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The Anti-American Century

 | 
Ivan Krastev
, 
Alan McPherson

Anti-Americanism in Latin America and the Caribbean

“False populism” or coming full circle?

Alan McPherson

Texte intégral

  • 1 Cited in Greg Grandin, “Latin America’s new consensus,” The Nation, 1 may 2006, 23.

1After becoming Secretary of State, Condoleezza rice accused Latin American leaders such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez of practicing “false populism” against the united States.1 examination of the anti-U.S. sentiment—be it populist or otherwise—that has swept Latin America in the mid-2000s may be served by asking a series of questions about the past of anti-Americanism. it is increasingly clear that anti-Americanism is widespread, robust, and both a cultural and political phenomenon. These are the observations of journalists or commentators on present U.S. relations with the most anti-U.S. region in the world today, the Middle East. To be sure, many of these modern-day observers ask questions that are historical in nature—for example about the long-term sources of anti-Americanism or the resentment of injustices that were perpetrated long ago. But few have asked about long-term changes within anti-Americanism: Who have been the proponents of resisting U.S. influence in the past? Who were their audiences? What mechanisms did they use—passive resistance, demonstrations, media campaigns, or the state? In short, how have different generations of “anti-Americans” defined themselves vis-à-vis the United States and how did their strategies change?

2These questions are especially pertinent to Latin America and the Caribbean. When I first heard of the conference that prompted this volume, I was amused to read that the conference organizers dated “old” anti-Americanism in Europe as recently as 1968. That date seems quaintly contemporary by the standards of Latin Americans, who, by then, had already been subjected to massive U.S. power for several generations. In response to that power, they had developed complex, interlocking identities and strategies. Resentment had simmered throughout the nineteenth century, but widespread protests appeared most particularly in response to events from the War of 1898 through World War I and throughout the Great Depression, when U.S. marines occupied several sovereign nations and U.S. investors bought up land there. The peoples of the hemisphere resisted these incursions through guerrilla warfare in the countryside and peaceful protests in the cities. As the twentieth century wore on, both violent and peaceful resistance continued, reaching their apex with the Cuban revolution of 1959, the election of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1970, the leftist insurgencies in central America the following decade, and, finally, the recent upsurge of rice’s alleged “false populism.” Because of this long experience, countries south of the united States make up one of the most valuable laboratories for isolating generational or longitudinal changes within anti-Americanism and thus for applying the historian’s craft to this timely topic.

  • 2 Shifter, Michael and Vinay Jawahar. “Latin America’s Populist Turn,” Current History, February 200 (...)

3This chapter situates itself within this long-term laboratory to ask how today’s most hostile regimes in Latin America compare and contrast with those of past generations. Let us set aside the continuing anti-Americanism of Cuba, whose seemingly eternal leader Fidel Castro gave up power for the first time temporarily in August of 2006. At the top of the list of other hostile regimes were Chávez’s Venezuela and Evo morales’s Bolivia. Significantly further behind were Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s Brazil, Néstor Kirchner’s Argentina, Tabaré Vázquez’s Uruguay, and Michelle Bachelet’s Chile. These regimes together made up what some called a new leftist consensus and others described as a new populism in Latin America.2 in varying degrees, all these leaders rose to power because of their constituencies’ widespread displeasure with U.S.-crafted neo-liberalism. As a result, the regimes backed policies that would reduce the political or economic power of the United States in the hemisphere. This new variant of anti-Americanism is not particularly cultural, but it is anti-American in that it identifies the United States as a systematic source of their troubles and aims to minimize Washington’s influence.

4This chapter argues that a historical cycle closely tied to generational change explains this anti-Americanism, and that the nation-state is at the center of this cycle. Such a view suggests that a circle is soon to be completed—or, worse for Washington and Wall Street, that an anti-U.S. spiral increasingly threatens U.S. power in the Western hemisphere. The circle spirals in this manner: through the twentieth century, anti-Americanism has moved its strategic center from marginal non-state actors in the early century, to elite state actors at mid-century, to a new combination of old and new in more recent years: state actors who encompass the socially marginal. This new combination more than ever threatens the United States because, unlike elites during the cold War, the socially marginal in the era of neo-liberalism no longer find they have much in common with the United States, and are more than ever ready and able to use the nation-state to break with Washington’s policies. Finding their support in groups ranging from indigenous peoples to Afro-latinos and from the Zapatista towns of Chiapas to the slums of Brazil, new populist regimes may prove to be true representatives of an alliance bearing an essentialist vision of the United States that allows little room for collaboration.

A FEW NUMBERS

  • 3 Readers should interpret these polls with some caution. The first reason is that, before the 1990s (...)

5The new post-9/11 anti-U.S. populism is not a purely political movement, drummed up by a few disgruntled intellectuals or radical students. By every measure, it is the most widespread resurgence of popular anti-Americanism ever in Latin America. Public opinion polls from the 1950s to the present tend to solidify this argument and help place the new anti-Americanism in context. The cold War period provided dozens of polls taken in Spanish in major Latin American countries from 1955 to 1972 by local firms in association with the United States information Agency (USIA). It is possible, therefore, to compare cold War era public opinion with more recent polls. Since Venezuela offers some of the most complete data, and since its responses were largely typical of those of the rest of Latin America, it presents a good case study.3

  • 4 USIA, “Survey of Political Attitudes in Six Latin-American cities,” June 1955, box 4, record Group (...)

