From Big Stick Policy to Good Neighbor Policy

De Baripedia

Based on a lecture by Aline Helg[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

In the wake of the Spanish-American War of 1898, which saw the United States seize territories such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, a new era of American imperial power was ushered in. This historic conflict, marked by significant territorial expansion, signalled the rise of the United States on the world stage.

At the dawn of the 20th century, the American presence was strongly felt in the Western Hemisphere. With growing wealth and military power, the United States adopted an interventionist policy, often justified by the need to protect American economic interests and preserve regional stability. Nations such as Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua were theatres of US intervention, creating a power dynamic that reflected President Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick" doctrine.

However, the political and social landscape of the United States began to change in the 1920s. Faced with domestic economic and social challenges, a wave of isolationism swept the nation. Earlier interventionism had engendered widespread hostility and resentment throughout Latin America, and the American public voice was calling for a retreat and a reassessment of international commitments.

It was against this backdrop that the 'Good Neighbour' policy was born under President Herbert Hoover, and developed significantly under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Abandoning the interventionist approach, this new directive emphasised the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring nations. The United States embarked on an era of diplomacy and cooperation, marking a radical departure from the aggression and interventionism that had characterised previous decades.

History of bick stick and good neighbour policies[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Map of territorial acquisitions by the United States of America.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the territorial expansion of the United States was driven by a variety of factors, resulting in a period of rapid transformation and significant growth. This westward and southward expansion reflected not only economic growth but also the tangible realisation of the ideology of "Manifest Destiny". The insatiable economic need for fertile farmland, new trade routes and unexplored natural resources was a key driver of expansion. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, access to new resources and markets was imperative to sustain the nation's meteoric economic growth and prosperity. The exploration and annexation of new territories were not only economic imperatives, but also proof of the young nation's vigour and daring. At the same time, the political ambitions of America's leaders and the aspiration to achieve greater national and international stature played a central role in this expansion. Each new territory acquired helped to strengthen the United States' presence on the world stage, testifying to its growing power and influence. Ideologically, the notion of American exceptionalism and the belief in a "manifest destiny" strongly influenced this era of expansion. The belief that the United States had been chosen by Providence to extend its influence, democracy and civilisation across the continent animated the nation. This impetus was also reinforced by the pioneering spirit of the citizens, drawn by the promise of new opportunities, the prospect of land ownership and the adventure inherent in conquering the frontier. However, this rapid expansion was not without conflict and controversy. The conquest of the West and expansion southwards involved massive displacements of native populations and exacerbated tensions around the issue of slavery, ultimately culminating in the American Civil War. The Trail of Tears and other injustices suffered by indigenous peoples mark a dark chapter in this historical period.

War was a key instrument of the United States' territorial expansion in the 19th century, with the Mexican-American War a striking illustration of this phenomenon. This military confrontation, largely motivated by territorial claims and expansionist aspirations, reshaped the map of North America. Launched in 1846, the war was preceded by the annexation of Texas by the United States, an act that raised tensions with Mexico over border disputes. The disputed area, rich and strategically valuable, became the focus of American and Mexican ambitions. Attempts at negotiation proved fruitless, leading inevitably to armed conflict. This conflict was marked by a series of battles that saw US forces systematically advance through Mexican territory. The United States' military superiority and effective strategies led to decisive victories. In 1848, the war came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, an agreement that not only sealed the American victory but also facilitated considerable territorial expansion. Through this treaty, Mexico ceded a vast territory to the United States, including modern states such as California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. This acquisition considerably expanded the American frontier, paving the way for a new wave of colonisation and exploration. The Mexican-American War thus reflects the complexity and intensity of the United States' expansion efforts. It demonstrates how territorial ambitions, exacerbated by ideologies such as Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism, led to significant territorial conflicts and realignments. This chapter in American history continues to influence bilateral relations and regional dynamics in contemporary North America.

The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 represents a significant milestone in the expansionist trajectory of the United States, underlining the national strategy of acquiring territory not only through conflict, but also through diplomacy and trade. This historic event illustrates the complexity and multi-faceted nature of the methods used to extend the nation's borders. In the international context of the time, France, under the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte, was facing considerable financial and military challenges. At the other end of the Atlantic, the United States, a young and rapidly growing nation, was eager to expand and secure access to the Mississippi River to promote trade and westward expansion. The Louisiana Purchase, negotiated by President Thomas Jefferson, was a $15 million deal that doubled the size of the United States overnight. Not only was it a diplomatic triumph, it also opened up vast tracts of land for exploration, colonisation and economic development. States such as Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma and others were carved out of this acquisition, radically transforming the political and geographical landscape of the United States. This decisive moment in American history demonstrates the power of diplomatic negotiations and commercial transactions in the realisation of a nation's territorial ambitions. It also embodies the opportunities and challenges associated with the rapid integration of new territories and diverse populations. Today, the Louisiana Purchase is often cited as an early and impactful example of American expansion, illustrating an era when opportunities and aspirations were as vast as the newly acquired territory itself.

Colonisation and population migration were crucial instruments in the expansion of the United States, complementing wars and territorial acquisitions. The movement along the Oregon Trail is an eloquent example of how citizen migration contributed directly to the country's territorial expansion. In the 1840s and 1850s, driven by the promise of economic opportunity and the lure of vast tracts of fertile land, thousands of American settlers embarked on the arduous but promising journey along the Oregon Trail. This mass migration to the Pacific Northwest was not simply a demographic phenomenon; it also represented a concrete manifestation of the belief in "manifest destiny", the idea that Americans were destined to occupy and dominate the North American continent. This migration to Oregon and other western territories was not without its challenges. The pioneers faced difficult terrain, unpredictable weather conditions and the dangers inherent in frontier life. Nevertheless, the desire for a better life and the prospect of economic prosperity fuelled the settlers' determination and commitment to western expansion. The increased presence of American settlers in the Pacific Northwest over time facilitated the annexation of these territories by the United States. This was not simply a political or military act, but a gradual integration facilitated by colonisation and the establishment of communities.

The Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny were the cornerstones of American foreign policy and territorial expansion in the 19th century. They embody the aspirations, convictions and strategies that guided the transformation of the United States into a powerful and expansive nation. The Monroe Doctrine, announced in 1823 by President James Monroe, was rooted in the goal of preserving the independence of newly independent nations in Latin America from any European attempts at recolonisation or intervention. It declared that any attempt by European powers to intervene in the Western Hemisphere would be considered an act of aggression requiring an American response. Although motivated by the desire to protect the nations of Latin America, it also symbolised the assertion of American influence and authority in the Western Hemisphere. Manifest Destiny, on the other hand, was an ideological conviction rather than an official policy. Emerging around the 1840s, it held that the United States was destined by Divine Providence to expand from sea to sea, spreading freedom, democracy and civilisation. This belief fuelled the enthusiasm and moral justification for westward expansion, leading to the colonisation of territories, conflicts with indigenous populations and wars to acquire new territories. Together, these doctrines shaped an era of vigorous expansion. The Monroe Doctrine laid the foundations for a foreign policy focused on regional hegemony, while Manifest Destiny provided the ideological fuel for domestic expansion and the transformation of the national landscape. The effects of these doctrines resonate to this day. They not only shaped the territorial contours of the United States, but also influenced the national psyche, instilling a belief in American exceptionalism and the country's special role in the world. They continue to be references for understanding the dynamics of American policy, both domestic and foreign, and the historical development of the nation.

The Monroe Doctrine was a pivotal element in the formulation of nineteenth-century American foreign policy. President James Monroe articulated it in response to the international environment of the time, characterised by the dynamism of independence movements in Latin America and the ambitions of European powers. The precise articulation of this doctrine coincided with a time when Latin America was in turmoil, shaken by movements to free itself from the yoke of European colonialism. The United States, aware of its position and strategic interests, issued this doctrine not only to support the newly independent nations but also to assert its sphere of influence on the continent. At the heart of the Monroe Doctrine was the implicit idea of excluding the European powers from the Western Hemisphere. Any attempt at recolonisation or intervention would be interpreted not only as a threat to the independent nations of Latin America, but also as direct aggression against the United States. It was a bold statement, underlining the ascendancy of the United States as a regional power and its intention to shape the political and geopolitical order of the New World. The Monroe Doctrine was also facilitated by the distance between Europe and the Americas, and by the British commitment to European non-intervention, a shared interest that stemmed from British commercial ambitions in the region. The Royal Navy, the most powerful naval force at the time, was an unstated asset underpinning the doctrine. Over time, the Monroe Doctrine became a fundamental principle of American foreign policy, evolving and adapting to changing circumstances. It not only reaffirmed the United States' position as the dominant force in the Western Hemisphere, but also laid the foundations for future interventions and relations with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, although it was formulated in a specific context, its impact and resonance have spanned the ages, influencing interactions and policies well beyond the nineteenth century.

Manifest Destiny was an ideological driving force, framing and justifying the impetuous expansion of the United States across North America in the nineteenth century. It was a belief rooted in the idea that the nation was chosen, with a divine mission to expand its borders, disseminate its democratic values and shape the continent in its image. The way in which Manifest Destiny influenced the specific policies and actions of the United States is illustrated by key events of the period. The annexation of Texas, for example, was partly justified by this belief in an exceptional mission. After gaining independence from Mexico in 1836, Texas became an independent republic. However, joining the United States was a hotly debated issue, and the Manifest Destiny provided moral and ideological justification for annexation in 1845. The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) is another example where Manifest Destiny was invoked. The United States, convinced of its divine right to expansion, saw the conflict as an opportunity to extend its territories to the west. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war, not only confirmed the annexation of Texas but also ceded significant territories from Mexico to the United States, including California and New Mexico. The colonisation of the American West was also inspired by this ideology. The pioneers who braved harsh conditions to venture into uncharted territory were often motivated by the belief that they were part of a greater mission, carving civilisation out of a savage landscape and fulfilling the nation's manifest destiny.

The Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny worked in complementary ways to sculpt the trajectory of the American nation, shaping not only its physical borders but also its identity and role on the world stage. The Monroe Doctrine acted as a bulwark, a defensive statement against European encroachment, asserting American sovereignty and influence in the Western Hemisphere. It was an assertion of power and control, establishing a doctrine of non-interference which, although initially limited in its effective application, laid the foundations for a more robust assertion of regional hegemony. The United States thus positioned itself not only as the guardian of its own security and sovereignty, but also as the implicit protector of the nations of Latin America against European colonialism. Manifest Destiny, on the other hand, was more expansionist and proactive in essence. It was not content to defend existing borders, but sought to extend them, driven by an almost mystical belief in the providential order. It injected a moral and ideological impetus into expansion efforts, transforming conquest and colonisation into an almost spiritual imperative. Each new territory conquered, each frontier pushed back, was seen not only as a material gain but also as a fulfilment of the nation's divine destiny. In synergy, these doctrines forged a political and ideological landscape that defined 19th-century America and sowed the seeds of its power and influence in the 20th century and beyond. They fuelled wars, acquisitions and policies that extended American borders from the Atlantic to the Pacific and elevated the United States to the status of undisputed world power. In their wake, they have left a legacy of complex and sometimes controversial issues, ranging from justice and the rights of indigenous peoples to the management of power and influence on a global scale. Each in its own way, the Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny illustrate the dynamic tension between protection and expansion, between defending what has been achieved and aspiring to more, that has continued to animate US foreign and domestic policy through the ages. They embody the blend of pragmatism and idealism, realism and romanticism, that has so often characterised American history and identity.

Through a combination of military, diplomatic and popular means, the United States has succeeded in shaping a territory that stretches from sea to sea, laying the foundations of a continental power. The Mexican-American War was a key event in this process. As a military conflict, it led to the substantial acquisition of territory to the south and west, bringing rich and diverse regions into the union. Every battle won and every treaty signed was not simply a military victory, but a step closer to realising a vision of an expanded and unified America. The Louisiana Purchase, although a peaceful transaction, was also tinged with geopolitical and military implications. The extension of territories beyond the Mississippi not only doubled the size of the country, but also positioned the United States as a force to be reckoned with, capable of bold negotiations and strategic expansion. The settlement of the American West, while less formal and structured than wars and diplomatic agreements, was perhaps the most organic and indomitable. It was fuelled by the will of individuals, the energy of families and communities seeking a better life, and a land where they could exercise their right to freedom and property. The 'westward rush' was both a physical migration and a spiritual quest, a movement into uncharted territory and a plunge into the unknown of American possibilities. The purchase of Alaska in 1867, although geographically disconnected from the American continent, was symbolic of the same expansionist impulse. It was a testament to the United States' ability to look beyond its immediate borders, to envisage a presence and influence that were not limited to its traditional frontiers.

Each treaty and agreement was crucial in delimiting the borders and defining the relationship between these two North American nations.

The Treaty of Paris (1783) was a major milestone, not only because it marked the end of the American War of Independence, but also because it defined the first territorial boundaries of the United States. It confirmed American independence and established the northern boundary along the Great Lakes, although ambiguities and uncertainties persisted, leading to ongoing tensions. The War of 1812, although less well known, was also significant. It reflected unresolved tensions and conflicting territorial claims. The Treaty of Ghent, which concluded this war, restored the status quo ante bellum, or "the state in which things were before the war". However, the war itself and the treaty that concluded it helped to shape the character and tone of future US-Canadian relations. The agreement of 1818 was another crucial development. The delineation of the 49th parallel as the boundary was an early example of the peaceful resolution of conflicting land claims. It not only demonstrated diplomatic maturity but also set a precedent for the management of future disputes. These agreements and treaties laid the foundations for a relatively peaceful and cooperative relationship between the United States and Canada, and shaped a border that is now often cited as one of the longest undefended borders in the world. By defining the geographical and political parameters of this relationship, they also laid the foundations for the economic, cultural and political dynamics that characterised bilateral interactions in the years that followed. Each agreement was a step towards clarifying, stabilising and pacifying US-Canadian relations. Together, they helped to create a tapestry of cooperation and mutual respect, which, though repeatedly tested, has largely weathered the storms of international politics and continues to define the bilateral relationship to this day.

The territorial growth of the United States, particularly in a northerly direction, was largely stabilised by the mid-nineteenth century. The agreement with Great Britain in 1818, not 1812, which established the 49th parallel as the boundary, was a defining moment in the consolidation of the northern borders of the United States. The Oregon Treaty of 1846 also played an important role. It extended the boundary from the 49th parallel to the Pacific coast, resolving the competing territorial claims between Great Britain and the United States in the Oregon Country region. This treaty, complementing earlier arrangements, helped to define the modern form of the boundary between the United States and Canada. The acquisition of Alaska in 1867 was a notable exception to the stabilisation of American borders. The purchase of this vast territory from Russia added a significant dimension to the United States, not only in terms of territory, but also in terms of natural resource wealth and strategic position.

The Mexican-American War (1846-1848) ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, an agreement that not only pacified relations between the two countries but also resulted in a significant transfer of territory from Mexico to the United States. This territorial acquisition, often referred to as the "Mexican Cession", marked a decisive step in American westward expansion. These new territories were characterised by their geographical, climatic and cultural diversity. The arid desert, majestic mountains, fertile valleys and picturesque coastline offered a range of opportunities and challenges for the new occupants. California, in particular, quickly became a major site of interest, not least because of the discovery of gold in 1848, which triggered the famous gold rush and attracted thousands of people in search of fortune and opportunity. The US government was faced with the challenge of integrating these vast and diverse territories. Issues of governance, property rights, relations with indigenous populations and residents of Mexican origin, and infrastructure were all pressing. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the region, enriched by the presence of communities of Mexican origin, added another layer of complexity to integration. The opportunities for expansion and colonisation were immense. Access to the Pacific coast opened up markets and business opportunities in Asia and the Pacific. The region's mineral wealth promised economic prosperity. Arable land offered opportunities for agriculture and rural development. At the same time, the government also had to navigate the challenges posed by ethnic and cultural diversity, the rights of indigenous peoples and environmental issues. The successful integration of these territories into the Union represented a major transformation of the United States, reinforcing its status as a continental power and ushering in an era of unprecedented growth and development that would shape the country for generations to come. Managing this expansion and the diversity inherent in these new territories is an essential chapter in American history, reflecting the tensions, compromises and innovations that characterised the nation in formation.

The question of slavery was a central issue that permeated every aspect of political, social and economic life in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. Each new territory acquired, each state admitted to the Union, brought this sensitive issue back to the centre of the national debate. The Mexican-American War and the resulting territories exacerbated these tensions. The slave-holding South and the abolitionist North had diametrically opposed visions of the direction the nation should take. The economic prosperity of the South was deeply rooted in the slave system, while the industrialising North took a different moral and economic view. The Compromise of 1850 was a delicate attempt to navigate these conflicting realities. By incorporating California as a free state, it granted a significant victory to abolitionist forces. However, by allowing popular sovereignty in the territories of New Mexico and Utah, it left the door open to the possibility of slavery in those regions, thereby allaying, at least temporarily, Southern fears of being marginalised and overtaken in national political power. One of the most controversial elements of the compromise was the Fugitive Slave Act, which required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, even if they had fled to states where slavery was illegal. This exacerbated tensions between North and South and highlighted the moral and ethical divide that divided the nation. This compromise, though temporary and imperfect, reflects the intrinsic tensions and painful compromises that characterised the period leading up to the American Civil War. It was a time when the nation struggled to reconcile incompatible values, economies and worldviews, an effort that would ultimately fail, plunging the country into the most devastating conflict in its history to that point.

The Compromise of 1850 was a temporary and fragile solution to a deep and persistent crisis. Although it temporarily eased tensions, it did not solve the underlying problems that were eating away at the nation. The foundations of the Civil War were rooted in deep and irreconcilable disagreements over slavery and its implications for the nation's economy, society and politics. The delicate balance between slaveholding and abolitionist states was constantly tested by westward expansion. Each new territory acquired and each new state added to the Union forced a renegotiation of this precarious balance. Popular sovereignty, a principle introduced in the Compromise of 1850, which allowed residents of the new territories to decide by vote whether they would allow slavery, was an attempt to decentralise this burning issue. However, it often exacerbated tensions by making each new territory a battleground for the future of slavery in the United States. The decade leading up to the Civil War was marked by escalating tensions. Incidents such as the bloody confrontation in Kansas, often referred to as "Bleeding Kansas", highlighted the violence and division that flowed directly from the issue of slavery. The Supreme Court's decision in the Dred Scott case in 1857, which declared that blacks were not citizens and that Congress could not prohibit slavery in the territories, further inflamed passions. The Civil War was the inevitable conclusion of years of unsatisfactory compromises, unresolved tensions and growing divisions. It was the product of a nation deeply divided not only over the issue of slavery, but also over questions of state versus federal power, agrarian versus industrial economy, and two fundamentally irreconcilable visions of the world and of American identity. This conflict, while devastating, also paved the way for the end of slavery and the radical transformation of the American nation, ushering in an era of reconstruction and reinvention that would continue to shape the United States for generations to come.

Private attempts at annexation and expansion through counter-territories[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

William Walker.

Private attempts at expansion and annexation[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Attempts at private expansion and annexation were common and were often the result of the ambitions of individuals and companies keen to capitalise on the economic opportunities offered by foreign territories. This dynamic was particularly evident in Central America and the Caribbean. Individuals such as William Walker exemplify this phenomenon. Walker, an American adventurer and mercenary, invaded and briefly took control of Nicaragua in the 1850s, with the intention of creating an English-speaking, slave-owning colony, an act directly linked to the wider issue of slavery and territorial expansion in the United States. Similarly, many companies, especially in the railway, mining and agricultural sectors, saw overseas expansion as a way of increasing their profits. The lure of abundant raw materials, untapped markets and opportunities to create new trade routes were important drivers for expansion. It should also be noted that these efforts were not isolated from government policies. Often, private and government interests were closely aligned. The US government might support, directly or indirectly, corporate expansion efforts in the hope that their success would strengthen the US economy and extend American influence abroad. Conversely, private companies could count on diplomatic, military and logistical support from the government to facilitate their expansion efforts. This complex interrelationship between private and public, economic and political interests has been a defining feature of American expansion. It underlines the diversity of factors and actors that have helped shape the trajectory of US growth and influence beyond its original borders.

Walker was a "filibuster", a term used to describe those who engaged in unauthorised military action in foreign countries with which the United States was officially at peace. In 1856, Walker succeeded in taking control of Nicaragua, a country strategically located for trade and shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He proclaimed himself president and tried to establish English as the official language, as well as introducing laws favouring Americans and their businesses. He also legalised slavery, hoping to win the support of the American slave states. However, his actions provoked a united regional reaction in Central America. Countries like Costa Rica, Honduras and others joined forces to expel Walker and his mercenaries. Moreover, although some sectors of the United States, particularly in the South, initially supported Walker in the hope that his successes might strengthen the slave cause, the US government as a whole was reluctant to openly support his actions because of the diplomatic and legal implications. Walker's failure underlines the complexities and challenges associated with private attempts at expansion. Although ambitious and bold, these efforts were often fragile, dependent on the domestic and international political context. Walker's story also highlights how issues of slavery and territorial expansion were closely intertwined in the run-up to the Civil War, and how personal ambitions, economic interests and political issues could converge and collide in the dynamic and often tumultuous context of nineteenth-century American expansion.

Private attempts at annexation, such as those led by groups of adventurers in Cuba and William Walker in Nicaragua, were fuelled by a combination of ambition and ideology. These individuals and groups were often motivated by the prospect of considerable economic gain. The territories of Central America and the Caribbean were seen as lands rich in natural resources, offering new market opportunities and strategic trade routes. For entrepreneurs and investors, the conquest and annexation of these regions represented an opportunity to increase their wealth and influence. At the same time, American exceptionalism and the belief in Manifest Destiny were powerful driving forces behind these expansionist ventures. The notion that the United States was exceptional and destined for a special role in world history was deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness. For many Americans at the time, extending American influence meant spreading values, a political system and a civilisation considered superior, and this expansion was often seen as morally justified. Politically, each new attempt at expansion was seen as a means of asserting and strengthening the United States' position on the international stage. The addition of new territories or the extension of American political and economic influence was seen as a step forward in the country's assertion as a rising international power. However, it is important to stress that these annexation attempts were controversial and often a source of conflict. The interventions were seen by many, both in the United States and abroad, as illegal or immoral. The complexity was exacerbated by the ever-present issue of slavery. Every potential new territory was a stake in the heated national debate over the issue. Regions targeted for annexation were often caught up in the tumult of debates over slavery, making every attempt at expansion a reflection of the internal tensions that defined the era.

The precarious balance between slave-holding and abolitionist states was a central feature of nineteenth-century American politics. Every new state or territory acquired raised the contentious issue of slavery, and initiatives such as attempts to privately annex territories like Cuba and Nicaragua were inextricably linked to this dynamic. Cuba and Nicaragua, rich in resources and strategically located, were attractive targets for expansion. However, their annexation would likely have resulted in their incorporation as slave states, due to their existing economic and social systems, and pressure from American slave interests. This prospect fuelled fears of a growing imbalance in favour of the slave states, with profound implications for national political power, social policy, and the wider question of national identity. In this context, figures like William Walker met with significant resistance. Although some factions in the United States supported expansionist ambitions, opposition was strong. Abolitionists, political leaders concerned about the balance of power, and those who feared the international implications of unsanctioned annexations, united to thwart these efforts. Diplomacy, legislation and, in some cases, military force were mobilised to counter attempts at expansion that risked exacerbating national divisions.

The international dimension of opposition to private annexation attempts was a key factor. The local populations and governments of the countries targeted by these expansion attempts resisted vigorously, rightly perceiving these actions as direct attacks on their sovereignty, autonomy and territorial integrity. The aspirations of American adventurers and entrepreneurs were often pitted against the determination of the target nations to preserve their independence. The complexity of the forces involved - which included not only American interests and local governments, but often other colonial and regional powers - made the situation extremely volatile. Local resistance was often fervent and determined, underpinned by a deep sense of nationalism and a desire to protect their territory and resources. The case of Nicaragua with William Walker is particularly illustrative. Walker and his men met with fierce resistance not only from the Nicaraguans, but also from neighbouring nations. Central America, well aware of the implications of foreign domination, united to repel the invasion. Resistance was fuelled by a combination of defending national sovereignty, ideological opposition and protecting regional economic and political interests. Thus, private attempts at annexation were far from unilateral affairs. They were the scene of complex, multidimensional conflicts involving a variety of players with divergent interests. They underline the entanglement of personal ambitions, national and international interests, and ideological and economic issues that characterised the era of American expansion in the nineteenth century.

William Walker's actions embody the complexity and ambiguity of nineteenth-century American expansion. Although some parts of American society were in favour of expansion, including through unconventional or unofficial means, the majority of citizens and government officials disapproved of actions such as those of Walker. Walker became a symbol of a form of unregulated and unsanctioned adventurism. His actions in Nicaragua were interpreted by many as an embodiment of haphazard and unauthorised expansionism. This created significant tension, not only within the United States but also in international relations, calling into question the coherence and legitimacy of US commitments in the region. The contrast between Walker's actions and the Monroe Doctrine is particularly striking. Whereas the Monroe Doctrine was a unilateral declaration of opposition to further European colonisation or interference in the Americas, Walker's actions appeared to violate the spirit of this policy. Although his aim was to extend American influence, his methods and motives were seen by many as incompatible with the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity that underpinned the Monroe Doctrine. Walker thus became a controversial figure, illustrating the limits and contradictions of American foreign policy at the time. His career highlights the conflicts between often noble ideals and the practical and moral realities of expansion, and raises enduring questions about the ethics, legality and consequences of American expansion in the nineteenth century. Its history remains a reminder of the tension between national ambition and ethical principles, an issue that has continued to resonate in subsequent decades.

The notion of American exceptionalism played a central role in justifying American expansionism, but it also raised major ethical and practical issues. This belief, rooted in the idea that the United States was unique and had a divine mission to spread its political, economic and cultural system, was a driving force behind territorial expansion and imperialism. However, this same belief has often led to a condescending, even imperialist attitude towards other nations and cultures. The belief in the superiority of American methods and values has sometimes led to contempt for the cultures, political systems and peoples of the territories the United States sought to acquire or influence. This attitude has not only been ethically and morally criticised, but has also generated considerable resistance to American expansion and influence. In many territories and countries targeted for American expansion or influence, local populations fiercely resisted what they perceived as foreign imposition and disregard for their sovereignty and culture. Resistance was fuelled by a sense of alienation and opposition to the imperialist attitude. American exceptionalism was therefore both a driving force for expansion and a source of tension and conflict.

The William Walker episode in Central America embodies a tumultuous chapter in the history of American expansionism. Despite the failure of his ambitions, the impact of his actions resonated far beyond his time, leaving an indelible mark on the historical and political memory of the region. Walker, armed with audacity and an unshakeable confidence in the manifest destiny of the United States, embodied the extreme manifestation of American expansionism. His attempts to establish puppet regimes and extend American influence through unofficial and often violent means highlighted the tensions inherent in the intersection of ambition, morality and international politics. In Central America, Walker's incursion was not simply an isolated event, but a symbol of imperialist intrusion, a metonymy for the wider expansionist aspirations of the United States and other powers. His controversial legacy lies in the scars left by his campaigns, scars that have fuelled a deep sense of mistrust and resistance to foreign interference in the region. Walker's actions have also fuelled debate in the US about the limits and implications of expansion. While one faction celebrated his daring as a living example of manifest destiny, others vilified him as a mercenary, a symbol of the excesses and moral dangers of unchecked imperialism. Ultimately, William Walker's adventure is a rich and complex tale of ambition, power and resistance. It is part of the larger picture of American expansionism, illuminating the tensions between the aspiration to national greatness and the ethical and practical challenges that such an aspiration imposes. It is a story of the often conflicting encounter between ideals and realities, a chapter in American and Central American history that continues to resonate in contemporary dialogues about the power, principles and place of nations on the world stage.

The execution of William Walker marked a sombre and controversial conclusion to a saga that has highlighted the moral, legal and political dilemmas of American expansionism. The consequences of his actions were not limited to himself; his supporters also suffered the fallout of his bold but unsanctioned attempts at annexation. Many shared his tragic fate or were forced into exile, becoming pariahs marked by failure and controversy. In America, the reaction to Walker's downfall was mixed but largely critical. His actions, once supported by segments of society who saw in his ambitions an echo of manifest destiny, were re-evaluated through the prism of political and moral realism. The nation, confronted with the international repercussions and ethics of his attempts at expansion, distanced itself from Walker. He became synonymous with misguided adventurism, an embodiment of the excesses and dangers of unregulated expansion. The Monroe Doctrine, a pillar of American foreign policy that reaffirmed the sovereignty and integrity of the nations of the New World, came to stand in stark contradiction to Walker's actions. He, an American, seeking to usurp the sovereignty of an independent nation, seemed to betray the very principles that the Monroe Doctrine sought to uphold. Walker thus became not only a pariah in the eyes of many contemporaries, but also a case study in the limits and contradictions of American expansionism. This chapter in history, marked by daring, failure and controversy, remains a reminder of the complexity of American expansionist ambitions in the nineteenth century. William Walker's actions, while marginal and unsanctioned, raised crucial questions about the nature of American expansion, the ethics of imperialism and the inherent tensions between national ideals and international realities - questions that continue to resonate in contemporary debates about American foreign policy.

William Walker's complex and ambivalent legacy in Central America is a source of lively debate and critical reflection. His actions in the region are characterised by a mixture of voluntarism, adventurism and imperialist ambitions, all imbued with the nuances of American exceptionalism and the geopolitical tensions of the nineteenth century. The local populations, faced with the intrusion of Walker and his forces, were not passive bystanders but active and resistant players. They opposed his attempts to dominate the region, a resistance rooted in the defence of their sovereignty, dignity and right to self-determination. Walker was, for many, the embodiment of foreign imperialism, a man whose personal and national ambitions threatened the integrity and independence of the Central American nations. However, Walker's legacy is nuanced and controversial. Some, with the benefit of hindsight, have sought to reassess his impact, highlighting the modernising ambitions and efforts to introduce reforms and structures which, although imposed, had the potential to bring positive change to a region beset by political, social and economic challenges. This perspective, though less widespread, highlights the complexity of judging historical actions through the prism of contemporary norms. The figure of William Walker, with his contradictions and ambivalences, serves as a window on the tensions of the nineteenth century in Central America and the United States. He is a figure who embodies the conflicts between imperialism and sovereignty, between American exceptionalism and the brutal realities of foreign domination, and between idealised visions of progress and the complex and often painful experiences of peoples affected by expansionism. Its history continues to provoke critical reflection on the lessons of the past and the implications for the future of international relations in the Americas.

The annexation of Hawaii[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The annexation of Hawaii is a poignant example of the complex interplay of economic, political and social interests that characterised the era of American expansionism. The resource-rich Hawaiian Islands, strategically located in the Pacific, were an attractive target for American interests. Sugar growers, in particular, were attracted by the prospect of unfettered access to the US market, free from tariffs and trade constraints. However, the annexation of Hawaii was not a unilateral or uncontested process. It involved a mosaic of actors, each with their own aspirations, concerns and resistance. American planters and businessmen faced resistance from the Hawaiian monarchy, which was fighting to preserve the sovereignty and integrity of their kingdom. The locals, meanwhile, were caught up in a whirlwind of changes that threatened their way of life, their culture and their autonomy. American politicians, balancing economic and strategic imperatives with ethical and legal considerations, found themselves navigating a sea of conflicting interests. The debates over the annexation of Hawaii revealed fissures in American politics, exposing the tensions between imperialist aspirations and Republican principles, between economic interests and moral considerations. The final annexation of Hawaii in 1898 was the result of a convergence of factors, including the pressure of economic interests, the strategic imperatives of America's presence in the Pacific and internal American political dynamics. It marked the end of Hawaiian sovereignty and the incorporation of the islands into the American fold, an act that continues to resonate in contemporary debates about justice, redress and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples.

The process of annexing Hawaii at the end of the nineteenth century was catalysed by an amalgam of economic and strategic interests that converged to make the islands a key issue in the projection of American power and influence in the Pacific. The economic dominance of American businessmen and planters in Hawaii was well established. Sugar, the white gold of the islands, had transformed Hawaii into a bastion of agricultural wealth, attracting significant investment and integrating the island economy deeply into the dynamics of the American market. Annexation offered a tantalising promise - the abolition of tariff barriers and unfettered access to the mainland market, boosting the prosperity of planters and protecting their economic hegemony from foreign incursion. Strategically, Hawaii was seen as a jewel of immeasurable importance. President Grover Cleveland, and those who shared his vision, recognised the islands' geostrategic importance. At the heart of the Pacific, Hawaii offered the United States an advanced platform for projecting naval power, a bastion that would secure crucial sea lanes and strengthen the American presence in an increasingly contested region. However, this convergence of economic and strategic interests was not uncontested. The Hawaiian monarchy, the natives and even some segments of American society were concerned about the implications of annexation. Questions of sovereignty, international law and the impact on Hawaiian culture and society were central to the heated debates surrounding the annexation process. Thus, Hawaii's incorporation into the Union was not simply a unilateral act of territorial acquisition, but rather a complex and multifactorial process. It was shaped by economic power dynamics, imperialist aspirations, strategic considerations and the forces of resistance that emerged to challenge and question the moral and legal implications of annexation. This chapter in American and Hawaiian history remains a fascinating study of the forces at play in the era of American expansionism and imperialism.

The annexation of Hawaii in 1898 marks a significant and controversial turning point in the history of relations between the United States and the Pacific Islands. The coup, orchestrated and executed with the implicit support of US interests on the island, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and paved the way for the incorporation of the islands into the American nation. The use of a joint resolution of Congress to annex Hawaii was unprecedented and sparked heated debate, not only on the legality of the act, but also on its ethical and moral implications. President McKinley, in signing the resolution, put his weight behind a decision that expanded the geographical and strategic reach of the United States but also raised profound questions about the balance between expansionism and fundamental democratic principles. For many Hawaiian nationalists, the annexation represented a brutal usurpation of their sovereignty, a dispossession of their land, culture and identity. They were forced into a union that had not been consented to, and the resilience of their opposition is still evident in contemporary movements for the recognition and restitution of the rights of indigenous peoples in Hawaii. Among Americans too, the annexation of Hawaii was not universally approved. A significant segment of public and political opinion perceived this action as an affront to republican and democratic ideals. There was concern that imperialism, by subjugating other peoples and extending governance beyond continental borders, would corrupt the fundamental values that defined American national identity.

The American Civil War marked an abrupt interruption in the process of American expansion, redirecting national attention to a deeply rooted internal conflict. It was not simply a military war, but a fight for the very soul of the nation, a bitter struggle to define the values, principles and identity of the new America. The industrial North and the agrarian South clashed in a conflict whose repercussions are felt to this day. At the heart of the conflict lay slavery and states' rights. On the one hand, there was a moral and ethical impulse to end the odious institution of slavery, embodied by the abolitionist movement and its sympathisers. On the other, there was fierce resistance from those who saw slavery as integral to the Southern economy and way of life, and who vigorously defended states' rights as a fundamental constitutional principle. The end of the Civil War in 1865, marked by General Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, did more than simply end a military conflict. It paved the way for a profound social and political transformation. The adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, was a major victory for the ideals of freedom and equality. It was an affirmation that, in order to fully realise its fundamental promises, America had to root out institutions and practices that denied human dignity and equality. The country, though legally reunited, had to undertake the long and difficult process of reconstruction, not only to repair the physical destruction of the war, but also to rebuild the deep social, political and moral fissures that had divided the nation. It was a time of deep reflection, major reforms and persistent struggles to define the nature and direction of post-Civil War America. The suspension of expansion during the Civil War was a forced pause, a period when the nation was forced to look in the mirror and confront the contradictions and injustices that had been woven into its social and political fabric since its founding. In the years following the war, as America sought to heal its wounds and rebuild itself, the issues raised and lessons learned from this devastating conflict would profoundly influence its evolution, politics and national identity.

The expansionist drive of the United States after the Civil War[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The resumption of expansionist policies in the post-Civil War United States embodies a nation in search of renewal and reconstitution. Scarred by the devastation and divisions of war, America looked to the West as a horizon of possibility, a land where dreams of prosperity, progress and national reconciliation could take shape. Westward expansion is not simply a geographical process; it is imbued with symbolic and pragmatic meanings. It is an outlet for the accumulated energies of a nation under reconstruction, a theatre where the aspirations of a unified, prosperous and powerful America can be articulated and realised. The government, in orchestrating and supporting this expansion, engages in a complex balancing act. It negotiated treaties with the indigenous nations, agreements which, although often marked by inequity and injustice, were instruments of the expansion strategy. The purchase of land in Mexico and other nations strengthened the southern frontier, while the annexation of Alaska in 1867, although geographically isolated from the westward movement, was a testament to the global reach and ambitions of the United States. However, each step westwards is also a step into the complexity of human interaction. Aboriginal peoples, new immigrants, pioneers and entrepreneurs meet, mix and clash in territories where the American dream takes many forms. Each treaty, each acquisition, each new settlement is an added layer to a national tapestry that is becoming richer and richer, but also more and more complex. This new phase of post-Civil War expansion is not simply a continuation of previous policies. It is coloured by the lessons, traumas and transformations of the war. A nation that has struggled to define its morality and identity is looking west with a renewed awareness of its potentials and contradictions. It is a time when faith in progress and prosperity is mixed with a growing recognition of the human and ethical costs of expansion. In this context, every step westward is also a step in America's ongoing quest to define itself, reinvent itself and fulfil its most fundamental promises.

The expansionist impulse of the United States in the aftermath of the Civil War was not confined to the vast expanses of the American West. It transcended continental boundaries, projecting into the turbulent seas of the Caribbean, traversing the tumultuous lands of Central America and stretching across the vast and complex geopolitical landscape of Asia and the Pacific. This period marks the emergence of the United States as a global force, a nation whose ambitions and interests know no borders, a power seeking global influence. The Big Stick Policy and the Good Neighbour Policy reflected the dualism of the American approach to expansion beyond its borders. Under President Theodore Roosevelt, the Big Stick Policy symbolised an assertive America, ready to wield its military and economic might to protect and promote its interests. It was a strategy of strength, in which power was used as an instrument of persuasion and assertion. In contrast to the vigour of the big stick, the Good Neighbour policy under Franklin D. Roosevelt embodies a more nuanced approach, where diplomacy, mutual respect and cooperation are the tools of international engagement. This policy reflects a recognition of the limits of force, an awareness that security, prosperity and influence are shaped as much by friendship and respect as by domination and coercion. Beyond the Western hemisphere, America's eyes are fixed on Asia and the Pacific. In these regions of diverse cultures and complex political dynamics, American expansion takes on a different dimension. It is influenced by the interplay of world powers, colonialism, national aspirations and regional conflicts. Post-Civil War America is a nation on the move, a power on the rise, continually defining and redefining its role on the world stage. Every policy, every action, every extension of influence is a chapter in the story of a nation searching for its identity and its place in a complex, interconnected world. It is a time of dynamism and determination, where the energy of domestic expansion merges with the aspiration for global influence, and where the lessons of the past and the challenges of the present meet in the relentless quest for the future.

Expansion through acquisition of trading territories[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Caricature politique de 1898 : "Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip" signifiant l'extension de la domination américaine (symbolisée par un aigle à tête blanche) de Porto Rico aux Philippines. La caricature fait le contraste avec une carte des États-Unis, plus petits, 100 ans plus tôt, en 1798.

The acquisition of Alaska in 1867 embodies one of the most significant stages in American expansion, combining geopolitical and economic opportunism with a forward-looking and strategic vision. The exchange of 7.2 million dollars for a territory of substantial size and natural wealth was a bold move, testifying to the American desire to extend its footprint and consolidate its presence on the North American continent. At the heart of this transaction was the treaty of cession with Russia. At the time, Russia, ruled by Tsar Alexander II, was a nation contemplating its own economic and strategic needs. The sale of Alaska was seen not only as an opportunity to liquidate a distant and underdeveloped territory, but also as a means of injecting funds into the Russian treasury and strengthening ties with the United States. However, the reception of this acquisition in the United States is far from unanimous. The new American possession, with its vast wilderness, extreme climate and remoteness from the centres of American power, is provoking mixed reactions. For some, it is a "waste of money", an extravagant expense for a territory that seems to have little to offer in terms of immediate potential. For others, however, Alaska is seen in a different light. They look beyond the immediate challenges and envisage a territory rich in natural resources, a haven of precious minerals, dense forests and, later, abundant oil. For these visionaries, Alaska is not an expense, but an investment, a valuable addition that would enrich the nation and enhance its global stature. The debate surrounding the acquisition of Alaska reveals the tensions and contradictions inherent in a growing nation. It is a microcosm of wider debates about the nature and direction of American expansion, an echo of the heated conversations about how to balance prudence, opportunism and strategic vision. In this context, Alaska is transformed from a remote territory into a mirror reflecting the aspirations, uncertainties and ambitions of a nation in the throes of change.

The acquisition of the Midway Islands in 1867 reflected another facet of the American expansionist imperative, illustrating the growing importance of maritime projection and access to global resources. Although modest in size, these islands, located in the vast Pacific Ocean, represented a valuable strategic possession, an asset that increased the reach and influence of the United States in this critical region. The acquisition of Midway took place under the aegis of the Guano Islands Act of 1856, a singular piece of legislation that provides a glimpse into the pragmatism and opportunism of American policy at the time. In an era when global resources were becoming increasingly vital, guano, a precious fertiliser, was of strategic importance. Islands rich in guano were seen not only as reservoirs of wealth but also as symbols of America's ability to extend its influence beyond its continental borders. Midway, with its strategic location and guano resources, became a trophy of American expansion, an illustrative example of how politics, economics and geostrategy converge. Every grain of guano extracted from these islands is both economic wealth and a symbol of American reach, an affirmation of the nation's ability to claim, occupy and exploit territories across the seas and oceans. However, behind this acquisition lies a more subtle complexity. This is a time when diplomacy, international law and relations between nations are becoming increasingly complex. The claim to the unoccupied islands, while sanctioned by US law, is part of a wider web of rights, claims and responsibilities that will define the emerging world order. In this context, the Midway Islands are not simply an isolated outpost in the Pacific; they are a milestone in the history of America and the world. They embody an era of expansion and discovery, a time when nations rushed to claim unoccupied and unexplored territories, and when the foundations of a new world order, marked by complexity, competition and cooperation, were quietly being laid.

In 1878, the expansionist horizons of the United States extended to the far-flung islands of the Pacific. The Samoan Islands, a constellation of emerging lands gracefully scattered across the ocean, became the next milestone in America's quest for a global presence. The acquisition of a coal station in this isolated territory, while perhaps minor in scale, is of considerable geostrategic importance. The Samoan coal station was born of pragmatic necessity. At the time, the US Navy, a vital instrument of national power and influence, was sailing the waters of the world. Coal, the fuel that powered these ships, was as precious as gold; it was the fuel of expansion, the engine of power projection. Having a reliable source of coal in the heart of the Pacific means that American ships can sail further and longer, consolidating American influence in this vital region. However, this acquisition is more than just a commercial or military transaction. It is an engagement with the peoples and cultures of the Pacific, an interaction that resonates with the complexities of colonialism, autonomy and cultural exchange. Through a treaty with the local leaders of Samoa, the United States inscribed its presence within the framework of local norms and expectations, recognising, even in this act of expansion, the need for respectful engagement with indigenous populations. For Samoa, the treaty introduced a new dynamic of power and influence. The islands, once isolated from the tumultuous currents of global politics, are now linked to a rising power. It's a relationship that will bring both opportunities and challenges, benefits and costs. For America, this coal station is a small but significant footprint in the Pacific sand - a sign of the nation's aspiration to be a force in the world's seas, a player on the world stage. It symbolises an America that looks beyond its borders, that sees distant islands and vast oceans not as barriers but as bridges to a future of global power and influence. In 1878, in the tranquil waters of Samoa, the history of America and the Pacific intersected, opening a chapter of cooperation, conflict and engagement that would shape the region for generations to come.

The purchase of Alaska, the taking of possession of the Midway Islands and the treaty with the Samoan Islands marked significant milestones in the expansionist landscape of the United States in the 19th century. Much more than a simple territorial expansion, these acquisitions symbolised the rise of a nation in the making, the metamorphosis of a North American republic into a global power. Alaska, with its vast reserves of natural resources, is an eloquent illustration of the intersection between economics and geopolitics. Every acre of land and every drop of oil contained in this icy territory is a testament to America's strategic vision, a commitment to an enduring presence in the Arctic, a region of the world whose importance will only grow in the centuries to come. The Midway Islands, tiny and isolated, nevertheless offered America a gateway to the Pacific, an ocean that would become the theatre of conflict, trade and diplomacy in the twentieth century. It was here, on these windswept islands, that America began to shape its peaceful presence, a commitment that would be fully realised in the conflicts and alliances of the modern era. In Samoa, a verdant and fertile archipelago, America finds an outpost in the South Pacific, a region where trade, culture and geopolitics meet. It's an acquisition that underlines the growing complexity of America's global footprint, a presence that now extends from the cold Arctic to the tropical heat of the South Pacific. Together, these acquisitions tell a story of growth and ambition. Nineteenth-century America was a country on the move, a nation that looked beyond its original borders, that saw every island in the Pacific and every mountain in Alaska not as distant confines but as integral territories of national identity and ambition. It is also an expansion that projects echoes into the future, foreshadowing a twentieth century in which America will not simply be one nation among many, but a central power in the emerging world order. Every treaty, every purchase, every coal station is a thread that weaves the fabric of America as a world power, a country whose influence and interests stretch across oceans and continents.

The story of American expansion takes a different twist as the nineteenth century unfolds into its final decades. Alaska, the Midway Islands, Samoa - each acquisition tells a story that goes beyond the conquest of new spaces for colonisation. This is an era where strategy and commerce merge, where each new territory is a piece in the vast chessboard of world trade. The purchase of Alaska is not simply the acquisition of a vast expanse of frozen wilderness, but rather the opening of a route to the riches of the Arctic, a world of natural resources and strategic sea lanes. America is not just looking to grow, but to connect, to weave a network of trade and communication routes that encircle the globe. The Midway Islands and Samoa embody this new era of expansion, where every island, every atoll, is a port, a station, a meeting point. The United States, in this phase of its rise, is no longer solely centred on the continent. It is casting its gaze beyond the horizon, towards markets and opportunities that lie in the distant waters of the Pacific and beyond. It's a shift from colonisation to connection. New territories are not just lands to cultivate or populate, but springboards to new economic horizons. Each acquisition is an open door to exotic markets, flourishing trade routes, a world of commerce where influence is measured not in square kilometres, but in networks and connections. America is beginning to see its role not as an isolated power, but as a nation integrated into an interdependent global economic ecosystem. The imperative is no longer merely territorial but economic, a quest for markets, opportunities and alliances that extend far beyond America's borders. The South Pacific, with its blue waters and scattered islands, is becoming a theatre where this new vision of American expansion is taking place. This is not an expansion that ends on the distant shores of the Pacific, but one that continues across the oceans, into markets and ports around the world. In this narrative, Alaska, the Midway Islands and Samoa are not conclusions, but beginnings - the first steps of an America that is reinventing itself as a global power.

At the confluence of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a transformed world emerged, marked by intense competition between the world's powers. Europe, Russia and Japan, with their expanding empires, were redrawing the world map. It was an era of renewed imperialism, with each nation seeking to extend its footprint, secure its interests and project its power beyond its borders. In this tumultuous context, the United States finds itself at a crossroads. A young nation, powerful but still developing, confronted with the reality of a world where influence is won and lost on the far margins of empires. America's response was nuanced, but decisive. The traditional quest for territorial expansion is being transformed into a more sophisticated and globalised strategy, rooted in the protection of commercial interests and the projection of power. The acquisition of territories such as Alaska, the Midway Islands and Samoa reflects not just a desire for geographical expansion, but a calculated response to the growing imperialism of other world powers. Each acquisition, each new territory, is a piece in a complex game of global geopolitics, a manoeuvre to secure a place on the rapidly changing world chessboard. America is now in a delicate dance with its imperial contemporaries. The rebirth of European imperialism, the rise of Russia and the emergence of Japan as a global power are redefining the rules of the game. Competition was fierce, and America had to navigate carefully to protect its interests, extend its influence and assert its place among the world's imperialist nations. This is a moment of transformation for the United States. A country that was once focused on continental expansion is now looking further afield. Oceans, markets and international alliances are becoming battlegrounds where America forges its identity and role in a world where imperialism, trade and diplomacy are inextricably linked. The change of direction was profound. The United States, armed with its youthful dynamism and burgeoning economy, is no longer just a spectator in the great theatre of global imperialism. It is now an active participant, a competitor and an architect in a story that goes far beyond its original borders and delves deeply into the complexities of global power, influence and ambition.

In the teeming context of the late 19th century, another catalyst transformed the dynamic of American expansion: industrialisation. The smoke of factories, the clamour of machines and the incessant hum of innovation and production framed an era of unprecedented prosperity and economic growth. In this whirlwind of activity, America saw its economy transform, diversify and propel itself onto the world stage. American entrepreneurs and businesses, with characteristic boldness, are looking beyond familiar shores for uncharted lands of opportunity. The horizon is more than a geographical frontier; it symbolises the promise of new markets, unexplored resources and boundless prosperity. The thirst for growth transcends the limits of the American continent, and each new territory acquired is another step towards satisfying this insatiable ambition. The South Pacific is emerging as a key region in this quest. It is no coincidence that Alaska, the Midway Islands, Samoa and other strategic territories are falling under American control. Each acquisition is a bridge to Asia and Oceania, regions of economic ferment, emerging markets where American products, innovations and capital can find fertile ground for growth. Industrialisation and territorial expansion feed off each other. The economic machine needs fuel in the form of raw materials, markets and trade routes. Acquired territories are responses to this imperative need. They serve not only as strategic outposts in the game of global geopolitics, but also as vital arteries feeding the beating heart of the American economy. American companies, armed with technology, capital and boundless ambition, are positioning themselves as major players in this complex dance of expansion and growth. They became the pioneers of American expansion, not with guns and wagons, but with innovation, investment and commercial partnerships. The late nineteenth century was not simply a period of geographical expansion for the United States. It was a time when economics, technology and politics intertwined, creating a nation that looked not just west, but east, north and south. A nation in search of growth, ready to become part of the complex, interconnected fabric of the global economy. America is reinventing itself, not just as a territorial power, but as a global economic force.

At the dawn of the 20th century, America faces a complex web of geopolitical challenges and opportunities. Asia, rich in resources and potential, is a playground where Western powers, armed with their imperialist ambitions, seek to forge links of domination and influence. However, America, with a different and pragmatic vision, is introducing a new doctrine into the international arena: the open door policy. The open door policy is a bold approach. It is based on a fundamental principle: China's territorial integrity and political independence. For the United States, China is not simply another territory to be conquered, but a nation with which to establish mutually beneficial economic relations. This policy aims to create an environment where American economic interests can flourish without compromising Chinese sovereignty. It is a delicate balance between economic aspiration and respect for national dignity. At the same time, in the Western hemisphere, the big stick policy is emerging with unparalleled vigour. It reflected a confident America, ready to assert its influence in the Caribbean and Central America. This doctrine, popularised by President Theodore Roosevelt, was based on a strategy of assertive military force. The United States was no longer prepared to be a mere observer; it was ready to use force to protect its interests and ensure the stability of the region. These two policies, although different in their approaches, are complementary representations of the America of that era. The open door policy reflects a nation seeking partnerships and economic opportunities while respecting the established world order. The big stick policy, on the other hand, depicts a bold and assertive America, ready to forge its own destiny and assert its influence. It was a period of duality and dynamism for American foreign policy. A period when economics and diplomacy, strength and respect, intersect and combine to shape a nation no longer confined by its continental borders. America was reinventing itself, redefining itself and projecting itself onto the world stage with a presence that resonated far beyond the confines of its territory, in the tumult and opportunities of the burgeoning 20th century.

The effervescent energy of the 19th century left an indelible mark on the American landscape. The smoky chimneys of factories and the verdant fields of agricultural plains paint a picture of a nation in the throes of change. The United States, once a young republic in search of its identity, is emerging as an undisputed industrial and agricultural power. This transformation is not a silent spectacle; it resonates in the dynamism of its burgeoning cities and the vitality of its countryside. With each forge that is lit and each seed that takes root, the American population grows in parallel. It is a diverse people, coloured by the brushes of natives and immigrants, each bringing with them dreams, skills and energy that fuel national expansion. Cities become centres of innovation and commerce, vibrant melting pots of cultures, ideas and aspirations. However, with this prosperity comes an inevitable reality - a growing need for markets to absorb the abundance of products. Industry and agriculture are two prodigious twins of the American economy, generating goods and services at a rate that defies domestic consumption. Entrepreneurs and businesses are looking beyond borders, not out of whim, but out of necessity. The horizon for these companies is not just a geographical frontier, but a symbol of unexplored opportunities. Europe, Asia and Latin America are not just continents, but markets, partners and players in the complex ballet of international trade. Every port, every city, every nation is a stage where American goods and services can meet, mix and exchange with those of the world. This need for commercial expansion is redefining American diplomacy. Foreign policy is no longer just a game of power and alliances, but also an instrument for facilitating trade, investment and economic exchange. Ambassadors were not only diplomats, but also agents of commerce, weaving networks of relationships that linked the American economy to world markets. The end of the 19th century was therefore a pivotal period for the United States. A time when domestic growth and external expansion met and merged, when economics and diplomacy were partners in the delicate dance of nation-building. America, with its buzzing factories and lush fields, looks not only to the present but also to the future, a future where its products, innovations and entrepreneurial spirit cross oceans and touch the shores of distant continents.

The emergence of the United States as a global economic power has coincided with a significant increase in its political and economic influence well beyond its national borders. The South, dotted with emerging nations and endowed with a wealth of natural resources, became a theatre of interest for Washington. Mexico, with its geographical proximity and abundant economic opportunities, proved particularly attractive. As the industrialisation of the United States entered a phase of accelerated growth, an insatiable hunger for new commercial markets and natural resources emerged. This desire for expansion was not an isolated phenomenon; it was part of an era of global imperialism in which the great powers were engaged in a fierce race to establish their dominance in regions not yet subjugated. The Caribbean and Central America, with their strategic geographical position and wealth of resources, were playgrounds for the competing powers. In this complex international context, the United States made its way with pragmatic determination. Influenced by the Monroe Doctrine, which professed opposition to any European intervention in the affairs of the Americas, the United States sought to extend and secure its influence in its immediate neighbourhood. The southern region became not only a frontier for security but also a horizon for economic opportunity. Mexico, with its expanses of fertile land and precious resources, entered the field of vision of American expansion. The complex history of relations between the two nations has been marked by conflict, negotiation and trade. America, with its burgeoning industrial power, saw Mexico not only as a trading partner but also as a crucial sphere of influence to be secured. American interests in the Caribbean and Central America were no less strategic. As a crossroads between north and south, east and west, the region was key to naval, commercial and political control. Every island, every port was a pawn in the great chessboard of world domination. There, in the midst of turquoise waters and tropical lands, the United States engaged in a delicate dance of power with the European nations, Russia and Japan.

The United States' drive for expansion and growth in the second half of the nineteenth century was rooted in a vibrant and competitive international context. A thriving domestic economy and an insatiable desire for new markets and opportunities catalysed a series of foreign policies focused on asserting American influence on a global scale. At the heart of this push are the Open Door Policy and the Big Stick Policy, two distinct but interconnected strategies that have shaped America's international footprint. The open-door policy, largely centred around Asian affairs, particularly in China, embodied the US commitment to free and fair international trade. The policy aimed to ensure that all countries, regardless of their power or influence, had equal access to Chinese markets. It was a manifestation of American diplomacy that valued open trade and sought to counter the segmentation of the Chinese market by competing colonial powers. At the same time, the big stick policy, popularised by President Theodore Roosevelt, was rooted in a more coercive approach. It embodied the idea that military power, or at least its ostentatious display, was central to securing and extending American national interests. Although applied globally, this policy had a particular resonance in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the United States sought to assert its hegemony and counter European influence. These two policies, although distinct in their approaches, were motivated by a common desire to preserve and extend American economic and political influence. The open door symbolised a diplomacy that sought to balance the interests of all nations engaged in international trade, while the big stick policy manifested a willingness to secure those interests by force if necessary. These doctrines not only shaped the way the United States engaged with the world, but also reflected the tensions inherent in a growing nation. The task of balancing the imperatives of international cooperation with the demands of national security and regional influence defined American foreign policy in this era, laying the foundation for the complex international interactions of the United States in the century that followed.

Under the authoritarian regime of Porfirio Díaz, Mexico experienced significant economic and industrial development, albeit often at the expense of local populations and national resources. Díaz, seeking to modernise the Mexican economy, encouraged foreign investment in key sectors such as mining, oil and agriculture. This policy opened the door to an influx of American settlers and other foreign entrepreneurs. Americans, attracted by the lucrative opportunities and Díaz's accommodating policies, settled mainly in northern Mexico. They brought with them advanced technologies, innovative farming practices and significant investment capital. This emigration stimulated the growth of the extractive and agricultural industries, transforming large swathes of the Mexican economy. However, this 'Porfiriato' period was also marked by growing social and economic inequalities. Although foreign investment has propelled Mexico onto the international stage as a producer of raw materials, the benefits of this growth have been unevenly distributed. Foreign entrepreneurs and investors, particularly American, benefited greatly from the economic boom, while local populations were often marginalised and disadvantaged. Díaz's policies not only exacerbated internal social tensions but also laid the foundations for the complex relationship between Mexico and the United States. American interests took root in the Mexican economy, creating a complex mix of economic interdependence and political tensions. The disproportionate influence of American settlers and businesses was often perceived as interference in Mexico's internal affairs, a sentiment that would endure beyond the fall of Díaz. American involvement in the Mexican economy under Díaz is a crucial chapter in understanding not only Mexico's internal dynamics during this period but also the complex and often contentious nature of US-Mexican relations in the years that followed. It highlights the inherent tensions between the economic opportunities created by foreign investment and the challenges posed by national sovereignty and social inequality.

At the end of the nineteenth century, Díaz's welcoming policy towards foreign investors facilitated a deep penetration of American capital into the Mexican economy. American entrepreneurs and investors, equipped with capital and advanced technologies, rushed into this opening, establishing a substantial hold on many key sectors of the Mexican economy. The mining sector, in particular, has seen explosive growth as US investors exploit Mexico's rich mineral reserves. Gold, silver and copper mines have become centres of intense economic activity, and thus zones of American influence. At the same time, the oil industry emerged as an area of particular interest for US companies, which recognised the colossal potential of the country's oil reserves. The rail sector was another area where American influence was palpable. US companies played a central role in the expansion of Mexico's rail network, linking resource extraction centres to markets, both domestic and international. This transport network not only facilitated the extraction and export of raw materials, but also strengthened the US economic hold on the country. Although these developments contributed to Mexico's rapid modernisation and economic growth, they also gave rise to tensions. The prosperity of American settlers and investors contrasted sharply with the living conditions of the majority of the Mexican population, fuelling social discontent that would intensify over time. The American economic stranglehold on Mexico was viewed with growing mistrust, both within the Mexican population and among certain political sectors. Resentment of Díaz's policy of unrestricted openness to foreign investment, and the consequent influence of Americans and other foreigners in national affairs, would fuel the flames of the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The aspirations of American settlers and entrepreneurs in Mexico were primarily economic. Their interests lay in exploiting Mexico's abundant resources and gaining access to local markets to maximise their profits. This was not a territorial quest, but rather an initiative to extend their economic reach and strengthen the prosperity of American businesses. Mexico's gold and silver mines, oil reserves and fertile farmland were valuable assets for the Americans. Industrial magnates and investors saw these resources as an opportunity to enrich and diversify the American economy. The transport infrastructure, particularly the rail network, facilitated the extraction, transport and export of these resources to the United States and other international markets. American companies established in Mexico often operated with considerable autonomy, with one main objective: maximising profits. Concerns for social welfare, sovereignty and the rights of Mexican workers were often secondary. This dynamic contributed to an economic landscape where gains were unevenly distributed, exacerbating social and economic inequalities. Diplomacy and international relations between the United States and Mexico were also influenced by these economic dynamics. Although the US government did not explicitly seek to annex Mexican territory, it was undeniably interested in securing and protecting US investment. This sometimes led to political and military intervention to protect these economic interests.

In the historical context of the emergence of the United States as a global power, the change in tactics in its approach to foreign policy is a reflection of the country's maturation and evolution on the international stage. President Theodore Roosevelt, with his "Big Stick" policy, imposed a more aggressive American presence, especially in the Western Hemisphere. It was an expression of assertion, a way for a young and rapidly growing nation to announce its place among the world powers and to ensure the protection of its emerging economic and political interests. The "Big Stick" ideology was symbolic of Roosevelt's willingness to use military force to guarantee stability, peace and, more specifically, American interests. However, this behaviour gave rise to criticism and concern, both nationally and internationally. Active interventionism, while sometimes effective in achieving immediate objectives, has also sown the seeds of mistrust and resentment. The move towards the Good Neighbour policy during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt was an implicit recognition of the limitations inherent in a strictly coercive approach. The desire to build relationships based on mutual respect, cooperation and non-intervention reflected a more nuanced and balanced perspective, aimed at building bridges rather than imposing wills. This paradigm shift marked a maturing of US foreign policy and a recognition of the complex and interdependent nuances of international relations. Within this framework, the United States sought to forge more collaborative and respectful partnerships with its neighbours. This was not only a moral and ethical imperative, but also a pragmatic strategy for fostering stability and prosperity in the region. This development illustrates the shifting dynamics of power politics, where assertion and cooperation are in constant tension and balance, each necessary in its own way to navigate the complex maze of global affairs.

The end of the nineteenth century marked a substantial transformation in American perspectives and policies on expansionism and imperialism. At this stage, it is clear that the US has moved towards a more globalised imperialism, shaped and driven by multiple and complex factors. The growing need for access to new trading markets was undeniably a key driver of this expansion. As the American economy grew rapidly, amplified by the Industrial Revolution, the need for markets to sell manufactured goods increased. This desire for economic expansion combined in complex ways with dominant ideologies such as Social Darwinism and other beliefs rooted in racial and cultural superiority. The 'drop of blood rule', and similar notions, contributed to an environment where white supremacy and European domination were often seen as normative and justified. This inevitably coloured US interactions with other nations and peoples, and influenced how expansion and imperialism were perceived and justified. American imperialism at that time was not only an effort to extend territorial dominance, but was also seen by many as a civilising mission. This reflected a paternalistic attitude, in which the extension of American governance and influence was seen as beneficial to "less developed" peoples. Of course, these attitudes were often used to justify actions that were, in reality, primarily motivated by economic and political interests. However, these actions and attitudes were not universally accepted within the United States. Dissenting voices questioned both the morality and the wisdom of imperialism, pointing to potential dangers and inconsistencies with the democratic principles on which the nation had been founded.

New conception of Destiny Manifest: The ideological foundations of American imperialism[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Alfred Mahan in 1904.

At the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Manifest Destiny underwent a significant transformation, evolving from an ideology focused on territorial expansion to an increased focus on economic and political expansion. The changing international context, the rapid growth of American industrialisation, and the emergence of the United States as a world power played key roles in this transformation. The "Big Stick" doctrine, popularised by President Theodore Roosevelt, embodied this evolution. It emphasised the projection of military and economic power to protect and expand American interests abroad. This policy was symbolised by the idea that "speaking softly and carrying a big stick" would enable the United States to exert its influence effectively, using diplomacy where possible, but being prepared to use force when necessary. On the other hand, the "Good Neighbour Policy" introduced during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, although distinct, was also a reflection of this evolution. It sought to strengthen US-Latin American relations by abandoning military intervention in favour of more equitable and respectful relations that encouraged cooperation and mutual exchange. These developments reflected a shift from internal territorial expansion, characterised by colonisation and annexation of territory, to a more sophisticated and nuanced foreign policy. It focused on maximising American influence in an increasingly interconnected world, marked by imperial competition and global economic opportunities. Manifest Destiny, as an ideology, adapted to this changing landscape, redirecting America's 'divinely ordained' mission towards goals that reflected the geopolitical, economic and military realities of the new age.

The idea of American superiority and exceptionalism has been a key driver of US foreign policy at different times in history. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this belief was manifest in a variety of actions, including territorial expansion and imperialism. The annexation of Hawaii in 1898 is an emblematic example of this trend. It occurred in the context of an American intervention that overthrew the existing Hawaiian monarchy, reflecting the belief that the United States had the right and duty to extend its influence, economically and politically. The Spanish-American War of 1898 is another striking example. Following the United States' victory, the Treaty of Paris enabled America to acquire the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. This overseas expansion illustrated a form of imperialism, clearly indicating that America's vision of its role in the world had changed, adopting imperialist attributes common to the great European powers of the time. In Latin America, US intervention was also common, often justified by the Monroe Doctrine and later by the big stick policy. The US intervened in the internal affairs of nations such as Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba to protect its economic and political interests, often justifying these actions as a necessity to maintain stability and 'civilisation' in the Western Hemisphere. This sense of exceptionalism continues to influence US foreign policy, although it is often tempered and complicated by other considerations, including human rights, multilateral diplomacy, and international norms. The balance between the pursuit of national interests and respect for universal principles and the sovereign rights of other nations remains a central challenge and subject of debate in contemporary American foreign policy.

