Politics: The Hispanic Institute in Spanish Civil War and WWII > World War II and Name Changes
Although Spain stayed out of World War II, the mutual collaboration between the Franco dictatorship and the Third Reich threatened to severely discredit Spanish studies and Hispanic cultures in the United States. The Institute's collaboration with diplomatic propaganda agencies of the United States government calls into question the public stance of neutrality that it held during this conflict.
The international scope of the war led the Institute to change its name. If the original title of Instituto de las Españas had already been criticized for containing a pro-Spain bias to the detriment of Latin America and the Lusophone countries, in a 1940 letter to the Provost, Federico de Onís also expressed his concern about the connotations that the alliance between Francoism and the Axis powers could generate: “Besides there is now among the ruling groups of Spain a new kind of fascist imperialism, inspired and controlled by Germany and Italy, which aims to use the historical prestige of Spain as a means to infiltrate European fascism into Spanish America." Since then, the name in Spanish was dropped and only its English version remained. At the suggestion of President Butler, however, Casa Hispánica kept its name in Spanish.
At the beginning of World War II, the political and economic interests of the Axis powers in Latin America threatened the financial and commercial investments of the United States in the region. In this memo on a project to be developed together with the Centro de Estudios Históricos in Madrid, De Onís expresses his concern about the effects that the Franco regime, now at the service of the Axis' interests in Latin America, would have on cultural relations between Spain and the United States.
In order to counteract the influence of the Axis Powers in Latin America and strengthen the economic and cultural policies of the United States in the region during the war years, President Roosevelt founded the Office for Inter-American Affairs in August 1940. Under the leadership of Nelson Rockefeller, a tycoon with large investments in Latin America, the OIAA deployed a vast and complex propaganda program through the media and cultural institutions that sought to persuade the Latin American public of the benefits of American culture. At the same time, the OIAA was in charge of spreading in the United States an idealized image of Latin American countries with the purpose of promoting economic investment in the region.
This list - sent by Federico de Onís to the Provost - details the lectures on Latin American topics given at Columbia University under the contract between the institution and the OIAA.