This book addresses two issues basic to understanding modern Latin America: the role of American-owned businesses in the region and, of equal importance, the reaction of Latin Americans to foreign investment. Throughout the nineteenth century and up to the 1930s, American corporations stridently resisted local opposition as they secured what they wanted in Latin America, cheap labor, plentiful raw materials, and favorable business conditions. After World War II, Latin American nationalism and revolutions forced American-owned enterprises to redefine their business model throughout the region. U.S. businesses integrated themselves into local societies through direct investment in manufacturing and the creation of broad-based consumer societies eager to buy everything from Coca-Cola to Chevrolets. As a new century dawns, multinational corporations aided by NAFTA ensure computers and cellular phones are as sought after as soft drinks and cars were in earlier eras.
The first book on U.S. business activity in Latin America intended specifically for student readers, this account offers a balanced and insightful understanding of the nature of capitalism abroad. In assessing how U.S.-Latin American relations have been shaped by foreign investment, O'Brien argues that over the course of the twentieth century U.S. businesses and their government have forged a close working alliance to promote American interests in Latin America.