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How did US foreign policy affect Latin American democracies during this period?

US foreign policy during this period often undermined Latin American democracies, prioritising American economic and strategic interests over democratic principles.

The United States' foreign policy towards Latin America during this period was largely shaped by the Cold War dynamics and the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted US dominance over the Western Hemisphere. This often led to interventions that undermined democracies in the region. For instance, the US supported military coups against democratically elected governments in countries like Guatemala in 1954, Brazil in 1964, and Chile in 1973, fearing that these governments were leaning towards communism. These interventions often resulted in authoritarian regimes that violated human rights and suppressed political freedoms.

Moreover, the US often prioritised its economic interests over the promotion of democracy. The United States supported dictators who were friendly to American businesses, such as Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. This support often came at the expense of democratic principles and human rights. For example, the United States turned a blind eye to Somoza's corruption and Trujillo's brutal repression because they protected American economic interests.

The US also used economic pressure to influence Latin American democracies. Through institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the US often imposed neoliberal economic policies on Latin American countries. These policies, known as the Washington Consensus, promoted free-market capitalism and deregulation. While these policies were intended to stimulate economic growth, they often led to increased inequality and social unrest, undermining democratic stability in the region.

In addition, the US used its military power to intervene in Latin American countries. The most notable example is the US invasion of Panama in 1989 to remove General Manuel Noriega, a former US ally who had become a liability. While the US justified the invasion as necessary to protect American lives and restore democracy, it was widely seen in Latin America as a violation of Panama's sovereignty.

In conclusion, US foreign policy during this period often undermined Latin American democracies. While the US claimed to promote democracy, its actions often prioritised American economic and strategic interests over democratic principles. This has left a legacy of mistrust and resentment towards the US in many Latin American countries.

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