The Monroe Doctrine: A Latin American Perspective

Monroe Doctrine and Latin America: A Historical Analysis

The Monroe Doctrine, groundwork of United States Foreign Policy, was first introduced by President James Monroe on December 2, 1823. It opposed European Colonialism in the Western Hemisphere and declared that any intervention in the political affairs of the Americas by foreign powers would be seen as a potential threat to U.S. security. This doctrine played a significant role in shaping American magnificent strategy throughout the 20th century, influencing subsequent Presidents and becoming a defining principle of U.S. foreign policy.

However, the Monroe Doctrine has developed over time and has become a symbol of American supremacy and interventionism, prompting both praise and criticism. This article aims to explore the broader context of the Monroe Doctrine within American foreign policy, highlighting its historical significance, its impact on European powers, and its controversial actions in relation to Latin America.

Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine as a Symbol of Civilized Foreign Policy Declaration:

The Monroe Doctrine was a reflection of America's strategy to establish itself as a prominent power with a distinct foreign policy approach. By declaring that the United States would not tolerate European colonization or interference in the Western Hemisphere, Monroe sought to protect the interests of newly independent nations in the Americas. This bold statement was seen as a symbol of a civilized foreign policy that rejected the colonial practices of Europe and backed the principles of self-determination and sovereignty.

Monroe's Doctrine: A Dual Effort in Defining U.S. Influence in the Americas

The Monroe Doctrine, a revolutionary part of U.S. foreign policy, finds its historical origins in the early 19th century, largely credited to the contributions of President James Monroe and his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. President James Monroe delivered the doctrine's core principles in his seventh annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823. However, it is important to note that while Monroe is associated with the doctrine, the actual formulation and drafting were a collaborative effort, with significant input from his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams.

President Monroe's role was crucial in announcing the vital principles of the doctrine, emphasizing two main points: non-colonization and non-intervention. The doctrine stated that European powers were not allowed to colonize the Americas any further, establishing the Western Hemisphere as an exclusive area of control for the newly independent nations of the Americas. President Monroe's speech laid the foundation for the United States to develop a clear foreign policy position in response to perceived threats from European powers attempting to regain influence following the independence movements in Latin America.

James Monroe

James Monroe's steadfast commitment to emphasizing U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere was completed by the strategic wisdom of his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. Adams played a pivotal role in shaping the diplomatic language of the doctrine, infusing it with a tone of both warning and cooperation. Adams, a seasoned diplomat and later the sixth President of the United States, used his treasure of knowledge in diplomacy and his deep understanding of international relations to shape the Monroe Doctrine.

Together, Monroe and Adams crafted a policy that not only addressed the immediate concerns of European intervention but also laid the groundwork for U.S. foreign policy in the years to come. The Monroe Doctrine reflected a combination of idealism, as seen in its support for the principles of self-determination and non-colonization, and pragmatism, as it sought to defend U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine: Historical Origins and Implementation

During his seventh annual State of the Union Address to Congress on December 2, 1823, President James Monroe expressed the doctrine's principles. At the time, most Spanish colonies in the Americas had achieved or were close to independence. Monroe emphasized that the New World and the Old World should remain distinct spheres of influence. He warned that European attempts to control or influence sovereign states in the region would be viewed as a threat to U.S. security. In return, the United States assured not to interfere with existing European colonies or interfere in European internal affairs.

However, due to the limited military capabilities of the United States at the time, the Monroe Doctrine was largely overlooked by European colonial powers. At the time, by aligning with the principles of the Monroe Doctrine, the UK saw an opportunity to assert its own Pax Britannica policy. This included diplomatic support for the doctrine and occasional interventions to prevent European powers from attempting to establish new colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

Johan Quincy Adams

However, throughout the 19th century, the principles of the Monroe Doctrine were occasionally overlooked, leading to violations of its core principles. It was only in the early 1900s that the United States became powerful enough to effectively enforce the doctrine. This marked a significant moment in American foreign policy, as it solidified the doctrine's importance and influence in shaping how the United States interacted with other nations.

Evolution of the Monroe Doctrine: Revision to Modification

Over the time, the Monroe Doctrine underwent reinterpretation and adjustments to align with changing circumstances. In 1898, lawyers and intellectuals gave it a new meaning that emphasized working together with other countries and not intervening in their affairs. This change in interpretation was supported by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 when the United States helped establish the Organization of American States. This organization aimed to promote cooperation and respect among nations in the Americas.

In the 21st century, the Monroe Doctrine continues to be a topic of debate. Different people have criticized or supported it, and there have been arguments for its abandonment, restoration, or reimagining. Critics claim that the doctrine has been used to justify U.S. interference in the internal matters of Latin American countries, which they see as a continuation of colonial-era thinking that sustains neocolonial relationships. Supporters, however, argue that the doctrine is necessary to protect U.S. interests and maintain stability in the Americas.

Warning to European Powers: The Message of the Monroe Doctrine

One of the primary objectives of the Monroe Doctrine was to prevent European powers from extending their influence in the Western Hemisphere. At the time of its proclamation, several Latin American nations had recently gained independence from Spain and Portugal. 

Remember Monroe Doctrine

The United States, understanding that these new nations were defenseless, aimed to protect them from possible attempts by European countries to colonize them again. The doctrine effectively warned European powers that any attempt to establish new colonies or interfere in the internal affairs of American nations would be viewed as a hostile act towards the United States.

Controversial Actions and Latin American Perspectives:

The Monroe Doctrine was very important in early American international affairs. When we look at it from the viewpoint of Latin America, we see that it has many details and aspects. In the aftermath of Latin American revolutions and concerns about European threats, the United States sought to protect newly independent nations from the risk of re-colonization. President Monroe's message in 1823 articulated principles such as non-intervention and non-colonization, which resonated with Latin American leaders who held similar views beforehand.

However, as the time passed, the United States began to pursue policies that extended its influence and power, which included elements of Hegemony (dominance) and Imperialism (the practice of extending control over foreign territories). These policies evoked diverse reactions in Latin America. While the Monroe Doctrine initially aimed to protect Latin American nations from European colonization, the expansion of U.S. influence raised concerns among some Latin American countries. They viewed certain U.S. actions as infringing upon their sovereignty and independence.

Despite these complexities, the principles of the Monroe Doctrine held regional importance. The doctrine fostered the idea of mutual guarantees among the nations of the Americas. It promoted the notion that American nations should support and protect each other from external threats or interventions. This sense of shared commitment and solidarity among American nations was a significant outcome of the Monroe Doctrine.


By fostering these ideas of mutual guarantees, the Monroe Doctrine helped shape a regional identity and collective foreign policy ethos in the Americas. It contributed to the notion that American countries should work together to defend their interests and maintain stability in the region.

The Organization of American States (OAS) was founded on 30 April 1948 to promote cooperation among its member countries in the Western Hemisphere. It aims to prevent outside intervention and maintain peace within the region. The OAS is based on the principles of the U.S. Monroe Doctrine, which states that an attack on one country in the Americas is seen as an attack on all. The OAS sought to expand on these principles, creating obligations for all member states while allowing the United States to defend itself if necessary.

One example of a controversial role that went against the principles of the Monroe Doctrine is the Falkland Islands conflict. In 1982, Argentina launched an invasion of the Falkland Islands, which are a British overseas territory located in the South Atlantic. The United States, despite proclaiming neutrality, initially provided logistical support to the United Kingdom during the conflict, which was seen by some as contradictory to the non-intervention principle of the Monroe Doctrine. This action drew criticism from Latin American countries, as it appeared to align with a European power rather than supporting a fellow American nation.


The Monroe Doctrine remains an influential and debated aspect of American foreign policy. It was initially viewed as a civilized and strategic approach by the United States. However, certain initiatives over time twisted controversy with regards to Latin America. These initiatives can be seen as disruptive elements in the geopolitical landscape, affiliated to colorless ghosts intertwined within the fabric of international relations.