President James Monroe outline what is now known as the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to congress in 1828. The President warned European nations not to interfere in the affairs of America’s neighbors the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Monroe was responding to European threats to aid Spain in regaining its former Latin American colonies. By 1822 Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico had revolted and declared their independence.(1)Originally, the doctrine had been intended to support weak Latin American countries against European powers and discourage Russian interference along the Pacific Coast.
The Monroe Doctrine proclaimed clearly that European powers would no longer colonize or interfere with the affairs of newly independent nations. The United States planned to stay neutral in the conflicts between European powers and their colonies.(2)In 1842, President John Tyler used this document to justify taking Texas from Mexico. Many nations to the south grew resentful, a Venezuelan newspaper warned other Latin American countries against the United states: Beware, brothers, the wolf approaches the lambs.(3) Due to the growing hostilities of the Latin American countries, and increasing concern in Great Britain and France, the United states decided on a new approach. In 1920 the United States policy became more of a offering of economic assistance, and cooperation with its Latin American neighbors.
In my opinion, the United States does not follow this policy anymore. I do believe that it is possible to still follow the Monroe Doctrine, at least in the spirit of which it was written.
It is easy to see that the United states relationship with South America is in great need of repair. The newspapers, and special addition news shows on television all point out the hostility against United States policies.
In Michael Shifters report to the House committee on Foreign Affairs, he outlines how the United States got to this point with our South American neighbors, and how in his opinion we could. fix our situation. As Shifter points out misguided policies of our current administration on globalization and policies particularly the Middle East, have worsened U.S South American Relationships.(4)U.S. Policy has been since 9-11 is so active on the War on Terror that we have failed to come to the aid, and support of economic assistance for our South American neighbors, which was in the Monroe Doctrine. In 2002 the Bush Administration failed to respond to an appeal for help from Bolivian president Gonzalez Sanchez de Lozada for aid to help the enormous social unrest in that country. The United States ignored their pleas for help and the government fell.
I believe our biggest problem is coming from Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Chavez hates the United States current policies on the Middle East and his intent is constructing a counterweight to U.S. Power not just in Latin America, but all over the world.
The United States receives some 12% of our oil from Venezuela. Chavez has oil money and is using this money to influence other countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Their leaders respectively; Evo Morales, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez. These leaders have all developed a closer political and economic alliance with Iran, all aim at undermining U.S. Foreign policy and pitting Latin countries against the United States.
I would like to think that the United States could repair our relationship with South American countries and uphold the policies of the Monroe Doctrine, which was written by one of the last of our founding fathers. To accomplish this, the United States will have to change the current policies in the Middle East and start viewing South American countries as partners in all issues from energy trade, environmental, and democratic problems. Especially after all the damage we have done over the years to those countries concerning these very issues. As such, building trust again in these regions will not happen quickly, but by taking a firm democratic and constitutional stance it is still possible to recover what has been lost.
From then on, not ignoring request for help. And changing our dependence on foreign oil and resources will put the United States in a better light.
(1)Miller, Marilyn. Words That Built a Nation. Scholastic.