Recently, an American scholar pointed out that Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean are becoming more “Americanized.” Not only has Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, never identified itself as Latin American, it is now more obviously detached from Latin America. Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, among others, have also become more “de-Latinized.” He thinks that perhaps the so-called “Latin America” is disappearing.
Whether “Americanization” or “de-Americanization,” it is both a long-standing historical issue for Latin America and a practical reality that has to be faced due to the current trend of economic globalization. From a historical perspective, Latin America has always been inclined toward Americanization. In the process of industrialization and modernization, Latin American countries have more or less thought about receiving much needed economic aid from their richer neighbor and also have learned the strengths of the American model. Following the intensification of economic globalization, the American political model, culture and ideology have had an unprecedented impact on Latin America and have increased risks and concerns relating to Americanization.
America has always had the intention of promoting Americanization in its long-term relationships with Latin America. Latin America is known as the “backyard” of America, and since the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine, America has been attempting to control and influence Latin America’s political, economic and cultural developments in order to maintain its dominant position in the Western Hemisphere. America encourages Latin American countries to follow the American political system, helping Latin America integrate into the American-led global trading system, in order to maintain strategic interests in Latin America.
Nonetheless, there are huge disparities between Latin American countries. Americanization is not a conscious choice made by Latin American countries. While feeling their way toward democratic development, some Latin American countries have increasingly emphasized unique national histories and cultures. Ethnic and racial compositions vary widely between Latin American countries. Due to the greater numbers of indigenous people in the Andean and Central regions, some former colonial traditions, customs and culture are not only preserved but have become important aspects of national politics, the economy and social life. These countries have increasingly emphasized national cultures and traditions, advocating for the inclusion in development strategies of reasonable elements from the concepts of ancient indigenous Indian villages. Some scholars thus believe that these countries are increasingly exhibiting a so-called “de-Americanizing” or “Latinizing” trend.
Another fact that should not be overlooked is that an inclination of “de-Americanization” has always existed in Latin America. Historically, many Latin American countries have been victims of American hegemony, leading to a natural vigilance against America and anti-American sentiments. Even in Mexico, a country with close ties to America, nationalism or anti-American sentiments are obvious. Some left-wing administrations in Latin America are even consciously pushing for “de-Americanization” policies in areas of politics, the economy and diplomacy. In February of this year, Latin American countries unanimously agreed to establish the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, which excluded America and Canada. This further consolidates and strengthens Latin America’s right to speak and influence internationally as a body.
Latin America consists of 33 countries. They are very different in such areas as national strength, culture and tradition, social structures and political systems, with significant differences in policy preferences. In recent years, despite policy convergence in aspects such as democratization, economic liberalization and regional integration, differences persist in other areas. With Colombia and Mexico as representatives of moderate right-wing administrations and Venezuela and Bolivia representing the left-wing, divergence — even contradictions — are observed in developmental models, economic and social policies, regional integration strategies and approaches to foreign relations. This reflects the trend toward diversification of developmental models in Latin America as countries attempt contextualized explorations along their paths of development. This diversity does not indicate “de-Latinization”; on the contrary, it demonstrates a more distinct Latin America with more personal characteristics.
[Editor: Shaowu Zheng]