Most of Latin America remains part of the Organization of American States, and remains bound by the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, also known as the Rio Pact, which provides for hemispheric defense, with the exceptions of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, which withdrew. If a honeymoon is an educational period in which you learn about your partner, then the war has been a honeymoon in inter-American relations. We have come to understand that “Latin America is a very vague and imprecise name for a highly diversified continent of twenty nations. It is true that everyone speaks Spanish except Haiti, which uses French, and Brazil, whose 44 million inhabitants (one third of all Latin Americans) speak Portuguese.
But the convenient term “Latin America” should not mislead anyone to assume that the area is a uniform political or economic whole. Most of these units differ greatly in size, population composition, social structure, type of government and degree of economic development. Each country should be considered for itself, and all generalizations should be avoided or carefully qualified when applied to a single country. A considerable number of the total population of 120 million people in “Latin America” are not in the least of Latino origin or culture, but are Indians, blacks and people of mixed blood.
Above all, these twenty countries are strongly nationalist and do not consider themselves Latin American at all, but as Mexicans, Peruvians, Cubans, Costa Ricans, etc. A Haitian man is as surprised to be called “Latin American” as are our soldiers in Virginia and Texas when they are hailed abroad as “Yankees.”. Latin Americans don't like to be grouped together indiscriminately, just as we wouldn't want everyone between the Rio Grande and Hudson Bay to be called “English Americans.”. Geographically, these nations also differ greatly from each other.
The distances are enormous, since its territory is three times the size of the United States. One country, Brazil, is so big that the entire U. You could drop into it and make room for a second Texas. On the other hand, El Salvador is about the size of Maryland, and Costa Rica has a smaller population than Washington, D.
In addition, some of the countries of South America are not our neighbors, geographically speaking, because they are closer to Europe than to us. All of South America, by the way, is east of Detroit, and most of it is east of New York City. Nor is this whole vast expanse of territory a tangled jungle smoky under the tropical sun. Most countries have some tropical or semi-tropical areas, but there are many temperate regions.
Latin Americans are sensitive on this point, and tourists who use tropical helmets in temperate cities such as Lima, Peru, will find reservations. Americans who used to annoy English people looking for Indians on Broadway will understand this sentiment. The social and cultural achievements of the twenty nations are equally varied. In some countries, illiteracy reaches 75 percent, while in others most people can read and write.
The small Central American republic of Costa Rica has long been proud to have more teachers than soldiers. In every country there are at least a few well-educated individuals who speak several languages fluently and who feel at home in the world of European culture. The standard of living is relatively low overall, at least compared to ours. Some countries have made significant progress in improving the social and economic conditions of their population.
In Uruguay, for example, during the presidency (1903-07, 1911-1) of the energetic and far-sighted José Batlle y Ordónez, workers won many reforms. They have an eight-hour day and accident insurance for industrial workers; child labor is not allowed; and the elderly receive pensions. Elections are decided by secret ballot and women can vote. Uruguay has more than 1,500 free elementary schools, good high schools and a university.
In addition, the government supports an Air School to reach through radio programs those in the rural population who cannot read or write. Uruguay is a little ahead of the rest, but in most Latin American countries the standard of living of the population is improving. The standard of living of any country depends on the nature of its resources and the vigor and intelligence with which they develop. There are also great contrasts in this field, although economically all Latin American nations have some ties in common.
They have all been producers of raw materials for the world, such as coffee, wheat, bananas, tin, silver and oil, and all have had to borrow capital from abroad. All have lacked the capital, labor and technical knowledge to fully develop their great natural resources. Other characteristics of Latin America can be observed. It has the smallest population and the lowest number of inhabitants per square mile of any continent, except Australia.
This is true despite the fact that Haiti, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic are among the most densely populated countries in the world. Most nations rely primarily on agriculture and mining, and are comparatively young on the scale of economic development. South America's total import trade in 1938 was lower than that of France; its total export trade was lower than that of Germany. Between half and two thirds of people in Latin America are connected only very indirectly to trading systems.
Most of them produce what they need from the land, living in isolation and in relative poverty. Millions of Latin Americans are not likely to buy or sell goods worth one hundred dollars a year. The plane has provoked a revolution in transport. Since 1927, there has been an enormous development of airlines throughout the area.
Today, in only seven of the twenty republics, railroad mileage exceeds airline mileage, and many Latin American countries have more mileage per thousand square miles than the United States. Before the war, American and European airlines did a lot to achieve this tremendous development of air transport. The United States government, as part of our wartime assistance, has also provided technical assistance and trained many pilots. All major countries now have growing domestic air services.
Industrialization is well advanced in certain countries, where both world wars stimulated local manufacturing and imposed high protective tariffs to help “nascent industries”. Argentina, which with Brazil includes the main manufacturing centers, had twice as many people employed in industry as in agriculture and livestock in 1939. The products of its factories almost equaled in value to wheat and beef, which had previously been the only foundations of its export economy. The large Argentine textile industry of wool, linen, cotton and silk fabric satisfies most of the demand of its population.
Meat packing companies produce three-quarters of world exports of chilled meat. Flour, sugar, wine, canned goods and vegetable oils are among processed foods. Shoes, cigarettes, soap, paper, glass, furniture, paints, cements, electrical appliances, chemicals, tires, and automotive assembly are among the manufacturers. Brazil also has important industries and over the next decade it could well become the main manufacturing nation in Latin America.
Its industrial capital, São Paulo, is the most dynamic city in all of Latin America. Its citizens face the future with as much energy, optimism and vision as can be found anywhere north or south of the Rio Grande. Its rhythm is the pace of Chicago and New York. Mexico, Uruguay and Chile also have considerable industrial development.
However, Latin America is not favored by readily available coal or hydropower resources, so its industry will always have to overcome major obstacles to achieve maximum growth. Much of Latin America's industrial development was made possible by the billions of dollars of capital that Europe and the United States invested in Latin America. Our investments, which amounted to almost $4 billion in 1939, include “direct investments in food production, mining, utilities and manufacturing” and “indirect investments in the bonds of the various governments”. British investments are estimated at 3.6 billion.
All other European investments are relatively small and scattered. Latin America, between the two world wars, traded mainly with Great Britain, Germany and the United States. There was very little inter-American trade, partly due to transportation difficulties. The United States is the main market for Caribbean countries, but further south, our trade relations become progressively less important.
With Argentina and Uruguay, our score was very low, since in 1938 we bought only 14 percent of Uruguay's exports and 12 percent of. The explanation is, of course, that the United States is a good customer for tropical agricultural products, but a poor customer or no customer for a number of important temperate agricultural products that compete with ours. In 1939 we bought 57 percent of Latin American coffee, 67 percent of its cocoa, 72 percent of its sugar, 79 percent of its bananas. But we only take 8 percent of their wool, 5 percent of their meats, no wheat or corn, and only 4 percent of their other cereals.
More than that, we compete in world markets with Latin America in certain export surpluses, such as cotton and wheat. Because Americans know Mexico best, they often assume that all of Latin America is full of native tribes who hold ceremonial dances in picturesque costumes. There are many Indians in Mexico, Central America and in the Andean countries of South America (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia). But in other Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Uruguay, real Indians are almost as rare as Indians in cigar stores in the United States.
There are also other racial differences. Haiti is a black republic; Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Costa Rica are mostly white; while Brazil probably has a more mixed population than any other country in the world. This concentration of Germans and Japanese in certain special areas prevented their absorption and assimilation. It also made possible its organization and manipulation from abroad by Germany and Japan.
Latin American governments naturally resented this threat to their national unity. After the outbreak of the war in 1939, they became increasingly concerned that Nazi Germany and later Japan would invade their. Tough measures were taken against this threat. This European and Japanese immigration, when added to the already diversified racial structure of Latin America, helps explain why generalization can hardly be made about the people of Latin America.
