ACTION ALERT: End The Monroe Doctrine

September 5th, 2020 - by CODEPINK

ACTION ALERT: End The Monroe Doctrine


One thing we learned from the Democratic and Republican National Conventions is that the U.S must reframe its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. The Republicans talk of the Monroe Doctrine 2.0. They demonize Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and form closes to coup leaders and rightwing authoritarians from Brazil to Honduras.

The Democrats aren’t much better, calling the region “America’s strategic home base.” It’s clear that we need a radically new approach to Latin America and the Caribbean, a new Good Neighbor Policy based on non-intervention, respect and cooperation.

In that spirit, 100 organizations have written letters to President Trump and Vice President Biden outlining what such a policy would look like. 

The letter calls for an end to stifling economic sanctions, ending US arms sales and militarization of the region, ending political interference in elections and domestic affairs, supporting the human rights of all peoples, and implementing a humane immigration policy and fairer economic policies.

While the chances of implementing progressive policies in January may be slim, it’s important to outline a positive vision for reframing relations with our neighbors to the south. That way we know what we’re fighting for and can build a coalition around the region as a whole.

Latin America and the Caribbean are struggling from Covid-19 and will enter a deep economic recession next year. We have to join together to pressure the next president into becoming a president for peace.

In solidarity,
Leonardo, Michelle, Teri and Medea

ACTION: Click here to join CODEPINK, Global Exchange, the Americas Program, Oxfam America, and the Latin America Working Group and ninety-five other organizations in calling for a new progressive approach to foreign policy in Latin America and the Caribbean! Click here to add your name to the following letter to the Trump and Biden campaigns!

Letter to the Biden and Trump Campaigns Calling for a Real Good Neighbor Policy for Latin America and the Caribbean

This letter signed by 100 organizations urges the presidential candidates to end the Monroe Doctrine and establish a foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference, mutual respect, acceptance of our differences, and working together for the common good. This could form the foundation of a New Good Neighbor policy that would allow the US to restore peace and make a positive contribution to the well-being of people throughout the region.

The copy below is addressed to both candidates, but each will get their own separate letter.

Dear Vice President Biden (and President Trump), 

As organizations that care about United States policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean, we write to urge you to adopt a broad set of reforms to reframe relations with our neighbors to the south. 

Shortly after meeting with President Raúl Castro of Cuba in April of 2015, President Obama stated that: “the days in which our agenda in this hemisphere so often presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past.”

Two years prior to that, his Secretary of State, John Kerry, had earned praise throughout the region after announcing that the “era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” To many, it appeared that the US government was reviving the “Good Neighbor” regional policy of respect for Latin American and Caribbean self-determination and human rights that had been announced under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and then quickly abandoned during the Cold War. 

The Monroe Doctrine — asserting US geopolitical control over the region — served as a pretext for over 100 years of military invasions, support for military dictatorships, the financing of security forces involved in mass human rights violations, economic blackmail, and support for coups against democratically elected governments, among other horrors that have caused many Latin Americans and Caribbeans to flee north in search of safety and opportunity. 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt distanced himself from this doctrine, outlining a new vision for relations in the hemisphere. His “Good Neighbor” policy temporarily ended the gunboat diplomacy that characterized US foreign policy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the policy had its flaws, such as FDR’s support for the Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua, his administration’s failures were often the result of not following the Good Neighbor principle of non-interference. 

In January 2021, the President of the United States will face a hemisphere that will not only still be reeling from the coronavirus but will also likely be experiencing a deep economic recession. The best way for the United States to help is not by seeking to impose its will, but rather by engaging with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean as equal partners. 

We hope that your administration will adopt a New Good Neighbor Policy and commit to the following:

Ending Broad Economic Sanctions

The embargo against Cuba has been a 60-year disaster that has caused countless deaths, cost the Cuban economy billions of dollars, shut US businesses out of an important market, and contributed to deep antipathy towards the US throughout the region and much of the world. More recent sanctions regimes against Venezuela and Nicaragua are also causing widespread human suffering.

Furthermore, US sanctions violate the Charter of the Organization of American States, the United Nations Charter, and international human rights law. They target the civilian population and therefore would violate both the Hague and Geneva Conventions — to which the US is a signatory — if they were committed during a war.