6Before the 1990s, ordinary Venezuelans reported highly favorable views of the united States in all matters, as did most Latin American respondents. During the cold War, polls of Venezuelan public opinion showed Venezuelans consistently trusting U.S. leadership in global affairs. The first of these, from 1955, asked “All things considered, would you say that the U.S. is really a good friend and neighbor to Venezuela or not?” Caracans answered “yes” at a rate of 82 percent (with 3 percent saying “no” and 15 percent, “no opinion”). When asked, “Do you think that the U.S. is doing all it can to prevent another world war?” 72 percent said “yes” (4 percent “no”; 24 percent “Don’t know”).4

  • 5 USIA, “The impact of Castro upon Latin American Public Opinion,” S-6-61, Special reports, 1953–63, (...)
  • 6 USIA memo to President Kennedy, July 10, 1963, RG 306, NARA.
  • 7 USIA report, “Some indications of Worldwide Public Opinion Toward the US and the USSR,” r-141-63. (...)
  • 8 USIA report, r-39-72, in “The extent of Anti-Americanism.” See also USIA report, “US Standing in F (...)

7This trend toward friendliness continued even after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, stirring up much anti-U.S. sentiment in his wake. in 1961, only 2 percent of Venezuelans said that what they liked about Castro was that he “ended dependency on the U.S.” and 70 percent opposed the expropriation of foreigners’ land.5 Throughout the cold War, Venezuelans were within the norm for Latin Americans in favoring the united States over the Soviet union militarily, economically, and culturally.6 And when asked to “Tell me your feelings… about the U.S.” in 1963, 70 percent answered “Very good” or “Good” while only 4 percent answered “Bad” or “Very bad” (“neutral” got 16 percent and “no opinion,” 10 percent).7 even after the U.S. intervention in the Dominican republic in 1965, a move reminiscent of past U.S. “gunboat diplomacy” and widely resented by Latin Americans, Venezuelans still gave the united States a net favorable rating of 34 (“Good opinion” minus “Bad opinion”). And in 1972, at the height of global anti-Americanism over the Vietnam War, Venezuelans’ “respect for the U.S.” was 53 percent favorable.8

8Early in George W. Bush’s first mandate, Latin Americans maintained their optimism. In two surveys taken in 1999/2000 and in 2002, Venezuela’s “favorable view of U.S.” dropped, although only from 89 percent to 82 percent. Seventy-nine percent of Venezuelans agreed that “U.S. foreign policy considers others” and only 48 percent agreed that the “the U.S. increases the gap between rich/ Poor.” Latin Americans were generally enthusiastic regarding the “Spread of American ideas and customs,” “American popular culture,” and “American ideas about business practices.”9 Despite the overall drop, these were still relatively high rates, especially when compared with the rest of the world’s declining opinion of the United States.

  • 10 Corporación Latinobarómetro, Informe Barómetro 2005, 71–72.
  • 11 Fuentes, Claudio and David Alvarez, “The United States and Latin America: Public Perceptions post (...)

9Polls taken in 2004 and 2005, however, confirmed a worsening of opinions. in mid-2004, Venezuela’s net favorable views of the united States were still positive, around 30 percent. Yet these were far below the net favorables of up to 79 during the cold War. By 2005, only 41 percent of Venezuelan respondents had a “buena” or “muy buena” image of the United States, below the 61 percent average for the region but similar to other large countries such as Argentina (32 percent) and Brazil and Mexico (both 53 percent). Worse yet, 61 percent had “little” or “no confidence” in “North Americans.”10 Another poll from 2005 added that about 70 percent of Latin Americans believed the united States was an “imperialist” country, that it did not promote world peace, and that the White house was not concerned with their country’s problems.11 now in 2006, we must ask ourselves whether these unprecedented numbers are due merely to changes in U.S. policies, or also to more fundamental political changes within Latin America.

STATE ANTI-AMERICANISM OLD AND NEW

10A first clue to answering this query lies in comparing and contrasting recent anti-Americanism to the anti-U.S. movements of the middle of the twentieth century. The governments of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Fidel Castro in Cuba were arguably the most important of these movements because they took control of state resources and turned them against powerful U.S. interests in their country. Many now fear that the Chávez and Morales regimes are similar to these. This paper contends that they are, but that they might be even more serious. Movements such as Castro’s, which took power during the cold War and fought against U.S. power, were in fact a limited threat to that power. In the future, Castro may be considered in retrospect to have been a rather moderate anti-American.

11The generation of Arbenz and Castro was not as seriously anti-U.S. as the one today because it concerned itself as much with imitating the united States as with challenging it. Arbenz, Castro, and their peers did not know the U.S. occupations of the 1910s and 1920s personally; many were born as the last U.S. ships left their nations’ shores. They also came of age politically under dictatorships or corrupt democracies that were national in their ability to administer and repress, but not nationalistic in their plans for development or social justice. The dictatorial enemy— Jorge Ubico in Guatemala and Fulgencio Batista in Cuba— was one who operated a state whose system of repression was strong and widespread. But, to Arbenz and Castro, the enemy was of their own nation, and anti-Americanism entered the equation more indirectly. The mission therefore, was to clean out U.S. influence by taking over the state apparatus. Those, such as Peru’s Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, whose anti-Americanism remained rhetorical without translating into a takeover of the state, ultimately failed in their reforms.

  • 12 On this reform movement and overthrow, see Schlesinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit ( (...)

12In his own reform efforts, Arbenz learned how deep the influence of the u.S. government ran, even when one seemed in control of one’s state. The Guatemalan rose to power and popularity through a democratic election in 1950, and therefore felt entitled to push ahead with massive public works programs, indigenous participation in politics, and especially an anti-U.S. land reform, all of which would cement the nation to the state more than ever. But Arbenz failed to purge the military, and once it became clear he would not negotiate generous compensations for U.S. landowners, the CIA and the State Department planned his overthrow by infiltrating the military. in June 1954, a tiny invasion force crossed over from Honduras, also jamming radio signals and pretending that the invasion was, in fact, huge and unstoppable. A week later, Arbenz fled into exile.12

  • 13 See Paterson, Thomas. Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (...)

