Soviets' Latin Influence

March 6, 1987

Report Outline
Special Focus

Overview

A quarter-century ago, Juan José Arevalo, the former president of Guatemala, wrote a book about inter-American relations entitled The Shark and the Sardines. In Arevalo's view, the sardines were the Latin American countries, swimming about in awe and terror of the shark, the United States. Many years later, Arevalo told a visitor to his home in Guatemala. “If I were to write that book again, I would call it The Sharks and the Sardines,” implying that there is another giant fish—the Soviet Union—thrashing its way through Latin American and Caribbean waters.

Indeed, in the years since the publication of Arevalo's book, the Soviet Union has vastly increased its presence in the Western Hemisphere. This is true not only for military “hot spots” such as Cuba, Grenada and Nicaragoa, where Soviet involvement had become evident and the Reagan administration argues that U.S. strategic interests are clearly challenged. In addition, the Soviet Union has increased its economic, diplomatic and cultural involvement in the region. As a result, it is emerging as a rival to the United States for influence in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the view of Howard Wiarda, a Latin America expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), “The Soviet Union is a rising presence in the region, and that fact needs to be recognized and treated realistically.”

Just how serious is the Soviet effort to increase its influence in Latin America may become apparent in the months ahead. There is speculation in the United States and Latin American press that Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, will visit several Latin American countries this year. According to news service reports, Gorbachev has mapped out an itinerary that includes Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Latin America
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Mar. 2008  The New Latin America
Jul. 21, 2006  Change in Latin America
Mar. 14, 2003  Trouble in South America
Nov. 09, 2001  U.S.- Mexico Relations
Sep. 19, 1997  Mexico's Future
Jul. 19, 1991  Mexico's Emergence
May 05, 1989  New Approach to Central America
Mar. 06, 1987  Soviets' Latin Influence
Dec. 26, 1986  Pinochet's Chile
Nov. 08, 1985  Troubled Mexico
Apr. 10, 1981  Latin American Challenges
May 05, 1978  Central America and the U.S.A.
Sep. 23, 1977  Mexican-U.S. Relations
Jun. 04, 1976  Relations with Latin America
Oct. 21, 1970  Chile's Embattled Democracy
Jun. 24, 1970  Mexico's Election and the Continuing Revolution
Apr. 02, 1969  Economic Nationalism in Latin America
Jul. 19, 1967  Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
Dec. 28, 1966  Militarism in Latin America
Oct. 20, 1965  Common Market for Latin America
Aug. 04, 1965  Smoldering Colombia
Jun. 23, 1965  Inter-American Peacekeeping
Dec. 11, 1963  Progress of the Alianza
Oct. 05, 1962  Arms Aid to Latin America
Dec. 13, 1961  Land and Tax Reform in Latin America
Jul. 26, 1961  Commodity Agreements for Latin America
Jan. 11, 1961  Revolution in the Western Hemisphere
Feb. 10, 1960  Inter-American System
Jan. 13, 1960  Expropriation in Latin America
Jul. 02, 1958  Economic Relations with Latin America
Mar. 02, 1954  Communism in Latin America
Jun. 20, 1952  Political Unrest in Latin America
Sep. 18, 1950  War Aid from Latin America
Oct. 31, 1947  Arming the Americas
Jul. 24, 1946  Inter-American Security
Jan. 02, 1942  Latin America and the War
Jul. 10, 1941  Export Surpluses and Import Needs of South America
Jun. 04, 1941  Economic Defense of Latin America
Jun. 25, 1940  Politics in Mexico
Nov. 01, 1939  Pan American Political Relations
Oct. 10, 1939  United States Trade with Latin America
Apr. 07, 1938  Protection of American Interests in Mexico
Mar. 04, 1936  Peace Machinery in the Americas
Sep. 27, 1933  Trade Relations with Latin America
Oct. 16, 1928  Pan American Arbitration Conference
Jan. 12, 1928  The Sixth Pan American Conference
Jan. 10, 1927  American Policy in Nicaragua
Dec. 27, 1926  Relations Between Mexico and the United States
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Democratization
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union