February 18, 1945

A propaganda poster: Americanos Todos, Luchamos por la Victoria (Americans All, Let’s Fight for Victory). OWI Poster no. 65, Office of War Information, Washington, DC: GPO, 1943. At the conference of Chapultepec, the wartime appeal for victory against the Nazis became a postwar appeal to hemispheric unity through the forging of a military pact.

 

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of University of North Texas Digital Library.

The US Lobbies For a Regional 
Military Pact in Latin America

While Roosevelt strives for post-war cooperation among allies (including the Soviets) in Yalta, Nelson Rockefeller, powerful heir to the  Standard Oil fortune and an ardent foe of the Soviet Union, pursues a different course. As FDR’s Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America, he heads up a Republican-dominated US delegation to Mexico which puts US business interests first.  The US delegation insists on an Open Door to Latin America markets--including pro-Axis Argentina, which is Latin America’s most industrialized country.

 

Rockefeller’s vision is a Western Hemisphere closed to the world for the almost exclusive benefit of American interests.  To prevent the spread of communism in Latin American, Rockefeller and Secretary of War Stimson argue for the creation of a regional military pact that considers an attack against any American state as an attack against all, thus permitting unilateral military action in violation of the recent Dumbarton Oaks agreement to refer all international disputes first to the proposed United Nations organization.  A select group of Latin American leaders agree to join in this regional military pact, favoring US arms sales and training of Latin American governments to” help maintain internal order against revolutionary disturbances.”

 

A Mexican labor leader. Lombardo Toledano, denounces the resulting Act of Chapultepec, warning that it amounts to “the final adoption of the Monroe Doctrine which would leave the Latin American republics at the mercy of the United States.” Rockefeller subsequently approaches an ailing FDR to get his approval for pro-Axis  Argentina becoming a member of the UN if Peron declared war on Germany and signed the Act of Chapultepec. FDR reluctantly agrees in return for Republican congressional support for the United Nations and acceptance of the Yalta accords.

 

Further reading:

 

Thy Will be Done. The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil, by Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennett.

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