The Rise of Fascism in Latin America

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The Quest for World Domination

The caricature above illustrates the quest of the Nazi German regime to gain world domination through their political and economic policies a strategy that came as a result of fascism become less popular among world. The goal in this particular caricature centers its attention to the Latin American continent and the United States. In the 1930s Berlin tries to impose its policies in Latin American countries promising economic bloom and growth. The United States being the most powerful in this sphere is concerned that If Latin American nations embrace these Pro-Nazi policies it would challenge their power. Washington counters this by spreading anti-fascism propaganda and in turn morally sway Latin American countries to remain United against Nazism and the Axis.

Nazi Economic Diplomacy in Latin America

Nazi economic diplomacy in Latin America was designed to restructure the trade policies of Latin American countries away from the Pan-Americanism promoted by the United States, and inclined towards a pro-German economic and political domain. It was an attempt to attain dominance in the South American continent and undermine the United States. However, these attempts were countered by President Roosevelt’s Government who eventually won over the loyalty of the Latin American states. This two battle of the western hemisphere did not spur a direct war between the German and the United States but did contribute to the tension, which can be seen in the conflict between the Axis alliance and the democracies in Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa (Petras, 2018). The battle between the U.S. and Germany is probably the most prolific during the 1930s.

Germany's Shift to Economic Self-Sufficiency

The politics of fascism had become less attractive compared to the pre-war years, and the Germans strived to establish a growing economic relationship with foreign countries. In the 1930s, world prices for raw materials were on the rise and the other hand the prices of manufactured goods were falling. Germany was a major importer of raw materials and an exporter of manufactured goods, and as result of this price change, a large trade deficit emerged. Berlin began to move away from free trade to the direction of economic self-sufficiency (Hallin, 2002). It was aided by the uses of strict bilateral trade agreements that bound specific trade partners to Berlin and where possible, with countries Germany had a sphere of influence.

Germany's Focus on Latin America

In an attempt to achieve economic self-sufficiency, Berlin switched his attention to the Latin American states. Hitler had an understanding that Latin American countries were ideally representing the interests of the U.S. and knew that Washington would not make against its aggression. However, what Hitler underestimated was the ability the United States to pursue its threat when it came to the obstruction of achieving its core objectives. Even at the expense of foreign policies such as the Neutrality Bill, Washington would do anything to restore its status quo.

German Influence in Latin America

In 1934-1935, Berlin sent a delegation of experts to all Latin American countries except Bolivia and Paraguay. The Third Reich interest in Latin America at this point was to secure and merge raw materials, which would be traded against Germany. These Nazi experts were maliciously establishing a system that would only bring gains to Berlin and losses to the South American States (Petras, 2018). The Nazis aimed at rebuilding its image characterized by fascism to the one that was non-violent and with economic interests. By this, Germany was able to impose its benefits on 14 Latin American countries.

Economic Impact of German Influence

In 1935, Germany's imports from Latin America had grown 11% that is from 37-48%compared to the preceding year. It saw a 3% decline in imports from 60-57% in the United States. On an annual basis, it is estimated that Berlin would make 300-400 Reich marks from these imports (Petras, 2018).

Resistance and Countermeasures

Brazil was an ideal display for the force between Nazi Germany and the U.S. In 1937, the president Getulio Vargas introduced the Brazilian Estado Novo that aided independency from its foreign policies. In 1938, a coup d’état was attempted by the integralist party with an intent to surrendering Rio de Janeiro to the Axis. The integrals party was based on the ideologies close to fascism and Nazism, and to some point, it is believed that Berlin was behind the coup (Hallin, 2002). A conflict between Brazil and Germany resulted from this. Moreover, in March 1939, Berlin utilized the opportunity to buy the nationalized oil from Mexico when the UK boycotted its move.

Concerns and Actions of the United States

Moreover, Washington further realized how close to an attack from the Nazis they were, and it posed a threat to domestic and external security. The subversive agendas of the Nazis would soon come to know. The NSDAP managed to infiltrate the South American political space and was posing a domestic threat to these nations (Petras, 2018). From 1938 and onward, Washington officials began to get concerned by the axis nationals living in Latin America. The Latin American residents with a German origin would be involved in subversive acts such as espionage, sabotage, and pro-Axis propaganda. The Third Reich had suddenly turned a sudden and notable danger.

