1. Editorial Note

Senator John F. Kennedy made his first address on Latin American affairs at a Democratic Party dinner in San Juan, Puerto Rico on December 15, 1958. In that speech he expressed solidarity with the Latin American peoples in their efforts to oppose Communist subversion in the region, endorsed the creation of an Inter-American Development Bank, the establishment of commodity agreements, land reform in Latin America, and expanded cultural and educational ties between the Latin American nations and the United States. For text of this speech, see the Kennedy Library, Pre-Presidential Papers, Speech File.

In September 1960, Presidential candidate Kennedy sought to establish a Latin American policy that distanced him from the Eisenhower-Nixon administration’s regional diplomacy while stating affirmatively his intentions for the hemisphere. On a campaign trip through Texas in September 1960, Kennedy aide Richard N. Goodwin was struck by the title of the magazine Alianza, a Spanish language periodical published in the United States, as the possible basis for a phrase to describe Kennedy’s views on a new U.S. policy toward Latin America. Further consideration and refinement led Goodwin to coin the phrase Alianza para Progreso (later Alianza para el Progreso or Alliance for Progress in English). Kennedy used the phrase for the first time in public during a campaign speech in Tampa, Florida, on October 18. (For a more complete discussion of the origins of the term Alliance for Progress, see Richard N. Goodwin, Remembering America: A Voice From the Sixties, Little Brown, 1988.) The text of Kennedy’s Tampa speech is in the Kennedy Library, Pre-Presidential Papers, Tampa, Florida.

Following Kennedy’s election in November, Goodwin coordinated Kennedy’s establishment of a Task Force on Immediate Latin American Problems. It was chaired by former Assistant Secretary of State Adolf Berle and composed of Goodwin, Arturo Morales-Carrion and Teodoro Moscoso of the Puerto Rican Government, economist and Latin Americanist Lincoln Gordon of Harvard, political scientist Robert Alexander, and historian Arthur P. Whittaker. The Task Force was charged with evaluating U.S.-Latin American relations and prioritizing the tasks of the new administration in the region. It submitted its report to the President on January 4, 1961 (see Document 2).

Kennedy repeated his calls for an alliance for progress between the United States and its Latin American neighbors in his inaugural address of January 20. For text of the address, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1961, pages 1-3. In his first State of the [Page 2] Union address on January 30, President Kennedy reemphasized his commitment to the Alliance for Progress. He urged the Congress to appropriate the $500 million pledged by the September 13, 1960, Act of Bogota, and expressed his intention to appoint an interdepartmental task force on Latin America, strengthen the authority of the Organization of American States, abolish illiteracy in the hemisphere, and send a Food for Peace mission to Latin America (ibid., pages 19-28). For text of the Act of Bogota, see Department of State Bulletin, October 3, 1960, pages 537-540.

The new Task Force on Latin America, again chaired by Berle, convened its first meeting on February 2; see Document 4.