17. Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the United States Information Agency (Wilson) to the President’s Assistant Special Counsel (Goodwin)1

This memorandum offers an outline for the fullest possible dissemination of information about the “Alianza para el Progreso.”2 It is our belief that an enormous amount of enthusiasm can be generated around this program. However, we feel that the timing and spacing of the propaganda push behind it are most important. Those who look back on the Marshall Plan3 warn quite rightly that we mustn’t let the [Page 59] propaganda get out too far ahead of the actual social and economic aid. It will be some time before the effects of the program can be actually felt in Latin America: if we beat the drum too loudly and hold out promises that glitter too brightly, delays may generate great skepticism and give our enemies an opening. Also, we may create “great expectations” impossible of fulfillment, with inevitable Latin American disillusionment.


1. The speech4 should hit hardest at the social rather than the economic development aspects of the program. From the propaganda point of view, this will be most effective. It is the people of Latin America we want to reach and to involve in the success of the program; and this we do best by concentrating on the things of direct interest to the people—health, education, housing, land reform.

2. The speech, as well as subsequent official announcements, should emphasize strongly the mutual nature of the program, make forcefully the point that the program will not work unless everybody cooperates to make it work, that the U.S. can most effectively help those who are willing to help themselves.

a. Reference might be made to self-help housing projects in Chile, to the Mexican “each one teach one” adult education program, and to Puerto Rico’s “Operation Bootstrap” (although the phrase itself should be avoided).

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3. The “Alianza para el Progreso” should be clearly identified as the umbrella under which come the Peace Corps,5 Food-for-Peace,6 ICA Technical Assistance. This concept should be carried out after the speech with the “Alianza” label always being affixed to these other programs.

4. Simon Bolivar’s ideal of inter-American unity7 should be mentioned.

5. Mention might also be made of Latin American moves toward a common market.

6. The President’s use of the Spanish name of the program will have great appeal, although it may offend Portuguese-speaking Latin Americans. Perhaps he should introduce the name of the program, at the outset, in both Spanish and Portuguese, and thereafter refer to it in English.


There will be a considerable period between the President’s speech and the actual effective start of the program. We must continue to keep the program in the popular mind during that time. We suggest:

1. A “progress report” in the address the President will make on Pan-American Day,8 and another on Columbus Day (“Dia de la Raza”).9

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2. Periodic appearances on VOA and USIA television programs of prominent people connected with the program and its various components (e.g., Berle, Mann, Shriver, Labouisse, Morales Carrion).

3. A speech by Ambassador Stevenson at the United Nations explaining the purposes of the program and, perhaps, inviting the Free World participation.

4. Speaking tours in the U.S. by ranking State Department people to explain the program and generate press coverage. Mr. Morales Carrion can be particularly effective.

5. It will be useful also to go outside the ranks of the Administration. Pronouncements from non-administration people who have good names in Latin America—e.g., Governor Rockefeller, Senator Mansfield, Sprague, Smith, Munoz Marin—can have great impact. So can statements or speeches by Latin American ambassadors in Washington (the Brazilian, especially, when he is named).

6. A special U.S. stamp commemorating “Alliance for Progress”10 should be useful.


USIA actions can best be grouped under the media used to disseminate information about the program.


1. The speech will be transmitted live for direct pick up by an estimated 200 Latin American stations, judging by the Inaugural Address pick up. There will be a subsequent transmission from tapes, with over-voicing, in Spanish, Portuguese, and French for Africa (widely heard in Haiti and the French islands of the Caribbean) programs.

2. Special feeds of the speech by USIA radio officers will be made to stations unable to use a direct pickup of the speech. VOA and our Latin American division estimate that some 1500 of the 2000 radio stations in Latin America will, under this plan, receive the speech.

3. Subsequent extensive treatment will be made in commentaries and features of the speech, point by point.

4. Later, we can produce an hour-long documentary covering U.S.-Latin American relations over the last three decades: this can make the [Page 62] bridge from the “Good Neighbor” policy11 to “Alliance for Progress,” and at the same time emphasize policy continuity.

5. We propose a “Small World” type of show with outstanding Latin American statesmen—Betancourt, Lleras, Alessandri, Beltran, Frondizi, Quadros, as available.


1. Transmission of the full text of the President’s speech and the message to Congress, in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, as far in advance of actual delivery as possible.

2. A series of backgrounders and interpretive columns by staffers whose bylines are already well known in Latin America, to follow the speech quickly. (Some of these can be written in advance.)

3. A fast pamphlet based on the text (and incorporating it), in very large numbers.

4. Updating of Hugo Martin’s very good pamphlet on U.S. post-war aid to Latin America (now out of stock, and about to be reprinted in Mexico City) to incorporate “Alliance for Progress.” (The purpose here is to suggest the essential continuity of U.S. purposes in Latin America, to refute the all too common Latin American contention that since World War II we have paid the area little or no attention.)

5. A low-cost cartoon book pegged to the speech and explaining the purposes of the program. (This device, found very useful in other areas, is now being developed for Latin America.)

6. Commissioning of U.S. authors well known in Latin America (e.g., Steinbeck, Dos Passos) to do special articles for placement in Latin American magazines.

7. Picking up good by-lines that are particularly respected in Latin America, i.e. Lippmann, Drummond, Alsop, Prewett. Also reuse of material appearing in prominent U.S. newspapers and magazines.

8. A visual symbol. USIS Mexico City several weeks ago came up with one: it consists of the words “Alianza para el Progreso” written circle-wide to ring the map of the two continents. We are working on other candidates.


