The United States was founded as an "infant empire," in the words of George Washington. The conquest of the national territory was a grand imperial venture. From the earliest days, control over the hemisphere was a critical goal.
Latin America has retained its primacy in U.S. global planning. If the United States cannot control Latin America, it cannot expect "to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world," observed President Richard M. Nixon's National Security Council in 1971, when Washington was considering the overthrow of Salvador Allende's government in Chile.
Recently the hemisphere problem has intensified. South America has moved toward integration, a prerequisite for independence; has broadened international ties; and has addressed internal disorders-foremost, the traditional rule of a rich Europeanized minority over a sea of misery and suffering.
The problem came to a head a year ago in Bolivia, South America's poorest country, where, in 2005, the indigenous majority elected a president from its own ranks, Evo Morales.
In August 2008, after Morales' victory in a recall referendum, the opposition of U.S.-backed elites turned violent, leading to the massacre of as many as 30 government supporters.
In response, the newly-formed Union of South American Republics (UNASUR) called a summit meeting. Participants-all the countries of South America-declared "their full and firm support for the constitutional government of President Evo Morales, whose mandate was ratified by a big majority."
"For the first time in South America's history, the countries of our region are deciding how to resolve our problems, without the presence of the United States," Morales observed.
Another manifestation: Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has vowed to terminate Washington's use of the Manta military base, the last such base open to the United States in South America.
In July, the U.S. and Colombia concluded a secret deal to permit the United States to use seven military bases in Colombia.
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