14. Report From the Representative to the United Nations (Stevenson) to President Kennedy1
REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT ON SOUTH AMERICAN MISSION, JUNE 4-22, 1961
During the period of June 4-22, 1961, I visited each of the ten capitals of South America to consult with the Presidents and leading government officials on plans for advancing the “Alliance for Progress” and possibilities of collective action to defend the Western hemisphere against Communist penetration and subversion, including indirect aggression through Cuba. I was accompanied by Ambassador Ellis O. Briggs, Professor [Page 31]Lincoln Gordon, and a supporting staff from the Department of State.
Our mission received everywhere remarkably effective support from our resident Ambassadors and their staffs, as well as excellent briefing and background materials prepared in advance in the Department of State. I should like also to express my gratitude for the way in which our travels were handled by Major Conover and the crew of MATS Constellation 254.
[Here follow Parts II, “Political Appreciation” and III, “Communist Castro Influence.”]
IV. Preparations for Economic Conference and Alliance for Progress
We encountered a unanimous and intense interest in the Alliance for Progress. Your March 13 address was described as having created a profound impression in Latin America—the most favorable since Franklin Roosevelt’s announcement of the “Good Neighbor” policy. Without exception, governments emphasized the critical importance of making the Uruguay meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council a “success”, and not merely another in the long line of inter-American meetings.
On the other hand, there was no clear or uniform definition of what would constitute “success”. There was wide variety in the concept of the meeting’s objective and procedures, and great disparity in the intensity and character of national preparations for the program.
A few governments, actually that of Peru, appeared to believe that the meeting would be the occasion for the cutting of an aid “melon,” with little regard to self-help measures or structural reforms in such fields as land tenure and taxation. But all paid at least lip-service to the concept of self-help, and several were in deadly earnest on this front. In terms of technical work on long-term programming for national economic and social development, Colombia, Chile, Brazil and perhaps Venezuela, seemed to be well in advance of their sister nations. Several others handed us “shopping lists” of public investment projects on which they looked for loans or other aid. Argentina and Chile emphasized the importance for them of economic development as contrasted with social investment. Many governments advanced claims for “special consideration” on political or other grounds.
In several cases, less emphasis was placed on outside aid for public investment than on trade and commodity price policies. Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile declared their strong interest in American policy support for their commercial negotiations with the European Common Market. There was the most intense interest in joint action to stabilize primary commodity markets and to raise prices of key export items, notably coffee.[Page 32]
I believe that our mission greatly clarified the thinking of the South American governments on the types of results which we hope might be achieved at the Uruguay conference, especially in the fields of investment programming and the coordination of outside aid. We must clearly expect active discussion of commercial policy and commodity markets, and we should have well-defined positions on these issues. A forthcoming attitude in these fields would do much to overcome the disappointments which are likely with respect to the amounts and conditions of financial aid.
As to aid, it is a fact that the needs are large, the desire for accelerated growth is great, and the capacity for effective use of aid is being rapidly augmented by the systematic programming of public investments, often for the first time. In most cases, the general concepts of needs and priorities are not far out of line with our own thinking. It is evident that large increases in the rate of economic and social public investment and United States aid, as compared with recent years, are expected. Fortunately, most of the governments appear to be thinking mainly in terms of hard loans, which can be financed by the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and Export-Import Bank to the extent that the real credit-worthiness permits. (This in turn may be largely dependent on action in the commercial policy and commodity market areas.) If Congress furnishes the authority you have requested for making long-term commitments, there is no question but that the ability of the Latin American governments to carry through sustained development efforts, including the needed structural reforms, will be greatly enhanced.
On the question of the timing of the meeting, Brazil strongly desired a one-month postponement to enable more adequate national and international preparatory work to be completed. Most of the other governments favored a two or three week postponement, although a few emphasized their own readiness to meet on July 15 as scheduled. I understand that the OAS Council is now about to agree on a revised date of August 5 for the meeting of Ministers, to be preceded by an expert-level meeting on August 1. This seems to me a sound conclusion. The publicity concerning the deferred date should of course make it clear that the purpose is solely to permit the completion of more adequate preparations and thus to contribute to a successful outcome.
[Here follows section V. “Collective Political Action Against Indirect Aggression and Communist Penetration Based on Cuba.”]