Whatever their racial makeup, it's safe to say that men are certainly not all posh gentlemen, playing guitars outside the windows of seductive young ladies to Hollywood. In general, they are serious and hardworking people, mostly farmers. Industrialized cities, such as Buenos Aires, Argentina, with more than three million inhabitants, and São Paulo, Brazil, with about two million, are few and far between. Latin Americans live on farms or small towns, encourage revolutions, drink rum and dance rumba much less often than we think.
Nor do all bloodthirsty Latin Americans attend bullfights when they feel the need to relax. In fact, bullfighting is banned in many countries below the Rio Grande. In the last twenty-five years they have been playing tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball and boxing more and more. The fight for prizes received a big boost in Latin America when the Cuban “Kid Chocolate” began his career, and when Luis Angel Firpo, the Argentine “Wild Bull of the Pampas”, almost knocked out Jack Dempsey.
Chilean fighting fans tripled when Arturo Godoy fought Joe Louis. And so, today you will find Latin Americans speaking fluently about a noquat (a noquat) or a K, O. In the ring during a boxing match. Football has been growing in importance over the past twenty-five years, and Latin Americans are experts at it.
Uruguay once won the Olympic championship and Brazil has been runner-up. However, the sport that is really sweeping the continent now and that is adding the largest number of words to the Spanish vocabulary is baseball. Fans support their teams with as much enthusiasm and voice as Brooklyn supports the Dodgers. Kill the Ampayer (kill the referee) is a cry as familiar in Santiago, Chile, as in any American baseball stadium.
It is also important to know that the government and business of many of the Latin American nations are controlled by men of Spanish and Portuguese descent. In terms of language, religion, ideals and temperament, they are much more sympathetic to continental Europe than to England or the United States. For centuries, the commercial and cultural interests of the ruling classes have focused mainly on the continent. They have generally regarded France as the source of culture and often Germany as the home of science and mechanical excellence.
England, of course, has also enjoyed a lot of prestige. In fact, European civilization in general was more appreciated by upper-class Latin Americans than our culture. Transport to Europe was decidedly faster and more comfortable than to the United States, and social and business trips to the continent far surpassed those of this country. Until recently, a considerable proportion of the wealthy aristocracy lived in Europe, making only occasional visits to their countries of birth.
Santos-Dumont, the great Brazilian aeronautical pioneer, whom Brazil considers the father of aviation, was one of those volunteer exiles. It is typical of the lack of knowledge and understanding between our two continents that Santos-Dumont has been almost unknown here and that Latin Americans almost ignore the Wright brothers. Despite the many commonalities of colonial Spanish America and Brazil, they did not consider themselves part of a particular region; that was a development of the post-independence period that began in the 19th century. For Britain, asserting economic dominance in Latin America (what is now called neocolonialism) meant that nation-states were sovereign countries, but were economically dependent on other powers.
The presence or absence of indigenous populations had an impact on how European imperialism developed in the Americas. The Spanish and Portuguese colonization of the Western Hemisphere laid the foundations of societies that are now considered characteristics of Latin America. Latin Caribbean music, such as merengue, bachata, salsa and, more recently, reggaeton, from countries such as the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Panama, has been heavily influenced by African rhythms and melodies. The term has no precise definition, but it is commonly used to describe South America, Central America and Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean.
Although secularism was a growing trend in Europe and North America, most Latin Americans identified as Catholics, even if they did not attend church regularly. Those who supported the return to export of commodities for which Latin America had a competitive advantage disagreed with advocates of an expanded industrial sector. Events in Europe had a profound impact on the colonial empires of Spain, Portugal and France in the Americas. In all countries, too, the most recent European immigration has increased the complexity of the racial composition of Latin America.
In South America, Gran Colombia was born, encompassing what are now the separate countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Peru, with independence leader Simon Bolivar as head of state (1819-1830). In general, Latin American countries are still considered developing or emerging nations, and Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are the largest economies. Like many other Latin American countries, Brazil exported raw materials and imported manufactured products, which for both Great Britain and Brazil adapted to their economic strengths. The Creole languages of continental Latin America, in a similar way, are derived from European languages and several African languages.