We call on you to end unilateral US sanctions imposed through past presidential orders and to work with Congress to repeal the Helms-Burton Act, which imposes unilateral economic sanctions against Cuba. The United States should resolve its policy differences through diplomacy, multilateralism and engagement. 

Militarization Policy

Though the Cold War ended decades ago, the US continues to provide and export hundreds of millions of dollars of police and military equipment and training to Latin American and Caribbean countries each year. In many cases, such as Honduras and Colombia, US funding and training have supported troops involved in corruption and egregious human rights abuses, including numerous extrajudicial killings and attacks targeting local activists and journalists.

Much of this aid and weapons exports, which have accompanied the increased militarization of law enforcement, are transferred in the name of the decades-long war on drugs, which the vast majority of the US public has long believed to be a failure. Rather than abating drug trafficking and violence, this approach incentivizes drug trafficking and fuels a vicious cycle of violence.

Often, US-backed forces are themselves involved in drug trafficking and defend the interests of big landowners and corporations, while violently repressing land rights activists. There is no justification for US security programs in the region.

No national security threat exists and a “war on drugs” is a counterproductive way to deal with a US public health issue that is best addressed through decriminalization and equitable legal regulation. It is time to scale down US “security assistance” and arms sales and remove US military and law enforcement personnel from the region.

Ending Political Interference

The US government has a long, troubling history of interfering in the internal politics of countries of the region. It has frequently carried out military invasions to impose or remove political leaders and it has supported rightwing military coups that have invariably resulted in violent repression.

In the name of “democracy promotion,” the US government has trained and funded political groups that it favors while supporting public relations campaigns to try to marginalize the political forces that it opposes. Time and time again, the US has sought to shape the outcome of elections to favor its perceived interests.

Here at home, we rightly condemn any sort of foreign interference in our own country’s domestic politics and elections, so how can we continue to engage in gross interference in the politics of our neighbors? It is time for the US to respect the political sovereignty of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Any major political crises that emerge in the region should be dealt with through multilateral engagements, not unilateral actions.

Supporting the Human Rights of All Peoples

The US has an important role to play in advocating for human rights across the hemisphere, a role that can only be strengthened by ensuring that the US government does not violate human rights in its own territory, on its borders or overseas. Special attention should be paid at home and abroad to the rights of historically excluded communities, including indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and migrants and refugees.

The United States should speak out when human rights defenders, including environmental and land rights activists and labor organizers, are in danger — a situation all too frequent in Latin America and the Caribbean today.

For the US to credibly speak about rights, it should sign and ratify international treaties including, but not limited to, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as other covenants relating to racial discrimination, women, children, persons with disabilities, migrants, and torture.

Furthermore, the US should work towards depoliticizing and strengthening existing multilateral institutions that defend human rights, and the US must ensure that it does not instrumentalize rights for political gain – too often, human rights violations in the US or in allied countries are ignored, while violations in countries considered adversaries are magnified.


The next administration must undo the brutal harms of the Trump administration and must understand how past US economic, security and environmental policies have fueled mass migration. It must also reject the status quo of the Obama administration, which deported more people than any administration ever before and built the infrastructure for the Trump administration to carry out violent anti-immigrant policies.

These include an increase in border militarization, growth in the privatized immigration detention system, an increase in DHS information-sharing programs like Secure Communities, more ICE partnerships with local police, and an increase in ICE raids, among others.

The next administration must hear the demands for immigrant justice, and implement the following measures: enact a day-one moratorium on all deportations; end mass prosecutions of individuals who cross the border; re-establish asylum procedures at the border; provide an immediate path to citizenship for the Dreamers and for Temporary Protected Status holders; terminate the Muslim Ban; rescind funding for the border wall; rescind the myriad abusive Trump administration’s regulatory changes that have denied basic rights to immigrants; rescind the “zero-tolerance” (family separation) policy and other policies that prioritize migration-related prosecutions; reallocate resources away from immigration enforcement agencies and towards community-based alternatives to detention programs; and end private immigration detention.

Trade Policy

The US government has engaged in a variety of economic interventions in the region in order to promote a neoliberal economic agenda that benefits transnational capital and local elites while generating greater inequality, environmental destruction and living conditions for ordinary citizens.

