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Sam Marcy

Havana Parley Failed to Meet
Hemisphere Economic Problem

(10 August 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 32, 10 August 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Now that the Havana Conference is over, all sections of the American bourgeoisie are busily engaged in drawing a balance sheet of its results and accomplishments.

All sections of the bourgeoisie are in accord that the menace of Nazi economic penetration, real as well as feigned, must be vigorously combated by force if necessary.

All are agreed that henceforth the Caribbean sea must become a strictly American lake, that the long string of islands stretching from the Bahamas off the coast of Florida, to Trinidad off Venezuela, must pass into the hands of Yankee imperialism, by payment if needs must – in the form of a mark-off for French and British defaulted war debts!!

And if there is still any room for further exploitation of Latin American markets, the United States should extend its beneficent hand – with money in the form of loans, supported by good and sufficient collateral security!

And if Latin America can absorb American manufactured products, shut out from the European markets by the imperialist War, then by all means, the Roosevelt government should help create the facilities necessary for the marketing of these finished products. And above all, the solid “democratic” bonds, which are common to all Americans such as Batista. Vargas, Senator Reynolds and Martin Dies, must be strengthened.

They Run Up Against Some Hard Facts

Upon all of these things, all sections of the American bourgeoisie are in perfect accord. But all of this unanimity cannot hide the most burning contradictions within world imperialist economy, cannot hide the fact that Latin America is primarily an agrarian and raw material “supplement” to industrial Europe and partially to the United States, that Europe and Latin America are component elements of a blind anarchical system of economy each of which produces at its own risk the products needed by the other, but never being in a position to adapt itself to the demands of the other.

The fact that both Latin America and the United States both suffer from the same capitalist disease of overproduction, in the sphere of cotton, wheat. corn, cereals, oil and others, while Europe is on the verge of starvation for lack of these products, illustrates once again the law of the growing disproportion between the main branches of capitalist economy, between industry and agriculture.

Latin America must be in a position to export its agricultural products to countries which need them (Europe). The United States can only absorb them to a very small extent, and what is more, it is afflicted with the same malady as is Latin America: it has huge surpluses of agricultural products, which it can only dispose of in Europe or Asia.

Why The Farmers Aren’t Pleased

Agricultural capitalists in the United States, or to be more specific, the Middle Western agrarian interests, are in sharp competition with Latin America in the sale of the same products.

What then, is this talk by Roosevelt of empowering the United States Import and Export Bank to loan Latin America $500,000,000 to help them sell their agricultural products? Isn’t it enough, cry the Western farmers, that we have to meet such sharp competition from Latin America without Washington helping them to undersell us, with a subsidy paid by American taxpayers?

But it is not in answer to your interests, that I make this proposal, Roosevelt would answer if he were truthful. It is in the interest of powerful industrialists and financiers who have invested billions of dollars in Latin American railroads, telephone companies. public utilities, oil refineries and merchant vessels, that Roosevelt makes this proposal.

These billions of dollars will bring no premiums to the coupon clippers in Wall Street, unless Latin America can export its products. Thus if Brazil does not export its cotton, it does not use the American-owned railroads in Brazil, uses less electric power, less telephones, less merchant vessels. As a matter of fact, and not merely as an illustration. American investments in Latin American industry have brought constantly diminishing returns, as a result of the catastrophic drop in Latin America’s export trade.

Thus the Roosevelt government prefers to help the finance capitalists who have investments in Latin America rather than the agrarian interests of the MiddleWestern states. He must do so. since the finance capitalists are also the real rulers of the United States.

Struggle Between Farmers and Finance Pictured

The struggle between the finance capitalists and the agrarian interests of the middle West was graphically and dramatically illustrated in the Senate Banking Committee during the consideration of the Wagner Bill providing for an increase in lending powers of another $500,000,000 in order to cover loans to Latin America.

Federal Loan Administrator Jesse Jones, representing the finance capitalists, was explaining the purposes’ of the bill and came to the part wherein he stated that the United States would help Latin America export more wool and hides, even into the United States. He was immediately cut short by Senator Fraizer, of North Dakota, who said, “We produce wool and hides here – we could produce all we need.”

Senator Clark, from Idaho, immediately joined, since Idaho is also an agricultural state. So did other Senators from the middle Western states join in the protest, but of no avail, since it is the bankers and industrialists who run the country and not the middle-Western farmers.

Perhaps it might not be far afield to point out here that the sharp curtailment of the home market for agrarian products, and the ever-growing dependency of the American agricultural states upon exports, to Europe and Asia, has reflected itself politically in demands for “isolation” as America’s foreign policy – meaning by that term non-involvement in war, since war curtails export markets – and for the development of peaceful trade policies with all countries and against high tariffs. That explains the strong, “isolationist” tendencies in the middle West, and the use it is put to by such demagogues as Senator Wheeler and others.

Latin America and the Middle West can only be liberated when the proletariat of the Western Hemisphere takes the means of production into its hands, ousts the capitalists and establishes a socialist system of production, based on use and not profit. That is the only way to solve the imperialist contradictions which are torturing all of toiling humanity.

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