13A few years later, Cuban revolutionaries took their les-sons from Arbenz, especially from his mistakes. They were far more focused on decisively taking over the state. Militarily, Castro and his companions had the advantage of sharing no border with any other nation. As soon as the revolution caused Batista to flee in early January 1959, Castro quickly purged the military of any of the departed dictator’s sympathizers, jailing and shooting hundreds of them for good measure to instill fear in those whose loyalties might still be uncertain. Also learning from the example of Arbenz, who had been too publicly cozy with labor radicals for Washington’s taste, Castro and his close associates kept their distance from communist allies until they had firm control of all the Cuban ministries. And, economically, Castro’s 26th of July movement secretly devised major programs for land and financial reform while using liberal democrats to convey a public impression of moderation.13

14By the end of 1959, Castro had complete control of the Cuban state—its security, its administration, and its income. All these takeovers affected the ability of the United States to influence Cuban developments from the inside. Washington thus thought itself forced to strike back from outside: by imposing an embargo and by invading with the use of Cuban proxies whom Castro could plausibly call “anti-nationalists.” Castro thus defined his generation’s most effective anti-Americanism by using the state to quickly undercut the power of the U.S. government and U.S. corporations in his country.

15Yet Castro paid a hefty price for his independence from the United States. First, he immediately established an alternative dependence on the Soviet Union. he signed a massive trade agreement with the Soviets in February 1960 and then maintained a decent standard of living for Cubans only by trading Cuban sugar for Soviet petroleum and finished goods at artificial trade terms. This system kept Cuba afloat but also prevented it from diversifying its economy. Second, Castro bartered Cuba’s political freedoms for political unity. While alienating the United States in 1959 and 1960, he also effectively shut down all independent media and political organizations. in these ways, Castro turned his back on his promise to his generation: to use anti-Americanism to pursue models of industrialization, freedom, and consumerism based on that of the united States.

  • 14 “Terror close to home,” US News & World Report, October 2003.

16As Castro learned from Arbenz’s mistakes, Hugo Chávez—and later, Evo Morales—learned from Castro’s. To be sure, the Venezuelan and cuban regimes shared similarities, beginning with their two leaders. Both men rose to prominence through a failed coup and imprisonment (Castro in 1953, Chávez in 1992); both had military experience and dressed in uniforms on a regular basis; both purged unfriendly institutions; both had the populist touch in public appearances and made long, charismatic speeches; and, most importantly for U.S. interests, both undertook agrarian and other redistributive reforms that defied U.S. models of neo-liberalism. After coming to power in early 1999, the Venezuelan president placed more and more of his associates in the three branches of government, in addition to the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). And throughout his rule Chávez has been friendly with Castro, hosting lavish receptions for him and even organizing baseball games in which the two men coached or played. Ties between the two countries have included increased trade and, as U.S. News & World Report has alleged, Cuban infiltration of Venezuela’s secret service.14

  • 15 Franklin Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez,” The Atlantic On-line, may 2006, available at http://www. (...)

17Yet Chávez was careful not to cut off all ties to the United States. he showed an understanding that, with more than half of Venezuela’s petroleum exports still going to uncle Sam, it made no sense to eliminate the U.S. economic stake in his country or the political and consumer freedoms that Venezuelans hold dear. Even while Chávez has tightened his grip on government and the media, Venezuelans have remained generally free to protest and there are no political prisoners in the country.15

18So why has the U.S. government been so worried about Venezuela and Bolivia? Because Chávez and Morales’s brand of state-centered anti-Americanism has not aimed to emulate former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s new Deal, but rather has rejected U.S.-defined neo-liberal models that many Latin Americans feel have failed the continent. Also, Chávez and Morales are perhaps more dangerous to the United States because they have won the reins of the state—and defined these anti-U.S. goals—with the support of the socially marginalized. Because Castro ruled over a state as an autocrat, with Marxist ideology and strict communist Party discipline, he largely did not contend with the desires of the majority or identity-based groups such as women or Afro-Cubans (though he did relatively little to oppress them). Chávez and Morales, however, survive by the grace of the will of the previously disenfranchised majority. From 1998 to 2006, Chávez won three elections, one coup, and one referendum, all of which confirmed that he ruled with about 60 percent support among Venezuelans. For Morales, legitimacy came with an absolute majority vote for the presidency in 2006.

  • 16 Thomas e. ricks, “U.S. ends Arms Sales to Venezuela, citing Terrorism Fight,” Washington Post, 16 (...)

19Herein lies the danger of both men’s anti-Americanism. Because the Venezuelan and Bolivian leaders legitimately won the reins of the nation-state, they have seemed more willing to use the state apparatus as a weapon in a contest against the united States. in recent years, Chávez has locked in his control over the national Assembly, announced major arms deals with Russia and trade deals with china, and offered alternatives to U.S.-dominated media in Latin American through the Bolivarian news Agency and the satellite television channel Telesur, which bills itself as the “anti-hegemonic network.”16 And he has repeatedly threatened to cut off oil to the United States. Joining Chávez in this new state anti-Americanism, Morales signed on to the Cuban-Venezuelan trade pact alternative to the U.S.-led Free Trade Area of the Americas in April 2006, and on may 1, 2006 he announced the nationalization of the natural gas industry, much of which was owned by U.S. investors.

