Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-1-1966


Latin Americans, and more particularly those Latin Americans who are influential in the making of foreign policy, are torn between their fear of United States intervention and their new realization that dangerous threats to their security also emanate from other quarters. Though the principle of non-intervention is a key concept in the inter-American system, it has proved difficult to define, essentially unenforceable and inappropriate for the prevention of covert interventions by foreign powers which employ the newer and more covert devices for attacking the hemisphere. A factor which further complicates this pressing problem is the growing demand for protection of human rights within the various hemispheric countries. Examination of definitions and analysis of actual experience reveal that the principle of non-intervention takes on many aspects—as law, as principle, as political tool, and as moral force. In this context, Mexico's advocacy of absolute non-intervention, as well as her frequent conflicts with the United States on the subject, provide important illustrative data. The case of Mexico, although extreme, also illuminates the whole hemispheric point of view on non-intervention. Currently, stress on the principle of non-intervention is utilized by some parties as a means for weakening the hegemony of the United States in the hemisphere. At the same time, insistence on non-intervention does little or nothing to curtail the less visible efforts of outside powers to increase their roles in the hemisphere. It is questionable, therefore, whether either the principle or the practice of non-intervention is sufficient or effective in the struggle to preserve the security of the hemisphere; and there is even some possibility that the principle may be a positive bar to the achievement of such security. In the light of these new concerns, continintal interests may require a search for a new outlook regarding the question of non-intervention.