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Undermining Sovereignty: The Costs of U.S. Mineral Needs in Latin America Open Access

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This dissertation assesses the costs of U.S. mineral needs in Latin America during the first half of the 20th century, focusing mainly on the 1940s. During this period, the U.S. used protectionist policies to boost its domestic industrial sector, which was dominated by private firms. These firms, in order to function, required massive amounts of copper, manganese, tin, tungsten, zinc and other minerals. And due to deficiencies in the U.S. geological endowment, many of these minerals had to be acquired from Brazil, Chile, Mexico and other Latin American countries. Foreign procurement of minerals became particularly crucial during World War II, when the U.S. exploited a range of metals to sustain its military efforts, and then after the conflict, as minerals made the postwar boom and emerging “permanent war economy” possible.In developing strategies to acquire foreign minerals, planners in Washington assumed they could adapt the land, laws, and people of other countries to U.S. needs. U.S. planning had nothing to do with promoting self-determination abroad, in other words, and instead expected foreign countries to conform to the requirements of U.S. industry—and of the industrial lifestyles U.S. citizens enjoyed.

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