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LATIN AMERICA AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
The entry of Latin America into the community of nations is one of the most important facts in the history of civilization. It resulted not only in widening the field occupied by International Law but also in radically modifying its character. Although the Latin States of America inherited the civilization of the peoples of Europe, they developed along different lines. In number, and in the fact of their common origin they were like the members of one large family who had been suddenly and almost simultaneously called into independent life.
This combination of circumstances caused these nations, upon their appearance in the general society of states, to exclude from their constitutions the principles of European public law which did not harmonize with the special character of their organization; and to reject, in their foreign relations, those principles and practices that were incompatible with their independent position or that did not favor their special conditions of development.
In this new community of states, problems of International Law sui generis and problems distinctively American arose and thus made possible the uniform regulation of matters of special interest and even in some cases of matters of universal interest regarding which a general world consensus of opinion had not yet been formed. Furthermore, this new society of states proclaimed principles which could only with great difficulty be brought forth from their hidingplace in an isolated convention or the usage of some European state.
To show in what manner, and up to what point, the Latin nations of America contributed to the development of the Law of Nations is the task set before us in this article, a work which, in spite of its importance, has not yet been undertaken by any of the publicists of Europe or America."
1 Every day, however, greater interest is being displayed in this continent in the investigation of that subject, as is shown by two very significant facts. The first is the initiative taken by the “ American Academy of Political and Social
We shall divide this study into three sections corresponding to the three periods into which the diplomatic history of Latin America naturally falls.
The first period, which begins with the independence and runs to the middle of the nineteenth century, is interesting to a high degree, because in it the conditions under which the Latin-American States came into the life of independent nations and the influences bearing on their developmeni, are made manifest. The principal trait of this period is the growth of a twofold sentiment of solidarity. The United States felt its solidarity with Latin America in all that concerned the independence of the nations of the New World. The Latin States recognized the community of interests that existed between them, and, feeling that they were members of one great family of nations, desired to establish a political unity, a confederation, which would furnish them protection from the dangers of European intervention, show them the course to take in their new life, aid them in arriving at the best solution of their special problems, bind them together through mutual interests, and obviate the conflicts that might arise between them.
At the same time, the United States, while coming forward naturally, to make common cause with these nations to prevent their oppression by Europe, soon began to develop a policy of hegemony on the American continent.
In the second period, from the middle to the last third of the nineteenth century, the domestic and foreign relations of the LatinAmerican States underwent a great change. The idea of confederation weakened with the disappearance of the fear of re-conquest, but the sentiment of a new solidarity persisted, and the attention of these nations was directed to the formation of closer relations amongst themselves and with Europe. The policy of hegemony of the United States in its evolution also presented new phases, meeting the new necessities of the American continent.
Science” in publishing annually a volume devoted to a study of the contribution the Latin-American States have made to the advance of culture and the progress of civilization. The second is the meeting in Santiago, Chile, at the end of the year 1908, of the First Pan-American Scientific Congress in which all the States of the New World were represented and which devoted itself exclusively to the study and elucidation of problems of American interest.
In the third period, beginning with the last third of the nineteenth century, the foreign policy of the various countries followed a new course. This policy, which was characterized by a desire for peace, aimed to strengthen a triple bond of interests, which, far from being mutually exclusive, support and complete each other, viz: with Europe, with the United States, and amongst themselves.
This triple bond gave to the community of American states and to the world community of nations their present characteristics.
In view of the fact that the peculiar characteristics of the LatinAmerican nations and their international relations were determined by the special conditions of their development, it is of prime importance to analyze those conditions into their constituent elements, to wit, their physical, ethnical and social environment on the one hand, and the influence which Europe as well as the United States exercised over them on the other.
With an area four times as great as that of Europe, with colossal undeveloped natural wealth, with a sparse population and defective means of communication where they were indeed not altogether lacking, with a tropical or semi-tropical climate, the people of Latin America were placed in a physical environment totally different from that in which the nations of Europe had developed.