Social Darwinism was a major influence on US foreign and domestic policy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The concept, although a misinterpretation and misapplication of Charles Darwin's ideas on natural selection, has been used to justify a variety of expansionist and imperialist policies. In the context of the United States, Social Darwinism has often been used to legitimise territorial expansion, economic domination, and the subjugation of indigenous peoples and other groups considered "inferior". It has served as the ideological basis for the idea that some peoples and races are naturally superior to others and therefore have the right, or even the duty, to dominate and rule over the "less able". This ideological framework was used to justify actions such as westward expansion in the United States, where indigenous peoples were displaced and often treated brutally. It has also played a role in American imperialism overseas. The Spanish-American War, the annexation of the Philippines and other territories, and intervention in Latin America were often justified by the belief that the United States was bringing 'civilisation' and 'superior' government to 'inferior' peoples. In the economic sphere, Social Darwinism was linked to the ideology of unfettered capitalism. Entrepreneurs and businessmen were seen as the 'fittest' in the economic struggle for survival, and their success was seen as proof of their superiority. This led to few restrictions on business activities and generous support for companies expanding overseas. However, it is important to note that these ideas were controversial even at the time, and there were many individuals and groups who opposed imperialism and the application of Social Darwinism to politics. As the twentieth century progressed, these ideas were increasingly challenged, and more nuanced and ethical conceptions of human rights and international justice began to influence American foreign policy.

The role of the US government in supporting private interests abroad was crucial to the country's economic and territorial expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The alliance between business and government facilitated American expansion far beyond its continental borders. Businesses, attracted by the market opportunities and resources available abroad, benefited from an environment in which the government was prepared to use all necessary means to protect and promote American economic interests. In turn, the US economy grew and diversified, strengthening the US position on the international stage. Key infrastructures, such as shipping lanes and communications, were financed and protected by the government. This not only facilitated international trade, but also strengthened the US military and economic presence in strategically important regions. The US Navy, for example, was often deployed to protect shipping lanes and ensure the safety of trade operations. American diplomacy was also focused on creating a favourable business environment. Treaties and trade agreements were negotiated to guarantee access to foreign markets, protect US investment and ensure a level playing field for US companies. International law was shaped and used as a tool to support economic expansion. At that time in American history, there was a considerable symbiosis between government and private interests. The state facilitated and protected business expansion, while the resulting prosperity and influence of business strengthened the overall power and influence of the United States. This dynamic helped shape the emergence of the United States as a global power at the turn of the twentieth century. This model of mutual support between business and government has left a lasting legacy, impacting international relations and US global economic policy for years to come.

Alfred Thayer Mahan's role in transforming US naval policy and global strategy is undeniable. At a time when the United States was seeking to extend its influence far beyond its borders, Mahan's theories offered intellectual and strategic justification for massive naval expansion. Mahan's main thesis was that domination of the seas was essential for national prosperity and security. He argued that maritime trade was the main source of a nation's wealth and that to protect this trade, a nation needed a powerful navy. By studying history, in particular Britain's maritime power, Mahan came to the conclusion that mastery of the seas was crucial to global influence. Mahan's vision was largely consistent with the transformation of the United States from a primarily agrarian and continental nation into an industrial and global power. The need for a powerful naval force to protect trade routes, secure supplies of raw materials and provide access to world markets was recognised as a strategic priority. Mahan's ideas were adopted and promoted by US policymakers, leading to a rapid expansion of the US Navy. His ideas also helped shape US foreign policy, particularly in the doctrine of the Great White Fleet, a powerful naval force that was used to project US power around the world. This doctrine played a crucial role in asserting America's presence and influence on the world stage. Mahan's ideas continued to influence strategic thinking and American foreign policy well into the twentieth century. The need for a powerful naval force, capable of guaranteeing freedom of navigation and protecting American interests abroad, has remained a central element of US national security strategy. Alfred Thayer Mahan not only recognised the importance of naval power in the rise of a nation, but his ideas were instrumental in shaping an era of American expansion and military assertiveness. In an ever-changing world of globalisation and interdependence, Mahan's theories remain relevant to understanding global power dynamics and the relationship between naval power, trade and world politics.

Mahan's ideas have influenced the transformation of the US Navy and its global role. Mahan's principles undoubtedly helped shape the naval strategy of the United States, placing the navy at the centre of the country's international power and influence. The growth and development of the US Navy, inspired by Mahan's thinking, was exemplified by its emphasis on a powerful and well-maintained fleet of battleships, capable of projecting force and defending American interests around the world. This strategy proved particularly crucial during the Spanish-American War, where the US Navy not only played a decisive role in victory, but also demonstrated the need for a robust naval force to assert America's presence on the world stage. The concept of global supply stations and naval bases also grew in importance, as evidenced by the acquisition of overseas territories and the establishment of strategic bases to support naval operations. These facilities have enabled the navy to maintain a continuous presence, protect trade routes and defend national interests in remote areas. The education and training of naval officers and sailors has been strengthened, underlining the importance of preparation and expertise in the conduct of naval operations. This focus on education and training contributed to the evolution of the US Navy into a professional, disciplined and technically advanced force. Mahan's ideas shaped an era in which naval power was intimately linked to international stature. Armed with sound doctrine, modern ships and extensive training, the US Navy became a pillar of US defence and security strategy, a legacy that continues today in its role as guarantor of maritime security and freedom of navigation worldwide.

There are strategic, political and economic reasons for the United States' increased interest in Hawaii. Strategically, Hawaii was at a key location in the Pacific, serving as a bridge between North America and Asia. At a time when maritime trade and naval power were growing, control of the Hawaiian Islands was seen as crucial to the projection of American maritime power. The American presence in Hawaii was also partly a response to international competition. The European powers, Japan and other nations were becoming increasingly active in the Pacific. The United States, keen to protect and expand its interests in the region, saw Hawaii as a crucial bastion for defence and trade. Politically and economically, American interests in Hawaii were also linked to the presence of Americans living on the islands, particularly sugar plantation owners. They had a direct financial interest in maintaining close links with the United States and in promoting annexation to guarantee favourable access to the American market. In 1887, under pressure from American and European residents, King Kalākaua was forced to sign the "Bayonet Constitution", which considerably reduced the power of the monarchy and increased the influence of foreigners. The presence of the US Navy played an important role in exerting pressure on the Hawaiian monarchy. The political intrigue culminated in 1893 when Queen Liliuokalani, who had succeeded her brother Kalākaua, attempted to restore royal power. In response, a group of American and European residents, supported by American sailors and marines, overthrew the queen. Although US President Grover Cleveland pleaded for the reinstatement of the queen, the annexation of Hawaii became inevitable in the context of US expansionism and the desire for naval power, and was finally formalised in 1898. Thus, the US Navy not only played a role in protecting American interests in Hawaii, but was also a key player in the political events that led to the annexation of the islands by the United States. The following decades saw the consolidation of Hawaii as a major naval bastion for the United States, culminating in the construction of the Pearl Harbor naval base, which would play a central role in the events of the twentieth century, particularly during the Second World War.

The 1887 agreement, often referred to as the "Bayonet Constitution" due to the duress under which King Kalākaua was placed to sign it, marked a decisive turning point in relations between Hawaii and the United States. As well as allowing the United States to establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor, the constitution significantly reduced royal power and increased the influence of American and European residents on the islands. The Pearl Harbor base became crucial to the American military presence in the Pacific. Its strategic position enabled the United States to project its military power and protect its commercial interests in the Asia-Pacific region. It also served as an outpost for the defence of the west coast of the United States. The terms of the "Bayonet Constitution" also intensified internal tensions in Hawaii. The increased powers given to foreign residents and the corresponding reduction in the authority of the monarchy exacerbated social and political conflicts. These tensions culminated in 1893 with the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, who had attempted to restore royal power. The overthrow of the monarchy accelerated the process of annexing Hawaii to the United States. Although the issue was controversial in the United States and President Grover Cleveland unsuccessfully attempted to restore Queen Liliʻuokalani to the throne, Hawaii was officially annexed in 1898. This change in status transformed Hawaii into a key territory for the United States, strengthening its strategic position in the Pacific. The naval base at Pearl Harbor was developed and expanded, playing an increasingly important role in US military operations in the region. This importance was dramatically underlined by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, which precipitated the United States' entry into the Second World War.

The intervention of the US Navy in the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani was an early example of US imperialism in the Pacific. The USS Boston, an American warship, was anchored off Honolulu and its troops were deployed in the city, casting an intimidating shadow of military power in the midst of the political crisis. Although the US forces did not directly engage in combat, their presence greatly facilitated the coup by local businessmen and citizens who opposed the Queen. The coup was largely motivated by economic and political interests. American sugar planters were particularly interested in annexation to the United States to avoid sugar tariffs. Queen Liliʻuokalani, aware of the threat this posed to Hawaiian sovereignty, had attempted to strengthen the monarchy and reduce the influence of foreign residents. The overthrow reversed her efforts. The provisional government was quickly established, recognised by the American minister in Hawaii and, with obvious US military support, solidified its hold on power. This provisional government sought immediate annexation to the United States, although President Grover Cleveland withdrew the annexation treaty from the Senate, signalling his disapproval of the overthrow. It was not until the presidency of William McKinley that the question of annexation was resolved. Expansionism was more in vogue and the Spanish-American War of 1898 underlined Hawaii's strategic importance. The archipelago was annexed to the United States by a joint resolution of Congress, thus bypassing the need for a treaty, which would have required a two-thirds majority in the Senate to be approved. This chapter in Hawaiian history has left a complex legacy. On the one hand, annexation paved the way for the State of Hawaii to become a vital contributor to the US economy and national security. On the other hand, it remains a source of contention, as it represented the loss of Hawaiian sovereignty and the imposition of American power, with implications that continue to resonate in discussions of Hawaiian identity and self-determination.

The growing role of the US Navy in Hawaii in the 1880s and beyond was intimately linked to US expansionist strategy. The country sought to assert its influence in the Pacific, an objective facilitated by Hawaii's strategic location. As well as serving as a bridge for US ambitions in the Asia-Pacific region, Hawaii was also a crucial outpost for the protection of the US west coast. The Treaty of 1887, often referred to as the Reciprocity Treaty, marked a turning point. It allowed the US to establish a naval base at Pearl Harbor, an asset that years later would be at the heart of the US military presence in the Pacific. In exchange, the US exempted Hawaiian sugar from tariffs, which strengthened the island's economy and consolidated the influence of American sugar planters in Hawaii. Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded to the throne in 1891, opposed the growing influence of the United States and sought to re-establish Hawaiian sovereignty. However, with the tacit support of the US Navy, a group of non-Hawaiian residents and businessmen overthrew the Queen in 1893. American troops, although not directly involved in the coup, provided logistical support and an intimidating presence, facilitating the overthrow of the Hawaiian government. The 1893 episode preceded the formal annexation of Hawaii in 1898. During this period, the United States, under President McKinley, was increasingly influenced by an expansionist ideology. The importance of Hawaii for national security, commercial shipping and its strategic geographical position were determining factors in the annexation. In this way, the US Navy was not simply a tool for imposing military domination, but was integrated into a complex, multi-dimensional strategy aimed at expanding American influence in the Pacific. This influence was as much economic and political as it was military, and Hawaii became a key element in the United States' growing network of global interests.

The Spanish-American War and the acquisition of Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Election poster from 1900 showing McKinley standing on the gold standard supported by soldiers, sailors, businessmen and workers.

The Spanish-American War was a crucial milestone, not only in the evolution of American foreign policy but also in the position of the United States on the world stage. The conflict, triggered primarily by the mysterious sinking of the USS Maine and fuelled by the impassioned appeals of the newspapers of the day - a phenomenon known as 'yellow journalism' - saw the United States fighting alongside Cubans, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans to liberate these territories from Spanish colonial rule. The swift and decisive victories of American forces in both Cuba and the Philippines highlighted the rise of American military power. In Cuba, the famous charge of the Light Brigade at San Juan Hill, in which future President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders took part, has become an icon of American military valour. In the Philippines, the rapid destruction of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay proved the power of the American navy. The Treaty of Paris, which concluded the war, transformed the United States into a colonial power. The US acquired Guam, Puerto Rico and paid $20 million for the Philippines, consolidating its presence in the Caribbean and Pacific. Although Cuba was freed from Spanish colonialism, it fell under American influence and became a de facto protectorate of the United States, marking the beginning of a complex and tumultuous relationship between the two nations. The Spanish-American War had far-reaching repercussions. Not only did it enhance the international stature of the United States, propelling it to the rank of world power, but it also gave rise to internal debates about America's role in the world. Overseas expansion and imperialism became issues of contention, underlining the tensions between the country's global aspirations and its founding principles of freedom and self-determination.

The Spanish-American War occurred during the presidency of William McKinley, which represented an era of transformation in American politics, marking a marked shift from a domestic focus to a renewed involvement in global affairs. The conflict arose from both internal and external pressures, including the rise of the European powers, the rapid expansion of American industry and the economy, and the growing desire of the United States to protect and expand its interests overseas. The impetus for war was precipitated by the sinking of the USS Maine and exacerbated by yellow journalism, which helped inflame public opinion in favour of conflict. Although McKinley was reluctant to commit the country to war, he was forced to do so by pressure from Congress and public opinion. He oversaw an effective military campaign, using American naval power and ground troops to achieve decisive victories against Spain. Victory in the Spanish-American War had far-reaching implications. The United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines, laying the foundations for an American colonial empire. Cuba also gained independence, but under American tutelage, signalling an era of increased American intervention in international affairs. The war propelled the United States onto the world stage, solidifying its status as a global power and ushering in an era of more assertive foreign policy. The conflict also underlined the importance of a strong, modern navy. Military modernisation became a priority, fuelled by the recognition of the need to protect American interests abroad. Politically, the war contributed to McKinley's re-election in 1900, although his second term was tragically cut short by his assassination in 1901. The legacy of the Spanish-American War and McKinley's presidency remains palpable. The issues raised by the conflict, particularly those relating to human rights, imperialist domination and the global role of the United States, continue to resonate in American foreign policy. Debates about the ethics and implications of imperialism, intensified by the war, marked the beginning of a century of confrontation and dialogue about the United States' position in the world.

Before the Spanish-American War, Cuba's economy was strongly linked to that of the United States because of its crucial role in the sugar industry. American planters and investors had acquired vast tracts of land to grow sugar cane, capitalising on the intensive use of Afro-Cuban labour. This workforce was initially made up of slaves and, after the abolition of slavery, indentured labourers, often in conditions little better than slavery. The sugar trade not only enriched these investors, but also created mutual economic dependence between the two countries. For the United States, Cuba represented a reliable and profitable source of sugar, a product that was essential to the American economy at the time. This economic dependence shaped US-Cuban relations and had significant political implications. When the Spanish-American War broke out, the United States' deep-rooted economic interest in Cuba was a major factor underpinning the US military commitment. Although the motivations for the war were manifold, including humanitarian concerns and a desire to assert American power on a global scale, the protection of American economic interests was undeniably a key consideration. The US victory and the subsequent end of Spanish rule over Cuba marked the beginning of a new era for the island. Although Cuba won its independence, the US continued to exert considerable influence, encapsulated in documents such as the Platt Amendment, which granted the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and established the Guantanamo naval base, which the US maintains to this day. The wealth generated by the sugar industry and American investment continued to shape Cuban politics, economy and society well into the twentieth century. This dominant and sometimes controversial influence of the United States has helped shape the complex and tumultuous history of relations between the two countries, from the effects of the Spanish-American War to the embargo and beyond.

The Spanish-American War, which broke out in 1898, was a concise but significant military conflict that took place in places as far apart as Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. The war arose from the tension resulting from the mysterious deaths of American sailors aboard the USS Maine, whose sinking in Havana harbour was attributed to Spain, although conclusive evidence was lacking. The main issue for the United States was Cuba. American military forces, benefiting from tactical and logistical superiority, quickly overcame Spanish resistance on the island. The war was characterised by fierce but brief battles, and Spain, faced with imminent defeat, agreed to a ceasefire. The impact of the war was not limited to a swift military victory. The peace agreements that followed significantly altered the geopolitical map. Spain, once a major colonial power, ceded control of key territories to the United States. Cuba, although technically independent, came under US influence, and Guam and Puerto Rico became US territories. The Philippines, a strategic archipelago, was sold to the United States for 20 million dollars. This conflict marked a profound transformation in American foreign policy. Before the war, the United States was widely perceived as a power in the making, concerned mainly with domestic and continental affairs. However, the stunning victory over Spain propelled the United States onto the world stage. The country became a colonial and imperialist power, its interests and influence extending far beyond its traditional borders. The repercussions of the Spanish-American War were felt for decades. It laid the foundations for American military and political engagement on a global scale and ushered in an era in which US power and influence would be a determining factor in world affairs. The victory not only redefined the international perception of the United States, but also sparked a lively national debate about the country's role in the world, a debate that continues to resonate in contemporary American foreign policy.

The Haitian Revolution had a profound impact not only in the Caribbean, but throughout the Atlantic world, instilling fear among the slave-holding powers and inspiring movements for independence and the abolition of slavery. The success of the slave revolt in Haiti, which transformed France's richest colony into an independent republic governed by former slaves, was an alarming sight for the colonial powers that depended on slavery. In Cuba and Puerto Rico, the last Spanish colonial strongholds in America, the Creole elite watched the situation in Haiti with considerable trepidation. Much of their wealth and power was rooted in the agricultural plantations, and they relied heavily on slave labour. The possibility of a revolt similar to that in Haiti was an existential threat not only to their economic status, but also to their physical and social security. So, while aware of the shifting winds of freedom and independence blowing across Latin America, the elites of Cuba and Puerto Rico were also faced with a dilemma. Could a war for independence be contained and directed in such a way as to preserve their social and economic status, or would such a war unleash a social revolution that would overthrow them as well as the Spanish colonial yoke? It was against this backdrop that Spain, weakened and diminished by the loss of most of its American colonies, attempted to maintain its hold on Cuba and Puerto Rico. The severe repression of independence and reform movements, the restriction of civil and political rights, and the persistence of slavery (until its belated abolition) were all symptoms of the profound insecurity of Spain and the colonial elite in the face of the tumultuous waves of social and political change.

Sugar production, fuelled by slave labour, was the mainstay of the Cuban economy, and the island was a major player on the world sugar market. The Creole elite, who benefited greatly from this economy, were reluctant to accept any disruption that might jeopardise their status and wealth. The Spanish-American War marked a radical change for Cuba. US intervention was motivated by a mixture of sympathy for the Cubans fighting for independence, strategic and economic concerns, and the influence of yellow journalism, which fanned the flames of interventionism among the American population. The American victory led to the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which put an end to Spanish sovereignty over Cuba. However, Cuba's independence was in reality limited. Although the island was technically independent, the Platt Amendment, incorporated into the Cuban constitution, gave the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs to "preserve Cuban independence" and maintain "adequate government". In addition, Guantánamo Bay was ceded to the United States as a naval base, a presence that continues today. The impact of the Spanish-American War on Cuba was profound and long-lasting. It established a pattern of American influence and intervention on the island that persisted until the Cuban revolution of 1959 and beyond. American economic interests, particularly in the sugar sector, continued to play a significant role in the Cuban economy in the twentieth century, and relations between the two countries were marked by political, economic and military tensions that in many ways continue to this day.

This war was a massive revolt against Spanish rule, marked by intense fighting and substantial destruction. Afro-Cubans, many of whom were former slaves or descendants of slaves, played a central role in this struggle, not only as fighters but also as leaders. The Pact of Zanjón, which ended the war, was a disappointment for many Cubans who aspired to complete independence. Although it put an end to slavery and granted certain political rights, Spain maintained its control over Cuba. Afro-Cubans were particularly disappointed, as although slavery had been abolished, equality and full integration into Cuban society were still a long way off. However, the Ten Years' War set a precedent for resistance to Spanish rule and helped shape the Cuban national identity. The resulting tensions and unfulfilled desire for independence helped trigger the Cuban War of Independence in 1895, which eventually led to American intervention and the Spanish-American War of 1898. These conflicts, along with unresolved issues of race, citizenship and equality, continued to influence Cuban politics and society until the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and beyond. The complexity of race relations, the struggle for equality and independence, and the influence of foreign powers are themes that persist in contemporary Cuban history and politics.

The Cuban War of Independence, which began in 1895, was a pivotal moment in Cuban history. Revolutionary leaders such as José Martí, a poet, essayist and journalist, and Antonio Maceo, a high-ranking black general, were emblematic figures in this struggle. José Martí was a source of intellectual and moral inspiration for Cubans seeking independence. His dedication to the cause of freedom, his prolific writings on democracy and justice, and his opposition to American intervention in the island have become fundamental elements of Cuban national consciousness. The Cuban War of Independence was characterised by guerrilla tactics, fierce fighting and the exploitation of the Cuban mountains and countryside to resist Spanish domination. However, it was interrupted by the intervention of the United States, which became known as the Spanish-American War. The wreck of the USS Maine in Havana harbour in 1898 was the catalyst for the American intervention. Following the American victory, the 1898 Treaty of Paris ended the war and granted Cuba independence, although the island remained under considerable American influence and control for decades, as evidenced by the Platt Amendment which gave the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and establish a naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

The situation in Cuba was attracting international attention, and in the United States the public, the media and politicians were keeping a close eye on developments. Tales of Spanish cruelty to the Cubans, amplified by the tabloid press, inflamed American public opinion and put pressure on the government to intervene. President William McKinley, initially reluctant to commit the United States to a foreign conflict, was forced to change course under pressure from public opinion and some of his advisers. The immediate trigger was the mysterious sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbour on 15 February 1898. Although the actual cause of the sinking remains debated, the American press was quick to blame Spain, further exacerbating tensions. On 25 April 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, marking the start of the Spanish-American War. American forces quickly demonstrated their superiority, winning victories in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris signed on 10 December 1898. Spain ceded Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States and relinquished its sovereignty over Cuba. Cuba became a de facto US protectorate, its nominal independence limited by the Platt Amendment, which granted the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs and established the Guantánamo Bay naval base. So, although Cuba had been liberated from Spanish rule, its full independence was hampered by strong American influence. This situation lasted until the Cuban revolution of 1959, which established a socialist regime under the leadership of Fidel Castro and considerably reduced American influence on the island.

