100. Editorial Note

During February 10–20, General J. Lawton Collins and Ambassador John C. Hughes, traveled to Latin America as representatives of the President’s Citizen Advisers on the Mutual Security Program (popularly known as the Fairless Committee, after its Coordinator, Benjamin F. Fairless) to evaluate mutual security programs in Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, and Peru. A copy of the memorandum containing [Page 408] their report, which bears a handwritten date of February 23 and is signed only by Collins, concludes as follows:

“27. We recommend that the following section be included in your report to the President:

Latin America

“An evaluation of the effectiveness of the Mutual Security Programs in Latin America in achieving United States objectives requires a definition of these objectives. We believe these are:

  • “(1) To keep the potential enemy out of Latin America by eliminating Communist influence and strengthening United States influence;
  • “(2) To safeguard essential military bases and facilities from potential enemy action, especially sabotage;
  • “(3) To safeguard the production of strategic raw materials in Latin America and assure their access by the United States;
  • “(4) To assist in promoting stable, self-reliant expanding economies which will lead to increased production, mutually advantageous trade and investments, and rising living standards.

“In our preoccupation with the more immediate threats of Communism in other parts of the world, we should not lose sight of the fact that any successful Communist penetration in the Western Hemisphere would be an even greater menace to the security and well-being of the people of all the Americas. A continuation of effective mutual aid programs would be much less costly as ‘preventive medicine’ than more difficult surgery if the disease of Communism were permitted to develop in North and South America.

“We realize that some military aid may have to be granted to the Latin American countries over and above that which is strictly warranted by the foregoing objectives. Some of these countries will insist on military equipment for prestige and other purposes, and will purchase it from other sources, possibly Czechoslovakia, if we are adamant in not supplying it. However, our compliance with their requests must be kept to the minimum necessary to prevent military penetration of Latin America by other foreign countries, particularly the Soviet bloc.

“We strongly recommend the continuance of technical cooperation for some time to come and consideration of its expansion within existing fields. Technical cooperation should be closely coordinated with similar activities carried on by private business and by both public and private banking institutions. It should not be extended in such fields as individual productivity studies or the promotion of individual investment opportunities in the field of industry. What we have seen of technical cooperation, plus what we have learned from American businessmen resident abroad and from nationals and officials of the countries we have visited, convinces us that the technical cooperation programs strengthen United States influence enormously. In the present world situation we need the firm friendship of the Latin American countries. We feel that the technical assistance program contributes powerfully to the security of the Western Hemisphere.

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“We recommend that there be no large scale grants for economic development. We feel grant aid is warranted only when our neighbors are faced with emergencies beyond their power to handle, although some flexibility must be given to the interpretation of this principle. We feel sure in the case of Bolivia that grant aid must be continued, at least until present stabilization program proves to be a firm success. In the case of Guatemala, we feel that grant aid can be reduced as conditions improve but cannot yet be eliminated. Reliance must be placed upon private investment, domestic and foreign, supplemented by loans from the Export-Import Bank and the International Bank. We do recommend that limited economic development assistance in the form of loans should be made available to assist the financing of projects which will increase the effectiveness of technical cooperation projects and for which other sources of financing domestic or foreign, are not available on reasonable terms.” (Eisenhower Library, Fairless Committee Records, 1956–1957, Report—Latin American Trip)