This week’s Text–and it may seem odd as an offering for National Hispanic Heritage Month–is this reading on American Imperialism and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. The United States has violated the sovereignty of Latin American nations repeatedly since the early-nineteenth century. This meddling in the affairs of Latin America arguably began with the theology of Manifest Destiny and the foreign policy of the Monroe Doctrine.
Even the easygoing researcher will locate dozens of examples of United States involvement in Latin America. Three are most salient for the purposes of this blog post, mostly for their egregiousness: the 1954 coup in Guatemala that overthrew the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz; ten years later, the 1964 Brazilian coup that toppled the leftist government of Joao Goulart; and, in my own historical memory, the 1973 coup against the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende. The latter, incidentally, has been extensively documented, with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s role in the Chilean coup examined by, among others, the late Christopher Hitchens and, most comprehensively, by the National Security Archive.
Incidentally, Henry Kissinger is regarded around the world as a war criminal–as this withering editorial from 2017 in The Harvard Crimson emphasizes.
Finally, I’ve always found it useful to turn to one of American history’s most famous quotes, from General Smedley D. Butler, on American imperialism:
“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
(Smedley D. Butler, War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier (Port Townshend, Washington: Feral House, 2003.)
If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.
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