  • 17 Stuart Monkton, “Venezuela: Chávez Ends U.S. military ex-change Program,” Green Left Weekly, 4 may (...)

20This marshaling of state authority against the U.S. presence in Latin America garnered Chávez and Morales even more popular approval. In 2005, while calling for the expulsion of U.S. missionaries from Venezuela and ending a military exchange program with Washington, Chávez still enjoyed a 71 percent approval rating among Venezuelans.17 That popularity was due to the new ability of anti-Americanism to identify state power with the previously disenfranchised.

NON-STATE ANTI-AMERICANISM OLD AND NEW

21Chávez, Morales and other may be in fact more fundamentally anti-U.S. than Castro, not only because of their state-centered anti-Americanism, but because they have also embraced the non-state, essentialist anti-Americanism of another generation, that of those who fought U.S. marines in the previous generation. From the 1910s to the 1930s, a generation of relatively marginal groups resisted U.S. military occupations in much of Central America and the Caribbean and protested U.S. economic power in the whole of the hemisphere. This resistance was particularly intense from 1912, when U.S. marines landed in Nicaragua to initiate a twenty-one year occupation, to 1934, when more disillusioned marines finally left Haiti after almost twenty years there.

  • 18 On the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua, one could begin with Servio Ducoudray, Felix. Los (...)

22One observes a common thread during these occupations: nation building was everyone’s goal. The peasants, bandits, and local bosses (caudillos) who united to take up arms against the marines regularly claimed to be true patriots who fought for the patria and against the “nation-sellers” (vendepatrias) who occupied the bureaucracy under the boot of U.S. imperialism. The rhetoric of these groups— called sandinistas in Nicaragua, cacos in Haiti, and gavilleros in the Dominican republic —was sincere, but they lacked the means for implementing national unity.18

23The U.S. occupiers, too, were builders of nations, and perhaps even more so. in each country they occupied, U.S. administrators, both military and civilian, quite explicitly set about constructing the infrastructure they thought a modern nation required. Roads, telephones and telegraphs, sewers, hospitals, and schools would all assure the stability of the central element in modernization, a functional, effective, and efficient government staffed by technocrats.

24In Haiti, “modernization” came in the nefarious form of reviving the corvée, or forced-labor law, which U.S. officials used to re-create a dynamic close to slavery in order to build roads in the poverty-stricken nation.

25As a result of U.S.-led state repression, those who resisted U.S. power attacked the institutions built by U.S. intervention. U.S. observers were often correct in pointing out that those who most wanted the occupations over with were the political “outs” who wanted back “in.” What they did not understand was that anti-U.S. activists were deeply conflicted: the occupation forced them to attain their goal of uniting the nation only by assaulting the state apparatus they wanted to take over. They had to destroy the nation in order to save it.

26Perhaps the clearest incident of non-state actors attacking the state to express anti-Americanism was the series of strikes in the town of Aux Cayes, Haiti, in December 1929. As the Great Depression sank in upon U.S. citizens and the world community, the Haitian occupation entered its fifteenth year. Haitian patience with the marines was at a boiling point. Several anti-state grievances suddenly coincided in this nationwide protest movement: elite students in U.S.-run schools revolted at having to learn practical skills such as farming and engineering alongside simple peasants; alcohol distillers and tobacco growers rejected new taxes that fortified the state but squeezed out small businesses; and, yes, politicians who had been out of power for too long feared the permanent destruction of the spoils system on which they had always counted for their livelihood. All of these grievances were rejections of the ways the U.S. government had transformed the nation-state to the disadvantage of certain Haitian groups.

  • 19 Schmidt. Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934, 199–200.

27The protests built up over several weeks, as more and more towns and institutions laid down their pencils and plows and picked up banners to fly and stones to throw. On December 6, 1929, a group of perhaps 1,500 on horseback threatened to enter the town of Marchaterre, on the outskirts of Aux Cayes. About twenty marine officers and their local constabularies met the group, panicked, and shot into the crowd. Depending on who counted, the U.S. controlled force killed from 12 to 24 and wounded another 23 to 51.19

28The result of the “massacre at Aux Cayes,” as Haitians called it, was to accelerate the process of handing over the reins of the nation-state back to Haiti in Washington. Soon enough it became clear that two sets of attitudes poisoned the process. On the U.S. side, there was scarcely any trust of the Haitians’ abilities, and, as a consequence, few U.S. administrators devoted enough resources towards training them to run the modern apparatus now in place. On the Haitian side, partisanship had only intensified during the occupation, as had the identification of U.S. citizens with Haiti’s long-held opposition to white occupation. “Haitianization,” in its ideal U.S. form, would have kept the U.S. engineered state intact and merely replaced Americans with Haitians. But two decades of racial oppression on one side and xenophobia on the other—a fatal mixture producing anti-Americanism—shaped a Haitian political system that, soon after the occupation, reverted to dictatorship.

29Many Latin Americans gave up completely on their desire to take over the nation-state during this time and reveled in marginality itself. Nicaraguan rebel Augusto Sandino found lasting fame and his most important military victories against the marines after he fled to the Segovia Mountains in the mid-1920s. Chilean writer Gabriela mistral called Sandino’s followers the “crazy little army” because of their desperate challenge to the great U.S. military machine.

  • 20 Amador, Armando. Nicaragua y Sandino: Las banderas de Gustavo Machado (Caracas: Ediciones Centauro (...)
  • 21 Frazier, Charles Edward, Jr. “The Dawn of Nationalism and its Consequences in Nicaragua” (Ph.D. Di (...)
  • 22 Henri Barbusse in ibid., 440.

