries. In addition, the United Sates helped the Latin American countries to become interested in the ideas of materialism and enrichment that were unpopular there due to the spread of the other ideas and world perceptions. Western values including materialism are doubtful values, and not all will agree that this is a positive point in the relationships between the United States and Latin American countries; nonetheless, the spread of such doctrines as the doctrines of materialism caused the development of industry in the region which was not traditional there because of the spread of agriculture.

In conclusion, it should be stated that the opinion that foreign impact in Latin America has had negative consequences for its people appears to be rational and trustworthy. Reflecting on such events in the history of Latin America as the European Conquest, the age of piracy, the U.S. intervention during the period of Roosevelt’s presidency, the period of the spread of communism in the world, and the modern-day foreign intervention, it becomes evident that foreigners always wanted to “line their pockets” in this region despite the price that local people would have to pay.

Works Cited

Cole, Wayne. An Interpretive History of American Foreign Relations, Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1974. Print.

Kirkpatrick, Frederic. Latin America: A Brief History, New York: Macmillan, 1939. Print.

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