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The Rise of South America

America’s former Empire and the Impact of Neoliberalism

Unlike European empires of recent centuries which were both exploitative and invasive, that of the USA has a history which whilst largely exploitative, to a lesser extent involved military occupation. Close enough geographically to be able to project force without a permanent armed presence (with certain temporary exceptions), the USA officially was opposed to imperialism, whilst in practice using economic exploitation and boosting by whatever means, preferred candidates for office in the nations to the south.

The US had long regarded South America as being in its own 'back yard' and within its sphere of influence, since the Monroe Doctrine of 1853. Although that doctrine was sensibly designed to protect the newly independent countries of South America from intervention by the European colonial powers, in practice the effect was to subject them to the control and influence of the USA. But now, things have changed.

Apart from South and Central America, and those islands of the Caribbean which the US sought to  control, only the Philippines, where indeed it maintained a military presence for many years; certain ‘dots-on-the-map’ Pacific islands, and historic hangovers from the Spanish war, like Puerto Rico, qualify as the historic American empire.

Eventually like all empires, time was up.

In South America, keeping the Europeans out, a worthy initiative, was followed by US interference in these southern nations' affairs, in the interests of its great commercial corporations that the US assiduously sought to advance.

Much later, the Cold War became the leading motive for involvement. Overlapping, then succeeding that, the fight was against the powerful narcotics crime organisations, supplying the US market, which continue to figure large in some of these countries. For a long period, the United States overthrew democratically elected governments in Central and South America if they were perceived as ‘communist’, too left wing, or otherwise hostile to U.S. interests.

But a new economic doctrine, Neoliberalism, emanating from the United States,became a dominant factor in several of these nations towards the end of the 1980’s, with effects that we describe.

This article is intended to portray the nations of South America as they are now, the influences on them, and to consider where they might be headed.




Also published on our blog page Bulletin, 11th November 2013|New Nations - a not for profit company
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