Immigrants from Latin America come to the U.S looking for a better life, but there is a reason life is so difficult in the countries they are forced to flee. It is not just that the governments are corrupt and oppressive, and that the working class suffers horrible exploitation at the hands of the wealthy. But through military violence, the U.S. has continuously installed brutal governments of its choosing, who play the role of agents for U.S. corporations to exploit the resources and workforce of Latin America. Major General Smedley Butler, a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Marines from 1898 to 1931, described his career as “robbing little Central and South American countries in the interests of Wall Street.”
The outcome of the U.S. policies has been to devastate the economies and living conditions of many of the people living in Latin America. The results are not hard to see. The average hourly wage is 56¢ in Nicaragua, 58¢ in Mexico, and 60¢ in Haiti. This cheap labor force makes huge profits for American corporations, allowing them to open factories and production facilities in Latin America, with brutal governments that help impose some of the most exploitative conditions on the planet. Indigenous communities kicked off their land, resources stolen and destroyed, toxic waste dumped into water supplies, military dictatorships torturing and assassinating people who organize in the interests of working people – these and more have been a daily part of the history of Latin America. The extreme exploitation and poverty, alongside the general violence of the ruling regimes in Latin America, has driven millions of people to the U.S. looking for work to survive.
The following is a list of wars, invasions, and military coups waged by the U.S. in order to guarantee the profits of American business.
1846 – U.S. invades Mexico taking one third of Mexico’s territory.
1898 – U.S. declares war on Spain, taking control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.
1912 – U.S. Marines are sent to Cuba to prevent a rebellion of sugar workers.
1915 – U.S. Marines occupy Haiti.
1916 – U.S. Marines occupy the Dominican Republic.
1926 – U.S. Marines occupy Nicaragua.
1933 – U.S. sends warships to Cuba to install a new government.
1941 – U.S. supports a coup in Panama.
1954 – U.S. organizes a coup in Guatemala.
1961 – U.S. organizes an armed force to invade Cuba.
1973 – U.S. organizes a military coup in Chile.
1980 – U.S. supported a military coup in El Salvador.
1981 – U.S. funds death squads (Contras) in Nicaragua.
1989 – U.S. invades Panama.
1991 – U.S. supports a coup in Haiti.
2002 – U.S. supports a failed coup against Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
2004 – U.S. supports a second coup in Haiti.
2009 – U.S. supports a military coup in Honduras.