Invasions in the "Neighborhood"

Revolutionary Worker #1059, June 18, 2000

For 200 years, the U.S. military has been attacking and robbing its neighbors. Over and over again, the U.S. invaded and intervened in countries in the name of "preserving order," "bringing peace," or "saving American lives." Often the U.S. said its troops were "hunting bandits." Sometimes they claimed they were "liberating" the country from other foreign powers or from corrupt local rulers. But in each case, it quickly became clear that the U.S. forces had arrived to serve the U.S. ruling class: to help exploit the people at the point of a gun, to install governments loyal to U.S. capitalist/imperialist interests, and to strengthen the U.S. grip on the entire region.

The list on these pages describes U.S. attacks on the countries to the immediate south of its borders. Our sources include the U.S. Congressional Record (June 23, 1969) and the book Under the Eagle by Jenny Pearce.

1823 Monroe Doctrine pronounced. U.S. tells European powers to keep their hands off Latin America.

1. 1824 Puerto Rico (then Spanish territory). Commodore David Porter and a landing party attacks the town of Fajardo which had harbored "pirates" and insulted U.S. naval officers. Porter lands with 200 men in November and forces an apology.

2. 1835-1836 Mexico. So-called Texan War of Independence. Huge pieces of Mexico north of the Rio Grande are seized by invading U.S. ranchers and slave-owners. Texas temporarily becomes the "Lone Star Republic" under Sam Houston. U.S. General Gaines occupies Nocagdoches, Texas during the war under guise of an imagined threat of "Indian outbreak."

3. 1842 Mexican California. Commodore T.A.C. Jones, in command of a squadron cruising off California, occupies Monterey, California on October 19, believing that war had come. He discovers he is premature and withdraws. A similar incident occurs a week later at San Diego.

4. 1844 Mexico. President Tyler deploys U.S. forces to protect Texas from Mexico pending Senate approval of a treaty of annexation.

5. 1846-8 Mexico. United States declares war with Mexico. President Polk orders occupation of disputed territory between Nueces and Rio Grande to provoke the war. California, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and parts of other states are secured for the U.S. Mexico City itself (the Halls of Montezuma) is secured through bitter fighting.

6. 1853 Nicaragua. March 11 through 13. Troops land "to protect American interests during a revolution."

7. 1854 Nicaragua. July 9 through 15. San Juan del Norte (Greytown) is destroyed to avenge an insult to the U.S. Minister to Nicaragua.

8. 1856 Republic of New Grenada (now Panama). Troops land to protect U.S. interests during an insurrection. September 19-22.

9. 1857 Nicaragua. U.S. forces land twice.

10. 1859 Mexico.200 soldiers cross the Rio Grande in pursuit of the Mexican resistance leader Juan Cortina.

11. 1860 Colombia (the Bay of Panama). Troops land to protect U.S. interests during a revolution. September 27 to October 8.

12. 1865 Panama. March 9 and 10. Troops land to protect U.S. interests during a revolution.

13. 1866 Mexico. To protect U.S. lives, General Sedgwick and 100 men obtain the surrender of Matamoros; Sedgwick is ordered to withdraw after success, and his action is "officially repudiated by the President."

14. 1868 Colombia. April 7. Troops land "to protect passengers and treasure" in transit during political disturbances following the death of the President of Colombia.

15. 1873 Colombia (Bay of Panama). May 7 through 22, September 23 to October 9. Troops land to protect U.S. interests during hostilities over the possessions of the government of the State of Panama.

16. 1876

Mexico. May 18. Troops enter Mexico to "police the town of Matamoros temporarily while it was without other government."

17. 1885 Panama (Colón). January 18 and 19. To guard the valuables in transit over the Panama Railway and the safes and vaults of the company during revolutionary activity. In the months of March, April and May in the cities of Colón and Panama to "reestablish freedom of transit" during political disturbances.

18. 1888 Haiti. December 20—"to persuade the Haitian government to give up an American steamer which had been seized on the charge of breach of blockade."

1890 The United States organizes the "Pan-American Union" to hasten its plans to transform Latin America into its own "backyard."

19. 1891 Haiti. "To protect American lives and property on Navassa Island when Negro laborers got out of control."

20. 1894 Nicaragua. July 6 to August 7. To protect U.S. interests in Bluefield following a change of power.

21. 1896 Nicaragua. May 2-4. To protect U.S. interests in Corinto during political unrest.

22. 1898 Nicaragua. February 7-8. To protect San Juan del Sur.

23. 1898 Spanish-American War declared. United States seizes Cuba and Puerto Rico from Spain (not to mention colonies like the Philippines in other regions of the world.)

24. 1898-1902 Cuba. U.S. troops occupy Cuba, suppressing the anti-Spanish nationalist forces they supposedly went in to support and establishing colonial rule.

25. 1899 Nicaragua. To protect U.S. interests at San Juan del Norte, February 22 to March 5, and at Bluefields a few weeks later in connection with internal political disturbances—in this case, a military coup.