United States Countermeasures and Success

The United States administration got concerned with the Latin America and Nazi Germany relationships, which were forged by Berlin political and economic policies that aimed to replace the U.S. as the superpower in the American continent. Espionage, sabotage and Nazi propaganda in Latin American countries was a source of concern for the USA and had to be aggressively countered by Washington who was keen to retain their status quo in the continent (Petras, 2018).

The Role of Nelson Rockefeller

Upon expressing his concern to President Roosevelt over the influence of Nazi in Latin America, Nelson Rockefeller was appointed to the position of new position of coordinator of inter-American affairs. This program was responsible for overseeing the United States cooperation with Latin American countries to raise their standards of living, achieve better relations with countries in the western hemisphere and most importantly, counter the rising influence of the Nazi in the region (Hallin, 2002).

Anti-fascist Campaigns and Economic Support

Anti-fascist campaigns across the Latin America states was the critical strategy under the leadership of Rockefeller. The significant investment was on radios, tv broadcasts and motion pictures that were aimed at reaching masses. Madison Avenue technics were aggressively resisted in Mexico locals who were well informed and opposed American influence. In addition to propaganda, the U.S. allocated large sums for economic support and development in Latin-American countries (Hallin, 2002). The Roosevelt policy was a political success for United States except in Argentina that embraced the German influence until the end of the war.

Blacklisting and Economic Warfare

Additionally, at Roosevelt’s order, American diplomats and intelligence agents prepared a list of potential alien enemies in the region. It was a clear violation of the Good Neighbor Policy: the decision to pursue economic warfare by blacklisting companies and individuals in Latin America without consulting them. This list prohibited companies and persons under the jurisdiction of the United States from trading with the listed individuals. Latin companies that did business with a proclaim list firm would be listed itself and would be excluded from trade with the USA and other local businesses leading to their collapse (Hallin, 2002).

Latin America's Dependence on the U.S.

Most Latin American economies were impacted and they either severed with the Axis powers or declared war upon them. As a result, many Latin American countries were now dependent on the US for trade and this way. Most of Latin America used the fight to their advantage by siding with the United States to receive aid. Washington had gained power over the continent.

Collaboration and Resistance

The war on Pearl Harbor further led to the further action on suspected Axis nationals. The U.S. appealed to Latin American Governments to restrict the movement of their resident Axis citizens. Due to the vulnerability to corruption and overthrow, the United States requested to have suspected individuals sent to them for internment. American utilized tools ranging to enticement to economic coercion, which ensured co-operation by Latin American governments (Petras, 2018).

Different Responses in Latin American Countries

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico did not comply with this policy. Argentina, influenced historically by close ties to the German Nazi sought to maintain a contradicting image like that to the U.S. Chile, on the other hand, had its nearly 3000 miles’ coastline exposed to attack and titled towards Nazi as an Allie to stay neutral from the conflict. Mexico and Brazil allied with the USA in early stages but created their internment facilities for dangerous Axis nationals resisting the control of Washington of its internal security affairs. The emergency Advisory Committee for Political Defense was established to deal with these countries that opposed to abiding by the appeal to send dangerous Axis individuals to the U.S. for interment (Hallin, 2002). This committee was responsible for coordinating inter-American policy on Axis subversion, fulfilling the critical clauses of consultation and mutuality of the Good Neighbor Policy.

Collaboration and Conclusion

The war on Pearl Harbor further led to further collaboration amongst the American countries. Eventually sided with Washington as they had more gains with trading with United States. Argentina despite its history and hostility to the USA, worked together with, and trade increased rapidly (Petras, 2018). Mexico and Brazil collaborated with the U.S. in shutting down Axis cells.

Countering Nazi Influence in Latin America

To conclude, the caricature has portrayed attempt by Latin American countries to push away the pro-Nazi policies that seemed to have come infiltrated the continent but with the alliance of South American countries with Washington resulted to a uniform fight against the Nazi away from the American continent. It can be noted and commented that the impact of the German Nazis was short-lived in the Latin American continent. The quest to gain economic sufficiency by Berlin was swiftly countered by the Roosevelt administration who utilized economic sanctions, anti-fascism propaganda and also financial aid to Latin American countries during the times of war.


Hallin, D. C. (2002). Political clientelism and the media: Southern Europe and Latin America in comparative perspective. Media, culture & society, 24, 175-195.

Petras, J. (2018). The Left Strikes Back: Class Conflict in Latin America in the Age of Neoliberalism. London: Routledge.

November 13, 2023

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