Originally microfilmed as Records of the Department of State relating to Political Relations, this collection provides unique perspectives for the study of Latin American and Caribbean international relations. The collection affords a country-by-country analyses utilizing the State Department’s decimal system to organize the voluminous correspondence and reporting on a variety of diverse topics, events, and people. In addition, it provides detail on the evolution of Latin American foreign policies, significance of inter-American cooperation in time of war, and the rise of totalitarian regimes.
This collection consists of materials pertaining to political relations of states, including diplomatic and consular representation and bilateral treaties, conventions, and agreements for the following countries/regions: Argentine Republic, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the West Indian Republics.
Documents in this collection span the period 1930 through 1944, focusing heavily on various events, people, and political movements, including: the rise of Fascism and Falangism; the effects of the worldwide depression; Mexican oil and nationalization; Central America and the "banana republics;" and FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy.
Fascism and Falangism
The rise of Fascism and Falangism in Latin American countries during the 1930s was due in large part to the success of the Franco revolution in Spain and Italian fascist propaganda. In particular, Getúlio Vargas of Brazil was a staunch supporter of the fascist movement and imitated the Italian government’s Fascist program. The trend toward these political movements was due in large part to an increase in authoritarianism, nationalism, conservatism, and to a lesser extent a rise in a politicized Catholicism, which rulers like Vargas played on through propaganda.
The Great Depression caused considerable monetary difficulties for Latin American and Caribbean governments. There was not only a problem in finding sufficient foreign exchange to finance external commerce and particularly to pay for imports, but there were also increasing difficulties in servicing the foreign debt. Taxes on exports and tariff duties on foreign imports had long been a significant revenue item for Latin American governments. Declining trade meant a corresponding fall in revenue. The combination of severe balance-of-payments difficulties, budget deficits, and the dwindling gold reserves led the majority of Latin American governments to suspend or default on payments to foreign bondholders during the depression years.
The Chaco War (1932-1935) was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over control of the northern part of the Gran Chaco region (the Chaco Boreal) of South America, which was incorrectly thought to be rich in oil. It was the bloodiest international conflict fought in the Americas during the 20th Century.
Mexican Oil and Nationalization
In 1938 President Làzaro Càrdenas nationalized the petroleum industry, giving the Mexican government a monopoly in the exploration, production, refining, and distribution of oil and natural gas, and in the manufacture and sale of basic petrochemicals. Although Càrdenas offered compensation, United States oil companies pressured the United States government to embargo all imports from Mexico in order to discourage similar nationalizations in other countries. The boycott was in effect briefly, but the United States government soon pressured the oil companies to come to terms with Mexico as a result of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy and United States security needs arising from World War II.
Dates of Coverage: 1930-1944
Concurrent Users: unlimited
Other info: always proxy off-campus, provides full text
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