Monroe, two centuries later – El Financiero

This Saturday marks 200 years since the Monroe Doctrine was formulated, whose history is little known.

The United States had already been an independent country for three decades and the British government did not respect it. He incited the indigenous people to attack their forts on the border with Canada. It prevented its goods from reaching European ports through naval blockades.

To prevent the conflict from escalating, President Jefferson banned trade with European nations.

New England Americans supported him because they were isolationists. George Washington (in his farewell letter) had recommended that they not “get entangled” in European political disputes and they were convinced that on the Old Continent they would continue to be involved in absurd wars, from which many colonists had fled.

On the other hand, those from the south and west depended on selling their crops to those markets and wanted to expand into Canadian territories. Since they had a majority in Congress, war broke out.

Although the British burned the Capitol and seemed to have the advantage, they soon realized that it was very expensive to transport troops and supplies across the Atlantic, in addition to being unable to distract themselves from the battles they were fighting there.

The Americans, having shown that they were capable of defending themselves, also did not want to continue. The war ended without a clear winner.

It served, however, to make the other European powers realize that they would not be able to maintain their North American colonies. Napoleon Bonaparte himself agreed to sell Louisiana, which covers 15 current states and doubled the area of ​​the country at that time.

Spain ceded Florida on condition that the boundaries were clarified and Texas and the territories on the west coast were respected.

At the time, Americans were not interested in influencing the new nations that were becoming independent in the south. Instead, the British wanted to ensure the end of Spanish colonialism and, within the restrictions of mercantilism, aspired to trade with the new republics.

For this reason, they proposed that the United States sign a joint declaration to dissuade other European powers from intervening in the region.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was strongly opposed. He argued that the British were not committed to recognizing the new republics, perhaps because they aspired to incorporate them into their empire later.

With great effort, he persuaded President James Monroe to make a unilateral statement in his annual State of the Union address.

It states that the United States will not meddle in European affairs or interfere in any of its existing colonies or dependencies; that it will recognize the governments of Latin American countries as legitimate; that will consider any attempt to recolonize those countries as hostile.

Although the main recipients of the warning were the English and the French, John Quincy Adams was also thinking about the Russians, who were increasing their presence south of Alaska, all the way to the Oregon coast.

While Latin American nations viewed the Monroe Doctrine with sympathy, in the United States they did not believe that these nations could remain independent and become democracies.

In 1845, President James K. Polk established the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which suggested that Providence gave Americans a mission to expand westward to impose their values. With this pretension, which Abraham Lincoln described as a pretext to steal, the United States seized Texas, California and the other northwest territories.

In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt added a corollary to the Monroe Doctrine: “If a nation demonstrates that it knows how to act with reasonable efficiency and decency in social and political matters…it need not fear interference from the United States, but…chronic misdeeds may compel the United States to exercise international police power.” It was what became known as “the big stick policy.”

In Mexico we suffered it very soon, with the conspiracy of ambassador Henry Lane Wilson, who overthrew Francisco I. Madero and imposed Victoriano Huerta. Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Chile followed.

After the Cold War, American influence in Latin America weakened. John Kerry even said that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.”

Today China is the first trading partner of many of our countries. Invest in lithium in Bolivia and Mexico. Build ports in Peru and Panama. Iranian ships are frequent visitors to Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.