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Cuban-American Lawmakers Rally to Renew the Monroe Doctrine: The Fight Against Ending a 200-Year-Old Policy

The Monroe Doctrine, a 200-year-old foreign policy that has long served as a cornerstone of American diplomacy, is under attack from a new wave of progressive lawmakers. This has prompted Cuban American legislators to defend the longstanding doctrine, emphasizing both its historic cultural importance, and its current geopolitical relevance. The Monroe Doctrine, which was first proposed in 1823 by President James Monroe, declared that the security of the United States takes precedence over colonial interests in the Americas. It was designed to serve as a warning to European powers, specifically Great Britain, to stay out of the Americas; in effect, acting as a shield of hemispheric supremacy for the newly-formed United States. Over the years, the policy has been interpreted in different ways and embraced by differing ideologies, often depending on the dominant geopolitical events of the time. It has existed through the Cold War, post-Cold War, and the more recent interventions by the U.S. in Central and South America. In recent years, however, some progressive Democrats have come out against the Monroe Doctrine. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), for example, has called it an “assertion of white supremacy” and has argued that it has led to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. In response, Cuban American lawmakers have argued that such progressive interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine ignore its historical context and fail to take into account the important geopolitical role it plays today. They note that Latin American countries like Colombia, which have suffered from decades of civil war and political upheaval, remain in need of American protection, and that the Monroe Doctrine helps to provide that protection. Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American-born member of Congress, said that “while we should strive for a more inclusive Foreign Policy, it is important to recognize the Monroe Doctrine has been an integral tool to protect the U.S. from foreign intervention in the region for more than two centuries”. This sentiment was echoed by other Cuban American lawmakers. Representative Donna Shalala argued that preserving the Monroe Doctrine “goes beyond defense of our country,” and noted the importance of fostering closer relationships and understanding between Latin American and U.S. policymakers. Ultimately, the debate over the Monroe Doctrine highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of foreign policy. As the U.S. increasingly plays a greater role in international affairs, the ability to adapt and readjust to changing circumstances is ever more critical. Cuban American lawmakers have taken the lead in pushing back on the progressive view of the Monroe Doctrine, and have highlighted the importance of its relevance in both historic and geopolitical terms.