26. 1901 Puerto Rico. U.S. troops occupy the island after the defeat of the Spanish colonialists.

27. 1901 Colombia (the State of Panama). November 20 to December 4. To protect U.S. property on the Isthmus and to keep transit lines open during serious political disturbances.

28. 1902 Colombia. April 16-23. To protect U.S. lives and property at Bocas del Toro during civil war.

29. 1902 Colombia (State of Panama). September 17 to November 18. Troops land to place armed guards on all trains crossing the Isthmus and to keep the railroad line open.

30. 1903 Honduras. March 23-31. To protect the U.S. consulate and the steamship wharf at Puerto Cortés during a period of political disturbances.

31. 1903 Dominican Republic. March 30 to April 21. To protect U.S. interests in the city of Santo Domingo.

32. 1903 Panama. A U.S.-instigated coup d'état leads to a "declaration of independence" from Colombia. Hardly by coincidence, the U.S. cruiser Nashville, sent days earlier from California, arrives to back up the "rebellion." Source of dispute is Colombia's terms for an Isthmus Canal. U.S. troops occupy Panama for 11 years with only brief interruptions.

33. 1904 Dominican Republic. January 2 to February 11. Troops land in Puerto Plata, Susua, and Santo Domingo.

34. 1904 Panama. November 17-24. Troops land at Ancon.

35. 1905 Honduras. Troops land at Puerto Cortés.

36. 1906-09 Cuba. Troops land "to restore order, protect foreigners and establish a stable government."

37. 1907 Honduras. March through June. Troops land to protect U.S. interests during a war between Honduras and Nicaragua; troops are stationed in Trujillo, Ceiba, Puerto Cortés, San Pedro, Laguna and Choloma.

38. 1910 Nicaragua. February 22. Troops land at Corinto to get information on the political conditions prevailing in the country following a civil war. And from May 19 to September 4 to protect U.S. interests at Bluefields.

39. 1911 Honduras. January 26, lasting for several weeks. Troops land to protect U.S. interests during political disturbances. President Taft meanwhile forces both Nicaragua and Honduras to hand over rights to custom duties and railway and steamship transportation between the two oceans.

40. 1912 Honduras. A small force lands to prevent seizure by the government of a U.S.-owned railroad at Puerto Cortés.

41. 1912 Panama. U.S. troops supervise the elections being held outside the Canal Zone.

42. 1912 Cuba. June 5 to August 5. Troops land to protect U.S. interests and occupy the province of Oriente and the city of Havana.

43. 1912-25 Nicaragua. Landing of 2,700 Marines to protect U.S. interests during "an attempted revolution." U.S. troops stay for 13 years as a tripwire—or in the words of the U.S. government, "as a promoter of peace and government stability." Less than two years after the troops left, they returned.

44. 1912 Mexico. September 5-7. Marines land at Claris Estero to aid in evacuating U.S. citizens and others from Yaqui Valley, made dangerous because of "civil strife."

1914 Panama Canal is completed.

45. 1914 Haiti. January 29 to February 9, February 20-21, and again on October 19. U.S. troops land three times "to protect American nationals in a time of dangerous unrest." Soon they return, to stay decades.

46. 1914 Dominican Republic. June and July. "During a revolution movement, the United States naval forces by gunfire stopped the bombardment of Puerto Plata and by threat of force maintained Santo Domingo City as a neutral zone."

47. 1914-1917 Mexico. The United States wages a campaign of undeclared hostilities aimed at the growing Mexican Revolution. Twice (in 1914 and 1916) major incursions occur. Veracruz is seized. And General Pershing conducts invasions of northern Mexico, hunting the revolutionary Pancho Villa.

48. 1915-34 Haiti. A 19-year occupation starts with the landing of U.S. troops to end "a period of chronic and threatened insurrection."

49. 1916-24 Dominican Republic. Eight-year occupation, using the justification of "chronic and threatened insurrection."

50. 1917 Virgin Islands. The United States invades.

51. 1917-33 Cuba. A 16-year occupation of Cuba to protect U.S. interests during times of "unsettled conditions."

52. 1918-1919 Mexico. After the withdrawal of the Pershing expedition, U.S. troops enter Mexico at least three times in 1918 and six times in 1919 "in pursuit of bandits," a name commonly given to revolutionary Mexican forces. In August 1918, U.S. troops engage Mexican forces at Nogales.

53. 1918-20 Panama. U.S. troops land "for police duty according to treaty stipulations" at Chiriqui—to maintain control during elections.

54. 1919 Honduras. September 8-12. "A landing force was sent ashore to maintain order in a neutral zone during an attempted revolution." Occupation of Honduras's major ports.

55. 1920 Guatemala. April 9-27. To protect U.S. interests, including the cable station, during fighting between Unionists and the government of Guatemala.

56. 1921 Panama and Costa Rica. U.S. naval squadrons appear on both sides of the Isthmus to place pressure on both of the countries involved in a boundary dispute.