It was against this backdrop that the yellow press, led by figures such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, played a leading role. The war was intense, and newspapers competed fiercely to increase their readership. They published exaggerated and sometimes fabricated accounts of Spanish cruelty to the Cubans to attract and hold the public's attention. The famous words attributed to Hearst, "You provide the pictures, I'll provide the war", although possibly apocryphal, embody the spirit of the press's role in creating a climate conducive to war. Public pressure on President McKinley intensified, exacerbated by the mysterious destruction of the USS Maine in Havana harbour. Although there was no conclusive evidence linking Spain to this tragedy, the press and public opinion were ready to accuse them. Faced with intense popular and political pressure, McKinley relented and asked Congress for authorisation to intervene militarily in Cuba. The Spanish-American War, sometimes called "the splendid little war" by the Americans, was brief. The American victory marked the country as a rising world power and extended its influence overseas. Cuba, freed from Spanish rule, fell under American influence. The Platt Amendment of 1901, incorporated into the Cuban constitution, allowed the United States to intervene in Cuban affairs and to lease or buy land for naval bases and coal, giving rise to the Guantánamo Bay naval base. This war, and the climate that preceded it, testify to the power of the media and public opinion in the formulation of foreign policy. It also illustrates the economic and strategic interest that drives military intervention, a reality that continues to inform the examination of contemporary conflicts.

The Spanish-American War and the subsequent Treaty of Paris represent a decisive turning point in American foreign policy and the history of imperialism. The United States, once a nation primarily focused on its own continental development, emerged as an imperialist power, extending its influence beyond its borders, specifically into the Caribbean and Pacific regions. The conflict, often described as a "splendid little war", was swift and decisive. The United States, taking advantage of Spain's military weaknesses and buoyed by growing nationalist sentiment, seized key territories. Cuba, although gaining a kind of independence, remained largely under American influence, a reality formalised in the Platt Amendment. Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines became direct US possessions. In the case of the Philippines, the US acquisition of the territory led to the Philippine-American War, a brutal conflict that erupted when the Philippines fought for its own independence after being transferred from Spanish to American rule. This exposed a contradiction in American foreign policy: the country that had freed itself from British colonialism was now the coloniser. The Treaty of Paris and its consequences highlighted the complexities and contradictions of American imperialism. These developments fuelled a vigorous domestic debate about the international role of the United States, a debate which, in various forms, persists to this day. They also highlighted the way in which imperial powers often redraw the maps and destinies of nations according to their own interests, leaving a lasting legacy of contention and complexity in international relations.

The cession of territory at the end of the Spanish-American War projected the United States onto the world stage as a colonial power. The conquest of new territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines marked a radical change in American foreign policy. Although the rhetoric of the "civilising mission" was used to justify imperialist expansion, the realities on the ground were often at odds with the democratic and egalitarian principles that the United States claimed to promote. The most obvious example of this contradiction can be found in the Philippine-American War, a conflict often forgotten in the annals of American history. The Philippines, eager for independence and having already fought against Spanish domination, found itself under a new imperial yoke. The American response to Filipino resistance was brutal, and the 'benefits' of American civilisation were imposed by force, exposing the hypocrisy inherent in imperialist rhetoric. American imperialism was a product of the times, a time when European powers were vying for territory across the globe, each nation seeking to extend its influence and power. In this context, the United States, as a rising nation, followed suit. However, the consequences of this expansion were felt not only in the conquered territories, but also on American soil. Stormy debates over the morality, legality and efficacy of imperialism divided the nation.

The incorporation of the Platt Amendment into the Cuban Constitution in 1901 illustrated the duality of American foreign policy at the time. On the one hand, there was a rhetoric of liberation and independence, symbolised by the end of Spanish colonial rule in Cuba. On the other, there was a reality of hegemony and control, highlighted by the restrictions imposed on Cuban sovereignty by the Platt Amendment. This amendment was a precondition for the end of US military rule in Cuba and was widely seen as a violation of Cuban sovereignty. Although Cuba was formally independent, the continued presence and influence of the United States defined Cuban independence in terms that primarily benefited US interests. The right to intervene militarily in Cuba not only ensured the protection of US interests on the island, but also served as a means of projecting US power in the Caribbean and beyond. This dynamic set a precedent for US-Cuban relations in the twentieth century. Although the Platt Amendment was repealed in 1934, the legacy of control and influence it inaugurated has endured. The tensions between aspirations to sovereignty and the realities of dependence have shaped the tumultuous history of US-Cuban relations, from the Cold War era through to contemporary debates over the embargo and the normalisation of relations.

The manifestation of racism, linked to imperialist and economic interests, was undeniable in the way the United States managed its newly acquired territories and indigenous populations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A form of 'white man's burden' was adopted by some American political and economic elites, where domination and exploitation were rationalised as a mission to uplift the 'inferior races'. From this perspective, American imperialism was not only a strategy for extending US economic and political influence but also a "civilising mission". This implied a patronising and racist paternalism, in which political and economic domination was justified on the grounds of alleged racial and cultural superiority. This was reflected in government policies and business practices, which often ignored or marginalised the rights, cultures and aspirations of indigenous peoples. These ideas were rooted in a widely accepted ideology of white supremacy, which prevailed at the time and profoundly influenced foreign policy, international relations and economic strategies. For example, the Philippines, after being 'liberated' from Spain by the United States, was subjected to a new form of colonial rule, in which American economic interests took priority and Filipinos were often considered and treated as 'inferior'. In the dialectic of imperialism and racism, there is a process of alienation and dehumanisation that enables economic exploitation and political domination. The rhetoric of "civilisation" and "progress" often obscured unequal power dynamics and acts of oppression. The repercussions of these historical dynamics continue to resonate in contemporary international relations, and are central to discussions of post-colonialism, human rights and global justice.

The Platt Amendment, imposed on the Cuban Constitution in 1901, was a legal instrument that allowed the United States to exert significant influence over Cuban affairs. In effect, it gave the United States the right to intervene militarily on the island to preserve its stability and interests. It was a clear reflection of US imperialist policy at the time, and an early example of its dominant influence in the Caribbean region. The Guantanamo Bay naval base that resulted from this amendment remains one of the most controversial and enduring legacies of this agreement. Although the lease for the base has been revised to increase the rent, the Cuban government considers the US presence illegitimate and has repeatedly demanded its return. The base remained under US control even after the Cuban revolution of 1959, which brought Fidel Castro to power and ushered in an era of strained relations between the US and Cuba. The Cuban government has refused to cash US rent cheques in protest at what it sees as an illegal occupation of its territory. The issue of Guantanamo Bay continues to symbolise the historic tension between the two countries. The base became internationally notorious for having been used to detain suspected terrorists after the attacks of 11 September 2001, a use that drew fierce criticism for alleged human rights abuses. The relationship between the United States and Cuba remains complex, involving historical, political and economic issues. The case of the Guantanamo Bay naval base remains a major point of contention in their relations, a lasting legacy of the American imperialist era of the early 20th century. Full reconciliation between the two nations will inevitably involve resolving the Guantanamo issue, which remains a tangible symbol of outside intervention and influence in Cuban affairs.

The open door policy was a crucial moment in Western involvement in China and illustrates the complex nature of international relations at that time. Developed in a context where China, weakened by internal conflicts and wars against foreign powers, was divided into spheres of influence managed by imperialist powers, this policy aimed to preserve a certain fairness in commercial access to the Chinese market. US Secretary of State John Hay was a central figure in this initiative, arguing for equal and open access to the Chinese market for all nations, to counter the hegemonic aspirations of powers such as Japan and the European nations. Hay stressed the importance of preserving China's territorial integrity while ensuring that all countries, regardless of their power or influence, could trade freely. Although this policy was never formalised in an international treaty, it was widely accepted by the major powers of the day. However, the effectiveness of this policy was limited, as nations such as the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Russia continued to exert dominant influence in their respective spheres of influence in China. That said, the Open Door policy serves as a testament to America's aspiration to expand its economic and political influence in Asia. It also marked the beginning of an increased US interest and involvement in Asian affairs, an interest that continues to this day. In the context of the time, it was an early manifestation of the rise of the United States as a global power, eager to shape the international economic and political order according to its own interests and principles.

The Open Door policy profoundly influenced international relations and global economic dynamics throughout the twentieth century. It demonstrated a clear intention on the part of the United States to position itself as a central player in world trade. This policy was rooted in the belief that free and fair access to world markets was essential to US economic growth and prosperity. It was also a reflection of capitalist ideology and the belief that free and unregulated trade benefits all parties involved. However, the implementation of this policy also revealed controversial aspects of American influence abroad. To guarantee access to markets, the United States has not hesitated to use its power and influence, sometimes at the expense of the sovereignty and economic interests of other nations. American companies, supported by the government, have sought to establish themselves in foreign markets, sometimes establishing monopolies and supplanting local industries. The open door policy can be seen as a predecessor of contemporary free trade policies. It set a precedent for active US involvement in international economic affairs and marked the beginning of an era in which economic power became intrinsically linked to global politics. Government support for business, skilful navigation of the international political landscape, and the strategic use of military power when necessary, were recurring themes in the pursuit of open foreign markets. Although times and contexts have changed, the issues raised by the open door policy - concerning national sovereignty, economic influence and global power dynamics - remain relevant to the contemporary international debate on trade, economics and global politics.

The Panama Canal and American control of the Caribbean and Central America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Construction work on the Gaillard cutting in 1907.

The construction of the Panama Canal was born of these motivations. It was a project that demonstrated not only the technical prowess and engineering of the United States, but also its growing influence as a world power. President Theodore Roosevelt played a crucial role in the project, taking a determined approach to ensuring that the canal was built. This included supporting Panama in gaining independence from Colombia in 1903, thereby securing the necessary rights for the construction of the canal for the United States. The construction itself, which began in 1904 and was completed in 1914, was an arduous task. It was marked by significant challenges, including tropical diseases that decimated workers, complex engineering problems and difficult working conditions. However, with the implementation of medical and technical innovations, the United States succeeded in completing the project, demonstrating its ability to carry out global projects. The Panama Canal had a profound impact on world trade, dramatically reducing transit times for ships travelling between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It also solidified the United States' position as a world power, demonstrating its ability to carry out massive engineering projects and exert its influence on the international stage.

The construction of the Panama Canal symbolises an era of intense technical innovation and American imperialist expansion. Initiated under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, this colossal engineering project reflected Roosevelt's "big stick" doctrine, emphasising the use of American force and influence on an expanding world stage. This period, marked by rapid economic growth and increased political influence, saw the United States become increasingly involved in international affairs, in sharp contrast to its previous policy of isolationism. The canal, as an engineering achievement, involved monumental challenges. Engineers and workers had to overcome natural obstacles, disease and an oppressive tropical climate. The scale of the excavation, the complexity of the lock systems and the need to manage environmental problems all contributed to making the canal an emblematic project of the modern engineering era. Socially and politically, the construction of the Panama Canal also raised complex issues. The impact on the local population, the implications of American control of the canal and issues relating to workers' rights have all been subjects of debate. The Canal Zone has become a crossroads for cultural and economic exchanges, but also a point of political tension. Beyond its role in world trade and navigation, the Panama Canal is a testament to humanity's ability to overcome formidable technical challenges. However, it also serves as a reminder of the complex social and political implications that often accompany such major international projects. It embodies the duality of technical progress, bringing both substantial benefits and significant challenges.

The completion of the Panama Canal is closely associated with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. He saw in this project not only a means of boosting the economic prosperity of the United States, but also an opportunity to demonstrate the country's emerging power on the international stage. Roosevelt was convinced that a canal across the Isthmus of Panama would greatly increase the efficiency of maritime trade and the ability of the US Navy to move rapidly between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This was of strategic importance, particularly in the context of Roosevelt's "Big Stick" doctrine, which advocated a robust approach to foreign policy. The Roosevelt administration took decisive steps to ensure that the Panama Canal would be under American control. The facilitation of Panama's independence from Colombia, followed by the swift negotiation of a treaty allowing the United States to build and control the canal, are testament to Roosevelt's determination to see the project through. The Panama Canal has become a key part of Roosevelt's legacy. His commitment to the project underscored his vision of a powerful and influential America, capable of achieving ambitious goals and exerting influence on a global scale. The "Big Stick" doctrine and the construction of the Panama Canal are inseparable from the growing international identity of the United States in the early 20th century and from Theodore Roosevelt's dynamic and bold presidency.

Theodore Roosevelt's influence in the process of building the Panama Canal was undeniable and is often highlighted as an example of his vigorous and proactive approach to the presidency. Colombia originally controlled the territory where the canal was planned, but Roosevelt was determined to see it through. When negotiations with Colombia failed, he tacitly supported the secession of Panama, which quickly led to the creation of the Republic of Panama. Following this secession, a treaty was signed granting the United States perpetual control of a zone of the canal, and the green light to begin construction. Roosevelt personally monitored the project, insisting on the strategic and commercial importance of the canal for the United States. His visit to the construction site in 1906 marked the first time a sitting US president had travelled abroad, demonstrating his personal commitment to the success of the project. Although Roosevelt was no longer President by the time the canal was officially opened in 1914, his direct involvement and unstinting support for the project cemented his role in its completion. Today, the Panama Canal remains a testament to Roosevelt's international vision and determination to extend the influence and power of the United States worldwide.

The United States had a strong interest in building the Panama Canal to facilitate the movement of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which would be extremely beneficial for trade and military strategy. However, Colombia, which had sovereignty over Panama at the time, was reluctant to cede control of the territory needed to build the canal. The situation was complicated by political instability and civil war in Colombia. Seeing an opportunity, the United States, under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, supported Panama's independence movement. In 1903, with the support of the United States, Panama declared its independence from Colombia. The United States was one of the first countries to recognise the new republic. In return for its support, the new Panamanian government granted the United States exclusive rights to build and control the Panama Canal. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, signed shortly afterwards, granted the United States control of the Canal Zone in exchange for financial compensation. This agreement paved the way for the construction of the Panama Canal, which began in 1904 and was completed in 1914. This affair demonstrates the United States' determination to achieve its geostrategic and economic objectives, even if this meant intervening in the affairs of other nations. The role of the United States in Panama's independence and the construction of the canal has left a complex legacy in relations between the United States, Panama and Latin America in general.

Obtaining the Panama Canal Zone was a direct result of US intervention in Panama's independence from Colombia. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla treaty, although signed by the new Panamanian government, was widely criticised because Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, who signed it on behalf of Panama, was not a Panamanian citizen but a French engineer with financial interests in the construction of the canal. Furthermore, no Panamanian government representative was present in the United States when the treaty was finalised and signed. The Panama Canal Zone, a 10-mile-wide strip of land stretching on either side of the canal, was under total US sovereignty. This allowed the United States to build and operate the canal without outside interference, ensuring rapid access between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that was vital to American trade and military strategy. The US role in securing Panama's independence and control over the Canal Zone had a lasting impact on US relations with Latin America. It has been cited as a classic example of US imperialism in the region. US control over the canal and surrounding area continued until 1999, when full sovereignty was transferred to Panama under the terms of the 1977 Torrijos-Carter treaties.

The way in which the United States facilitated Panama's independence from Colombia and gained control of the Canal Zone is often cited as an example of American imperialism and has generated considerable controversy. The direct intervention of the United States, not only in supporting the Panamanian revolt, but also in preventing Colombia from suppressing the rebellion, is seen as a blatant intrusion into the sovereign affairs of another country. The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed under conditions that left Panama little choice and largely favoured American interests. The terms of the treaty, including the perpetual cession of the Canal Zone to the United States and the US right to intervene in Panama's internal affairs to ensure law and order, were imposed on Panama without proper negotiation. This action left a legacy of mistrust and resentment towards the United States in the region. It has been cited as an example of Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick Diplomacy", where military and economic force is used to promote US interests abroad. The controversy surrounding the construction of the canal and the US treatment of Panama and Colombia also contributed to tension and conflict in US-Latin American relations throughout the twentieth century.

Building the Panama Canal was a colossal and complicated undertaking, which not only involved engineering challenges, but was also marked by human and social difficulties. The project required the labour force of tens of thousands of workers. Most of them were immigrants from Jamaica, Barbados, India, China and other countries, attracted by the promise of jobs and better wages. However, working conditions were extremely difficult. Workers had to contend with a hot, humid tropical climate, dangerous diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, and arduous working conditions. Disease was one of the main challenges; thousands of workers died from mosquito-borne illnesses before effective mosquito control measures were put in place. Racial discrimination was also rife. Coloured workers were often paid less than their white counterparts and subjected to inferior living and working conditions. They lived in overcrowded accommodation, had little access to health services and were subject to strict discipline. Despite these challenges, construction of the canal progressed, and it was finally opened in 1914. The completion of the canal marked a turning point in world trade and naval strategy, allowing much faster passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific. However, the human and social cost of construction, as well as the political and territorial tensions it generated, continued to resonate for decades. In particular, relations between the United States and Latin American countries were marked by resentment and mistrust. The canal remained under US control until the end of the twentieth century, and it was not until 1999 that full sovereignty over the canal was transferred to Panama, marking the end of an era of US control and influence in the region.

The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty signed in 1903 between the United States and Panama has become a major source of controversy and criticism. Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla, a French engineer who had previously worked on the Panama Canal during the unsuccessful French effort to build the canal, represented Panama, even though he was not a Panamanian citizen. This situation led many to question the legitimacy of the treaty. The treaty gave the United States total and exclusive control of the Panama Canal Zone, a ten-mile-wide territory that ran through the Republic of Panama. The United States obtained the right to build, manage and control the canal indefinitely, an agreement that was widely perceived as asymmetrical and extremely favourable to American interests. The fact that the treaty was signed so soon after Panama's independence has also caused controversy. Critics argue that Panama's independence from Colombia was facilitated by the US primarily to secure favourable control over the Canal Zone. The manner in which Panama's independence was achieved and the role of the United States in the process have led to accusations of imperialism and interference. In addition to political and territorial controversies, the treatment of the workers who built the canal has also come in for severe criticism. The workers, the majority of whom were West Indian, faced difficult working conditions, fatal diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, systematic racial discrimination, and precarious living conditions. These workers played a crucial role in the realisation of this immense engineering project, but they have often been overlooked in historical accounts of the canal's construction. The legacy of the treaty and the construction of the Panama Canal thus remains a sensitive subject, marked by questions of equity, sovereignty and human rights. It was not until decades later, with the Torrijos-Carter treaties of 1977, that control of the canal was gradually transferred to Panama, a process that was completed in 1999.

The Torrijos-Carter Treaties of 1977, named after Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos and US President Jimmy Carter, marked a crucial stage in the history of the Panama Canal and relations between the United States and Panama. They rectified a perceived injustice associated with American control and administration of the canal since its completion in the early 20th century. The treaties were the result of protracted and, at times, tense negotiations, and have been hailed for restoring Panamanian sovereignty over the Canal and the Panama Canal Zone. The treaties set out a gradual transition process to transfer control of the Canal to Panama. They declared that the Canal would be under the joint jurisdiction of the United States and Panama until 31 December 1999, when full control would be transferred to Panama. This transition has been complex, involving a gradual transfer of operational and administrative responsibilities, as well as challenges in training and preparing Panamanian staff to manage one of the world's most strategic and complex waterways. Since the transfer of control, the canal has continued to prosper and remains a vital artery for world trade. Panama has undertaken an ambitious expansion and modernisation programme to increase the capacity of the canal and allow the passage of much larger, post-Panamax vessels. This included the construction of new locks and the widening of existing canals, a project that was completed in 2016. The Panama Canal, under Panamanian management, continues to play a crucial role in world trade, facilitating the rapid passage of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It is a testament to the impressive achievement of the engineers and workers who built it, and continues to symbolise international cooperation and technical innovation.

From 1903, the United States took over the Caribbean and Central America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Big Stick policy in action: US control of the Caribbean and Central America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The letter in which Roosevelt first used his now-famous phrase.

The doctrine of "speak softly and carry a big stick" symbolised President Theodore Roosevelt's robust foreign policy. This maxim summed up his pragmatic and sometimes muscular style, which favoured diplomacy and negotiation while maintaining a strong military posture to ward off possible hostilities. Roosevelt firmly believed that the world power and influence of the United States rested on a considerable military force, which could be used to protect and advance national interests if necessary. In the Caribbean region, this doctrine was put into practice several times. Latin America and the Caribbean were seen by many in the US, including Roosevelt, as regions where the US had vital interests and should play a leading role. The "Big Stick" policy was complemented by the Monroe Doctrine, a foreign policy enunciated in 1823 that warned European powers against intervening in the affairs of nations in the Western Hemisphere. Under Roosevelt's administration, the US Navy became a key instrument for projecting American power in the Caribbean and beyond. The construction of the Panama Canal, completed in 1914, strengthened American influence in the region and required a substantial naval presence to protect this vital waterway. Later, the "Big Stick" policy evolved into what became known as gunboat diplomacy. This involved the use of military, and more specifically naval, force to protect American economic and political interests abroad, particularly in the Western Hemisphere. Interventions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere were often justified in the name of political and economic stabilisation, but they also reflected a desire to exert control and influence over the region, and to deter competing European interests. This interventionist foreign policy has left a complex legacy. On the one hand, it strengthened the position of the United States as the dominant hemispheric power. On the other, it created resentments and tensions in relations between the United States and its Latin American and Caribbean neighbours, effects that are still felt today.

US activism in the Caribbean and Latin America during this period was clearly focused on protecting and promoting its geopolitical and economic interests. Each of these interventions and occupations was justified by a combination of factors, but often linked to issues of political stability, protection of US citizens and investments, and prevention of foreign influence, particularly European. In Cuba, successive interventions were aimed at establishing and maintaining stable American influence on the island, a strategically important location at the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a key moment, transferring sovereignty from Spain to the United States and leading to military occupation. The intervention of 1906-1909 was a continuation of efforts to stabilise the Cuban government and protect American interests. In Mexico, US intervention during the Mexican Revolution was motivated by concerns about stability along the US-Mexican border and the protection of US citizens and investments in Mexico. The intensification of intervention in the Caribbean after the outbreak of the First World War was in part linked to US concern about the possibility of belligerent European powers, particularly Germany, exploiting regional chaos to establish or extend their influence in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua were all places where the US exercised its power to establish stability, often by direct military means. The purchase of the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 was also strategically motivated, providing the US with an additional foothold in the Caribbean region. These actions, largely justified by the "Big Stick" doctrine and the principles of the Monroe Doctrine, strengthened the United States' position as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere. They also had a lasting impact on US relations with the nations of the region, shaping a legacy of interventionism and paternalism that continues to resonate in contemporary inter-American relations.

US military occupations in Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Monroe Doctrine and the Roosevelt Corollary are fundamental elements of American foreign policy and have greatly influenced relations between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. The Monroe Doctrine (1823), formulated under the presidency of James Monroe, was a direct response to attempts by European powers to reassert their influence in the Americas, following the wars of independence that shook Latin America in the early 19th century. The doctrine established a kind of "buffer zone", indicating that any European effort to colonise or interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere would be seen as an act of aggression requiring a response from the United States. The Roosevelt Corollary (1904), enunciated by President Theodore Roosevelt, was an extension of the Monroe Doctrine. Roosevelt recognised that, although the Monroe Doctrine sought to prevent European intervention, the United States itself had a role to play in ensuring political and economic stability in the region. This was the justification for the United States feeling obliged to intervene in the internal affairs of Latin American and Caribbean countries in the event of instability, to prevent any "invitation" for European intervention. This marked a more interventionist turn in US policy towards its southern neighbours. In other words, whereas the Monroe Doctrine was designed to keep Europeans out of the Western Hemisphere, the Roosevelt Corollary added a proactive, even interventionist dimension, authorising the United States to intervene in the affairs of nations in the hemisphere to preserve their independence and maintain order and stability. This laid the foundations for US involvement in Latin American and Caribbean affairs throughout the 20th century.

This period of American history, often associated with Theodore Roosevelt's "Big Stick Diplomacy", was characterised by an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy. The Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was explicitly designed to justify such interventions. The underlying idea was that if the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean failed to "behave", the United States would consider itself entitled to intervene to restore order and stability, to prevent the European powers from doing so. Roosevelt's speech reflects this position: "The chronic injustice or impotence which results from a general relaxation of the rules of civilized society may ultimately require, in America or elsewhere, the intervention of a civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, reluctantly, however, in flagrant cases of injustice and impotence, to exercise international police power." He suggests that in situations of "chronic injustice" or "impotence" in the nations of the Western Hemisphere, the United States might feel compelled to intervene. Although formulated as a reluctant and defensive policy, in practice this has led to numerous occupations and military interventions. The Roosevelt Corollary has been used to justify actions such as the occupation of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua, among others. The United States often became involved in the internal affairs of these countries, sometimes establishing de facto administrations and exercising direct or indirect control over their governments and economies. This interventionist approach has been criticised both at the time and in retrospect for prioritising US interests - particularly economic and strategic - to the detriment of the sovereignty and well-being of the nations in the region. It helped shape the tumultuous and often difficult relations between the United States and Latin America throughout the 20th century.

This corollary has been widely interpreted as a justification for US intervention in the internal affairs of Latin American countries. Under the guise of protecting against European intervention and maintaining stability, the United States extended its influence in the region, often by military means. Roosevelt believed that by ensuring stability in neighbouring countries, the US was promoting its own security and economic interests. The corollary was designed to dissuade the European powers from becoming involved in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, asserting that the United States would take on this responsibility itself. It was a significant extension of the original Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which was mainly limited to warning European powers not to establish new colonies or intervene in the affairs of independent republics in the Western Hemisphere. The Roosevelt Corollary had long-lasting implications. It instituted a policy of interventionism that lasted for many decades and led to a series of US military interventions and occupations in the Caribbean and Central America. It also fuelled resentment and mistrust of the United States in the region, sentiments that continue to shape inter-American relations to this day. The application of this corollary was most evident during the so-called Banana Wars, a series of US military interventions and occupations in Central America and the Caribbean between the early 20th century and the 1930s. These actions were aimed at protecting American commercial interests, maintaining friendly and stable political regimes, and preventing any potential European interference.

The United States used a combination of military intervention, diplomacy and economic instruments to exercise its hegemony, bypassing the traditional colonial structure. The US used mechanisms such as the Platt Amendment to exert indirect influence and maintain control. This enabled them to keep a close eye on regional affairs, ensure the protection of their economic and political interests, and prevent the intervention of other foreign powers, particularly European ones. Dollar diplomacy", introduced under President William Howard Taft, was another important mechanism. Its aim was to encourage and protect American investment in the region, thereby consolidating US economic and political influence. This type of intervention was characterised by economic rather than military involvement, although the threat of military intervention remained a key tool for guaranteeing stability and protecting US interests. In short, US strategy in the region was based on a form of "informal imperialism", where control and influence were maintained not through direct colonisation, but through economic, political and military means. This enabled the United States to become a dominant power in the Western Hemisphere, a position it sought to maintain throughout the twentieth century. The ramifications of this widespread influence are still visible today in the complex relationship between the United States and its neighbours in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The combination of economic ambitions, geopolitical strategies and the rhetoric of democratisation has shaped a complex interventionist policy. The United States, in balancing its desire for expansion and control with the democratic ideals it advocated, has had to navigate a delicate political terrain. Although public rhetoric often emphasised democratic principles, actions on the ground were largely driven by economic and strategic motivations. US corporate interests were often at the heart of these interventions, and the US government acted to protect and promote these interests. The notion of the 'burden-bearing white man', borrowed from British imperialism, also crept into the American psyche. This idea postulated that it was the responsibility of "civilised" nations to bring democracy and progress to "less developed" regions. In practice, however, this often resulted in the imposition of regimes that were pragmatically favourable to American economic and political interests, even to the detriment of local democratic aspirations. Moreover, US involvement in these countries has been marked by a persistent tension between imperialist ambitions and democratic ideals. Although territorial expansion and economic control were clear motivations, they were often cloaked in language that spoke of promoting democracy and freedom. This double discourse led to often contradictory policies and to complex and tense relations with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, echoes of which persist in contemporary relations.

The US Navy was a key instrument in the expansion of American influence in the early 20th century, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. This period, often referred to as the golden age of American imperialism, saw the United States expand its presence beyond its own borders. At the heart of these expeditions was the protection of American economic interests. US companies had invested heavily in the region, and the US government saw the protection of these investments as a priority. This included defending commercial assets such as plantations and mines, as well as crucial trade routes such as the Panama Canal. The United States was also concerned about regional stability. It sought to prevent any instability that might jeopardise its interests or allow other powers, particularly European ones, to intervene. Direct intervention, including military occupation, was a means by which the United States imposed order and protected its interests. The US Navy was a key tool for projecting American power. It provided a visible and intimidating presence that underlined America's commitment to the region. It also served as a rapid and effective means of intervening when needed, ensuring that the US could respond quickly to any emerging threats. This was in line with Theodore Roosevelt's 'Big Stick' policy, where the projection of military, and particularly naval, force was central. Maximising naval power strengthened the United States' position as a world power and underpinned its interventionist foreign policy. Naval expansion was closely linked to American imperialism. It has not only provided a means of protecting and extending economic interests, but has also facilitated the projection of US power and the assertion of its influence in the region and beyond. This dynamic has shaped relations between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and continues to influence international interactions to this day.

Intervention scenarios and their impact on Latin America during this period[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Cartoon from 1904 showing Roosevelt with his "big stick" on patrol in the Caribbean Sea. It symbolises the United States' use of military force to assert its power and control in the region. The expression "speak softly and carry a big stick" is attributed to Roosevelt and reflects his belief that the United States must use a combination of diplomacy and military force to achieve its foreign policy objectives.

The phrase "I will teach the nations of America how to elect good men", attributed to President Woodrow Wilson, reflects his belief that the United States had a duty to promote democracy in the region and that it could use military force to intervene in the affairs of other nations in order to promote political stability and good governance. This belief was used to justify numerous US interventions and occupations in the Caribbean and Latin America in the early 20th century. Woodrow Wilson's quote captures the essence of the idealism that often characterised American foreign policy in the early 20th century. Under his administration, a new vision of America as a champion of democracy and justice in the world emerged. Latin America and the Caribbean became a particular arena where this vision was put into practice. Wilson firmly believed in the supremacy of democracy. He saw America as the ideal model of governance and believed in his mission to spread these ideals throughout the world. This ideology was not just theoretical; it was applied in practice through a series of interventions in neighbouring nations. These interventions were often justified in the name of promoting democracy and stability. For example, the occupation of Haiti in 1915 was triggered by political instability on the island and justified by the need to restore order and promote just government. In practice, however, they often resulted in increased American domination and control, rather than genuine democratic independence for the nations concerned. Wilson's phrase illuminates the tension between idealism and imperialism in American foreign policy at the time. On the one hand, there was a sincere belief in democracy and justice. On the other, there was a desire to extend American influence and control foreign resources and markets.

The attribution of this quote to Woodrow Wilson, whether he said it or not, underlines a crucial reality about American foreign policy in the early 20th century. It reveals the complexity and sometimes contradiction inherent in the American approach to international intervention. In particular, it highlights the duality between the declared intention to promote democracy and justice, and the perceived unilateral imposition of American will and interests. It reminds us that history, and especially the history of international relations, is never one-dimensional. The intentions and actions of the United States in Latin America and the Caribbean were imbued with a complexity in which noble ideals were often mixed with pragmatic and even imperialistic motivations. Interventions were seen by some as efforts to establish stability and democracy, while others saw them as acts of aggression and domination. The quote, whether authentic or apocryphal, is a poignant reminder of the need to view foreign policy not only through the prism of stated intentions, but also through that of the actual impacts and perceptions of the nations affected. It is in this gap between intention and perception that the true complexity of international relations often lies. The effects of these interventions continue to resonate in contemporary relations between the United States and Latin America. Debates about the motivations, ethics and consequences of these actions continue to fuel discussions about the role of the United States on the world stage and its approach to international diplomacy. So as we delve into history, we discover persistent echoes that inform and, to some extent, shape the present.

The legacy of US interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean is complex and nuanced, littered with unintended consequences and lasting repercussions. While the US was often driven by a stated desire to promote stability and democracy, the practical execution of this ambition has proved to be a minefield, tainted by economic and strategic interests. Economic interests, in particular the protection of American investments and assets, have often been a determining factor in interventions. Governments have been supported or overthrown, not on the basis of their adherence to democracy or human rights, but rather on their ability to protect American commercial and economic interests. These actions, while sometimes successful in achieving their immediate objectives, have had the unintended side-effect of sowing mistrust and resentment in the region. The strategic factor, in particular the projection of American military and political power, has also been a key driver of US actions. Interventions, although often presented under the aegis of promoting democracy, were also calculated manoeuvres to extend American influence. This duality of intent often made it difficult to distinguish between the noble aspiration to promote democracy and the pragmatic motivations of power and influence. On the ground, the results of these interventions have been varied. In some cases, they have engendered prolonged political and social instability, exacerbated human rights violations and installed authoritarian regimes. In others, they have helped to establish a degree of stability, albeit sometimes tinged with authoritarianism.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States was an imperfect democracy, where the right to vote and political participation were severely restricted for many citizens. The labour movement, for example, fought for basic rights and better working conditions in an environment of exploitation and repression. This highlights a central conflict in American history, where the desire for economic expansion and the accumulation of wealth clashed with principles of social justice and human rights. The exclusion of women from the political sphere, which only came to an end with the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920, is another telling example. This demonstrates an evolving democracy, a nation struggling to reconcile its founding principles of freedom and equality with social and political practices that did not reflect these ideals. Racial discrimination and the suppression of the Black American vote, particularly in the South, are other dark spots in the history of American democracy. It was only with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the enactment of laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that these injustices began to be seriously addressed. These internal contradictions do not necessarily delegitimise US efforts to promote democracy abroad, but they do highlight the need for deep reflection and critical evaluation of these efforts. They also show that democracy is a constantly evolving ideal, a work in progress that requires a constant commitment to improvement and reform. The history of the successive limitations and expansions of democracy in the United States can serve as a reminder that the promotion of democracy abroad must be accompanied by an ongoing commitment to strengthening and expanding democracy at home.

The legacy of US interventions in Latin America is a delicate and complex subject. On the one hand, these interventions have been presented as efforts to establish democracy and protect human rights. On the other hand, in practice they often led to the support of authoritarian regimes which, although pro-American, were criticised for their violations of civil and political rights. The economic and strategic interests of the United States have often been a powerful driving force behind these actions. The resource-rich Latin American region was seen as crucial to US prosperity and security. From this perspective, political stability, even under an authoritarian regime, was sometimes prioritised over the active promotion of democracy and human rights, especially when US economic and geopolitical interests were at stake. US actions, such as supporting coups d'état, overthrowing democratically elected leaders and supporting military and authoritarian governments, were often seen as a violation of national sovereignty in Latin America. These actions, guided by the desire to establish pro-American regimes and counter the influence of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, have left deep scars and contributed to a climate of mistrust and resentment. The complexity and moral ambiguity of these interventions have become defining features of the relationship between the United States and Latin America. They have given rise to debates about the delicate balance between the imperatives of national security, economic interests and the principles of human rights and democracy. The lessons learned from this tumultuous history continue to inform and shape policies and relations in the region, highlighting the need for diplomacy that is respectful, balanced and focused on mutual cooperation and respect for national sovereignty.

American interventions, while sometimes motivated by idealistic goals, were often at odds with the democratic principles they purported to promote. Support for ruling elites, who were often more favourable to American interests, marginalised large sections of the population, particularly the working classes and indigenous groups. This approach not only fuelled inequality, but also sowed the seeds of resentment and instability, effects that have reverberated throughout the region's recent history. This elitist conception of democracy has often been exacerbated by US economic and geopolitical priorities. By focusing on stability for US interests, rather than inclusive and equitable political representation, US actions have sometimes undermined its credibility and long-term influence in the region. This illustrates the complexity of international relations and the inherent tensions between domestic political imperatives, economic interests and democratic ideals. As the world continues to evolve, the lessons of this historic period serve as a critical reminder of the need for diplomacy that respects and values the sovereignty, dignity and democratic aspirations of all peoples and nations.

The racialisation of US foreign policy in Latin America in the early 20th century is an important aspect to consider. The way the US government viewed and interacted with Latin American nations and peoples was often based on racist and paternalistic attitudes. Latin American countries were considered "barbaric" and "uncivilised" and needed to be "trained" and "tamed" by the American government. This attitude was not limited to American foreign policy, but also reflected the wider racial dynamics within American society. The Ku Klux Klan, which had been revived in 1915, was a white supremacist organisation that aimed to maintain the dominance of white Americans over other racial groups, particularly African Americans. The film "The Birth of a Nation", released in 1915, celebrated the Klan and perpetuated racist stereotypes of black people. The fact that President Wilson, who was in office at the time, praised the film underlines the deep-rooted racist attitudes in American society, which also influenced US foreign policy in Latin America.

The policy of dollar diplomacy implemented in the early 20th century is a notable example of how the United States sought to extend its influence in Latin America through economic rather than military means. Although this approach differed from explicit military doctrine, it nevertheless reflected a form of economic imperialism. It was centred on the idea that economic power could be used to secure US political and strategic interests in the region. The international economic context of the time was dominated by competition between European nations and the United States for access to markets, resources and areas of influence. The nations of Latin America, with their abundant resources and potential markets, were at the heart of this struggle for international influence. However, dollar diplomacy was not just about extending US economic influence, but also about acting as a buffer against the intervention of European powers in the region. By encouraging American banks to take on the debts of Latin American nations, the United States not only strengthened its economic position but also reduced the risk of European military intervention linked to payment defaults. This astute economic policy allowed the US to expand its sphere of influence without resorting to military force, even if, underneath, it still reflected a form of control and domination. Taft's presidency is often characterised by this approach, a strategy that was a reaction both to the direct military interventionism of his predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, and to the isolating tendencies that preceded that era. This marks a period when US foreign policy in Latin America was dominated by economic and financial mechanisms, reflecting the increasing complexity and nuance of international relations at the dawn of the 20th century.

This convergence of economic, political and strategic interests fuelled the United States' interventionist doctrine in Latin America and the Caribbean in the early twentieth century. Intervention was commonly justified in the name of regional stability and security, but it also reflected a broader desire to protect and promote US economic interests. The region was seen not only as a crucial zone of influence but also as a space where the United States could assert its power and authority as an emerging nation on the world stage. The First World War had demonstrated the importance of economic and military power, and the United States was determined to consolidate its position in the region to counter any potential influence from the European powers. American economic interests in the region were varied and extensive. Companies like the United Fruit Company were deeply rooted in the local economy, exploiting resources and controlling key markets. Protecting these interests required active political and military involvement to ensure a stable, business-friendly environment. Strategically, the Panama Canal was of crucial importance. As a shipping route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Canal was essential for world trade and the projection of naval power. Its security and control were therefore paramount for the United States, justifying a considerable military and political presence in the region. The idea of the Caribbean as the "American Mediterranean" symbolised the United States' desire to exercise unchallenged dominance over the region. It embodied the aspiration for unchallenged control and influence, similar to the way in which the European powers exerted their influence over the Mediterranean Sea. The post-First World War period saw the United States adopt a more assertive stance in Latin America and the Caribbean. Motivated by a combination of economic, political and strategic interests, this approach marked an era of interventionism that continues to influence US relations with the region.

This interventionist approach by the United States in Latin American countries reflects an exercise of power and influence characterised by a mix of economic, political and military interests. A provisional government set up after a US intervention often had an undeclared mandate to prioritise and protect US interests. This often manifested itself in the adaptation of economic and political policies to favour American companies and investors. Reducing tariffs to make it easier to import American goods, opening up key economic sectors to American investment, and ensuring that debts owed to American financial institutions were honoured were typical measures. These actions were not only designed to strengthen economic ties, but also served to anchor US political influence in these countries. The US military presence played an essential role in this process. It ensured the stability needed to implement reforms favourable to the United States and acted as a deterrent against internal resistance. Demonstrations and resistance movements were often treated with significant force, underlining the determination of the United States to impose and maintain changes that supported its interests. The longevity of the military presence was often linked to the degree of success in establishing governments that were sympathetic to or aligned with US interests. This pattern of intervention, occupation and transformation was a recurring feature of US policy in Latin America during this period, underlining a period of US imperialism that shaped US-Latin American relations for years to come. This era of interventionism opens up a debate about the long-term consequences, not only in terms of inter-state relations but also about the legacy of these interventions on the political, economic and social development of the Latin American countries themselves. This raises persistent questions about sovereignty, self-determination and power dynamics in international relations.

The establishment of authoritarian provisional governments, often supported and imposed by US military forces, was a common feature of US interventionism in Latin America. With a mandate to impose specific reforms, these administrations were often out of step with the aspirations and needs of the local populations. Their authoritarian nature, and sometimes the coercive and unilateral nature of the reforms, provoked significant opposition. Popular protests were often met with harsh repression, exacerbating mistrust and resentment towards the occupying forces and the governments they supported. The prolonged and omnipresent US military presence was only withdrawn when stability, as defined by US criteria and interests, was restored. This imposition of order, sometimes to the detriment of popular will, left lasting scars in the region, with a legacy of mistrust and persistent tension. Another aspect of these occupations involved direct control of the financial systems of the targeted countries. Taking control of customs and appropriating tax revenues were common practices. These funds, diverted to American banks, were used to repay the debts that these nations had contracted, thereby consolidating the economic hold of the United States. This financial strategy, juxtaposed with military occupation, formed a powerful combination to establish American domination. These manoeuvres were not isolated, but were part of a wider scheme to project power and influence in the region. The implications of these interventions have proved enduring, shaping the dynamics of relations between the United States and Latin America. The tensions and challenges arising from this period of military and economic interventionism are reflected in the complexity of contemporary relations, marked by intertwined histories of cooperation, conflict and contestation.

The control of customs and import-export taxes by US officials was an effective strategy for ensuring the repayment of loans and strengthening US economic influence over occupied countries. It created a direct mechanism by which the financial resources of the target countries were channelled to serve American economic interests, thus ensuring that American banks and investors would not suffer losses. Beyond financial control, the effort to shape the political and security systems of the occupied countries was evident. The US Marines not only maintained order during the occupation; they also played a crucial role in preparing for the post-occupation phase. The training of local law enforcement agencies was strategically designed to ensure that US interests continued long after the occupation troops had withdrawn. This process often included forced constitutional reforms and orchestrated elections to ensure that power remained in the hands of those aligned with US interests. These actions, far from being democratic, were calculated to create a political and security environment favourable to the United States. This dynamic also extended to the protection of US commercial interests. Trained security forces were often deployed to secure key installations, such as large plantations and mines, ensuring that US assets and investments were safe from disruption. Military occupation was complemented by profound economic and political interference, which together shaped not only the political landscape of the occupied nations but also the fabric of their societies and economies. The legacy of these interventions was a mixture of resistance, resentment and political and economic structures deeply influenced by American intervention and influence.

