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Dynamis

Print version ISSN 0211-9536

Abstract

CUVI, Nicolás. The Cinchona Program (1940-1945): science and imperialism in the exploitation of a medicinal plant. Dynamis [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.1, pp.183-206. ISSN 0211-9536.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4321/S0211-95362011000100009.

During World War II, the United States implemented programs to exploit hundreds of raw materials in Latin America, many of them botanical. This required the participation of the country's scientific community and marked the beginning of intervention in Latin American countries characterized by the active participation of the United States in negotiations (and not only by private firms supported by the United States). Many federal institutions and companies were created, others were adapted, and universities, research centers and pharmaceutical companies were contracted. The programs undertaken by this coalition of institutions served to build and consolidate the dependence of Latin American countries on United States technology, to focus their economies on the extraction and development of resources that the United States could not obtain at home (known as "complementary") and to impede the development of competition. Latin American republics had been historically dependant on raw material exports (minerals and plants). But during World War II their dependence on US loans, markets, science and technology reached record levels. One example of this can be appreciated through a careful examination of the Cinchona Program, implemented in the 1940s by US agencies in Latin America. This program for the extraction of a single medicinal plant, apart from representing a new model of scientific imperialism (subsequently renamed "scientific cooperation") was the most intensive and extensive scientific exploration of a single medicinal plant in the history of mankind.

Keywords : Cinchona; Andean countries; Latin America; botanical explorations; scientific imperialism.

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