The threat of US hegemony in South America

After 1933 Ross becomes increasingly concerned with the US–South American relationship.

In 1933 US president Franklin D. Roosevelt officially launched the Good Neighbor policy with regard to South America. If previously the US had directly (and openly) intervened militarily in South America in pursuit of its own interests, now the US was pledging to refrain from armed intervention. But, as Colin Ross detected, armed intervention was replaced by cultural and economic influences, which he saw as intended to establish US hegemony in the southern continent.

Ross had ended the 1922 (original) edition of his South America book with the warning that a new race of people was in ascendance on the continent, a new,  powerful race that might one day travel the route taken by the conquistadors, but in reverse direction, to subject Europe to its own colonial rule. After 1933, this final passage was replaced by a new one warning of (yet simultaneously dismissing) the possibility of a US-led Western hemisphere. 

“Maybe one day the race that is now developing from the mixture of Indian and European blood will enter history. South America is its own world region, its own Großlebensraum, despite all of the efforts of the United States to reduce it to a part of an Anglo-American Western hemisphere. These efforts extend into economic, political, and cultural territory. Economically, it started right after the World War. The Americans have met with undeniable success against the previously dominant English capital and against Germany. At any rate, the American imports have increased more than the English or German. Today, one notices this with one’s first step onto South American soil. One is driven from the ship to the hotel in a Ford, Chevrolet, or Buik [sic], travels to his room in an Otis elevator, turns on the American-made radio, and listens to a program of the National or the Columbia Broadcasting Company”.

Yet, despite these and other successes, Ross doubts whether the US will ever be able to turn its dream of a Western hemisphere into reality. “…there is no doubt that South America will never allow itself to be Anglicized or ‘Yankee-ized’. Instead, even in such a Western hemisphere, it will play a decisive role and will make its own unique impact”.

Kristin Kopp








Colin Ross. Die Blumeninsel. In: Südamerika. Die aufsteigende Welt.  8. Aufl.. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1941 [1922]; 271-275.


Topic: Clash of Continents
Case: Geopolitics




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