The US occupations in Latin America, although presented as efforts to establish democracy and stability, were primarily focused on controlling resources and guaranteeing the repayment of debts to US banks. The narrative of spreading democracy and stability often served as a façade for the underlying motivations, which were primarily economic and political. The approach adopted during these occupations, characterised by the establishment of provisional governments and the suppression of civil liberties, highlights the divergence between rhetoric and practice. The actions on the ground demonstrated less a commitment to democratic principles than a desire to exert control and assert American dominance. In reality, these interventions were a manifestation of pragmatic interests. The countries targeted were often left in a state of dependence, their economies and political systems structured to serve American interests. Democracy, although invoked in the rhetoric, was often subordinated to economic and strategic interests. These dynamics gave rise to tensions and resistance. The contrast between proclaimed ideals and actual practice fuelled a sense of betrayal and mistrust, not only at state level, but also among the populations affected. These occupations have left a complex legacy that continues to influence relations between the United States and the nations of Latin America, a mixture of mistrust and economic and political dependence.

The history of US interventions in Latin America is marked by substantial economic and strategic motivations, often masked by a rhetorical veneer of promoting democracy and stability. US actions were an embodiment of realpolitik, where pragmatism and national interests prevailed over ideals and principles. At the heart of these interventions was a desire to safeguard and promote specific interests. The natural resources, commercial potential and geopolitics of Latin America were of prime importance to the United States. From this perspective, military and political interventions were not so much an altruistic expression of the desire to extend democracy, but rather a precise calculation to strengthen the national and economic security of the United States. Control over customs and import/export taxes was a key strategy, not only to ensure that debts were repaid, but also to exert substantial influence and control over the economies of the nations concerned. Unlike traditional European colonial empires, the United States rarely took direct, total control of the nations it intervened in; instead, it opted for an approach that allowed for indirect, but no less effective, control. In this context, the American army and civil servants were instruments of influence and control. They not only facilitated political and economic change, but also played a decisive role in managing and manipulating the political and economic systems of Latin American countries. The record of these interventions is mixed and contested. On the one hand, they have often succeeded in establishing regimes favourable to the United States and securing crucial economic interests. On the other hand, they have engendered feelings of mistrust, exploitation and interference that persist in relations between the United States and the nations of Latin America. It is a legacy that reminds us that the pursuit of national interests, while often necessary, is rarely without consequence, and that the methods and motives for such pursuit are often as important as the results they produce.

The Good Neighbour Policy: Roosevelt's foreign policy shift towards Latin America[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Good Neighbour Policy, introduced by Franklin D. Roosevelt, represents a crucial stage in the evolution of relations between the United States and Latin America. After decades of military and political interventionism, characterised by the often unilateral imposition of American will on Latin American nations, this policy offered a welcome and necessary break. Roosevelt's commitment to renounce military force as a tool of diplomacy in the region was not simply a reaction to the growing unpopularity of previous interventions in the US and Latin America, but also a recognition of the changing realities of global and regional power. In a world beset by economic depression and political instability, and in anticipation of the global tensions that would culminate in the Second World War, the United States needed to consolidate friendly and cooperative relations in its own hemisphere. The Good Neighbour Policy focused on economic and cultural cooperation. It aimed to move beyond the legacy of military intervention and establish more balanced and respectful relations. This implied recognition of national sovereignty and a willingness to work together on an equal footing. Trade and cultural exchanges would become instruments of rapprochement, replacing guns and military occupations. This policy was not without its own complications and challenges. It had to navigate a complex landscape of historical memories, tangled economic interests and shifting political dynamics. However, it marked a significant shift in the way the United States viewed and managed its relations in Latin America. It ushered in an era of more respectful and collaborative diplomacy, even as challenges and tensions persisted. The Good Neighbour Policy demonstrated a recognition that, in an increasingly interconnected world, mutual respect and cooperation were not only noble ideals but practical necessities. It embodied an aspiration to transform hegemony into partnership, intervention into collaboration and dominance into mutual respect. This policy has left a legacy that continues to resonate in inter-American relations, even if it has also exposed the enduring challenges of reconciling divergent national interests in a complex and often conflicting world.

The Great Depression brought chaos to the global economy, and Latin America was no exception. The countries of the region were heavily dependent on exports of raw materials such as sugar, coffee and minerals. International markets for these products collapsed in the wake of the Depression, and Latin America's export revenues fell dramatically. The direct economic impact was rapid and devastating. Reduced exports and falling commodity prices led to a collapse in national incomes. Unemployment rose, purchasing power plummeted, and industry, mainly export-oriented, was hit hard. Governments have struggled to respond to the crisis as tax revenues have fallen and foreign debt has accumulated. Added to this are the problems caused by the protectionist policies of industrialised nations. Tariff barriers erected by developed countries, particularly the United States, have further reduced export markets for Latin American products. These countries, already hit by drastic falls in demand and prices, have found little respite or support internationally. Against this backdrop of economic crisis, existing social and economic inequalities in many Latin American countries were exacerbated. People suffered, and mistrust of economic and political institutions grew. This situation paved the way for significant political change. In many cases, the governments in power, often perceived as inept or corrupt, were unable to manage the crisis effectively. The population, faced with rising levels of poverty and unemployment, often responded with protests and social movements demanding change. Populist and authoritarian leaders saw this as an opportunity to rise, presenting themselves as alternatives to discredited political elites and promising to turn around the economy and restore national dignity. The Great Depression thus had a catalytic effect on political instability in Latin America. The direct economic repercussions, combined with the resulting political and social challenges, altered the region's political landscape for decades to come. They have provoked a profound re-evaluation of economic models and international relations, influencing the emergence of nationalist, populist and revolutionary movements across the continent.

The Good Neighbour Policy marked a significant change in relations between the United States and Latin America. It was an implicit recognition of the mistakes of the past and an attempt to build a more respectful and balanced relationship. Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration were determined to distance themselves from the previous interventionist policies that had caused so much resentment in the region. This new diplomatic approach was characterised by respect for the sovereignty and autonomy of Latin American nations. The United States began to treat its neighbours to the south with greater equality and respect, abandoning the practice of military intervention to settle disputes or protect its economic interests in the region. A key aspect of the Good Neighbour policy was the emphasis on economic cooperation. With the devastating impact of the Great Depression, it was all the more crucial to develop stable and mutually beneficial trade relations. The United States took steps to strengthen economic ties, promoting trade and investment and helping to stimulate economic growth throughout the region. Cultural policy was also central to this approach. Cultural exchanges were encouraged to strengthen ties and foster greater understanding between the peoples of the Americas. This helped to reduce stereotypes and misunderstandings and build a foundation of respect and friendship. The Good Neighbour Policy was not without its critics and challenges, but it represented a positive step towards repairing the damaged relationship between the United States and Latin America. By abandoning the big stick doctrine and promoting mutual cooperation and respect, the United States paved the way for a more collaborative and less confrontational era in inter-American relations.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared in his first inaugural address that "the definite policy of the United States is now opposed to armed intervention". He believed that the previous policy of intervention and domination in the affairs of other nations had created disorder and resentment towards the United States. Instead, he proposed the Good Neighbour Policy as a new approach to relations with Latin America, which emphasised economic and cultural cooperation and renounced the use of military force to interfere in the affairs of other nations. This marked a significant change in US foreign policy and helped to improve relations with Latin America and reduce tensions between the two regions. Roosevelt's declaration was a pivotal moment in the history of relations between the United States and Latin America. After decades of military intervention and "big stick" policies, the official recognition of the need for a new approach was a major breakthrough. The Good Neighbour Policy was not just a diplomatic strategy but represented a profound change in the attitude and perception of the United States towards its southern neighbours. Roosevelt recognised that mutual trust and respect had to be the foundation of any lasting international relationship. He was aware of the damage caused by previous policies and knew that the path to reparation and reconciliation required a radical reassessment of the way in which the United States interacted with Latin America. The Good Neighbour Policy moved away from military coercion and economic domination. It aimed to establish partnerships based on equality and respect, where nations could work together for mutual benefit. It promoted the idea that the development and prosperity of each country contributed to the stability and prosperity of the region as a whole. The reaction in Latin America was largely positive. After years of mistrust and resentment, Roosevelt's commitment to respect the sovereignty and integrity of Latin American nations was a long-awaited sign of respect. Although challenges and tensions remained, the Good Neighbour Policy laid the foundations for an era of enhanced cooperation, where conflicts could be resolved through diplomacy and negotiation rather than military force.

The Great Depression had a global impact, shaking up economies and societies around the world, and the United States was no exception. The country was plunged into a deep economic crisis, and the government's attention was primarily focused on stabilising the national economy and providing aid to the millions of Americans affected. In this context, foreign policy naturally took a back seat, and international ambitions were curtailed. The distressed US economy did not permit an aggressive or ambitious foreign policy. In this context, Roosevelt's policy of good neighbourliness was a natural and necessary adjustment. It was not only a response to the problems of Latin America, but also an adaptation to the domestic economic constraints of the United States. With limited resources and pressing domestic concerns, the days of costly military interventions and occupations in Latin America were over. The need to focus on domestic economic reconstruction opened the door to a more respectful and less interventionist approach in Latin America. Respecting the sovereignty of Latin American nations and refusing to intervene militarily was not only a recognition of the rights and dignity of these countries, but also a reflection of the United States' reduced capacity to project its power abroad. This is not to say that the Good Neighbour policy was simply a policy of convenience; it was also rooted in a more mature understanding of international relations and the sovereign rights of nations. This period of relative withdrawal allowed a refocusing on domestic affairs, an imperative if the US economy was to be stabilised and rebuilt. It also provided a space for the nations of Latin America to explore their own path of political and economic development, free from the omnipresent shadow of US intervention. This change of direction did not mean abandoning Latin America but represented a new form of engagement, less imposing and more respectful.

The Good Neighbour Policy was by no means a renunciation of the projection of American influence in the Latin American region. Rather, it was a strategic adaptation, a recalibration of the way in which the United States envisaged and managed its relations with its southern neighbours. The days of direct military interventionism were over, not because the US had abandoned its interests in the region, but because it had recognised that such tactics could be counterproductive, fuelling resentment and instability rather than security and prosperity. The US was still determined to protect its economic and strategic interests in Latin America, but it began to do so in more subtle and engaging ways. The promotion of economic exchanges, cultural initiatives and diplomacy became the preferred tools of American engagement. This approach had the advantage of being less costly in terms of resources and more politically acceptable, both in the eyes of American citizens and those of Latin American nations. Strengthening economic relations was at the heart of this new approach. The US sought to forge close economic ties with Latin American nations, promoting trade and investment to stimulate economic growth. This was seen as a way of promoting stability in the region and reducing the likelihood of conflict and instability.

The 'big stick' policy came at a high cost, both financially and in terms of the United States' international reputation. The nations of Latin America had developed a deep resentment of US interference, perceived as an imperialist act and a flagrant violation of their sovereignty. Widespread antipathy towards the United States undermined their influence and soft power in the region, making their political and economic objectives more difficult to achieve. Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbour Policy was a strategic response to these challenges. It aimed to reset US-Latin American relations by recognising and respecting the sovereignty of nations, renouncing military force as the principal means of interference and emphasising cooperation and friendship. Mutual respect and dialogue were to replace coercion and intimidation. The aim was to encourage more harmonious relations and regional stability, and to foster an environment where American interests could prosper without recourse to military force. The shift to the Good Neighbour Policy also signalled a maturing of American foreign policy. It reflected a realisation that stability and prosperity in the Western Hemisphere depended on a more collaborative and respectful approach. It represented a transition to an era in which the United States sought to exert its influence not simply through the hard power of military force, but also through the soft power of cooperation, trade and cultural engagement. In a world still recovering from the ravages of the First World War and facing the economic challenges of the Great Depression, the more nuanced and collaborative approach of the Good Neighbour Policy was an attempt to forge a new path for international relations, one based on mutual cooperation and respect. It also symbolised the United States' adaptation to a more globalised role, with greater recognition of the importance of balanced and respectful inter-state relations in achieving national goals.

Roosevelt's approach represented a long-term strategic vision of how the US could best serve its national interests in Latin America. In the post-First World War context, with European nations struggling with reconstruction and debt, the United States was the principal economic and military power in the Americas. Roosevelt understood that such a position offered a unique opportunity to redefine US-Latin American relations in a way that could be of long-term benefit to all concerned. The Good Neighbour Policy was a deliberate effort to replace coercion with cooperation. Roosevelt believed that strengthening economic and cultural ties, rather than military domination, would create a lasting relationship based on mutual respect and trust. Such a relationship could also serve as a counterweight to the radical or authoritarian ideologies that might emerge in a time of economic crisis. Roosevelt also recognised that the dynamic had changed. With the decline of European influence in Latin America, the United States no longer needed to respond to the threat of European intervention with military interventions of its own. The US could now rely on its economic influence to encourage cooperation and partnership, rather than brute force. This policy of good neighbourliness also reflected Roosevelt's progressive thinking, which sought solutions to social and economic problems through dialogue and cooperation rather than confrontation. It was an optimistic vision of how American leadership could be used positively to shape a better world. Ultimately, Roosevelt's Good Neighbour Policy marked an essential transition in US-Latin American relations, replacing confrontation with cooperation and laying the foundations for a more peaceful and productive period in inter-American relations. It showed that, even for a superpower, diplomacy, mutual understanding and cooperation can often be more powerful tools than a simple show of force.

This stated commitment to non-intervention was a crucial element in building trust with Latin American countries, but it was clear that the United States' flexible interpretation of these principles could potentially undermine its credibility. The distinction that the US made between direct political intervention and the protection of its economic interests was a nuance that was not always well received by Latin American nations. The non-intervention agreements signed were a positive step, demonstrating at least a formal recognition of the sovereignty of Latin American nations. However, the delicate balance between respecting these agreements and protecting US interests has led to actions which, although perhaps less militarily intrusive than in the past, have continued to exert a substantial influence on the politics and economies of Latin American nations. One of the key issues that remains is how the US can reconcile its desire to protect and promote its economic interests abroad with its commitment to respecting the sovereignty and self-determination of nations. The Good Neighbour Policy has been a positive step in recognising and addressing these tensions, but the practical implementation of this policy has revealed the persistent challenges and complex nuances of navigating international relations in a world where issues of power, influence and sovereignty are inextricably linked. The United States, in seeking to maintain its influence in the region while respecting the sovereignty of Latin American nations, has thus navigated a complex terrain. Every action taken to protect US interests was likely to be scrutinised in the light of previous commitments to non-intervention. This underlines the inherent complexity of managing international relations and reconciling national imperatives with international commitments, a challenge that persists in global diplomacy to this day.

The use of economic influence in the Good Neighbour Policy reflected a transition from an approach dominated by military intervention to a strategy more focused on economic and commercial ties. The United States saw Latin America not only as a neighbour but also as an essential trading partner. The creation of the Export-Import Bank was a concrete example of this, illustrating an effort to establish mutually beneficial relations through economic means. Within this framework, the United States sought to balance its own economic interests with those of Latin American countries. It tried to boost its own exports while investing in the region's economic development. The aim of this duality was to increase shared prosperity and strengthen economic ties, in the hope that stronger economic relations would contribute to greater political stability and cooperation. However, the use of economic influence came with its own challenges and criticisms. While some saw these efforts as a constructive way of building more balanced and respectful relations, others criticised US economic influence as another form of imperialism, where power and control were exercised through economic rather than military means. The Good Neighbour Policy marked a period of experimentation and adaptation in American foreign policy. The United States sought to reconcile its desire for influence in the region with a recognised need to respect the sovereignty and autonomy of Latin American nations. The use of economic influence to strengthen ties was a key component of this approach, reflecting a recognition that power and influence could be exercised and maintained in more subtle and mutually beneficial ways than through direct military force.

The strengthening of economic ties between the US and Latin America under the Good Neighbour Policy has generated a dynamic in which US economic and political influence in the region has intensified. Bilateral trade treaties and most-favoured-nation status have facilitated a substantial increase in trade. This has not only opened up new markets for US companies but has also strengthened the economic dependence of Latin American countries on the US. Although this approach was designed to promote mutual and respectful cooperation, it also had the effect of consolidating the economic influence of the United States. The economic dependence of Latin American nations helped to create an imbalance of power that, in some ways, mirrored the dynamics of the era of military intervention, albeit manifested in different ways. US companies benefited from increased access to Latin American markets and resources, helping to stimulate the US economy during and after the Great Depression. Latin American countries have also benefited from investment, financial assistance and access to the US market. However, this strengthened economic relationship also raised questions about the economic sovereignty of Latin American nations and the extent to which they could shape their own economic and political development independently of US influence. So while the Good Neighbour Policy has succeeded in easing direct military and political tensions and establishing a more peaceful and respectful framework for cooperation, it has also introduced new complexities into the relationship. The emphasis on economic influence has led to a transformation of power dynamics, with both positive and negative implications for inter-American relations.

The promotion of culture and the arts was also a component of the Good Neighbour Policy. This cultural initiative under the Good Neighbour Policy ushered in a new era in inter-American relations, where cultural exchange was seen as an essential tool for strengthening ties between nations. Exchange programmes aimed to establish common ground and strengthen mutual appreciation between the American and Latin American peoples, creating a counterweight to historical conflicts and tensions. The focus on culture and the arts was of strategic importance. It was aimed not just at creating cultural harmony, but also at shaping a common regional identity, distinct from that of Europe. This distinction had geopolitical implications, positioning the Western Hemisphere as a unified entity with its own interests and identities. The exchange of artists and intellectuals led to the mutual enrichment of cultures and helped to reduce stereotypes and misunderstandings. Collaboration in the arts has provided opportunities for personal interaction and facilitated the creation of a shared narrative that transcends national boundaries. The promotion of Latin American culture in the United States has also had an impact on public perception. It has helped to deconstruct some of the existing prejudices and stereotypes and to promote a more nuanced and diverse image of Latin America. However, while these cultural initiatives were well-intentioned and generated considerable benefits, they were also intrinsically linked to power dynamics and strategic interests. The celebration of cultural diversity and exchange was also a means of asserting American influence, not through military force, but through soft power.

The implementation of the Good Neighbour Policy marked a distinct turning point in the American diplomatic approach, where the emphasis on cultural partnership and soft diplomacy emerged as a means of solidifying inter-American relations. Under Roosevelt's leadership, the United States worked to reinvent itself not as an imperialist power, but as a partner and ally. The aim was twofold: to assert the United States' position as a leader in the Western hemisphere and to counter the rise of totalitarian ideologies in Europe by presenting the Americas as a model of democracy and cooperation. The State Department's Cultural Division played a central role in reconfiguring the image of the United States. Through cultural exchanges and public diplomacy initiatives, it sought to showcase a friendlier, more collaborative side of the United States. It was an attempt at soft power, aimed at winning hearts and minds to solidify alliances and promote the idea of a united inter-American community. The artists and intellectuals sent to Latin America were ambassadors for this new vision. They helped to create a space for dialogue, enabling an exchange of ideas and values. Art and culture became vectors of communication, facilitating a deeper and more nuanced understanding between diverse nations. However, it should be noted that this initiative was not devoid of strategic calculations. It was intrinsically linked to the United States' ambition to position itself as the undisputed leader of the New World, a unifying force in an era marked by fragmentation and conflict. Beyond the positive image that the US government sought to project, there was an underlying desire to forge a unified bloc of the Americas, a solid coalition capable of resisting external threats and projecting an alternative vision of the world, one rooted in democratic values and principles of freedom. In this context, culture was not just a tool for bringing people together; it was also an instrument of power, a means of defining and shaping the collective identity of the Western hemisphere in a world beset by uncertainty and change.

Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas (left) and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt (right) in 1936.

It is essential to understand the importance of the historical and political context in which the Cultural Division operated. At the time, the international image of the United States was central to the country's diplomatic strategy. The aim was not simply to control the narrative, but to build bridges, reduce historical resentment and forge new alliances in an era of growing global instability. Film and media were powerful tools for shaping public perception. They didn't just convey stories; they transmitted ideas, values and norms. In the context of the Good Neighbour Policy, it was crucial to focus on stories that promoted inter-American unity, cooperation and friendship. So while there was no direct censorship or explicit ban, there was a concerted effort to guide media production in a direction that was in harmony with broader diplomatic objectives. Radio broadcasting and magazine publishing were extensions of this strategy. They were vehicles for reaching wider audiences, for sharing stories that reinforced the image of a harmonious and united 'New World'. Every story told, every image shared, every message conveyed was part of a wider effort to reimagine and rebuild America's relationship with its southern neighbours. However, this process was not without its tensions. The balance between promoting an international image and respecting freedom of expression and artistic creativity was delicate. Artists and creators sometimes found themselves caught between the desire to explore critical issues and the pressure to align their work with diplomatic imperatives. In this complex landscape, the role of the Cultural Division was multidimensional. It was both a facilitator of cultural diplomacy and a guardian of the United States' international image. The nuances and challenges inherent in this role illustrate the complexity of navigating between diplomatic objectives, cultural imperatives and democratic principles.The Good Neighbour Policy was complex and sometimes contradictory in its application. Despite idealistic aspirations to improve relations between the United States and Latin America, political, strategic and economic realities often shaped specific US actions in the region. The Montevideo Convention marked an important step towards respecting state sovereignty and establishing more equal relations between nations. However, the geopolitical context, particularly the rise of radical ideologies and communism, often led the United States to make pragmatic rather than idealistic choices. National security and regional stability were major concerns, and these factors influenced the way in which the Good Neighbour Policy was implemented in practice. Support for authoritarian dictators in Latin America was a notable example of the tension between ideals and actions. Although the Good Neighbour Policy advocated non-intervention and respect for sovereignty, the US sometimes chose to support regimes that were seen to be in alignment with its strategic and security interests. This reflected the complex reality of navigating between idealistic principles and pragmatic imperatives. The legacy of the Good Neighbour Policy is therefore nuanced. It represented an attempt to rebalance and improve relations with Latin America, but it was also marked by inherent contradictions and implementation challenges. The impact of this policy is reflected in the complex and often ambivalent dynamics that continue to characterise relations between the United States and Latin America. The constant challenge for the United States has been to strike a balance between promoting democracy and human rights, protecting its national interests and responding to changing geopolitical realities. This challenge persists and remains central to efforts to shape an effective and ethical foreign policy in the region.