Considered ethnically, this part of the world showed greater diversity than Europe. Europe is formed of men of single race, the white; while Latin America is composed of a native population to which in colonial times was added in varying proportions an admixture of the conquering race and emigrants from the mother country, negroes imported from Africa, and the creoles, that is, those born in America but of European parents. Out of this amalgamation of races (the aborigines, the whites, and the negroes, together with the creole element), the Latin-American continent presented an ethnical product which was no less peculiar than its physical environment. The resultant colonial society, the combination of
those ethnical elements upon a soil distinguished by so many peculiarities, is completely sui generis; in it the whites, born in the mother country, although in the minority, exercised the control and guided a multitude which was in great part illiterate and ignorant.
The creole element, the only thinking part of the population, felt the injustice with which the mother country treated its colonies. The “élite" of this class, instructed by travel and the perusal of the philosophical writings of the eighteenth century, took advantage of the embarrassing position in which Spain found herself because of the Napoleonic wars, and followed the example of the United States, dragging the entire creole element into a movement of emancipation.
In the struggle for freedom, the Spanish-American colonies looked upon one another as brothers and gave military aid to one another in this common cause, in spite of the enormous distances which separated them.3
Upon gaining their independence, they were exposed to the influence of both the United States and Europe. From the example of the United States, the Spanish-American statesmen perceived that the emancipation must be essentially political, not social, the sole aim being to break the bond of subjection that bound the colonies to the mother country. It was the realization of this fact that made them see that it was only in the public law that they could and should build entirely anew, following in this the political insti
2 It is not worthy of study, whether the colonies of Spanish-America were prepared or not for independent life; whether or not the idea of independence was diffused through the entire mass of the population; whether they had any exact notion of what they proposed to bring about; in short, whether the movement of emancipation was due to a national sentiment duly matured or was merely a fulfillment of one of the laws of historical psychology, — that a people will take advantage of the difficult situation of another people in order to exercise against that other any rights to which it believes itself to be entitled, — or was, as we ourselves believe, due to a combination of the two.
3 Brazil secured its independence in 1822, preserving the monarchical form of government, forming therefore and because of difference of origin, a nation that did not closely unite with the republics of Spanish America. Because of its form of government, its greater population, the extension and richness of its territory, Brazil was better known to the European countries and held by them in greater esteem than the other Latin-American countries.
tutions of the United States as being those most suited to nations recently freed from the yoke of the mother country. *
They organized their respective countries uniformly, subjecting them to a constitutional regimen whose principles and forms were republican, liberal and democratic. And this uniformity of views is so much the more worthy of note because in proceeding thus uniformly the statesmen of these new nations did so spontaneously and without any previous agreement of any kind whatsoever and in spite of the formidable reaction against those principles which at that time was being felt, above all in France.
This sudden political change, for which Latin America, because of its education, was not prepared, brought as an almost inevitable consequence civil wars, dictatorships and constant modifications of the fundamental ordinances of those countries in the first period of their independence.
Although the new states experienced all these changes in their public law, in other matters they were exposed to the direct influence of Europe, as they were of the same civilization and connected with the Old World by powerful bonds of culture and commerce.
But none of the European nations exercised a greater influence over them than France, which, through the expansive force of its ideas and institutions, even came to serve as their model in private law.
Thus the former Spanish colonies of America were born simultaneously into political life, forming a family of states in which the pride of independence, the love of liberty and the spirit of fraternity, developed an implacable hatred towards all foreign domination, and an eager striving for the formation of a political entity which would protect them against all attacks on their sovereignty and maintain peace among themselves.
These aspirations and this hatred, manifestations of one and the same psychological law, and necessary products of the factors and the influences we have just noted, are the source out of which
+ It is to be noted that these institutions of the United States were known in Latin-America principally through the intermedium of the French constitution of 1791 and the Spanish constitution of 1812, both of which derived their inspiration from the constitution of the United States of 1787 and from the writing of the French philosophers of the eighteenth century.