Reincarnation of the good neighbor : Nixon and the creation of Latin American policy
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Much of the research on President Richard Nixon and his Latin American policy offers an overly simplistic portrayal of his attitudes and polices toward Latin America. This report explores the creation of President Richard Nixon's Latin American policy in the first year of his administration. After a brief overview of key events early in the administration, such as the U.S. government's response to the brief war between El Salvador and Honduras known colloquially as the "Soccer War", the body of the report will explore two discrete events. The first event was the ill-fated Operation Intercept, an attempt by the Nixon administration to stem the flow of marijuana across the Mexican border. Operation Intercept, the largest peacetime search and seizure operation in U.S. history up to that point, highlighted many of the sources of friction between U.S. government agencies. Additionally, the operation provides an example of the growing importance of the NSC in government decision making and the ability of the Nixon administration to learn from past mistakes. This incident also provides an example of the agency of the Mexican government, the other half of the foreign policy equation. The other event this report will highlight is Nixon's one major speech on Latin America, which he gave on October 31, 1969. This speech was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of events, meetings, and reports that morphed into the White House's strategic vision toward the region. This report concludes with a comparison of Nixon and Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Latin American policies. Both president's approaches were remarkably similar in substance including an increased focus on hemispheric trade and close relations with unsavory dictators that advanced U.S. interests. The differences in policy outcomes were ultimately due to changing cultures in both the United States and Latin America, but also to fundamental differences in how both men approached the presidency.