The International Studies Public Forum (ISPF) and Department of History present

"Representative Charles Porter and the Latin American Crusade for Democracy during the Cold War"
with Allen Wells, Bowdoin College

Thursday, February 14, 2013
5:00-6:20 p.m.
Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100

Thanks to Fidel Castro’s flight from America's “backyard” in 1959, Latin America became a flashpoint in the Cold War. Even before the Cuban Revolution, however, regional reformers, unhappy with Washington’s and Moscow’s simplistic “us versus them” mentality, sought a more autonomous path, embracing democratic values and rejecting right-wing militarism and left-wing totalitarianism. Alliances were forged between these reformers and liberals like young brash congressman Charles Porter (D-Oregon) to promote a pro-democracy agenda. At a time when Vice-President Richard Nixon was spit on, taunted, and pelted with rocks and garbage in Caracas, Venezuela and Lima, Peru, Porter drew crowds of up to 20,000 who cheered his every word across the Caribbean. Although these transnational efforts to change US policy met resistance from Washington’s Cold Warriors who remained convinced that dictators were more likely to thwart communist infiltration than democrats, the efforts of these nationalists and their allies did not go unrewarded; a slew of upheavals ousted no less than ten dictators from power between 1956 and 1961.

Allen Wells is the Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History, Bowdoin College (Maine). His most recent book is Tropical Zion: General Trujillo, FDR and the Jews of Sosua (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009). He co-edited (with Steven Topik), The Second Conquest of Latin America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997), and co-authored (with Gilbert M. Joseph), Summer of Discontent, Seasons of Upheaval: Elite Politics and Rural Insurgency, 1876-1915 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996).

For more information, please contact Sandy Cushman, or 949-824-3344.

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