History ETDs


Charles Dimke

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This thesis is an analysis of United States-Chilean relations, 1913 to 1918. Diplomatic contacts between the two powers provide an opportunity to investigate the impact of North America upon Chilean policy. Specifically, President Wilson's concept of Pan-Americanism contained in the 1913 to 1917 Pan-American Pact and negotiations concerning Chilean neutrality during the First World War emerge as focal points of this study.

United States diplomatic and economic intervention in Latin America resulted in an era of lingering Chilean doubt over Washington's intentions in the Southern Hemisphere. President Wilson was therefore faced with continued Chilean distrust and opposition early in his administration. Moving to create a new Latin interest in Pan-Americanism, Wilson attempted to change the direction of North American policy in Latin America. He proposed a joint agreement with Latin nations on mutual guaranty of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Negotiations were begun in 1913 to incorporate these ideas in a Pan-American Pact.

The proposed Pact included guarantees of territorial integrity, independence under a republican form of government, control of munitions, and mandatory settlement of disputes by arbitration. However, Chilean reaction to United States overtures was immediate and uncomplimentary. She did not believe that her sovereignty, neutrality, and delicate Tacna-Arica position could be maintained under such an agreement. Consequently, Chile embarked upon a program to undermine the Pact using her Ambassador to the United States. Eduardo Suarez-Mujica. At no time did the wily Ambassador strenuously object to the proposal, yet officials in Washington received constant setbacks due to his diplomatic machinations.

Chile relied upon a continental policy of "South Americanism" to combat Wilson's Pan-American proposal.

In 1915 she was a prime mover in the formulation of an A.B.C. regional pact in an effort to undermine the President's efforts at hemispheric unity. Latin Americans were suspicious of United States intentions, especially after the invasion of Mexico and repeated interventions in the Caribbean, and did not wish to come under the hegemony of the stronger power. An intricate strategy of delaying action therefore evolved which inevitably proved successful as the United States was drawn into World War I and Wilson reluctantly had to discontinue Pact negotiations.

The entrance of the United States 1nto the world conflict ln 1917 created a tense diplomatic situation between Washington and Santiago. Wilson was intent upon obtaining a severance of relations between Chile and Germany in order to confront the Central Powers with hemispheric solidarity and to forbid them access to the nitrate resources of Chile. However, that Latin American nation resolved to pursue neutrality and no amount of persuasion could entice her into abandoning neutrality.

Chilean concepts of national sovereignty and equal rights of nations aroused animosity in Washington. There was concern over the vital nitrate industry as the United States feared German business interests within Chile would seize control of that trade. A potentially explosive situation occurred when a total oil embargo against Chile, ordered in 1918, threatened to ruin profitable nitrate concerns. Coercion was therefore exerted by the United States both against Chile and German nitrate companies still engaged in production within that country. The oil embargo proved to be the most serious application of United States pressure against Chile during the war but trouble even extended to problems of interned German merchantmen, German propaganda, mooring rights at Valparaiso, and visits to Chile by the United States' South Atlantic Fleet.

Chilean foreign policy, 1913 to 1918, was of dual purpose. In relations with the United States, Chile endeavored to present a strong foreign policy favorable to her South American interests. Secondly, Chilean statesmen realized that to keep from becoming involved with North America in the spreading global conflict, the country would have to stand firmly on the principles of neutrality. Consequently, Chile was able to formulate and defend policies consistent with both her hemispheric and world interests.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ronald Howard Dolkart

Second Committee Member

Gerald David Nash

Third Committee Member

Winfield John Burggraaff



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