Date of Completion

January 1987


History, United States|Political Science, International Law and Relations




Latin America provided strategic raw materials to the Allies during World War II at bargain prices in return for promised financial aid from the U.S. following the war. After 1945 U.S. policymakers almost forgot the American Republics. The region appeared stable and attracted private investments. The U.S. concentrated its resources closer to the Soviet periphery during the formative years of the Cold War. The combination of Latin American discontent and revolution slowly pried modest economic assistance from the U.S. between 1953 and 1961.^ This dissertation is the first systematic look at foreign economic policy toward Latin America during the Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency, 1953-1961. It traces the path to the Act of Bogota, the first social development program adopted by the U.S. to combat communism. The initial chapter explains how important foreign assistance was to Eisenhower and that his aid policies aptly illustrate his leadership style. The next two chapters depict Eisenhower's early aid budgets and explores how his policies damaged inter-American relations until pressure from businessmen and legislators, plus the need for support against the Guatemalan Government gave State Department officials leverage to liberalize lending policies. Chapters four through seven examine how the bureaucratic system, dominated by fiscal conservatives, rejected new development proposals until Secretary of State Dulles convinced Eisenhower in 1957 that Soviet economic penetration of less developed countries required more vigorous foreign economic policy from the Administration.^ The next three chapters investigate whether private capital alone could counteract this Soviet challenge, especially after the 1958 recession and more restrictive U.S. trade policies devastated Latin American earnings from commodity sales. New policies emerged when Latin American frustrations erupted in anti-American demonstrations in 1958. The Brazilian Government, arguing that Eisenhower should alter his policies to prevent disaffection from turning into pro-communism, proposed a "Marshall Plan" for the hemisphere--Operation Pan America. The last two chapters discuss how Latin American support for the Brazilian plan and the U.S. quest for hemispheric cooperation against the Cuban Revolution compelled the Eisenhower Administration to create institutions and programs which President Kennedy popularized as the Alliance for Progress.^ This study is based largely upon sources from the Eisenhower Library, other presidential libraries, and private manuscript collections. ^