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Hugo Oehler

American Imperialism
at the Montivideo [sic!] Congress

(December 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 54, 9 December 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Seventh Pan-American Conference convened December 3 at Montevideo, Uruguay with twenty-one nations represented. The American delegation, headed by Secretary Hull, arrived prior to the conference to line up puppet delegates and to attempt to iron out and side-track some of the most difficult problems that are sure to upset the conference if they are thrown open for discussion on the floor. This is the first Pan-American conference to be held since 1928. It is convened at a time when the economic life of Latin America is almost at a standstill as a result of the crisis within the leading imperialist nations, particularly the United States. These secondary capitalist nations of Latin America have long ago been subordinated to the imperialist powers. The leading capitalist nations, such as the United States, have attempted to shift part of the crisis burden onto the lesser nations of Latin America.

The conference has been compared to the last London conference. The capitalist press says the Montevideo meeting will succeed and will accomplish for America, what the London conference failed to accomplish for world capitalism. However, the set-up is entirely different even if economic problems hold the center of the stage at the Pan-American conference.

At Montevideo there will be a meeting of unequals. The leading capitalist nation in the world is able to hold a conference with 20 other nations under the self-made jurisdiction of the Monroe Doctrine the enforcement of which Roosevelt hopes to modernize with his “new diplomacy”. The London conference was a battle of the leading imperialists of Europe and America; the Montevideo conference is the set-up of American imperialism. Most of the delegates are puppets; others will be forced to cringe before the might of Yankee imperialism or stand the consequences. The other imperialist powers, particularly, England are forced to pound away within the conference in an attempt to prevent America from constructing something tangible for itself, England will do this primarily through such forces as she can muster within the Latin American countries for policies that will lie cloaked in the form of “national” demands of this or that Latin American country.

In the past, Argentina has been the main opposition force to the United States in the Pan-American conference, not only because of its weight within South America but because England has been fighting American Imperialism tooth and nail in the struggle for domination within this first rate Latin American country.

War and revolution will be discussed extensively in the different caucuses. Bolivia and Paraguay are in the midst of the Chaco war. Peru and Columbia have not yet settled the Leticia affair. The Cuban revolution is in the foreground. Secretary Hull attempted to inject America’s “good will” into the Chaco War before the conference, but Paraguay rejected his “kind” offer. A labor delegate from Haiti caused uneasiness, and showed that all was not so well in lining up safe and sound delegates to the conference, when on the first day he condemned American’s 15 year military action in Haiti, intervention in Latin America, and the present financial supervision in Haiti which reveals how the Roosevelt government is driving ahead with great speed for better imperialist domination.

Revolutionary Cuba has not spoken yet. But it is very doubtful, if the petty-bourgeois government will go beyond words, and this only for the sake of bargaining power and compromise with American Imperialism. It is very doubtful if the voice of the oppressed workers and peasants will even get a word into the proceedings. What opposition does materialize will be that of the nationalist bourgeois opposition to American imperialism and of spokesmen for British imperialism.

The economic factors and questions to be considered at the conference take on a varied number of forms. The American imperialists are attempting to avoid these problems which will interfere with the further development of the NRA and the struggle of the Dollar vs. the Pound. The U.S. Government issued a statement on November the 9th, which said in part:

“Unsettled conditions, such as European commercial quota restrictions, make it seem desirable for the United States to forego immediate discussions on such matters as currency stabilization, uniform import prohibitions, permanent custom duties and the like.”

A real discussion on the above points, and not mere talk by puppet delegates, would really be stepping on Uncle Sam’s toes. That is the reason America hopes to keep these points off the Agenda. The question of debts is important, but America does not care to talk debts when her creditors are bankrupt and may ask for a moratorium; rather it is wiser to see what can be done to use these debts as clubs to line the countries up for further economic penetration by America. That is what the delegates of the Wall Street government hope to accomplish. America as the creditor, facing this condition, is opposed to debt discussion; many of the debtors, on the other hand, hope to force discussion. As a compromise American imperialism will agree to discuss debts so long as the discussion does not lead to decisive action.

Regardless of what form the economic discussion may take one thing is certain. The conference is an American Imperialist set-up for the benefit of American imperialism. To strip the issues bare, the U.S. imperialists are primarily interested in the following, from an economic standpoint: To strengthen their position and control over Latin America in the struggle against the other imperialists. To arrange long-term credits for private and public projects, which will enable America to export surplus capital so vital for America’s internal life and, at the same time, enable her to use these projects to further consolidate her Latin American empire.

The American delegates are empowered to offer a half a million dollars as a start for the Texas-Santiago highway, to assume the major share of the expense of an engineering survey for a proposed Central American–Rio de Janeiro railroad. These projects will open up the doors for capital investment and the further extension of American imperialism. The aims of the U.S. Government in the Pan-American conference are the further extension of American domination, the elimination of other imperialist contenders and a straightjacket for the workers and peasants of Latin America to prevent the Soviet idea that raise its head in the Cuban revolution from becoming a living reality in the Western Hemisphere.

The conference is only two days old. Although it is America’s setup. There are factors within it that may get beyond the control of Wall Street. The results of the conference will be discussed in a later issue of the Militant.

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