Puerto Rican Nationalism, Latin American Solidarity, and the 1930s: How Good Was the Good Neighbor Policy?
Discussions of the Good Neighbor Policy typically overlook Puerto Rico because the archipelago was not an independent Latin American nation. Yet, for many Latin Americans, Puerto Rico symbolized U.S. domination in the region and exposed the hypocrisy of Washington’s pledges of noninterference. Hemispheric opposition to U.S. colonialism in the archipelago and Latin Americans’s impassioned demands for the release of the Nationalist political prisoners represent an important critique of the Good Neighbor Policy and evidence of significant hostility to U.S. intervention in the region. This chapter shifts the discussion of the Good Neighbor Policy from Washington and the U.S. officials who formulated it to Latin Americans who questioned it and Washington’s intentions for the region by denouncing U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico.
Despite protests and requests from Latin Americans, the U.S. government did not grant Puerto Rico independence nor did it release the Nationalist prisoners. U.S. interests, not the petitions of Latin Americans nor the demands of anti-colonial Puerto Ricans, determined U.S. policy toward the archipelago. Puerto Rico was essential to U.S. military defense plans for the Caribbean region, particularly in the face of impending war with Germany and Italy.