In the summer of 1941, longstanding animosities surrounding disagreement over the demarcation of the border between Ecuador and Peru escalated into armed conflict between the two nations. The Peruvian military occupied the western Ecuadoran province of El Oro Frossm July 1941 until February 1942. Tens of thousands of refugees fled the region and returned to find the already underdeveloped area to be further compromised by the destruction left behind. Under the leadership of Nelson Rockefeller, the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) sent an emergency mission to the El Oro province to survey the region and to make recommendations for rehabilitating the area. Members of the El Oro Technical Mission concluded that providing rehabilitation assistance in the region would allow the United States to make an immediately practical and valuable contribution not just to the situation in Ecuador, but also more broadly to hemispheric unity. During the next two years, the OIAA spearheaded efforts to rebuild and improve the El Oro province. This article examines those rehabilitation efforts as a calculated approach to protecting US strategic interests combined with a discourse of cultural diplomacy in Latin America during World War II.


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pp. 163-188
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