30Sandino may have been desperate, but he was not crazy. Though he called himself a nationalist or patriot, he found his support and his goals largely outside the nation-state. His ideology then turned from nationalism to internationalism as he allied himself with Hondurans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Mexicans, and even U.S. citizens. Sandinism was so transnational in scope that it became a symbol for those fighting imperialism everywhere. in 1928, Chinese nationalists marched through Beijing with banners of Sandino, and one of their divisions was named after him.20 Guatemalans sold a cigarette called “Cigarrillo Sandino,” and el Salvador, a liquor called “néctar Sandino.”21 Marxists and leftists throughout the world supported the nicaraguan struggle. As one French journalist wrote in support, “Today attention is directed towards General Sandino, whose figure resembles those of the great historical Libera-tors, and who according to the words of Manuel Ugarte, represents with his heroic troops the popular revenge of the Spanish-speaking countries against the Anglo-Saxon imperialism and against the treacherous local oligarchies, opposed to every movement of liberation.”22

  • 23 Bolañons Geyer, Alejandro. Sandino (Masaya, Nicaragua: n. pub., 2002), 44–45.

31By 1930, Sandino even suggested separation from Nicaragua. he turned inward and founded an affiliate of a Latin American mystical society called the magnetic-Spiritual School of the universal commune. its teachings combined a millenarian vision of anti-Americanism with a self-sufficient economic cooperative movement, both indicating that Sandino had given up on reforming the Nicaraguan state.23 Sandino even minted coins to be used in the Segovias that called the region the northern republic of Nicaragua—and featured one of his rebels beheading a U.S. marine.

  • 24 Denny, Harold Norman. Dollars for Bullets: The Story of American Rule in Nicaragua (Westport, Conn (...)
  • 25 Cancino Troncoso, Hugo. Las raíces históricas e ideológicas del movimiento sandinista: antecedente (...)

32Few, however, gave Sandino much of a chance for victory. One U.S. journalist who had been in-country for half a year noted how Sandino was indeed popular as a symbol, but not powerful as a leader. “He did not represent public opinion in Nicaragua. He had the sentimental sympathy of great numbers of Nicaraguans, but the voluntary support of only a few… Few people in Nicaragua were really interested in throwing the Americans out of the country, even though they might not love them… it is not easy to weigh Sandino or his movement, but this is certainly true—that his chief significance was that he served as a focal point for all the undoubted dislike and jealousy and distrust toward the united States in Latin America.”24 When Sandino refused direction from communists in Mexico, his weakness—the lack of a state—became apparent. He still could hide from U.S. marines, but grew more desperate for supplies and adherents. The rest of the story is well-known: Sandino soon sued for peace and secured the departure of the last marines, but was betrayed by Anastasio Somoza, head of the U.S.-created national Guard, whose men soon thereafter took Sandino out to an airfield and shot him dead.25

33Why are these events relevant to today? Because current leaders in Latin America are reviving the self-conscious marginality of the 1910s and 1920s while—and this is key—fusing them with the strategies of the 1950s and 1960s to take over the state and use it against neo-liberalism. Castro in 1959 achieved power backed mostly by white middle-class youths and relatively comfortable rural workers, groups well acquainted with the standards of U.S. culture, political democracy, and consumerism, and who often aspired to those standards. Castro himself was of landowning Spanish ancestry, well educated, and an admirer of Franklin Roosevelt. Chávez and Morales’s supporters, in contrast, included a broader representation of gender, age, and skin color—groups who were poorer, more desperate, and angrier.

  • 26 Márquez, Patricia. “The Hugo Chávez Phenomenon: What Do ‘the People’ Think?” in Venezuelan Politic (...)

34Let us take Venezuela again. There, Chávez’s failed coup of 1992 was not merely the effort of one elite group against another. it both fed on and coincided with uprisings by those traditionally left out of middle-class party politics during the cold War. On February 27, 1989, the announcement of higher transportation fares to pay for a fuel hike sparked violent confrontations in twenty cities, in which as many as fifteen hundred Venezuelans died. This violence was novel because it involved not students or guerrillas but slum dwellers. For that reason the 27th became known as “the day the shantytowns came down from the hills.” “For five days, large crowds of people took over the streets, entering shops, looting, breaking windows, burning tires, and stealing cars,” as one scholar described it. “The poor and the marginalized residents of the shantytowns, as well as many considered middle class, were no longer passively accepting price inflation, food shortages, and the collapse of social services.”26

  • 27 Hellinger, Daniel. “Political Overview: the Breakdown of Puntofijismo and the rise of Chavismo,” i (...)

35This same popular element rioted after two attempted coups in 1992, one of these being Chávez’s. Meanwhile, the proportion of public opinion favoring radical changes grew from 51 percent in 1995 to 63 percent in 1999.27 not surprisingly, this proportion was similar to that of Venezuelans living in poverty (55 percent) and those working in the informal economy (53 percent). These numbers support the claim that Chávez was not an instigator but a follower of a popular revolt.

  • 28 Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez.”
  • 29 Venezuelanalysis.com, 26 November 2003.

36Chávez himself comes from the interior plains, far away from the cultural cosmopolitanism of Caracas, and his base lies largely in the ranchos, the slums surrounding the capital. in both these areas, the desire for a better life has long been present, but was rarely associated with the united States. As explained by a friend of Chávez who came from the same area, “it’s like we’re from West Virginia or a place like that. We don’t have the same codes or cultures. city people know rock-and-roll. We don’t know rock-androll.”28 moreover, Afro-Venezuelans are now estimated at between 12 and 15 percent, and they also have found in Chávez—a mixed-race Indian-black—a new champion who denounces racism and celebrates diversity.29

  • 30 Los Angeles Times, 8 October 2003.
  • 31 “Venezuela: Significant increase in Chávez’s Popularity,” Green Left Weekly, 11 may 2005, availabl (...)

37The poor, blacks, and women have supported Chávez because he had made drastic changes in their lives. The most common comment from a Chávez supporter is that the government had done something for him or her for the first time ever. “I have lived through lots of different governments,” said one poor woman. “This is the first time in my life that the government has done something for me.”30 For instance, the government subsidized food markets and laid potable water pipelines in slums. it pushed through land reforms. It traded cheap oil to Cuba in exchange for seventeen thousand doctors and teachers to provide free and accessible services. It built housing, health clinics, railroads, and literacy programs. Millions for the first time had access to medical and dental care, education, and microcredit. One Latin American analysis estimated that 73 percent of Venezuelans have benefited in some way from Chávez’s reforms.31

38Besides supporting Chávez in every election, the formerly disenfranchised are actively involved in his defense. not only did they give him their support at the ballot box several times, but, in 2002, when opponents staged massive demonstrations, similar or larger numbers came out on the side of their beloved leader. When the anti-Chávez media encouraged work stoppages, slum dwellers kept showing up for work.

39Like Sandino, Chávez has also made efforts to identify his regime with the dispossessed, not only inside his country but outside of it. Not only did he extend favorable petroleum rates to several Latin American countries, but he heartily welcomed the World Social Forum to Venezuela for the first time in January 2006. During this protest from “below” against U.S.-led globalization, tens of thousands marched through Caracas to oppose the U.S. war in Iraq. A few months before, in November 2005, Chávez slipped away from the other heads of state gathered in Argentina’s Mar del Plata for the Summit of the Americas to address 25,000 activists at a “counter-summit” in a nearby soccer stadium.

  • 32 Chávez in Washington Post, 24 April 2004.

40This revolt did not necessarily need to be anti-American, but the opportunity was there and Chávez seized it. Chávez set himself against the political parties long allied with U.S. capital and the U.S. government. He also punished the well-to-do by cracking down on corporate tax evasion, and pursuing the likes of coca-cola and McDonald’s. But it was U.S. actions, especially the George W. Bush administration’s failure to condemn a coup attempt against Chávez in 2002, that allowed Chávez to further identify with marginal Venezuelans, for instance by portraying himself as a Jesus-like martyr. When Chávez accused the Bush administration of “wars of domination,” he added that if Jesus were alive, he “would be confronting the U.S. Empire.”32 On another occasion he said, “There has been no way of talking with this administration. They don’t respect us. I’m tired of trying to carry out the mandate of Christ, turning the other cheek. I’ve been slapped so many times, my cheeks are purple.”

  • 33 Elizabeth Dinovella, “Chávez’s Staying Power,” The Progressive, October 2004, 31–34.
  • 34 Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez”; Grandin, “Latin America’s new consensus,” 25.

41Chávez even spoke of Bush as an associate of his domestic opponents, whom he called “the Devil”: “El diablo has an owner from the north that is capable of anything,” he said. “Here in Venezuela we are confronting a savage conception of privilege that dominates the world… This is the same idea that Christ fought against when he confronted roman imperialism.” During the referendum, he likened the “no” vote against his recall to the “no of Cristo against imperialism.”33 Chávez is no doubt guilty of overheated rhetoric—he’s called President Bush “Mr. Danger” and “asshole” and in march 2006 he asked that the white horse on Venezuela’s flag face left rather than right so as to no longer be “imperialist.”34 But it is more important that, in the end, he joined many in identifying his state with the fortunes of the traditionally marginalized.

  • 35 Tom Hayden, “Bolivia’s Indian revolt,” The Nation, 21 June 2004, 18–22.

42Though Chávez, like Castro, is an original, in several countries of Latin America groups identifying overwhelmingly with racial or ethnic profiles have been articulating anti-U.S. visions. in 2003, for instance, protests by Aymara Indians in the highlands of Bolivia led to riots that caused the death of seventy and the flight to Miami of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Losada. The exiled president, a free market economist, was hated for his plan to export the country’s natural gas to California while, back in Bolivia, the Aymaras, dwelling thirteen thousand feet above sea level, continued to live without heat. One Bolivian described the “gas revolt” as part of a “mountain chain of indigenous uprisings in reaction to U.S. neo-liberalism in Latin America, the most radical thing that has appeared in thirty years.” An indigenous leader, known as the “condor,” suggested a more unforgiving race-based vision: “Whites are here as renters on our land, and we need to put a giant fence around them, a reservation, a safe place for white people to be.” He felt himself at war “against gringo neoliberalism and racism, and [wanted] to change our government to an Indian one.”35

  • 36 “Bolivia: Dreams and realities,” The Economist, 20 may 2006, 42
  • 37 Nadia Martinez, “Political upheaval: Latin America challenges the Washington consensus,” In These (...)

43Out of this ethnic frustration has emerged Morales, the first indigenous president in Bolivia’s 180 years of independence. The champion of indigenous coca growers who tired of the U.S. government’s attempts to crack down on them as suppliers rather than stamp out the U.S. demand for cocaine, Morales declared in his acceptance speech, “long live coca and down with the Yanquis.”36 he added that “the [U.S.] zero-coca policies haven’t worked,” and when he met with Secretary of State rice, he presented her with a charango, a traditional Bolivian musical instrument decorated with coca leaves.37

  • 38 “A review of USIA research,” 4 march 1963, folder USIA review of US research 3/4/63, box 91, Depar (...)

