Political Nationalism

The Great Depression also triggered political changes in Latin America. The economic crisis caused people to lose faith in the ruling oligarchies and the ideas of liberal government. Liberalism, a belief in the individual and in limited government, was a European theory. People began to feel that it did not work in Latin America.

In the midst of economic crisis, authoritarian governments with strong nationalist goals gained power in many countries. Authoritarian rulers imposed stability and supported economic nationalism, but suppressed opposition political parties and silenced critics.

Cultural Nationalism

By the 1920s, an upsurge of national feeling led Latin American writers, artists, and thinkers to reject European influences. Instead, they took pride in their own culture, with its blend of Western and Native American traditions.

In Mexico, cultural nationalism, or pride in one's own national culture, was reflected in the revival of mural painting, a major art form of the Aztecs and Maya. Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco (oh ROHS koh), and other muralists created magnificent works that reflected Mexican culture and history. On the walls of public buildings, they portrayed the struggles of the Mexican people for liberty. The murals have been a great source of national pride ever since.

Relations with the United States

Nationalism affected how Latin American nations saw the United States. During and after World War I, investments by the United States in Latin America soared, while British influence declined. The United States continued to play the role of international policeman, intervening to restore order when it felt its interests were threatened.

During the Mexican Revolution, the United States stepped in with military force to support the leaders who favored American interests. This interference stirred up anti-American feelings, which increased throughout Latin America during the 1920s. For example, in Nicaragua, Augusto César Sandino led a guerrilla movement against United States forces occupying his country.

The Good Neighbor Policy

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt took a new approach to Latin America. He pledged to follow “the policy of the good neighbor.”

Under the Good Neighbor Policy, the United States agreed to stop interfering in the affairs of Latin American nations. The United States withdrew troops stationed in Haiti and Nicaragua and lifted the Platt Amendment, which had limited Cuban independence.

U.S. Intervention in Latin America, 1920–1930
Nicaragua 1912–1934 20-year occupation to fight guerrillas; from 1926–1933, sought to capture nationalistic forces led by Augusto César Sandino
Haiti 1914–1934 19–year occupation after revolutions
Dominican Republic 1916–1924 8-year Marine occupation
Cuba 1917–1933 Military occupation and establishment of economic protectorate under Platt Amendment
Panama 1918–1920 Police duty after elections; protection of United Fruit plantations
Guatemala 1920–1921 Two-week intervention against unionists; support of a coup
Costa Rica / Panama 1921 Troop intervention in border dispute
Mexico 1923 Air Force defense of Calles from rebellion
Honduras 1924–1925 Two landings during election unrest
Panama 1925 Marine suppression of general strike
El Salvador 1932 Warship support of ruling general during revolt

Analyze Charts

During the early 1900s, the United States regularly intervened in Latin American conflicts. What was the most common form of intervention?

End ofPage 682

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments