Last week's anti-Nixon demonstrations and student riots were the result of Latin-American resentment of 25 years of "goodwill tours" with no positive diplomatic or economic action by the United States, Thomas F. McGann '41, assistant professor of History, commented yesterday.
Our post-war foreign policy has ignored the area, and this "failure to continue with a well developed policy toward Latin America, such as the Good Neighbor Policy" has impaired American prestige, McGann, a Latin American expert, said.
U.S. Tariffs Create Problems
McGann emphasized that disillusionment of students and liberal intellectuals has arisen especially as the result of U.S. support of the dictatorial regimes. Even passive American support of the status quo has served to alienate these groups.
Latin American students take an active part in the political life of their nation, McGann said. They are both more progressively oriented and more anti-American than the population of these countries as a whole. Student Federations have been active in opposing dictatorial regimes, often in the face of harsh brutality by the government.
Anti-Americanism is not solely Communist inspired, McGann noted. He felt that the sentiment which gave rise to the anti-Nixon riots is a carry-over from the days of American imperialism. Although Communists participated in and directed the demonstrations to some extent, only 150,000 of the 175 million inhabitants of Latin America are actually Communist.
There is, however, a "good chance" that the communists will increase their influence markedly in this underdeveloped area, McGann believes.
Students, Intellectuals Alienated
The Latin American countries are characterized by ultra-nationalism and large differences in the living standards of rich and poor, McGann said. He noted that economic problems have been accentuated by our tariff policy, and the inability of South American coffee growers to form a working world-wide cartel.
McGann, who spent four years in Latin America, will leave Harvard this June to teach at the University of Texas.