Relations with Latin America

June 4, 1976

Report Outline
Surge of Election-Year Interest
Latin American Economic Problems
Contours of U.S.-Latin Relations
Special Focus

Surge of Election-Year Interest

Campaign Issues and Hemispheric Meetings

One hundred and fifty years ago this month, Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Colombia and Venezuela, convoked the first meeting on western hemispheric unity. The meeting, held in Panama from June 22 to July 15, 1826, attempted—unsuccessfully—to “establish a great hemisphere confederation, composed of all the American nations.” A treaty creating the federation never went into effect because only one nation, Colombia, ratified it.

In the succeeding century and a half, Latin America has continued, with varying results, to search for that elusive unity. A heads-of-state conference, called by Panama to commemorate the 1826 meeting, was “indefinitely postponed” last month when several Latin American governments objected to the invitation issued to Cuban Premier Fidel Castro. In place of the conference, the Organization of American States scheduled a protocolary session of its Permanent Council, composed of ambassadors instead of heads of state. More recently, Mexico announced its intention to boycott the annual General Assembly of the OAS, scheduled for June 4–18 in Santiago, Chile, in protest of the Chilean junta's suppression of political opposition and violation of human rights.

Hemispheric unity has never been a cause to excite the American public. Over the years, Latin America has been looked on as weak and impoverished, and of little importance to American interests. With a few exceptions, such as the crises in Cuban-American relations in the early 1960s, Latin America has had no “political constituency” in the United States. This year, however, to the surprise of both major political parties, Latin America is a factor in the presidential campaign.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Latin America
Sep. 14, 2018  Turmoil in Central America
Jun. 05, 2012  China in Latin America
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
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
Diplomacy and Diplomats
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean