U. S. Involvement in Latin America

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U.S. Involvement in Latin America


In the early 1900s, Latin America and the Caribbean were a special focus of U.S. foreign policy. The United States viewed this region as its own "backyard" and therefore a good place to exert its power and influence.In addition to Nicaragua, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, the United States intervened in other Latin American countries, notably Panama, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Helps Panama Overthrow Colombian Rule

The United States became interested in Panama in the mid-1800s. Various nations wanted to build a canal across Central America as a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Such a canal would have enormous commercial and military value. During the Spanish-American War, the battleship USS Oregon had to travel almost 14,000 miles around the tip of South America to get from California to Cuba. A canal would shorten the journey to just under 5,000 miles.

The narrow Isthmus of Panama was part of Colombia. The Roosevelt administration tried to lease land in Panama for a canal, but the Colombian government turned down the offer. In 1903, the United States encouraged a revolt in Panama. Roosevelt sent warships to prevent Colombian troops from intervening. The revolt succeeded, and the United States quickly recognized Panama as an independent nation.

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