The "Good Neighbor" policy
was the foreign policy
of the administration of United States president Franklin D. Roosevelt
(1933–45) toward the countries of Latin America
. The United States wished to have good relations with its neighbors, especially at a time when conflicts were beginning to rise once again, and this policy was more or less intended to garner Latin American support. Renouncing unpopular military intervention, the United States shifted to other methods to maintain its influence in Latin America: Pan-Americanism, support for strong local leaders, the training of national guards, economic and cultural penetration, Export-Import Bank loans, financial supervision, and political subversion. The Good Neighbor Policy meant that United States would keep its eye on Latin America in a more peaceful tone. On March 4, 1933, Roosevelt stated during his inaugural address that: "In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor--the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others. This position was affirmed by Cordell Hull, Roosevelt's Secretary of State at a conference of American states in Montevideo
in December of 1933. Hull said: "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another" (LaFeber, 376). In December of the same year Roosevelt again gave verbal evidence of a shift in U.S. policy in the region when he stated: "The definite policy of the United States from now on is one opposed to armed intervention.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the sovereignty
of many Latin American
nations had been routinely undermined by more powerful countries. Whenever a wealthy nation felt its debts
were not being repaid in a prompt fashion, its citizens' business interests were being threatened, or its access to natural resources were being unfairly impeded, military intervention or threats were often used to coerce the respective government into compliance.
Constant interventionism became increasingly unpopular in the United States, however. Some felt it was imperialistic for the United States to act in such a manner, devising a foreign policy around the interest of purely economic motivations. Others agreed, but for different reasons. They felt that American intervention in Latin America had bred a culture of resentment and anti-Americanism in the region, which was beginning to manifest in the form of ultra-nationalist and protectionist measures by those countries' governments. In addition, many other people objected to the huge expenses involved in raising armies to help govern Latin American countries. This opposition increased heavily during the Great Depression, as many people believed that the money being used for imperialism could be put to better use to help the people hit by the Depression.
The brutal U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915-1934 offers a prime example of U.S. imperialism. The aerial bombing of Les Cayes and the killing of an unarmed peasant Marchaterre contributed to the change in American foreign policy
After World War II, the United States began to shift its focus on aid and rebuilding efforts in Europe and Japan. The "Good Neighbor" seemingly forgot about their southern neighbors, except when defending the profits of large American businesses. As a response, the prestige of Marxism rose during the Cold War in Latin America.
- The withdrawal of US Marines from Haiti and Nicaragua in 1934
- The annulment of the Platt Amendment
- Negotiation of compensation of Mexico's nationalization of foreign assets in 1937
- LaFeber, Walter. The American Age: U.S. Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad, 1750 to Present, 2nd ed. NY: Norton, 1994.
- Norton, Mary Beth. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. 7th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.