The Eisenhower administration's policy toward Latin America is typically viewed as a failure. The general view is that by ignoring calls for increased economic aid and undermining governments suspected of harboring Communist sympathies, U.S. policymakers allowed relations with Latin American countries to deteriorate so much that Vice President Richard Nixon was almost killed during a goodwill tour. Belated efforts were then made to improve relations, but only the rise of Fidel Castro in Cuba and the Kennedy administration's embrace of modernization theory—the argument goes—saw a genuine change in U.S. attitudes. Using a wide variety of sources, including rarely studied personal papers and newly released oral histories, this article demonstrates that even before the Nixon trip a small group of experts on Latin America were determined to adjust attitudes in Washington. Understanding their impact and achievements casts fresh light on the policies of the Eisenhower administration and the nature of hemispheric relations in the subsequent decade.

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