This book is a detailed study of the Buenos Aires Conference of 1936 at which the United States, represented personally by Franklin Roosevelt, for the first time formally adopted the doctrine of non-intervention. The author, a Venezuelan professor of international relations, argues that this historic inter-American meeting in reality marked the beginning of a new stage of U.S. imperialism—the extension of the North American hegemony from the Caribbean basin to the entire South American continent. His thesis is that the United States’ motivation for calling the conference was to devise a multilateral hemispheric instrument of cooperation to insure support for its imperialistic aims at a time when it was increasingly concerned over the threat of war in Europe and Germany’s trade offensive in South America. The other American republics, according to Toro, reacted to their northern neighbor’s proposed regional system in three ways: some, such as Colombia, enthusiastically embraced it; others, such as the southern cone countries, opposed it; while a third group, including Venezuela, was largely indifferent to the conference.

The author pays particular attention to Venezuela’s participation in the Buenos Aires meeting, even though he readily admits that his country played only a minor role there. Nevertheless, he contends that Venezuela, which was just emerging from the shadows of the Gómez dictatorship, advocated a moderately nationalistic position, given the limits of the structure of dependency. He credits Venezuelan policymakers and conference delegates with acting responsibly in not accepting unquestioningly Washington’s fiats.

Toro’s examination of the domestic roots of the foreign policy of Latin American countries, especially his own, although frequently controversial, is interesting and perceptive. His analysis of U.S. policy, on the other hand, is somewhat confused, heavy-handed and, in essence, a mere restatement of familiar leftist polemics. He draws no distinctions, for example, between the economic and strategic interests of the United States in South America. This weakness in his analysis results in part from the author’s failure to consult many available North American primary sources, as well as the excellent recent studies of New Deal diplomacy by U.S. historians.