Latin America and the War

January 2, 1942

Report Outline
Continental Solidarity Against the Axis
Latin American Nations in First World War
New Bases for Inter-American Cooperation
Consultation and Common Action Since 1939

Continental Solidarity Against the Axis

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and with Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, the nations of Latin America gave an unsurpassed demonstration of continental solidarity by at once ranging themselves at the side of this country. Whereas in 1917 only Cuba and Panama immediately followed the United States into war against Germany, in 1941 all of the Central American countries and all of the Caribbean republics issued declarations of war against the Axis almost simultaneously with the United States, while Mexico, closest Latin neighbor of the United States, and Colombia, the South American country nearest the Panama Canal, lost no time in severing diplomatic relations with the Axis powers. Venezuela took the same action, December 31. The other South American nations, while maintaining a position of technical neutrality, all signified their intention of cooperating with the United States. And they moved quickly to implement that policy by taking such steps as freezing Axis assets, curbing activities of Axis propagandists, or offering use of their labors and landing fields to United States naval and air craft.

Consultation and Cooperation in the War Emergency

Latin American cooperation with the United States, now manifesting itself under the stress of war, results in part from widespread recognition of the reality of Axis threats to the security of the entire Western Hemisphere and in part from the fact that the Roosevelt administration' serious pursuit of the good neighbor policy since 1933 has cleared the way for common action in the face of emergency. At Pan American conferences in 1936 and 1938 instrumentalities were developed which enabled the American republics, as soon as the war started in Europe, to act together to formulate joint policies and measures for hemisphere neutrality and hemisphere defense. Those were the questions that dominated respectively the first and second consultative conferences of American foreign ministers at Panama in September, 1939, and at Havana in July, 1940. The third conference, convening at Rio de Janeiro, January 15, will be dominated by problems of war, now that half the nations of the continent have entered the conflict and the rest have given plain recognition of their interest in victory over the Axis.

While the brunt of prosecuting the war and defending the hemisphere must of necessity fall on the United States, owing to the comparative weakness of the military, naval, and air forces of the Latin American countries, the action of the latter nations in assuming a belligerent status or adopting a cooperative attitude is of practical value in facilitating accomplishment of the task now confronting this country. If Latin American ports, bases, and other military facilities are generally opened to the United States, for example, it will be possible to lay strategical plans on a hemisphere-wide basis and to achieve maximum efficiency in disposing of the armed forces to safeguard the continent against attack and gain victory over the enemy. Measures of economic warfare and measures for control of enemy aliens and suppression of fifth-column activity likewise can be made more effective with the cooperation of the other nations of the hemisphere. Their readiness to make common cause with the United States thus foreshadows unification and mobilization of the strength of the continent as a whole and makes for strong reinforcement of this country in the struggle in which it is now joined.

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
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
U.S. at War: World War II
War and Conflict
World War I
World War II