Courtesy Reuters

Urgencies in Latin America

LAST CHANCE FOR A COMMON MARKET

EARLY in April, the Presidents of the nations of the Western Hemisphere will meet to consider the urgent and unresolved problems in which they have common interests. They will undoubtedly take special cognizance of the inadequate rates of economic growth in Latin America and will attempt to agree on new measures to accelerate development. Experts have been meeting and proposing solutions to this problem for many years. What makes this summit conference so important, however, is that it is capable of overcoming the major obstacle to all previously proposed solutions: the lack of decisive, high-level leadership toward economic integration.

If the summit conference succeeds, it could equal in importance the Rio Conference of 1947, the Bogota Conference of 1960 and the Punta del Este Conference of 1961. If it fails, Americans-North and South-will have lost an opportunity for action that may not recur for many years, if at all.

If the presidents fail to grapple with the difficult decisions involved in speeding up economic development, they will be ignoring the demands of the people of Latin America for a higher standard of living, and thereby exposing the continent to the threat of growing and possibly uncontrollable stress and violence. The choice facing them today is between the risk of instability caused by rapid economic progress and the possibility of violent revolution born out of frustration and anger. Unquestionably, the choice must be for decisive but peaceful measures to bring about rapid economic development-accepting the risks of temporary instability while it is being achieved. To reach this goal, the summit conference must put the prestige and power of the hemisphere's highest political leaders behind a continental approach to the economic problems of Latin America, and outline a new strategy based on this approach as well as on the lessons and achievements of the last five years.

This strategy, it is clear, must include the creation of a genuine Latin American Common Market. Because past experience has shown that agreement

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