44For the U.S. government, perhaps the only silver lining in this cloudy situation is that the poor have traditionally not been as anti-American as other groups in Latin America. Unfortunately, few polls during the cold War asked the poor what they thought, especially neglecting the campesinos in the interior, who often lived in near-feudal desperation. One exception proved this rule. A USIA poll in 1961 claimed to be “the first time anyone had systematically sought the views of the semi-literate, poor ampesinos” in Latin America. Interviewers completed the study “despite great difficulties” as local elites denied them permits and jailed them. The elites, it turned out, were right to worry. According to the poll, peasants rejected both capitalism and communism as a way of life. They preferred “socialism,” by which they meant land reform. They also felt, interestingly enough, that the U.S. government was rather sympathetic to these hopes.38

45A 2004 poll from Venezuela confirms this perhaps universal concern of the poor with economic progress over anti-U.S. protest. As a whole, Venezuelans showed more concern with economic bilateral relations than with any other issue. When asked what came to mind when thinking of the United States, the most common answer was economic power, at 32 percent. More important, socioeconomic differences clearly emerged, when a whopping 45 percent of the least educated Venezuelans answered “Don’t know,” while only 3 percent of those with a university degree answered similarly. Furthermore, those with less education who had a specific answer tended to focus on economic and military power, while those with more education disproportionately emphasized cultural and social issues. The poll, when coupled with other evidence, suggested that the poor in Venezuela have generally not had enough exposure to “Americanization” to form much of an opinion about it; or else they were too suspicious of polltakers to venture an answer. It is this economic desperation, coupled with unfamiliarity with the united States— this lack of “knowing rock-and-roll”—that makes the poor the great “swing” factor of anti-Americanism. If Washington can persuade them that their economic well-being lies in greater collaboration with the United States, and not with handing over the state to hostile populists, it may yet have a chance to reverse the current trends.

46Generations of anti-U.S. resistance movements in Latin America provide a surprisingly rich backdrop for comparing and contrasting anti-Americanism. Through the three generations portrayed here—the 1920s, the 1960s, and the 2000s, each separated from the previous one by forty years—the state was the locus of power, but not always of anti-U.S. activity. Anti-Americanism arose outside the state when U.S. power acted within it, and inside the state when U.S. power loosened its hold on it. For this reason, opponents of U.S. occupations early in the century called themselves nationalists, but they developed anti-U.S. campaigns both “below” the state at the local level and “above” it at an international level. Castro’s generation saw U.S. power over dictatorial states weakened, and so moved to take over the state. Perhaps the most important conclusion is that, now that U.S.-led neo-liberalism appears to show little concern for both the poor and the state, these two are uniting against U.S. power all over Latin America.

47While it is true, therefore, that Castro still remains in power partly by exploiting the theme of vigilance and unity against a constant U.S. threat to his island, he is no longer the model of anti-Americanism. That model resides in several disparate groups of indigenous protesters from Mexico to Bolivia, who suggest that anti-Americanism has come full circle while having evolved in its identities and methods. These groups share characteristics with the generation of Sandino, such as a non-European identity and the ability to operate outside the nation-state. Unlike the Sandino generation, however, they make use of new communication tools such as the internet, decades of political organization, and their focus on the ballot box. They are potentially the most powerful anti-U.S. movements in Latin American history.

Notes

1 Cited in Greg Grandin, “Latin America’s new consensus,” The Nation, 1 may 2006, 23.

2 Shifter, Michael and Vinay Jawahar. “Latin America’s Populist Turn,” Current History, February 2005, 51–57; Grandin, “Latin America’s New Consensus,” 23–27. Some also have described divisions within this political shift: Shifter, Michael and Vinay Jawahar, “The Divided States of the Americas.” Current History, February 2006, 51–57; “The Battle for Latin America’s Soul: A Fight between Democrats and Populists,” The Economist, 20 may 2006, 11.

3 Readers should interpret these polls with some caution. The first reason is that, before the 1990s, they were taken uniquely in large cities, whereas some of the more recent polls at least were only “disproportionately” urban. We can infer from this that older polls were partly friendlier because they were taken among more well off persons, and usually in capital cities where government jobs provided a more decent standard of living. A second reason for caution is that I said Venezuela’s responses were “generally typical” because they moved along with Latin American opinion, but they were also, perhaps surprisingly, friendlier than that of other countries. This is perhaps partly explained because polls were taken uniquely in Caracas, the capital, which was, more than other South American capitals, wealthier and whiter than the rest of the country and so more prone to identify with the United States.

4 USIA, “Survey of Political Attitudes in Six Latin-American cities,” June 1955, box 4, record Group 306 records of the united States information Agency, U.S. national Archives, college Park, Maryland [hereafter RG 306, NARA].

5 USIA, “The impact of Castro upon Latin American Public Opinion,” S-6-61, Special reports, 1953–63, box 20, RG 306, NARA.

6 USIA memo to President Kennedy, July 10, 1963, RG 306, NARA.

7 USIA report, “Some indications of Worldwide Public Opinion Toward the US and the USSR,” r-141-63. In “The extent of Anti-Americanism Abroad in the Wake of Iranian Developments,” research reports, 1964–1982, box 19, RG 306, NARA. A similar poll in 1964 got similar numbers: USIA report, “Balance Sheet on US vs. Soviet Standing in World Opinion,” R-111-64, also in “The extent of Anti-Americanism.”

8 USIA report, r-39-72, in “The extent of Anti-Americanism.” See also USIA report, “US Standing in Foreign Public Opinion Following the President’s Visit to china,” r-27-72, in “The extent of Anti-Americanism.”

9 “What the World Thinks in 2002,” 4 December 2002, available at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/165.pdf, last accessed 24 may 2006. This poll includes numbers from a 1999/2000 poll.

