International Relations in Latin America
San José, Costa Rica
Area of Study
International Politics, Latin American Studies
Taught In English
Recommended U.S. Semester Credits3
Recommended U.S. Quarter Units4 - 5
Hours & Credits
Course name: International Relations in Latin America
Course code: POL 3450
Total contact hours: 48 hours
• This course will review the history of International Relations between the US
and Latin America, highlighting the most important facts that mark the politics
in the region for the current era.
• To analyze tensions between sovereign rule and foreign hegemony, class
struggle and oligarchical domination, the rise and fall of Imperialism and
military interventions, corporate banking, national and foreign investments.
Examples of diverse phases of economic systems, conservative ethnic and
cultural resistance to change, as well as totalitarian, liberal and socialist
• From the historic background of human settlements in the Western
Hemisphere, Pre-Columbian Tribal and Imperial societies, to the formation of
modern Nation-States, and the complex International World Organizations.
• Current events, the Cold War, the military dictatorships and other Latin
American political phenomena, such as integration, migration, and their
effects of the war on drugs, terror and US politics. The course will close with
an evaluation of popularity of governments in the Region, present day
relations with China and Russia, and the influence of globalization in the
Students will be able to discuss topics related to Latin American historical
background, create awareness of violent and nonviolent conflict resolution, and
promote class discussions, written essays, research assignments, workshops, sociodramas
and debating world events.
• Exchange knowledge about these countries, their inhabitants and their
culture, contrasting similarities and differences with the US.
• Analyze the cause of major international conflicts throughout history and their
role in government and corporate decisions as well as global political trends.
• Discuss the future of the Region and look for new alternatives for
International Relations that promote equality, peace, development and human
rights, while preparing a case study for the final paper.
Session 1 Introductory Workshop
Personal introductions and main interests, evaluation of possible issues for final
essay. Basic Concepts. The Scope of International Relations, Regional Scenarios,
Actors, and participant observation. Review of the Syllabus.
Session 2. Aboriginals or “Original Nations” in the American Continent
Pre-Columbian relations between Tribes, Nations and Empires in the region, social
and cultural impact of the Spanish and Portuguese in the XVI century, Discovery?
Session 3: Origin and independence in USA
French and English influence in USA. Characteristic of the independence process,
the democratic ideals of the Founding Fathers, and international politics of the
“neutrality” of the USA , while the military help develop the farmer’s militias into a
powerful army, during the Indian Wars. Expansion and colonization of North
Session 4: Independence of Latin America:
Independence in Haiti and the fights in South America, the case of Brazil, relations
between the new countries, how Latin American faces the world, the Monroe
doctrine as seen by the Bolivarian Amphyctionic Panama meeting.
Session 5 Class struggle and social discrimination XIX century
Aboriginal cultures, ethnic genocide, “Indian Wars”, US early industrial development
in the New England States, the “Manifest Destiny”, Territorial expansion, competitive
capitalism, gold rush, railroads and cross-continental development. Hegemony of the
North and rising conflict with the South.
Session 6: English hegemony in Latin America, (1800.1850)
Focus on Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean countries. Disintegration of
the Great Colombia, Ecuador and Spain, the new congress in Peru and Chile, the
confederation Peru-Bolivia, and “La Guerra del Pacifico”, Argentina, Uruguay and
Rosas in Argentina, Brazil and the abolition of slavery.
Session 7 American conflicts and the first foreign investments (1853-1883)
How the elder of the American Family intervenes before European powers as peace
mediator. Civil War in the USA, intervention of France in Mexico, USA interventions
in Central America and the Caribbean islands, Spanish intervention in Dominican
Republic and South America, the war of the triple alliance, First and Second South
American War on the Pacific. (First quiz)
Session 8. US Imperial policy in the Roosevelt Corollary. (1883-1933),
Alliance and resistance in a Latin America struggling for self-determination the first
International American conference, US replaces England, Spanish American War,
the Panama Canal, the Big Stick policy and Dollar diplomacy, the League of Nations
and Woodrow Wilson, Mexican revolution and its international effects
Session 9: The “Good Neighbor” Policy 1933-1940.
Economic Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt, exceptions in the Caribbean
and Mexico, The War of Chaco and its consequences, South America 1932-1941,
inter-American meetings, sequels of the imperial presence with US troops between
wars , the anti-nazi diplomacy of Roosevelt until 1940, How is it that USSR is allied
with the West, against the Axis countries? US Military interventions in Latin America
Session 10: The Americas before and after the WWII 1941-1945,
“Popular fronts” Stalinism in the USSR and the Spanish Civil War. Anti- communist
movements: McCarthyism, the Anaconda, Standard Oil, United Fruit Company and
other transnational corporate empires, unionized movements and popular
resistance.(Definition of personal issues for final paper and oral presentations)
Session 11: Cold War and the Defense of the Status Quo (1946-1957)
NATO and the world after war, nationalism movements and democracy in Latin
American, cold war, Latin American Dictators the exemption of Bolivia revolution,
Guatemala and the X Inter American conference, the fall of Vargas and Peron.
