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Sam Marcy

U.S. Seeks Hemisphere Control

Havana Is First Move in Plan

Economic Proposals Will Be Followed by Armed Force

(27 July 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 30, 27 July 1940, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The Havana Conference is the answer of United States imperialism to a possible Hitler victory over British imperialism.

Washington has convened the conference in order to line up the Latin American countries on the side of the United States in a world conflict with German imperialism which would undoubtedly follow a Nazi victory over Britain.

At the conference the United States seeks first of all to prevent the real possibility of German economic penetration of Latin America. That is a real possibility for a, victorious Germany, organizing European production, could supply Latin America with the manufactured products it needs so badly and, in return, could take the agricultural produce and raw materials of Latin America. With low labor costs and efficient production and with a definite need for Latin American exports, Germany could compete with the United States in Latin America on better than even terms.

How prevent that? How, in other words, keep Germany altogether out of Latin America? This is the problem with which Washington is wrestling and for which it has convened the Havana Conference.

Hull-Berle Cartel

Feeling its way Washington has permitted to become public one proposal – the Hull-Berle scheme to form a digantic cartel for the control of exports from the Western Hemisphere. An Inter-American Export Corporation would bar exports from and imports to a Nazi-dominated Europe.

But as the New York Times says very frankly in its editorial of July 22, it is economically impossible for the United States to pay the Latin American countries for its products. The authors of the cartel plan cannot but know this. How, then, do they propose to secure the obedience of the Latin American countries for the plan to cease their exports to Europe and Asia? If not by payment, there can be only one other method – armed force. The Havana Conference is, therefore, but a prelude to the military subjugation of the hemisphere by American imperialism – that is what is in store.

At Havana, therefore, the United States delegation is primarily occupied in finding those countries who are not primarily dependent on European and Asiatic exports and who will therefore consent to become junior partners of American imperialism in the subjugation of the hemisphere.

Economic Solution Impossible

The mailed fist will, however, be preceded by the silk glove of economic methods. The Hull-Berle cartel proposal cannot however be expected to work on a purely economic level. That can be demonstrated by analyzing the economic situation of the hemisphere.

A clear understanding of the full implications or this so-called “hemisphere policy” can only be had if we begin by dismissing some of the myths which have been deliberately fostered in recent months by the capitalist press in the U.S. The first myth is that of “hemisphere unity.” The western hemisphere is a geographical unit as every school boy knows. But under no circumstances can it be classified as an economic unit.

Oh the contrary the western hemisphere is a vast economic conglomeration of both complementary and competitive economies tied to the rest of the world by trade and commerce. Any attempt to isolate economically the Latin American countries from Europe or Asia or to impose upon them an autarchic economy can only lead to the most frightful convulsions in their economic setup, destroy gigantic productive forces and further reduce the already battered living Standards of the Latin American toilers.

Some Simple Examples

A very simple illustration of the dependency of Latin America upon the rest of the world is supplied by the $1,000,000,000 worth of raw materials, which Latin-America annually has sold to Europe and Asia. The aim of the Hull-Berle cartel scheme to end these exports means utter ruination for Latin-America. That this is so can be easily seen by an examination of the effects it would have on the major Latin-American countries.

A good foreign market for exporting its oil spells the difference between existing poverty and economic prostration for the Venezuelan masses. Mexican economy in the last analysis, depends upon the export of oil, copper and silver. World prices of copper set the living standards for Chile and Peru. Petroleum export is the source of most of Colombia’s income. Meats, cotton and hides are the major raw materials produced in Brazil and Argentina. Loss of the European market for her coffee Would deprive Brazil of most of her foreign exchange. Wheat, corn, linseed, wool bides, and meats, produced mostly by Uruguay and Argentina, are entirely destined for foreign markets. Central America depends heavily on the export of bananas.

The so-called central marketing agency (or to put it more plainly, U.S. capitalists) would have to absorb, on the basis of 1938 statistics – 65,000,000 bushels of wheat, 10,000,000 bags of coffee. 725,000 tons of meat, 1,500,000 bales of cotton, 214,000 tons of wool, 300,000 tons of copper, about 20,000,000 tons of oil. – to mention only Latin-America’s major exports!

Where, however, would the products be sold?

The natural inference which the capitalist press in the U.S. would have us draw, is that they would be sold in the United States. But this is far from the minds of the American capitalists. They know very well that a great many of the Latin American exports are in direct competition with the products made or grown in the United States. As we have said, Latin American economy is not only a complementary one, but also competitive, especially with the United States.

For example the United States competes in the world market with Argentina and Brazil in the sale of wheat, cotton and meats.

The United States also competes with Latin America in the sale of cotton, oil, linseed and corn – to name only the important ones.

Crisis of Overproduction

To believe that American imperialism will purchase these products of the Latin countries at a “fair” price and dispose them upon the already overloaded American market is simply ridiculous. As matters stand now the Roosevelt government is still paying farmers to plow under wheat and cotton, and still hands out millions to oil barons in order to control the production on oil.

The disease of over-production, especially in the field of agriculture and raw materials, arising out of the chaos created by the capitalist crisis, struck both Latin American and the United States. But owing to the fact that the Latin American countries never even temporarily recovered from the post-war crisis, the crisis of 1929 made conditions in the field of agriculture and raw materials especially severe there. The outbreak of the Second Imperialist War, unlike the last war which heavily increased Latin American exports to the Allies at high prices, has still further undermined the export trade of the Latin American countries, thereby further accentuating the already sharp crisis.

Thus Argentina is preparing to burn 6,000,000 tons of corn, which it cannot sell to Europe because of the war. Uruguay is left holding one-fourth of its wool crop, which it cannot dispose of. Brazil’s stocks of coffee and cotton are cramming the warehouses. Germany, its best customer, has ceased to buy altogether on account of the blockade. Chile’s exports of copper and nitrates have materially decreased, as Germany was one of its principal customers.

In the light of what has been said above it is easier to see what it will mean to these Latin American countries if U.S. imperialism succeeds in foisting upon them the Hull-Berle scheme to further reduce the already diminished export trade of these Latin countries, upon which their very existence depends.

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