There Is No One Latin-American Type

All these are the people affected by the Good Neighbor policy. This is the huge and diversified territory they live in. No general description can be given of “Latin America,” since it really does not exist in the sense of a unified area with a uniform kind of people inhabiting it. As one Latin American says, “You in the United States must realize that Latin America is not all one big country. Yes, some of you do know that Argentina is one place and Guatemala another, but the average North American’s knowledge of Latin America is still as cockeyed as Hitler’s conception of the Four Freedoms. There is comparatively little understanding in the United States about individual countries as such. The fact that each fought its own war of independence, that their histories and ideals are similar in many ways to those of the United States would, if properly understood, create a firm and solid bridge between the Americas.”

How can we hope to make friends and influence people in all these twenty different countries? Is it true that we have been throwing money recklessly about in Latin America to accomplish this end? What about the idea that we can make Latin Americans like us by reciting their poetry and listening to their music? Or by having them read our novels and look at our paintings?

From EM 14: Is the Good Neighbor Policy a Success? (1945)