Working Together for “The Redemption of Mankind”: Mexico, the Americas, and the World in the Postwar Moment

Sunday, January 7, 2018: 11:40 AM
Maryland Suite B (Marriott Wardman Park)
Ashley Black, Stony Brook University
By 1944, the devastation of not one, but two global conflagrations within a mere thirty years brought a recognition by Allied leaders that international cooperation was the best hope for maintaining peace. As the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations grappled with how to build a system of international governance, Latin American diplomats and intellectuals saw a space for themselves to play a greater role in global affairs. Not only could such an organization potentially serve as a platform for smaller countries, but it was a chance for the region to set an example for the rest of the world as a model of successful international cooperation—a tradition that had guided regional policy-making since 1889. If they were to assert themselves in the face of the world powers, however, Latin American nations would need to form a unified bloc, and it was here that the government of Mexico saw its own opportunity: to take the helm as a regional power and thereby amplify its voice on the world stage.

This paper explores the interplay of global, regional, and national politics in the post-war moment, highlighting the Mexican government’s efforts to play a leading role in a more globally-engaged Latin America. It focuses on the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s response to the Dumbarton Oaks Proposal, its promotion of a regional human rights declaration, and its efforts to steer a new regional organization that would be compatible with—but never subordinate to—the United Nations. Such an approach draws attention to Mexico’s shifting relationships with other American nations as it moved closer to an ascendant United States. At the same time, it raises important questions about the efforts of small states to claim a voice in the international system and about the evolving relationship between regional and global organizations at mid-century.