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Hugo Oehler

Wall Street Rules at Montevideo Confab

Tariff Plan of U.S. Imperialism Designed as Weapon
Against European Competitor Nations

(December 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 56, 23 December 1933, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Although the Pan-American Conference is not expected to adjourn before December the 24th, it can be clearly seen already that American Imperialism dominates the conference; and nothing will be approved that does not serve the interests of Wall Street. Criticism of American imperialism did break through the barriers, but the representatives and puppets of Washington prevented this criticism from jeopardizing the position of the Yankees in Latin America. Giraudy, head of the Cuban delegation launched an attack against American intervention in Cuba. He correctly pointed out that intervention has taken place even though its form has become more subtle under the Roosevelt administration. Argentina’s foreign minister, as chairman, defended the United States and prevented the criticism from developing. He prevented a Peruvian delegate from launching an attack on American imperialism, and guided further criticism from other delegates, who had taken courage, into safe channels.

Secrecy at Conference

Secrecy prevails at Montevideo as it does at all capitalist conferences. Some of the lesser puppets, who were not obtaining as much attention from the U.S. delegation as the delegation of more favored countries, because they had less that the exploiters of the north wanted, put up a protest against the secrecy, but to no avail.

Mexico led in the attack on the conference. This is not surprising. American relations and domination there stand at a more favorable position than in the past, and the Washington delegation desired to devote their time to more troublesome spot in Latin America. The conference itself is little more than a rubber stamp. The real work is conducted by means of audiences with the Secretary of State of the Colossus of the North. The Steering committee, which is composed of those who enjoy this privilege, is the real conference.

In considering any action of the Pan-American Conference one must always keep in mind its structure. It was constructed by American imperialism for its own use against the other imperialist powers and against the weak capitalist countries and colonies of Latin America. One of the many jokers in the statutes of the Union, which assures American domination, provides that the United States Secretary of State shall always be the president of the Union.

U.S. Hits at Rivals

Many of the concessions and agreements for America’s interest obtained at Montevideo will not be known. But the main proposal presented by Hull, horse traded by the Argentina delegates for the “Anti-War Pact”, and since rubber stamped by the conference, is the Tariff Plan. The plan proposes reciprocity pacts and tariff reduction in order to lower the present trade barriers. The proposal called for no treaties, conventions or legal commitments by the conference. It left this open for a free scramble. Such “Custom Unions” obtained by the United States will be another blow by America against Europe. The United States-Colombian pact has already been signed as a straight reciprocal agreement. Negotiations with Argentina and Brazil, for similar bilateral pacts, are already under way.

The Hull Plan also provides for safeguarding the internal struggle of the American imperialists through the NRA and similar projects. The plan provides that the tariff reductions must not interfere with “the operation of temporary emergency and other extraordinary measures compromising domestic recovery programs.” This plan for tariff reduction has stirred up discussion in the States. Some say it is a complete change in policy on tariffs while Moley, who just recently resigned as Assistant Secretary of State, says the Hull proposal contradicts the NRA. If the NRA is for the construction of a self-sufficient economy, of organized capitalism, or of “Intra-nationalism” minus its internal or foreign part, it is doomed to failure. But the real purpose of the NRA is something else; and so long as the capitalists supplement it with new measures at each critical turn it will more than justify itself as a breathing spell. The Hull proposal does not contradict the needs of the NRA at a certain stage. Neither does it run counter to the interest of American imperialism in general. It is admirably adapted for these capitalist needs.

Behind the Tariff Plan

The attempt to reorganize production on a higher level under the NRA at reduced cost and, at the same time to reorganize labor power and obtain greater control over it, encounters the necessity, at a certain stage, of new markets for capital and commodities. This the Hull Tariff proposal seeks: to prepare for. In fact the most urgent need of American imperialism is a greater share in the already divided world. Otherwise the decay will be faster and the class storms more violent. No matter which road America follows she cannot avoid these problems.

The administration knows what is needed in relation to the internal reorganization attempted under the NRA. Besides the Dollar-Pound struggle, Washington is taking four other important steps. Two of them are well under way. They are the recognition of the USSR and the Hull Tariff proposal and Tariff agreements with other countries in Latin America and Europe. The two others are the plan to establish a privately owned export credit hank, through which the RFC intends to finance American exports, and the setting up of export expansion machinery with George Peek in charge. Each step listed is a part of a general plan to cope with the above burning problem of American imperialism.

American imperialism must do things in a big way in order to maintain her dominating world position. At the Pan-American conference the U.S. handles a whole continent which she hopes to place more firmly under her domination.

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