The Good Neighbour Policy, although designed to encourage mutual cooperation and respect between the United States and its Latin American neighbours, has been complicated by geopolitical realities and US national interests. The management of the authoritarian regimes of the time, notably Duvalier in Haiti, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Somoza in Nicaragua and Batista in Cuba, is a case in point. François Duvalier, also known as 'Papa Doc', ruled Haiti with an iron fist, creating a climate of fear with the help of his secret police, the Tontons Macoutes. The United States, although aware of his atrocities, often saw leaders like Duvalier as defences against communism and instability. Similarly, Rafael Trujillo, who exercised absolute power in the Dominican Republic, was supported by the United States because of his anti-communist and pro-American stance, despite a regime marked by repression and human rights violations. In Nicaragua, the Somoza dynasty was also controversial. The Somoza family, known for its repressive and corrupt regime, was supported by the United States for its strategic and anti-communist stance. In Cuba, Fulgencio Batista ruled during a period when US interests were deeply entrenched in the Cuban economy. Despite his authoritarian tendencies, the United States supported him until his overthrow by Fidel Castro in 1959. These examples from the history of US-Latin American relations demonstrate the complexity and contradictions inherent in US foreign policy. They highlight the constant challenge of balancing national interests with the defence of democratic values and human rights. These historical cases underline the importance of considering the long-term implications of supporting authoritarian regimes and remind us of the need for a foreign policy that values human rights and democracy. The lessons learned from these past interactions highlight the need for a nuanced and multi-dimensional approach to managing international relations, where economic and strategic interests are balanced with respect for democratic principles and human rights.

The contrast between rhetoric and practical reality has often been marked. The Good Neighbour Policy was based on principles of non-interference and mutual respect, but the practical actions of the United States have sometimes deviated from these principles to defend its strategic and geopolitical interests. The Cold War exacerbated this dilemma, where the prism of anti-communism became predominant in the formulation of US foreign policy. This led the US to support authoritarian regimes which, although repressive and often corrupt, were seen as crucial counterweights to Soviet influence in the region. In this context, stability and anti-communism often took precedence over democracy and human rights. This paradox reflects a fundamental tension in American foreign policy that persists to this day - a delicate balance between democratic ideals and national interests, between the defence of human rights and realpolitik. The implications of this tension manifest themselves not only in relations between the United States and Latin America, but also in the wider international context, raising persistent questions about the role of the United States on the world stage, the limits of its power and the application of its democratic principles abroad.

Roosevelt is said to have said of Somoza "he is a son of a bitch but at least he is our son of a bitch". This statement, attributed to Roosevelt, underlines the pragmatic approach of the Good Neighbour Policy towards authoritarian leaders in Latin America. Although recognising their corrupt and oppressive nature, these leaders were always seen as useful allies in promoting American interests in the region. This quote illustrates the US willingness to ignore human rights abuses and support autocratic leaders who were prepared to align themselves with US policies and protect US economic interests. This approach contrasted with the more traditional approach of military intervention and regime change. This quote attributed to Roosevelt, whether he actually said the words or not, encapsulates a troubling but persistent reality of American foreign policy, and more broadly of international diplomacy. It reveals a pragmatism that can, in certain contexts, take precedence over ethical and moral principles. In the case of Somoza and other similar leaders in Latin America, their usefulness to American interests led to an uncomfortable compromise. They were bulwarks against political forces that the US saw as threats, either because of their presumed communist leanings or because of their opposition to US hegemony in the region. Their willingness to cooperate with the US on key issues often led to silence or tacit support from Washington, despite their disturbing domestic records. It also highlights the limits and contradictions inherent not only in good neighbourliness, but also in foreign policies based on political realism. This is a trend in which stability, national interests and security take priority, even at the expense of human rights and democratic principles. Thus, although good-neighbour policy sought to distance itself from the direct and coercive interventions of the past, it was nevertheless entangled in a web of compromises and pragmatic calculations. These reflect the complexity and often moral ambiguity of navigating the stormy waters of international diplomacy and competing national interests.

Personal enrichment and the consolidation of power were notable features of authoritarian regimes in Latin America. For dictators such as Duvalier, Trujillo, Somoza and Batista, power and wealth went hand in hand. National resources, whether financial, natural or human, were often exploited for the personal benefit of these leaders and their relatives, leading to flagrant economic and social inequalities. In the context of American foreign policy, these dictators were often perceived as instruments of stability, despite their oppressive nature. They ensured a favourable environment for American economic interests, guaranteeing the protection of US investments and companies. Stability, while coercive and authoritarian, was seen as a bulwark against political uncertainty, radical nationalism or the rise of communism - elements perceived as threats to US interests. Repression of the working classes and opposition was a mechanism by which these rulers maintained their grip on power. Dissent was often met with brutal force, and censorship and human rights abuses were commonplace. This created a climate of fear that hindered movements for social justice and civil rights. For the United States, these brutal realities were often balanced against its geopolitical and economic interests. Political realism, stability and the protection of economic interests often took precedence over the principles of democracy and human rights. These complexities and contradictions have continued to shape interactions between the United States and Latin America, leaving a mixed legacy that continues to influence inter-American relations today.

Latin American responses to the Big Stick and Good Neighbor policies[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The reaction of Latin American countries to US policies was complex and varied. Some nations, such as Mexico and Cuba, were particularly vocal in their opposition to US attempts at intervention and influence. Mexico, having gone through its own revolution in 1910, had a strong inclination towards autonomy and resistance to foreign influence. Cuba, too, had a history peppered with struggles for independence and sovereignty. In contrast, countries like Panama and Honduras were more complacent and cooperative with the United States. The significant role played by the United States in Panama's economy and politics, not least because of the canal, is an example of this dynamic. Honduras, too, has often aligned itself with US economic and political interests. Despite the diversity of responses, a re-examination of relations with the United States was a common theme throughout Latin America. These nations sought to assert their autonomy, assess their geopolitical and economic position, and define their international relations in ways that served their own national interests. Diplomacy was essential to navigate these diverse responses. Although the United States has been criticised for its perceived neo-colonialism and interference, it has also been an important trading and political partner for Latin American countries. The complexity of these relationships has required delicate negotiations, political adaptations and sensitivity to regional dynamics. Over time, these relations have continued to evolve. As Latin American countries gained in political and economic confidence, they began to assert themselves more on the international stage, leading to a more balanced dynamic. However, the legacy of past policies continues to influence perceptions and interactions in the region.

In the 1930s, under the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States inaugurated its "good neighbour policy" with Latin America, signifying a significant change in its relations with the region. This policy was a significant departure from the previously prevailing "big stick" doctrine, characterised by military intervention and support for authoritarian regimes. The Good Neighbour Policy aimed to establish more friendly and cooperative relations, emphasising respect for the sovereignty and independence of Latin American nations.

The Good Neighbour Policy is often seen as a response to growing anti-American sentiment in Latin America, exacerbated by previous US interventions in the region. However, this policy has not put an end to US interference. Despite its declared commitment to respect for sovereignty and non-intervention, the United States has continued to intervene in the internal affairs of countries like Guatemala to protect its economic and strategic interests. The episode of the coup d'état orchestrated by the CIA in 1954 to overthrow President Jacobo Árbenz, a democratically elected leader who had initiated agrarian reforms affecting the interests of the United Fruit Company, is an eloquent example.

Although the Good Neighbour Policy led to an improvement in relations between the United States and some Latin American countries, it had mixed results. In Cuba, for example, continued US support for dictator Fulgencio Batista, despite his oppressive and corrupt regime, exacerbated popular discontent. This paved the way for the communist revolution of 1959, led by Fidel Castro. Castro's seizure of power not only marked the beginning of a prolonged period of hostile relations between the United States and Cuba, but also highlighted the contradictions and limits of the policy of good neighbourliness, particularly when the economic and geopolitical interests of the United States came into conflict with the principles of non-intervention and respect for national sovereignty.

The expropriation of the Mexican oil industry in 1938 by President Lázaro Cárdenas is a significant event in the history of relations between the United States and Mexico, as well as in Mexico's internal economic and political history. This bold act of nationalisation marked a decisive turning point in the assertion of Mexico's national sovereignty. Foreign oil companies, particularly those from the United States and the United Kingdom, were hard hit by this measure, as they had substantial investments in the sector. In response, the United States considered various measures to protect its economic interests, including military intervention. However, given the policy of good neighbourliness that was in force at the time, such intervention would have run counter to the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-intervention that the United States claimed to uphold. The United States therefore opted for non-military means to resolve the crisis, in particular diplomatic and economic pressure. It sought to isolate Mexico economically by imposing boycotts and restrictions on Mexican oil imports. However, Mexico has managed to overcome this situation by diversifying its export markets and strengthening its economic ties with other nations. The oil expropriation of 1938 remains a key example of how a Latin American country successfully defied foreign economic powers and asserted its national sovereignty. For Mexico, it was also a defining moment in the development of its national identity and its quest for economic and political self-determination.

President Lázaro Cárdenas' decision to expropriate foreign oil companies and nationalise the Mexican oil industry was not taken lightly. It was preceded by years of tension between the Mexican government and foreign companies. The dispute centred on working conditions, wages and the rights of Mexican workers. The companies refused to accept labour legislation and presidential decrees that sought to improve workers' conditions. The failure of negotiations and the oil workers' strike finally led to nationalisation. This bold move was received with enormous enthusiasm by the Mexican people. It was a demonstration of sovereignty and independence that strengthened nationalist sentiment throughout the country. Mexicans from all walks of life rallied to support the decision, even contributing from their own pockets to help compensate the foreign oil companies. Internationally, the nationalisation provoked mixed reactions. While the oil companies and their respective governments expressed dissatisfaction and sought redress and reversibility of the nationalisation, other nations and national liberation movements saw it as an inspiring act of defiance against foreign economic hegemony. Despite initial economic and diplomatic challenges, including the boycott of oil companies, Mexico managed to navigate these troubled waters. It has diversified its oil exports, developed its national oil industry and, over time, strengthened its economy and sovereignty. The nationalisation of the oil industry has become a symbolic and fundamental part of Mexico's national identity, and continues to be celebrated as a defining moment in the country's assertion of economic and political independence.

The reaction of the United States to the nationalisation of the Mexican oil industry illustrated the complex and often contradictory dynamics of relations between the two nations. While Mexico sought to assert its sovereignty and control over its natural resources, the US was determined to protect its corporate interests and maintain its economic influence in the region. The tension resulting from nationalisation highlighted the fine line that the US had to walk in terms of foreign policy in the region. On the one hand, there was the need to respect the national sovereignty of Latin American countries, a key principle of the good neighbour policy promoted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the other hand, there was constant pressure to protect and promote American economic interests. The diplomatic approach adopted by the United States, although marked by economic sanctions and trade restrictions, indicated a move away from the direct military interventions of previous decades. This can be interpreted as a tacit recognition of changing international norms and expectations of respect for national sovereignty, albeit reluctantly. The negotiated settlement in 1941 demonstrated the ability of both nations to resolve their differences through diplomacy and dialogue, although underlying tensions persisted. For Mexico, nationalisation remained a powerful symbol of the assertion of its sovereignty; for the United States, a reminder of the limits of its influence and the growing need to balance economic interests with respect for the national autonomy of neighbouring countries. This change in dynamic foreshadowed the challenges and complexities of US-Latin American relations in the decades to come.

The US occupation of Haiti is a key example of how US military and foreign policy intervention was met by significant local resistance. The US, justifying its presence as necessary to restore order and stability, faced significant challenges from the Cacos and their charismatic leader, Charlemagne Peralte. The American occupation of Haiti was partly motivated by strategic and economic interest, aimed at securing control of shipping routes and protecting American investment. However, the occupation was also characterised by an authoritarian and often brutal imposition of control, including the reinstallation of forced labour and censorship of the local media. The Cacos resistance was not only a rebellion against the foreign military presence, but also an assertion of Haitian dignity, autonomy and sovereignty. The death of Charlemagne Peralte became a symbol of the struggle for independence and freedom, galvanising a resistance movement that persisted long after his death. The subsequent withdrawal of American troops in 1934 did not mean the end of the challenges for Haiti. The country was left with an army trained to American standards and a new constitution written under American supervision. These elements laid the foundations for the decades of instability and political unrest that followed.

The US intervention in Nicaragua and its support for the Somoza regime are examples that highlight the complexity and contradictions of US foreign policies in Latin America. While claiming to promote stability and democracy, US actions have often supported authoritarian regimes and reinforced stability at the expense of human rights and democracy. Augusto Sandino became an emblematic figure of resistance to foreign occupation and dictatorial oppression. His guerrilla movement was an effort to assert Nicaraguan sovereignty and resist Somoza's rule, which was seen to be facilitated and supported by US intervention. Sandino's murder, orchestrated by Somoza's National Guard, shows the extent of the power and influence that the US had in training and supporting the local armed forces. It also illustrates the dangerous consequences of US involvement in the selection and support of local leaders and security forces. Sandino's death did not put an end to the resistance movement; on the contrary, it sowed the seeds for the Sandinista revolution of the 1970s which overthrew the Somoza dictatorship. This demonstrates the cyclical nature of intervention and resistance, where each action generates a reaction, often with unforeseen and lasting consequences. Overall, the Nicaraguan experience reveals the limits and consequences of foreign intervention. It underlines the importance of an approach that respects national sovereignty and human rights, while taking into account the specific historical and contextual realities of each country. It is a story that invites deep reflection on the human and political costs of intervention, and on the need for policies that are genuinely aligned with the principles of justice, democracy and respect for human rights.

This resistance points to an inherent tension between American influence and the aspirations of the peoples of Latin America for self-determination. The United States, in pursuing its geopolitical and economic interests, has often been in conflict with local movements seeking to free themselves from outside influence and shape their own political and social future. The resistance movements, although varied in their methods and objectives, shared a common opposition to foreign intervention and influence. They reflected a profound desire for autonomy, an aspiration for political systems that reflected the specific values and needs of their respective countries. These movements were also fuelled by deep-rooted grievances, born of decades, if not centuries, of exploitation and oppression. The violent repression of these movements often exacerbated tensions. It has not only engendered deep resentment, but has also strengthened the resolve of resistance movements. Heroes and martyrs such as Sandino and Peralte have continued to inspire future generations, their struggle becoming emblematic of wider efforts for justice, dignity and self-determination. In this context, it is important to recognise the lasting impact of these interventions and conflicts. They have not only shaped the political and social trajectory of many Latin American countries, but have also influenced perceptions of US intervention in the region. The lessons learned from these experiences highlight the complexity of international interactions and the need for approaches that respect the sovereignty, human rights and democratic aspirations of the peoples of all countries. It also reveals the crucial importance of understanding the specific historical, cultural and political context in which these interactions take place in order to forge fairer, more balanced and sustainable international relations.

The impact of big stick and good neighbour policies on Latin American immigration to the United States[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Mass emigration from Latin America to the United States is a complex phenomenon, shaped by a multitude of economic, social and political factors. Exacerbated economic inequalities, violence, political instability and internal conflicts, which are in part the product of US interventions and policies in the region, have created difficult conditions for many Latin Americans. The economic gap between the US and many Latin American countries, exacerbated by policies that have often favoured US corporate interests at the expense of local economic development, has led many to seek more promising economic opportunities in the north. In addition, authoritarian regimes, often supported by the US for their anti-communist allegiances during the Cold War, have suppressed civil and political liberties, driving many to flee political persecution and violence. In addition, economic dependence and exacerbated inequality have led to high levels of violence and crime, reinforcing the need for security and stability that many had hoped to find in the United States. Drug cartels and gangs, partly the result of the demands of the US market for illegal drugs, have exacerbated this violence. Migration from Latin America has been and continues to be influenced by these complex and interdependent factors. The deep economic, social and political interconnectedness between the United States and Latin America means that the challenges faced in the region have a direct impact on the United States, particularly in terms of migratory movements. Given this dynamic, there is a growing imperative for policies that address the root causes of migration, including economic and political instability and violence. This requires careful reflection on past and present policies and a commitment to approaches that promote economic development, social justice, democracy and human rights across the Western Hemisphere.

The increase in Central American immigrants to the United States can be attributed to a complex combination of economic, political and social factors in their countries of origin. The economic factor is central: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are among the poorest countries in the Americas. Poverty, unemployment and underemployment drive many individuals and families to seek better economic opportunities abroad. Exacerbated economic inequalities, lack of access to quality education and health services, and inadequate infrastructure complicate daily life and limit future prospects. The political factor is also crucial. These countries have a history of unstable governance, widespread corruption and weak political institutions. The inability of governments to provide basic services, protect human rights and create a stable and secure political environment contributes to disillusionment and despair among the population. Secondly, the social factor, and in particular violence, is a key driver of migration. Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are among the most violent countries in the world outside war zones. Powerful gangs and drug cartel violence, exacerbated by weak state institutions and corruption, create a dangerous environment. Many flee to protect their children from forced conscription into gangs or to escape violence and direct threats to their safety. Finally, environmental factors have also played a growing role in migration. Climate change and natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods and drought, have had a devastating impact on agriculture and livelihoods, exacerbating poverty and food insecurity. The United States is often seen as a refuge offering safety, opportunity and hope for a better life, which is why so many people undertake the perilous journey north. To mitigate this migratory flow, it would be necessary to tackle the root causes of migration, by strengthening economic, political and social stability, and improving security and human rights in these countries of origin.

Strict immigration policies and control measures on the US-Mexico border have given rise to much controversy and debate. Strategies such as the construction of a border wall have been criticised both for their effectiveness and for their humanitarian implications. The militarisation of the border and restrictive policies have made crossings more dangerous, leading to tragedies where migrants die trying to cross difficult and dangerous terrain. In addition, these policies have often led to the separation of families. Adults may be detained or deported, leaving their children, sometimes US citizens, behind. The conditions in detention centres where immigrants, including children, are held have also been strongly criticised. The implementation of restrictive policies has led to an increase in the number of undocumented people living in the United States, creating an underclass of people who are often exploited and live in constant fear of deportation. It has also contributed to the informal economy, as these individuals often work in conditions that do not meet labour or safety standards. Despite these restrictive measures, the attraction of economic opportunity, security and quality of life in the United States continues to drive immigration, both legal and illegal. To effectively address the issue of immigration, a more comprehensive approach is needed. This may include reforming immigration laws, improving legal channels for immigration, and working with Latin American countries to improve living conditions, reduce violence and create economic opportunities to reduce migration pressure.

The impact of Latin American immigration on the United States is profound and multifaceted. Demographically, the Hispanic population has become one of the country's largest ethnic minorities. This demographic growth has led to increased cultural diversity, enriching the American social and cultural fabric. Culturally, Latin American cuisine, music, art and other cultural expressions have become integral to American culture. Culinary specialities such as tacos, empanadas and arepas are enjoyed everywhere, and cultural events such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos have become popular celebrations. The influence of Latin American music is also omnipresent, with genres such as salsa, reggaeton and bachata enjoying massive popularity. Linguistically, Spanish has become the second most spoken language in the United States. In many regions, the ability to speak Spanish is a valuable asset, and Spanish is widely taught in schools. Politically, the Latin American population in the United States has become increasingly influential. Issues that directly concern this community, such as immigration, border policies and relations with Latin America, have become key issues in American politics. Politicians and political parties are paying particular attention to the concerns and voices of Latin American voters. When it comes to education and the economy, Latin American immigrants and their descendants make a significant contribution. Although they face challenges such as language barriers and limited access to quality education and economic opportunities, many have made enormous strides, contributing to the workforce and to innovation.

The Hispanic population in the US has grown significantly, from 4% in 1970 to 18% in 2020, and is projected to reach around 29% by 2050, according to the US Census Bureau. This represents rapid growth that is influencing various aspects of American society. In the field of education, the diversification of the student population is notable. Schools and universities are welcoming a growing number of Hispanic students, which increases the demand for quality education and cultural integration programmes. On the linguistic front, Spanish is becoming increasingly important as a second language in the United States. Millions of Americans are now bilingual, which is influencing communication, the media and the business world. Companies are adapting their marketing and customer service strategies to cater for a growing Spanish-speaking clientele. Politically, the Hispanic population is gaining in influence. Issues relating to immigration and bilateral policies with Latin American countries are increasingly dictated by the 62.1 million people of Hispanic origin in the United States, according to 2020 data. However, this rapid growth also presents challenges. Problems of integration, discrimination and inequality are exacerbated, requiring specific policies and investments to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for all.

The Hispanic population in the United States has grown not only in numbers, but also in influence, making a profound mark on national culture and politics. Cultural contributions are evident in the growing popularity of Hispanic music, the ubiquitous presence of Latin American cuisine, and the flourishing of arts and traditions that reflect the diversity and richness of Hispanic cultures. Spanish, in particular, has consolidated its place as an influential language in the United States, with an estimated 42 million native speakers and millions more speaking it as a second language, enriching the country's multilingual fabric and stimulating bilingualism. Politically, the Hispanic community is a key player. According to data from the US Census Bureau for 2020, the Hispanic population stood at 62.1 million, constituting a significant electoral bloc that cannot be ignored by politicians. Their concerns, values and aspirations are now determining factors in the political arena, influencing public policy, elections and national debates. This influence is reflected in the growing number of Hispanic politicians elected to key positions, from local to national level. Their voices and perspectives enrich the political discourse and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse representation. The Hispanic footprint in the United States is undeniable, with population growth and growing cultural and political influence shaping and redefining American identity, culture and politics in the 21st century.

Annexes[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

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References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]