No other great powers will be allowed in Latin America, and liberal democracy is the only political system allowed in the region (or, in practice, no socialist or Marxist rule will be tolerated in the region). These are the two tenets of the Monroe Doctrine established by the US in 1823, a successful and long-standing strategy that perpetuated Washington’s hegemony in Latin America until November 2013, when then–US chief diplomat John Kerry declared its “end” at the Organisation of American States (OAS).

Yet the recent trip to Latin America by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggests this may only have been a short parenthesis in the history of the strategy. Indeed, Tillerson seems determined to revive the Monroe Doctrine.

Kerry and the “end”

The Monroe Doctrine has undergone several alterations. In the nineteenth century it was directed against the European monarchies and their colonialist ventures, and during the Cold War its focus shifted against the Soviet Union and socialism/Marxism. After 1989, the Monroe Doctrine shifted again, with no clear “enemy” to focus against. As the US enjoyed its unipolar moment, the “backyard” of Washington did not need any supervision, and therefore Latin America was no longer a priority.

Washington’s lack of attention left a door open for other great powers. Several countries began to engage with the region, China being the most assertive. Beijing has increased its influence in Latin America significantly since 2001, with the Sino–Latin American relationship intensifying as trade jumped from US$12 billion at the beginning of the century to approximately $250 billion in 2015. Political and military engagements gradually increased between Beijing and several Latin American countries Washington regarded with distrust; namely Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina.

Please click here to read the full “The Monroe Doctrine revival” article published at The Interpreter, written by Diego Leiva, School of Governance and International Relations, Griffith University.