President Trump will be making his first visit to Latin America next month. In light of this, there are many historical issues that surface. Latin America has experienced a lot of intervention on the part of the US. Known intervention by the CIA has occurred in influencing leadership in South America and authoritarianism has reigned for many years with these influences. Moreover, US impacts on the region continue today with economics in mind. As can be seen in the example of Chile under Augusto Pinochet the history of Latin America was marked with violence and intervention from the US often strengthened that as it had economic interests. The impacts the US has had on its southern neighbors makes it clear that authoritarianism has been supported by the US and the causes continue to have an effect on Latin America today.
Historically the reign of dictatorships and fascist governments marked Latin America and the memory of these countries until today. The recent past has proven that there are more economic motives to the US’ intervention than humanitarian as is often promoted by the White House even today. Under these authoritarian regimes, there were many atrocities committed by the government against the people including disappearances and torture. Latin America is still affected by this recent history and the evidence of it that remains. Chile is an example of this where there was a military government under Augusto Pinochet which the US supported but was brutal to the people not only causing the disappearances of many but also has had little closure in the wake of this regime as the leaders were not punished formally for their crimes.
South America has many things to offer the US in terms of resources which keeps the US having an interest in government leaders high. Without a pro-US president in South American countries then obtaining resources may become difficult. An example of US intervention is in the formerly called “US Army School of the Americas” which would Latin American leaders from countries that were allied with the US. This school was controversial and name change ensued as it has had many graduates commit atrocities such as in Chile. Although Pinochet himself was not a graduate, many people that took part in atrocities under that governments were. As the Cold War began to take shape Latin America had increasing importance.
During the Cold War, there were many reasons to keep South American countries allied to the US. At this time many proxy wars were being fought in other countries such as Africa. Chile, for example, has ways of dealing with anyone that may have supported communist ideas such as torturing them and/or murdering them. The US had interests in South America resources and large companies were involved such as in the cultivation of Bananas as was the case with the United Fruit Company so it was in their interests to have regimes that would support them and not move to the side of the Soviet government. Today there is clearly economic impacts made when such deals as TPP haven been abandoned which Southern American countries took part in. Today the US has to deal with not only the real memory of who they supported in the past but the obvious self-interest they had in doing so.
In conclusion, there has been a wide range of issues that have and continue to face Latin America especially in light of President Trump’s visit to the region. Chile, under Augusto Pinochet, is an example that was marked by violence and the US often strengthened that as it had economic interests. Latin American authoritarianism has been supported by the US and makes it clear that authoritarianism which has been supported by the US for their own interests has strong current impacts on Latin America.There are new issues that are facing the relationship between the US and countries south of their border but these are hugely impacted by the history the two share.