What is the Good Neighbor Policy?

Jason C. Chavis

As part of the foreign policy initiative established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration, the Good Neighbor policy was a central part of United States-Latin American relations in the 1930s and beyond. In an effort to promote better relations with Latin America and prevent further conflict with the regimes of the region, Roosevelt moved to reaffirm US influence in the Western Hemisphere. Specifically, the Good Neighbor policy was an advance of the Monroe Doctrine.

Roosevelt also established the Export-Import bank as part of the good neighbor policy.
Roosevelt also established the Export-Import bank as part of the good neighbor policy.

The Good Neighbor policy stated that the US would cease the majority of its military interventionism, which had been the standard line of action since the Spanish-American War occurred during the turn of the century. Instead, the US adopted a number of peaceful initiatives to maintain the status quo and support American interests. The federal government would back strong leadership in Latin American countries, help finance and train local military organizations and assist in economic and political supervision.

President Franklin Roosevelt nullified the Platt Amendment in 1933 by establishing the Good Neighbor Policy.
President Franklin Roosevelt nullified the Platt Amendment in 1933 by establishing the Good Neighbor Policy.

As a major part of the Good Neighbor policy, Roosevelt established the Export-Import Bank of the United States in 1934 via executive order. This agency provides financing to nations when they purchase goods and services from the US. Essentially, this bank opened up a line of credit to Latin America that promoted the modernization and development of the region. By securing credit for these countries, it also created a market for American companies, promoting job growth during the Great Depression.

Throughout the history of the region, Latin American countries were subject to colonization and control from other nations, particularly European powers. With the victory of the US over Spain in the conflict of 1898, the last major influence from outside the hemisphere was removed. This opened up the US as the primary force throughout Central and South America. Many American companies, supported by the military, exerted their will upon the culture and nations of Latin America.

Viewed as an imperialist power by most citizens of the area, American intervention over the affairs of the nations resulted in resentment from the populations. A culture of anti-Americanism against the colossus of the north gave rise to increased nationalism. This resulted in many small conflicts and challenges to the US, which created backlash from the American public and a newfound push for isolationism. To prevent this protectionist fear from spreading, Roosevelt needed to establish a new policy, resulting in the creation of the Good Neighbor policy.

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Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- But you do understand why that happened right? US essentially had no choice because the Soviet threat was looming large and socialist movements had begun in Latin American countries. It was important for the US to protect itself and North America in large against the Soviet Union. So the Good Neighbor policy became unfeasible at that point.

I agree that the US needs to adopt aspects of this policy once again. I think that regional economic agreements such as NAFTA have been a great step towards friendly relations with neighbors. More can be done however.


@ysmina-- I agree, it was a good policy but it didn't last long. The Good Neighbor policy came to an end with the start of the Cold War. US started intervening in the affairs of Latin American countries again.


I think that this is a very good policy, not only to counter anti-Americanism among neighbors, but to also make the US a more prosperous and secure nation.

I don't understand why some nations don't do more to get along with their neighbors and encourage growth, development and security in those countries. When a neighbor is experiencing difficulties, this also affects our nation. Their security problem can become our security problem. Their poverty can affect our prosperity. I think that neighbors need to support one another and help one another. The Good Neighbor policy is a good policy.

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