From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 15, 22 July 1940, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
On July 20 at Havana, Cuba, the twenty-one Pan-American nations will gather under the immediate direction of the United States to consider ways and rneans of organizing the western hemisphere politically economically and militarily against the threat of Hitler.
The powerful American delegation will be headed by Secretary of State Hull and Assistant Secretary of State Adolph A. Berle, the man who developed the idea of the inter-American cartel, the main problem to be considered in Havana. This delegation is fortified by a number of experts in Latin American affairs.
Although, Argentina. Brazil and Uruguay expressed a marked coolness to what they regarded as a Yankee imperialist maneuver when the proposal for this conference was made, the overwhelming majority of the countries will participate actively with leading representatives. Brazil and Argentina, the most important South American nations will probably attend, but they have as yet to make any proposals to the agenda of the conference, or to the problems already posed to it by the United States. Pressure from the United States, however, will be exerted and there is no doubt that Washington will compel a full representation. And one way or another it will force some kind of agreement on the points up for consideration.
The conference meets under the shadow of the European war. The quick and astounding military victories of Germany raise the question of the relations between the Axis and South America. Germany and Italy threaten American imperial-interests in this hemisphere. Thus, the conference has as its main purpose to insulate the western world against any type of invasion by the Axis powers. The aim of the United States is to compel economic cooperation of the American nations. While the plan is as yet vague, it is outlined generally as (1) to take up the surplus food and raw materials produced by the South American countries; (2) to establish an export cartel; and (3) to organize and develop the resources and industries of Latin America with simultaneous hemispheric control of production.
The economic penetration of South America by Germany was carried out by the fascist regime through the barter system, whereby industrial products required by the South American nations were exchanged for agricultural commodities and raw materials. Germany became an increasingly important economic factor in the southern hemisphere up to the beginning of the war.
Confident of a quick victory over Great Britain, Hitler is therefore preparing for a continuation of economic relations with South American offering commitments for as early as September of this year.
In the meantime, the South American nations suffer sharp economic disturbances because of their inability to dispose of the great surpluses accumulated since the opening of the war. The conflict in the production of commodities between the United States and Latin America precludes the kind of exchange that would automatically relieve the stresses upon those countries. Up to now the European markets have been decisive to the economic existence of Latin America, and unless the United States can bring relief to that area by arranging to dispose of the surpluses, the conference is doomed to failure. To effect such relief, this country would have to compete on the Axis level.
The proposed inter-American cartel has exactly this in mind. It is intended to pool the resources of the western hemisphere, to organize the production of agricultural goods and industrial manufactures and to dispose of them through the cartel organization, thus preventing trade by Hitler with individual nations. America is prepared to carry the cost of the cartel, said to require an initial sum of $200,000,000. Through the cartel, trade will be carried on with Europe on a continental basis.
The success of the cartel would signify the elimination of Germany, or for that matter any other country, from the new world’s markets on a nation to nation trade relation. Recognizing this. Germany is waging a war of cajolery, coercion and economic inducements to prevent the success of the cartel.
The cartel, however, will have to overcome many difficulties of and by itself. The Latin American nations fear that the cartel will mean a greater domination of their countries by Yankee imperialism. Then there is the conflict in commodities to be considered. Inter-American cartel trade will require a uniform inter-American currency and complete financial reorganization to simplify economic activity. And most difficult of all, it will require a very rigid control of production.
All of these factors will be difficult to overcome, unless the United States pays the initial costs and then follows up the economic reorganization with a virtual economic dictatorship over the Western world. If the Havana conference accepts the American proposals and proceeds to put them in effect, the dictatorship of Washington is inevitable.
Commenting on the conference in the Nation of July 13, Freda Kirchwey, the editor, proposes the establishment of an American League of Nations to fortify the program of the Roosevelt Administration. In recognizing its real significance, she suggests the erection of a “democratic totalitarianism” to combat the fascist totalitarianism of Germany and Hitler. What she meant to say was that the inter-American cartel and hemispheric unity can not be realized without dictatorial and totalitarian control by the United States.
The South American governments are well aware of this too. But they want to be certain that whatever course is adopted by the United States, it will be continued even through changing administrations, because above all, they want to be sure, as one journalist put it, “who butters their bread,” and keeps it buttered.
The conference will no doubt arrive at an agreement on the policy to be pursued in relation to possessions of the erstwhile allies in this hemisphere. A majority of the countries are now disposed to an inter-American control of these colonies, with the actual defense placed in the hands of one country (they are all agreed that the one country is the United States). There is general agreement on the Administration’s invocation of the Monroe Doctrine to forbid the seizure of these colonies by any new European power. This problem, however, is of minor consideration when related to the main purpose of the conference.
Under present-day world conditions, in the event of a decisive defeat of England it appears likely that there, will be a temporary imperialist concentration, if only as a stop-gap, in three decisive areas of the world: Europe under Hitler, controlling the colonial empires of France and Great Britain; the United States, dominant power in Latin America, and Japan in the Far East.
The conference in Cuba will act swiftly since time is a decisive factor in the solution of these problems. Thus, the Havana meeting is a decisive event in the development of the new American policy toward international problems as they are reflected in the western world. This is made abundantly clear by Roosevelt’s declaration that no American troops will fight on European soil. In other words, America’s attentions are directed mainly toward the problems in this hemisphere, and [it] is consequently preparing to wage a war to insure her complete domination of the western continents.
Last updated on 23.9.2012