Latina ambassadors : the Benito Juárez Squadron and Pan-Americanism during World War II




Martínez, Valerie Ann

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Situated within the theoretical framework of Pan-Americanism and the Pan American ideal in the 1930s and 40s, "Latina Ambassadors" examines an unprecedented collaborative recruitment effort between Women's Army Corps officials and leading Latin-American organizations to solicit 200 women of Latin American descent from San Antonio and its environs. Based on research conducted at twenty archives, my dissertation argues that the creation of the Benito Juárez Squadron represented a pivotal point in the history of U.S-Latin American relations when political and military leaders in the U.S and Mexico were building a system of unity and reciprocity in the Americas. The project uncovers how Mexican American community leaders and WAC recruiting agents strategically utilized Latina bodies and their cultural heritage to purposely promote them as the embodiment of hemispheric democracy. The women however, also consciously participated in the promotion of amicable international relations and had their own gendered reasons for enlisting in the WAC. This work demonstrates the importance of understanding the impact of international politics at the local level and adds an additional layer to the growing scholarship on Mexican American civil rights, with its emphasis on the symbolic and real roles of women.



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