The documents that gave formal birth to the Alliance for Progress were signed at Punta del Este, Uruguay, on August 17, 1961. That date does not mark, however, the sudden commencement of a new stage in inter-American relations, but the culmination of a laborious process in which all the countries forming the Organization of American States (O.A.S.) took an active part.
Notwithstanding this, even today the multilateral character of the Alliance is not clearly perceived. Ask any American from, say, the Middle West what the Alliance is, and he will tell you, if he happens to be exceptionally well informed, that it is a policy of the United States toward Latin America which imposes new burdens on him as a taxpayer but which, properly handled, may serve to stop the Latin Americans from falling under the power of Communism, as Cuba fell. To what extent is this extraordinary distortion the work of those who have had an interest in making the movement attractive? To a great extent, certainly. The truth is that such misinterpretations and oversimplifications were powerful enough to make the very authors of the policy lose sight of its original meaning, its importance, its direction.
For, as should be known, the Alliance for Progress was the crowning confirmation of a Latin American policy seeking to effect a change in the traditional postures of the United States of America with regard to the southern portion of the hemisphere, and, in particular, with regard to the possibilities for the latter's development. It was, at the same time, the imposition of a new way of looking at the Latin American governments' obligations to their peoples. When it began to be disfigured, so that it appeared as merely another phase of the policy of the United States toward Latin America, the governments and peoples south of the Rio Grande felt that they were absolved from doing their share and that from then on they were to wait for the United States to carry
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