10 Corporación Latinobarómetro, Informe Barómetro 2005, 71–72.

11 Fuentes, Claudio and David Alvarez, “The United States and Latin America: Public Perceptions post 9/11/2001,” poll conducted in July 2005 by FLACSO-Chile.

12 On this reform movement and overthrow, see Schlesinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit (New York: Doubleday, 1982); Immerman, Richard. The CIA in Guatemala: The Foreign Policy of Intervention (Austin: university of Texas Press, 1982); Gleijeses, Piero. Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944–1954 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton university Press, 1991); Chapters 5 and 6 of Karabell, Zachary. Architects of Intervention (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1999); and Grandin, Greg. The Last Colonial Massacre (Chicago: university of Chicago Press, 2004).

13 See Paterson, Thomas. Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution (New York: Oxford university Press, 2004); and chapter 2 of McPherson, Alan. Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.–Latin American Relations (Harvard University Press, 2003).

14 “Terror close to home,” US News & World Report, October 2003.

15 Franklin Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez,” The Atlantic On-line, may 2006, available at http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200605/Chavez, last accessed 19 may 2006.

16 Thomas e. ricks, “U.S. ends Arms Sales to Venezuela, citing Terrorism Fight,” Washington Post, 16 may 2005, A14; Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez.”

17 Stuart Monkton, “Venezuela: Chávez Ends U.S. military ex-change Program,” Green Left Weekly, 4 may 2005, available at http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2005/625/625p16.htm, last accessed 24 may 2006; Data analysis poll cited in Jose Orozco, “Oil Prices Smooth Over Differences,” Latinamerica Press, 4 August 2005, available at http://www.lapress.org, last accessed 25 January 2006.

18 On the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua, one could begin with Servio Ducoudray, Felix. Los “Gavilleros” Del Este: Una epopeya calumniada (Santo Domingo, 1976); Calder, Bruce. The Impact of Intervention: The Dominican Republic during the U.S. Occupation of 1916–1924 (Austin: university of Texas Press, 1984); Franks, Julie. “The Gavilleros of the east: Social Banditry as Political Practice in the Dominican Sugar region, 1900–1924.” Journal of Historical Sociology 8, no. 2 (June 1995): 158–182; Blancpain, François. Haïti et les Etats-Unis 1915–1934: Histoire d’une occupation (Paris: L’harmattan, 1999); Gaillard, Roger. Les blancs débarquent 5 vol. (Port-au-Prince: n. pub., 1981–1983); Schmidt, Hans. The United Status Occupation of Haiti 1915–1934 (1971; reprint, with a foreword by Stephen Solarz, new Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers university Press, 1995); Macaulay, Neill. The Sandino Affair (Chicago, ill.: Quadrangle Books, 1967); Hodges, Daniel. Sandino’s Communism: Spiritual Politics for the Twenty-First Century (Austin: university of Texas Press, 1992).

19 Schmidt. Occupation of Haiti, 1915–1934, 199–200.

20 Amador, Armando. Nicaragua y Sandino: Las banderas de Gustavo Machado (Caracas: Ediciones Centauro, 1984).

21 Frazier, Charles Edward, Jr. “The Dawn of Nationalism and its Consequences in Nicaragua” (Ph.D. Diss., University of Texas, 1958), 438.

22 Henri Barbusse in ibid., 440.

23 Bolañons Geyer, Alejandro. Sandino (Masaya, Nicaragua: n. pub., 2002), 44–45.

24 Denny, Harold Norman. Dollars for Bullets: The Story of American Rule in Nicaragua (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1929), 336.

25 Cancino Troncoso, Hugo. Las raíces históricas e ideológicas del movimiento sandinista: antecedentes de la revolución nacional y popular nicaragüense 1927–1979 (Odense University Press, 1984).

26 Márquez, Patricia. “The Hugo Chávez Phenomenon: What Do ‘the People’ Think?” in Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era: Class, Polarization, and Conflict, eds. Ellner, Steve and Daniel Hellinger (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Riener, 2003), 201.

27 Hellinger, Daniel. “Political Overview: the Breakdown of Puntofijismo and the rise of Chavismo,” in Venezuelan Politics in the Chávez Era, 35.

28 Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez.”

29 Venezuelanalysis.com, 26 November 2003.

30 Los Angeles Times, 8 October 2003.

31 “Venezuela: Significant increase in Chávez’s Popularity,” Green Left Weekly, 11 may 2005, available at http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/ 2005/626/626p17j.htm, last accessed 24 may 2006.

32 Chávez in Washington Post, 24 April 2004.

33 Elizabeth Dinovella, “Chávez’s Staying Power,” The Progressive, October 2004, 31–34.

34 Foer, “The Talented Mr. Chávez”; Grandin, “Latin America’s new consensus,” 25.

35 Tom Hayden, “Bolivia’s Indian revolt,” The Nation, 21 June 2004, 18–22.

36 “Bolivia: Dreams and realities,” The Economist, 20 may 2006, 42

37 Nadia Martinez, “Political upheaval: Latin America challenges the Washington consensus,” In These Times, April 2006, 22.

38 “A review of USIA research,” 4 march 1963, folder USIA review of US research 3/4/63, box 91, Departments & Agencies, President’s Office Files, Kennedy Papers, John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, mass. See also USIA, “The role and Trend of Public Opinion in Latin America: 1961,” folder P-4 no.3 1959–1962 Area Background—ARA, box 205, country Files 1955–1964, Planning and Development Staff, Bureau of cultural Affairs, record Group 59 records of the Department of State, NARA.

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