Nationalism and United States Policy in Latin America

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Dejaron ya los campos They left the fields

los tanques y los pozos The tanks and the wells

y el rico aceite negro And the rich black oil

que es producto nacional That is a national product

Magnates petroleros Oil magnates

que alli se hicieron ricos, Who became rich in this place

pelaron todos gallo Took off right away

con la ley de la expropiación With the expropriation law

- El corrido del petróleo -Folk Song About Oil

The Folk Song About Oil is a cultural expression of nationalism; Mexicans are singing how their revolutionary government banished the greedy foreign oil magnates. Nationalism, in Mexico and throughout Latin America, is the desire to regain control over economic and cultural resources tinged with antipathy towards the United States. The question arises, how does the United States react to nationalism, which manifests as anti-Americanism? This essay analyzes how and why the United States averted the repercussions of Mexican nationalism through diplomatic pressure and negotiation. The essay later compares the United States’ experience with Mexico to the United States’ general attitude towards nationalism in Latin America, specifically analyzing Guatemala. The United States opposes nationalistic policies in Latin America, since they hurt business interests and are geared towards decreasing American power, but the strategy with which the United States responds to natio...

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...ates vehemently opposed the nationalistic government, like in the case of Arbenz in Guatemala, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and Castro in Cuba, the United States remained hostile to the unwanted government until it was overthrown, which hurt that country and the United States. The United States should learn from its historical experiences not to view nationalism as a threat to national security, but to separate the two concepts. Nationalism occurs in countries that do not have control over their economic wealth and feel they are mistreated; expropriating land is not the same as a military threat. Once the United States comprehends its role in instigating other countries’ nationalist movements, it can negotiate settlements where the country feels it is regaining economic and social control and the United States protects its security and economic interests.
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