1. Good footage on the speech for the regular USIA Latin American newsreel.

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2. Provision of film clips for field placement in Latin American newsreels.

3. A one-reel show on the speech, with interpretation and background, for primary use (in 16-mm. prints) in the mobile units and loan projectors that are our best avenue to rural and semi-urban audiences.

4. Ultimately, a two- or three-reel documentary covering much the same ground as the VOA show proposed.

5. Supply to the field additional prints of a land reform film already in use. Make similar documentaries on other individual aspects of the program—education, public health, etc.


1. A special show with Latin American TV commentators (to be brought from the field if time and money permit, to be selected from correspondents regularly assigned to Washington if not).

2. Heavy coverage of the speech (and of subsequent developments) in “Panorama Panamericano,” the weekly newsmagazine show now widely placed in every Latin American country having television.

3. Fast clips for use in Latin American commercial and field-produced shows.

4. A “Small World” show for wide television usage.


1. A poster, printed in very large numbers, highlighting the choicest phrases of the speech.

2. A fast, flat-pack, highly mobile exhibit pegged to the speech, in sufficient numbers to allow its wide use in our binational centers.

3. Subsequent exhibits of the same type on the various aspects of the program.

4. A low-cost, paperback book, preferably to be written by a widely known Latin American author, on the history of inter-American cooperation culminating in “Alliance for Progress.”

5. Provision of lecturers to tour Latin America.

6. A bibliography of official and unofficial materials useful to Agency and field media output.


1. We will offer close cooperation with Latin American government information services to generate support for the program.

2. Speeches by Ambassadors, PAOs, and other key Embassy, USIS, and ICA figures. (A kit of materials for speeches can be furnished by the Agency.)

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3. Stimulation of comment—press, radio, television, newsreel—for Agency use and cross-play.

4. Development of local radio and television shows, with indigenous commentators.

5. At the discretion of the PAO, round table discussions and forum shows (where comment can be effectively controlled).

6. Special issues (or extensive treatment in regular issues) of such field publications as the monthlies, INFORMACIONES, COMENTARIO, MUNDO OBRERO, etc.; weekly newspaper supplements in Mexico, Lima, Quito, and elsewhere; and the periodical “wall newspapers” published at several posts.

Donald M. Wilson12
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, United States Information Agency Records (RG 306), Series 1, Records, 1961–1964, Box 1, Memoranda 1961–1964 [1 of 3]. Secret.
  2. The Spanish name of the Alliance for Progress. In both his inaugural address (see footnote 2, Document 7) and State of the Union address (see footnote 2, Document 9) the President expressed his commitment to an alliance between the United States and Latin America.
  3. For Marshall’s June 5, 1947, address which first proposed the plan, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. III, The British Commonwealth; Europe, pp. 237–239.
  4. On March 13, the President, at a White House reception, addressed Latin American diplomats and a bipartisan group of members of Congress to outline the Alliance for Progress initiative, a decade-long program to ensure social, political, and economic progress in the region. For the text of the address, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 170–175. For additional information about the speech, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XII, American Republics, Documents 5 and 6. The United States Information Agency summarized the address in Potomac Cable No. 142, sent in the Wireless File on March 13. (National Archives, RG 306, Office of Plans, General Subject Files, 1949–1970, Entry UD WW 382, Box 117, MASTER COPIES—Jan.–Jun. 1961) Kennedy also sent a message to Congress, dated March 14, regarding social progress in Latin America; for the text, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 176–181. The Charter of Punta del Este, signed by all OAS members—except Cuba—in Montevideo on August 17, 1961, formally established the Alliance for Progress. For the text of the Charter, see Department of State Bulletin, September 11, 1961, pp. 463–469.
  5. On March 1, the President signed Executive Order 10924, which provided for the establishment of a Peace Corps on a temporary basis; for the text, see Department of State Bulletin, March 20, 1961, pp. 400–401. In a March 1 message to Congress, the President described the goals of the program; see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 143–146. On September 22, the President signed the Peace Corps Act (P.L. 87–293; 75 Stat. 612) into law. For his remarks at the signing ceremony, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 614–615. For additional information concerning the establishment of the Peace Corps, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XXV, Organization of Foreign Policy; Information Policy; United Nations; Scientific Matters, Documents 70, 71, and 73.
  6. The Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act (P.L. 480), signed into law by Eisenhower on July 10, 1954, established the Food for Peace program. Under the provisions of the law, the United States could make concessional sales of surplus grains to friendly nations, earmark commodities for domestic and foreign disaster relief, and barter surplus for strategic materials. Following the inauguration, Kennedy issued Executive Order 10915, which amended earlier executive orders concerning the administration of Food for Peace, and appointed George McGovern his Special Assistant and Director of the Food for Peace program, a position located in the Executive Office of the President.
  7. In 1826, Bolivar, then President of Gran Colombia, had hoped to establish a confederation of Latin American nations to provide mutual security in support of their independence.
  8. April 14. For the President’s remarks that day at the protocolary session of the OAS Council meeting, held at the Pan American Union Building, see Public Papers: Kennedy, 1961, pp. 276–279.
  9. October 12.
  10. The United States Postal Service ultimately issued an Alliance for Progress stamp in 1963 to coincide with the second anniversary of the program.
  11. Reference is to President Roosevelt’s policy of non-interference in Latin America, as expressed in the course of his March 4, 1933, inaugural address related to U.S.-Western Hemisphere relations.
  12. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.