Strategic Landscape 1914
Latin America’s strategic landscape varied as widely as its topography in 1914. A bloody revolution and civil war raged in Mexico, and instability teetered on anarchy in Hispaniola. An uneasy calm settled over Central America after decades of tit-for-tat fighting between Liberal and Conservative caudillos, and a rare period of tranquility blanketed South America. For most of Latin America, 1914 was unique in its promise of peace and progress.
As the twilight of Old World empires cast a weakening light across the Western Hemisphere, rising nations challenged the traditional colonial powers in the competition for influence and resources. US occupation of Cuba and Puerto Rico after the Spanish-American War in 1898-1899, and overt US support to separatists in Panama’s quick war of secession from Columbia in 1903, heralded a new era of ascending US power in the Western Hemisphere. Two other new world powers, Germany and Japan, also took a particularly strong interest in Latin America.
A resentful Spain had been ousted by the US, and remaining Old World colonialists found themselves clinging to islands of the Caribbean and mainland toeholds in the Guianas and Belize. A subtle bipolarization divided Latin America as the nations that were suspicious of the US welcomed Chilean military advisors or opportunities for military training in Chile, while nations that felt threatened by Chile—Peru, Bolivia and, to a lesser extent, Argentina—found themselves by exclusion in the same camp.
Copyright 2017, J. Bisher