The US intervenes in domestic economic policymaking in countries in large part through its enormous influence within multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank. In order to obtain credit lines from these organizations, governments typically have to agree to austerity measures and other policies that lead to the downsizing of welfare states and a weakening of workers’ bargaining power.

In addition, the trade agreements that Washington promotes in the region have invariably led to the deregulation of financial markets and the strengthening of foreign investor protections, which prioritize the “rights” of corporations over peoples’ rights. As such, the US should end the undue power given to corporate interests to exploit other countries economically through investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions found in trade and investment agreements, which allow corporations to sue countries in supranational tribunal over public interest and environmental regulations that affect their expected profits.

To help the region develop, the US needs to allow countries to choose their own paths, instead of supporting external institutions that claim to support development while actually serving the interests of corporations and global finance. Further, it must be ensured that US foreign assistance supports public health and education services by channeling funding primarily to NGOs that take on these services in coordination with local and state entities and priorities, as well as in consultation with local and affected communities. 


The principles of non-intervention and non-interference, mutual respect, acceptance of our differences, and working together for the common good could form the foundation of a New Good Neighbor policy that would allow the US to restore peace and make a positive contribution to the well-being of people throughout the hemisphere.


  1. ActionAid USA
  2. African Services Committee
  3. Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
  4. Albany Cuba Solidarity
  5. Alianza Americas
  6. Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE)
  7. Alliance for Global Justice
  8. Altruvistas
  9. Amazon Watch
  10. American Friends Service Committee
  11. Americas Program
  12. Arts & Cultural Bridge Foundation
  13. Bolivarian Circle Alberto Lovera New York
  14. Building Relations with Cuban Labor
  15. Casa Baltimore Limay
  16. Center for Common Ground
  17. Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
  18. Center for International Policy
  19. Central American Resource Center — DC
  20. Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
  22. Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
  23. Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)
  24. Community EsTr(El/La)
  25. Corvallis (OR) Latin America Solidarity Committee
  26. Council on Hemispheric Affairs
  27. Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned (CALC)
  28. Environmentalists Against War
  29. Florida Alliance for Peace and Justice
  30. Friends Committee on National Legislation
  31. Friends of Latin America
  32. Garifuna Community Services INC
  33. Global Exchange
  34. Global Health Partners
  35. Grassroots Global Justice
  36. Haiti Action Committee
  37. Hands Off Venezuela
  38. Honduras Solidarity Network
  39. Hunts Point Community Partnership
  40. IFCO/Pastors for Peace
  41. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy, New Internationalism, and Drug Policy Programs
  42. Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI)
  43. International Committee for Peace, Justice, and Dignity
  44. Jewish Voice for Peace Portland
  45. July 26th Coalition of Boston
  46. Just Foreign Policy
  47. Labor Community Alliance of South Florida
  48. Latin America Task Force of Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice
  49. Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
  50. Latino Commission on AIDS
  51. LELO/A Legacy of Equality, Leadership and Organizing
  52. LIFT-NY
  53. MADRE
  54. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  55. Massachusetts Peace Action
  56. National Lawyers Guild International Committee
  57. National Network on Cuba
  58. Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
  59. New Sanctuary Coalition
  60. Nicaragua Center for Community Action
  61. Nicaraguan Cultural Alliance
  62. Nonviolence International
  63. North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
  64. Oregon PeaceWorks
  65. Our Developing World
  66. Oxfam America
  67. Peace Action
  69. People Demanding Action
  71. Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
  72. Progressive Democrats of America
  73. ProximityCuba
  75. Sanctuary DMV
  76. Seattle Cuba Friendship Committee
  77. SHARE Foundation
  78. Sister Parish, Inc.
  79. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas — Justice Team
  80. Solidarity Committee On The Americas (SCOTA)
  81. South Texas Human Rights Center
  82. Task Force on the Americas
  83. The Cross Border Network
  84. The Feminist Foreign Policy Project
  85. The Friendship Association
  86. US Labor Against the War
  87. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  88. United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
  89. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1445
  90. United for Peace and Justice
  91. US Network for Democracy in Brazil
  92. US Peace Council
  93. US Women and Cuba Collaboration
  94. US-El Salvador Sister Cities
  95. USF Immigration & Deportation Defense Clinic
  96. Veterans For Peace, #136
  97. Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
  98. Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective
  99. Women Against Military Madness
  100. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom US
  101. World Beyond War