Extracting the eagle's talons : the Soviet Union in Cold War Latin America

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2014-05

Authors

Reeves, Michelle Denise

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Abstract

While the Cold War in Latin America has been examined from a variety of angles, the scholarship on Soviet-Latin American relations is thin, outdated, and based almost totally on published sources. Moreover, much of the literature is replete with misconceptions about the nature of the Soviet approach to the Western Hemisphere and the relationship between Moscow and its regional allies. Using a case study approach, and based on substantial research in the archives of the former Soviet Union, this dissertation argues that Moscow’s approach to Latin America was more cautious and pragmatic than ideological and messianic. Rather than attempting to extend their control over the region, the Soviets instead sought to pry Latin American regimes away from dependence on the United States and to encourage the region to adopt a non-aligned foreign policy. To a degree heretofore not sufficiently appreciated, this approach involved the clever use of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement. Moreover, Latin American communists and Soviet sympathizers were hugely influential in shaping Moscow’s perceptions of the region and its relationship to the United States, and in pressuring Soviet leaders to provide more support to their regional allies.

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