5. Draft Memorandum From the Consultant to the Task Force on Latin America (Gordon) to the President’s Assistant Special Counsel (Goodwin)1


  • Key Issues for Presidential Address on the Inter-American Alliance for Progress
Central Theme. The keynote of the Alliance for Progress is a sustained effort for economic development and social progress, combining vigorous measures of self-help with the provision of complementary outside resources under the guidance and stimulation of greatly strengthened agencies for regional cooperation. We should embark on a decade of democratic progress, to demonstrate in this Hemisphere that economic growth, social equity, and the democratic development of societies can proceed hand-in-hand.

Comparison with the Marshall Plan. The concept of a long-term development program for Latin America inevitably brings to mind the [Page 7]post-war European Recovery Program. Many people, indeed, have spoken of the need for a “Latin American Marshall Plan.” In most respects, this is a misleading analogy. The problems of overcoming an ancient heritage of poverty, widespread illiteracy, and grave social, economic and geographical imbalances in the development process are fundamentally different from those of engendering economic recovery in industrially advanced nations temporarily crippled by war. In Latin America, much greater emphasis must be placed on the necessarily slow processes of institutional reform. The effort will take much longer. The volume of annual outside assistance measured in financial terms will be smaller and technical cooperation in various fields will play a greater role.

Yet in by far the larger part of the Hemisphere, the physical and human resources make possible the achievement within a decade of self-sustaining economic and social development on a democratic basis. And in one major respect, the analogy of the Marshall Plan is fully applicable. That Plan served to focus the constructive energies of Europe on the urgent tasks of economic recovery and to replace despair by hope—a hope richly rewarded by the Plan’s success. The Alliance for Progress must likewise energize the great reservoir of human talent in Latin America for the challenging task of securing growth with justice and freedom.


Historical Background. This program has not been conceived in a vacuum. For many years, various problems of Latin American economic and social development have been closely studied by the Latin American governments and private organizations immediately concerned, by agencies of the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and by United States officials, foundations, private enterprises, and individual citizens. Special studies made by members of Congress or commissioned by Congressional Committees have helped to lay a firm foundation for a new concerted effort. The Brazilian initiative for Operation Pan America gave special stimulus to Hemisphere-wide attention to these problems.2

The culmination thus far of these previous endeavors was the Act of Bogot#, subscribed by representatives of 19 of the 21 American Republics on September 12 of last year. This Act calls for a new and vigorous program of inter-American cooperation to achieve accelerated economic and social progress and thereby to strengthen free and democratic institutions. As a first step, acting in accordance with Congressional authority embodied in the American Republics Cooperation Act, the United States Government proposed to establish a special Inter-American Fund for Social Progress. Within a few days, we shall present to the Congress a [Page 8]specific request for the appropriation of $500 million to bring this Fund into being. Prompt and favorable action on this program is a matter of urgency.

Our further immediate task is to work out with our sister Republics the other programs of action to make a reality of the high purposes set forth in the Act of Bogota.


Country Programs for Economic and Social Development. The foundation stones of the Alliance for Progress must be integrated country development programs which establish broad targets and priorities among and within the major sectors of the economy, paying due attention to public investment for social as well as economic purposes, which provide for internal monetary stability and external payments equilibrium, and which include the necessary legislative and administrative measures for mobilization of domestic resources and for improvements in such fields as tax structures, land tenure, credit institutions, and educational facilities. Only on such a foundation can outside resources be efficiently applied to complement the measures of self-help which must constitute the great bulk of the effort.

Some governments will be in a position to prepare such programs with their own resources; in some cases, indeed, excellent work in this direction has already been done. In other cases, governments will desire outside assistance for this purpose. This should be a primary task of the strengthened staff of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council, working in intimate association with the staffs of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Inter-American Development Bank. The review and analysis of these programs, and of progress toward their implementation, should be the central objective of the annual consultative meetings of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council called for by Chapter IV of the Act of Bogota.

[Here follow sections 5-11, “Functional Targets for Hemispheric Progress,” “Trade Policy—Markets and Commodity Stabilization,” “Latin American Economic Integration,” “Inter-American Annual Reviews,” “Operating Agencies for the Program,” “Additional Resources from the United States,” and “The Role of Private Enterprise.”]

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Subjects, Alliance for Progress. Official Use Only.
  2. For details of Operation Pan America, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, volume V.