57. 1924 Honduras. February 28 to March 31, September 10 to 15. U.S. troops land "to protect American lives and interests" during elections.

58. 1925 Honduras. April 19-21. Troops land "to protect foreigners at La Ceiba during a political upheaval."

59. 1925 Panama. October 12-23. "Strikes and rent riots led to the landing of about 600 American troops to keep order and protect American interests."

60. 1926-1933 Nicaragua. An upheaval of revolutionary activity leads to the landing of 5,000 Marines "to protect the interests of the United States." The National Guard of the Somoza family is established to rule into the future. U.S. forces engage in major operations against the revolutionary Sandino in 1928. After their withdrawal, Sandino is deceived and finally assassinated by the U.S.-trained Somoza forces in 1934. The consolidated military dictatorship rules for 45 years.

61. 1932 El Salvador. U.S. warships stand off the coast during El Salvador's matanza (massacre). In the first weeks, Salvadoran army and paramilitary forces kill over 30,000 people. By the time it's over, 4 percent of the population is murdered. The suppression of this uprising leads to a military dictatorship that rules almost unchallenged for over 30 years.

1933 Roosevelt announces ``Good Neighbor'' policy. In the following period, U.S. investment in Latin America as a whole rises rapidly, reaching $1.54 billion and making up 35 percent of total U.S. foreign investment in 1936.

62. 1933 Cuba. U.S. naval forces organize a "demonstration" of 30 warships off the Cuban coast during a challenge to the power of President Gerardo Machado.

63. 1937. Puerto Rico. Major massacre of Puerto Ricans demonstrating against U.S. authorities.

64. 1940 Throughout the Caribbean. As part of the World War 2 U.S.-British imperialist alliance, U.S. troops are sent to guard air and naval bases formerly controlled by Britain on Bermuda, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad and British Guiana.


Organization of American States is founded.

65. 1954 Guatemala. The CIA overthrow of a government daring to expropriate some land owned by the United Fruit Company requires the use of invading force. Right-wing exiles are forged into an army for invading Guatemala, while the ground forces are backed up with aerial bombing of Guatemala City. The bombing triggers an internal coup, based in U.S.-trained military forces and the church.

1959 Cuba. Revolution against U.S.-backed dicator Batista, Castro comes to power.

1960 Central American Common Market is established.

66. 1961 Cuba. Abortive CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. This is followed by uncounted landings on the island by CIA forces to sabotage, conduct bacteriological warfare, assassinate, contact internal operatives, and carry out other armed and hostile acts.

1961 Alliance for Progress is signed.

67. 1962 Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis, centered around a U.S. naval blockade to force the withdrawal of Soviet medium-range missiles. Backed by the threat of all-out invasion.

68. 1965 Dominican Republic. 20,000 U.S. Marines invade in May (only a month after the first landing of regular U.S. troops in South Vietnam) to suppress a revolutionary uprising. An estimated 2,500 civilians killed.

69. 1966 Guatemala. The first death squads appear, closely linked with the United States. Between 1966 and 1976 they are responsible for at least 20,000 deaths. (This is standard operating procedure throughout the region.)

70. 1979 Nicaragua. Following the overthrow of Somoza, regroupment starts of what is to become a U.S.-led and trained army of counterrevolutionaries (Contras) based in neighboring Honduras and Costa Rica.

1979 Caribbean Joint Task Force is set up in Florida.

71. 1981 El Salvador. Along with increased U.S. military assistance to the puppet government fighting revolutionary forces, U.S. military "advisers" start arriving in increasing numbers.

72. 1980-84 Honduras is turned into a U.S. military base.

73. 1983 Grenada. U.S. invasion four years after the New Jewel Movement overthrew the U.S-backed Gairy government.

74. 1987 Nicaragua. May. The U.S. military conducts a massive ``training exercise'' near Nicaragua. Code-named Solid Shield, the exercise involves 50,000 troops.

75. 1988 Honduras. March. Using the excuse that Nicaraguan troops ``crossed the border'' in pursuit of the Contras, the U.S. sends 3,500 troops to Honduras.

76. 1989 Panama. December. Bush sends 20,000 troops to invade this country using the excuse that Manuel Noriega is a major "international drug lord." The real reason: the U.S. wants to assure control over this country where SOUTHCOM, headquarters for all U.S. military operations south of Mexico, is located.

77. 1994 Haiti. September. Clinton sends 20,000 troops to invade and occupy this country, claiming to "restore democracy." Real reason is to restore tight U.S. control over the country, its military and police.

78. 2000. In January, the Clinton administration announces a $1.6 billion plan to build up the Colombian government and paramilitary forces for a two-year invasion into southern Colombia.

79. 2000. On May 4, U.S. federal agents carry out an operation to remove hundreds of protesters camped out on the U.S. Naval base on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. The "People's Zone" encampments are part of a movement demanding the U.S. stop using Vieques as a bombing range.

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