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  • A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Viewpoints/Puntos de Vista Themes and Interpretations in Latin American History

    Series Editor: Jürgen Buchenau

    The books in this series will introduce students to the most significant themes and topics in Latin American history. They represent a novel approach to designing supplementary texts for this growing market. Intended as supplementary textbooks, the books will also discuss the ways in which historians have interpreted these themes and topics, thus demonstrating to students that our understanding of our past is constantly changing, through the emergence of new sources, meth- odologies, and historical theories. Unlike monographs, the books in this series will be broad in scope and written in a style accessible to undergraduates.


    A History of the Cuban Revolution, Second Edition Aviva Chomsky

    Bartolomé de las Casas and the Conquest of the Americas Lawrence A. Clayton

    Beyond Borders: A History of Mexican Migration to the United States Timothy J. Henderson

    The Last Caudillo: Alvaro Obregón and the Mexican Revolution Jürgen Buchenau

    A Concise History of the Haitian Revolution Jeremy D. Popkin

    Spaniards in the Colonial Empire: Creoles vs. Peninsulars? Mark A. Burkholder

    Dictatorship in South America Jerry Dávila

    Mothers Making Latin America: Gender, Households, and Politics Since 1825 Erin E. O’Connor

    A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean Alan McPherson

  • A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Alan McPherson

  • This edition first published 2016 © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

    Registered Office John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK

    Editorial Offices 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148‐5020, USA 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8SQ, UK

    For details of our global editorial offices, for customer services, and for information about how to apply for permission to reuse the copyright material in this book please see our website at www.wiley.com/wiley‐blackwell.

    The right of Alan McPherson to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, except as permitted by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, without the prior permission of the publisher.

    Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books.

    Designations used by companies to distinguish their products are often claimed as trademarks. All brand names and product names used in this book are trade names, service marks, trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. The publisher is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.

    Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. It is sold on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services and neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

    Library of Congress Cataloging‐in‐Publication data applied for

    9781118953990 (hardback) 9781118954003 (paperback)

    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

    Cover image: President Theodore Roosevelt collecting debts and patrolling Central America and the Caribbean with his “big stick”, cartoon by William Allen Rogers, 1904. The Granger Collection / TopFoto.

    Set in 10.5/13.5pt Minion by SPi Global, Pondicherry, India

    1 2016


  • To Luc and Nico, with all Papa’s love

  • Series Editor’s Preface viii Acknowledgments x List of Illustrations xi

    Introduction: Topic and Themes 1

    1 Expanding the Continental Republic, 1811–1897 10

    2 The Cuban Crucible: Experiments in Overseas Empire, 1898–1922 34

    3 Monopolizing the Central American Isthmus, 1903–1926 55

    4 Wilsonian Interventions, 1913–1919 72

    5 Accommodation and Resistance, 1917–1930 95

    6 From Occupier to Good Neighbor, 1921–1936 115

    7 Warding Off Global Ideologies, 1935–1954 133

    8 Containing Revolution, 1959–1990 148

    9 Identifying Post‐Cold War Political Threats, 1986–2016 172

    Conclusion: Multitudes of Interventions 194

    Bibliography 202 Index 209


  • Each book in the “Viewpoints/Puntos de Vista” series introduces students to a significant theme or topic in Latin American history. In an age in which student and faculty interest in the Global South increasingly challenges the old focus on the history of Europe and North America, Latin American history has assumed an increasingly prominent position in undergraduate curricula.

    Some of these books discuss the ways in which historians have interpreted these themes and topics, thus demonstrating that our understanding of our past is constantly changing, through the emer­ gence of new sources, methodologies, and historical theories. Others offer an introduction to a particular theme by means of a case study or biography in a manner easily understood by the contemporary, non‐specialist reader. Yet others give an overview of a major theme that might serve as the foundation of an upper‐level course.

    What is common to all of these books is their goal of historical synthesis. They draw on the insights of generations of scholarship on the most enduring and fascinating issues in Latin American history, and through the use of primary sources as appropriate. Each book is written by a specialist in Latin American history who is concerned with undergraduate teaching, yet has also made his or her mark as a first‐rate scholar.

    The books in this series can be used in a variety of ways, recog­ nizing the differences in teaching conditions at small liberal arts colleges, large public universities, and research‐oriented institutions with doctoral programs. Faculty have particular needs depending on whether they teach large lectures with discussion sections, small

    Series Editor’s Preface

  • Series Editor’s Preface ix

    lecture or discussion‐oriented classes, or large lectures with no discussion sections, and whether they teach on a semester or trimes­ ter system. The format adopted for this series fits all of these different parameters.

    In this ninth volume in the “Viewpoints/Puntos de Vista” series, Professor Alan McPherson provides an interpretation of history of United States occupations in Latin America, with a focus on the twen­ tieth century. Somewhat provocatively, Professor McPherson places political motivations – not economic or cultural ones – at the causa­ tive center of the repeated decision of United States policymakers to send troops to occupy Latin American territory and thus violate the sovereignty of Latin American nations. To make his case, Professor McPherson aptly distinguishes these government‐sponsored military occupations from the more broadly defined concept of interventions, and even from the privately sponsored filibuster expeditions that figured significantly in United States imperialism in Latin America during the nineteenth century.

    This volume’s publication is timely, coinciding with a fascinating period in inter‐American relations. As the United States is finally taking historic steps to mend relations with socialist Cuba – a nation that was a repeated victim of United States occupations at the turn of the twentieth century – this volume helps us understand why and how the United States government once came to view Latin America as its own backyard and sent military expeditions to the region with astonishing regularity.

    Jürgen Buchenau University of North Carolina, Charlotte

  • I wish to thank Viewpoints/Puntos de Vista Series Editor Jürgen Buchenau and Peter Coveney at Wiley for believing in this project. The three anonymous reviewers were very helpful. Thanks also to Dominic Granello for bringing me heaps of books, articles, and docu- ments, and for cobbling together the bibliography. As always, Heather Dubnick did a wonderful job with the index. Finally, I owe a debt to all the collaborators of my Encyclopedia of U.S. Military Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean, on whose shoulders I stood to draft this book.


  • List of Illustrations


    Map 1 Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean xiii

    Map 2 South America xiv


    Figure 1.1 The Battle of Chapúltepec, September 13, 1847. Painting by Sarony & Major, 1848. Library of Congress Prints and Pho