20. Telegram From the Embassy in Uruguay to the Department of State1


“Dear Mr. President:

Opening day of conference went well. We have had full talks with Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru and shorter talks with others. Single overriding preoccupation of all is extent of US commitment. Latins point out they must take drastic steps in tax reform and land reform and devote more funds to development. This process will be greatly facilitated if they can feel confident that once they have done their part adequate foreign aid will be available. Your statement was most helpful in this regard and was very well received. I will have to go as far as possible Monday in indicating magnitude of long range availabilities of aid, assuming necessary steps by Latins. If Latins can be reasonably satisfied on this point, other difficulties will rapidly fade away.2

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Guevara so far has not done well. In private session he made strong attack on Beltran for mentioning Alliance for Progress favorably and further declared that Cuba was non-Christian, atheistic government and therefore it improper to refer to religion in conference speeches. This did not go down well with anybody. Unfortunately press is playing him up. Example was inaccurate story of our arrival at Montevideo where pro-Castro crowd numbered not more than 500 at outside despite free bus transportation from town. Communists had hoped for 5,000 and result considered by Uruguayan Government as evidence sharp decline in Castro prestige. Guevara reportedly has thirty resolutions to introduce. We will see.

We have agreed to work closely with Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru in preparing draft for final act. Committee work starts Wednesday and should finish Friday or Saturday. I have been asked by Frondizi to call on him in Buenos Aires. Am planning to fly over Thursday with Alemann. Feel this is wise in order to balance off talk with Quadros.

While Haedo still very much hopes you can visit conference at end, as he said in his telegram to you, other delegations have not mentioned matter and seem to be fully satisfied with your decision. Although a visit by you would naturally be well received by all delegations, I do not as of now see any reason for change in original decision.

Faithfully yours,

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Trips and Conference Series, Montevideo, August 1961. Confidential; Niact; Eyes Only. A marginal notation indicates that the President saw it.
  2. In his August 5 address, Secretary Dillon announced that the United States would allocate at least $1 billion in development assistance to Latin America during the first year of the Alliance for Progress. The text of the address is in Department of State Bulletin, August 28, 1961, pp. 356-360. According to telegram 110 from Montevideo, the address was “received by large audience with prolonged applause.” (Department of State, Central Files, 371.8/8-861)