Decolonization of the third world. East West Bipolarity, North South Conflicts,
Movement of the Non-aligned.
Session 12: Hegemony Crisis and socialist threat (1958 -1980)
Rebellions and fall of dictators Nixon’s visit to Caracas. Cuban socialist revolution,
Fidel Castro and conflict with the democratic bloc in Latin America 1958-1960.
Kennedy and Alliance for Progress, OAS, Rio Military Pact, Malvinas-Falkland
Islands. Latin America ascending development, the oil crisis, Kissinger and the
Vietnam War. Effects of the Reagan-Bush Era (Santa Fe, Trilateral Commission,
CBI), and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
Session 13: Midterm Exam
Session 14 Latin America 1980-2000.
Revolution and contra revolution in Nicaragua and the Caribbean, Central American
revolutionary guerrilla movements. The “Paz de Esquipulas” treaty and the return of
democratic governments. Non-violent conflict resolution. Dependency theory,
domination and social sectors, integration. Unequal development and extreme
poverty in the Americas. Effects of the Gulf War, Israel-Palestine and FREE TRADE
Agreements as political instruments: Santa Fe, Trilateral Commission, CBI, FTAA,
CAFTA, and NAFTA. New World Order?
Session 15: Visit to the National Assembly or the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.
Session 16: International conflicts, external debt, the drug traffic, ecology and the
ethnic problems. US Economic and Military interventions. Overt military and covert
CIA activities. National Security Doctrine, (Condor, Plan Mérida, Southcom
operations) The effect on new alliances with China, Russian Federation, the “BRICS”
Session 17: Latin America and US in the changing global scenario. Commodities
and future market wars, Transnational corporation interests in Sugar, Bananas,
Pineapple, Meat and other commodity markets,Corporate protagonists in domestic
politics. Latin America In the last 15 years, Dependency, dominant social groups,
economic and political integration ideals. Development in Latin America. The return
of popular governments in Brazil, Venezuela and Bolivia, ALBA, PETROCARIBE
AND CELAC. Is peace a valid utopia? The Bicameral mind and developing
consciousness for a future peaceful civilization.
Session 18: 12 Oral presentations and negotiations scenarios, based on reference
reading material (photocopies).
Session 19 Visit to the Inter-American Court and Institute of Human Rights.
Session 20:. Review of the matter seen to this date, Special report on Costa Rica as
a demilitarized, neutral and pro peace activist. Peace and Disarmament in the
United Nations. Workshop on the future of US Latin American economic and military
relations. Effects of the Arab Spring, Wars in Asia, the Middle East, ISIS and Ukraine
in Latin America. New tensions with the economic crisis in Argentina, Puerto Rico,
Venezuela, and similarities with Greece, Spain, Italy. Last day to hand in the final
short Essay about one specific political problem in Latin America, as defined before
Session 21: First group of students to share oral PowerPoint presentations
Session 23: Second group of Students to share oral PowerPoint presentations.
Session 24: Last session workshop. Final grades and conclusions.
The focus of the course is to promote the interaction of ideas and arguments based
on a balanced analysis of the subjects. Most lectures will start with historical
overviews or important happenings in the region. Throughout the sessions, students
can explain their point of views and will have the opportunity to write essays, and
use Internet to complete assignments and debates. The professor or guest speakers
will cover all materials during the lectures. Students will be able to confront positions
and participate of the debate during sessions.
This course is structured for International Students attending the Study Abroad
program at Universidad Veritas. However, courses are not exclusive to foreigners so
a few native student could enroll in this course.
The use of cell phones, smart phones, or other mobile communication devices is
disruptive, and is therefore prohibited during class. Please turn all devices OFF
and put them away when class begins. Devices may be used ONLY when the
professor assigns a specific activity and allows the use of devices for internet search
or recording. Those who fail to comply with the rule must leave the classroom for the
remainder of the class period.
Students are only allowed 2 absences (justified or not). The student will fail the
course if he/she has more than 2 absences. Students will have a 0 on any
assignment evaluated in class (presentations, evaluations, field trips, etc.) if he/she
is absent in this class, unless an official document is presented to justify the absence
the class after the absence. In this case the assignment will be done this day. You
can only have two total absences in your elective courses HOWEVER, if you miss
more than one day of class in a given month, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE CREDIT
for that particular course.
Professors have the right to expel a student from the classroom should he / she:
1) be disruptive in the classroom
2) be under the influence of alcohol or even smell like alcohol
3) Behave in a disrespectful way.
If you tend to be late for class, you may lose 25% of your total grade
Participation (oral debates) 20%
Midterm Exam 30%
Class presentations (workgroups) 20%
Final (essay and ppt) 30%
Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.
Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.
Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations