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Obama's Big Choice in Latin America

Not such a "good neighbor"

Tom Hayden suggests we resume a “Good Neighbor Policy” toward Latin America. But, the United States government maintains a foreign policy in which the moral and the strategic rarely coincide, and the “Good Neighbor Policy” was no exception.

After decades of overt intervention in Latin American affairs, the US realized it might, in fact, be strategically beneficial and economically practical to support political stability in Latin America.

President Franklin Roosevelt shifted the rhetoric and tactics of US policy in order to comply with shifting norms of anticolonialism and international pressure to protect sovereignty. The goals of the Good Neighbor policy were to encourage trade and to counteract European influence for the purposes of national security.

Hayden says Roosevelt stood up to Big Oil when Mexico nationalized in 1937. But he also stood with Big Sugar in his support of the repressive Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic.

Perhaps the fact that Latin America’s relative resilience to this economic recession coincides with the presence of social democratic regimes means developing a truly democratic and economically strategic US foreign policy isn’t impossible in the coming months.

I’m sure this is the point Hayden was trying to make. He just should have brushed up on his history before he suggested any US administration has ever been a good neighbor to our friends right downstairs.

Kayla Schott-Bresler

Eugene, OR

Mar 17 2011 - 1:23am