JACQUES Maritain, the French philosopher whose thought has inspired the development of the Christian Democratic movement, maintains that history moves simultaneously in opposite directions: while the energies of society are debilitated by inaction and the passage of time, the creative forces of freedom and the spirit tend inevitably to revitalize the quality of those energies.

The evident historical importance of the Alliance for Progress, both as a human activity and as a conceptual program, makes it impossible for it to escape the workings of this general principle; thus, the generous initial concepts, the commitments and the hopes which arose after the early success of some of its programs have gone hand in hand with the renewed attacks against democracy, the loss of markets for Latin American primary commodities, the decline of foreign investment, the consolidation in power of unjust régimes and the acceptance of alternative, evolutionary processes which only retard the revolutionary changes that so many of these countries need.

The Alliance for Progress is committed to the achievement of a revolution which, as a political instrument, should be placed at the service of democratic ideas and the interests of the majority so that it will bring forth a substantial change in the political, social and economic structures of the region. This change must be swift, and the responsibility for bringing it about belongs not just to a group of leaders or to a technocratic élite but to the whole of society. The Latin American origins of the Alliance for Progress were specially evident in the non-Marxist political parties which had no links with the national oligarchies and were strongly opposed to the traditional Latin American Right.

The Latin American revolution, as a force for rapid and substantial change, has been germinating for the last decade; it is now a permanent and dynamic torrent which is weakening the political and social institutions of the continent. The form taken by this drastic change will depend on the time which elapses before the forces of revolution are finally released. The greater the delay, the greater will be the accumulated pressure and the greater the violence of the eventual explosion.

The Latin American revolution has clearly defined objectives: the participation of the people in the government and the destruction of the oligarchies; the redistribution of land and the ending of the feudal or semi-feudal régimes in the countryside; the securing of equal access to cultural and educational facilities and wealth, thus putting an end to inherited privilege and artificial class divisions. Finally, a main objective of the revolution is to secure economic development, coupled with a fair distribution of its products and the utilization of international capital for the benefit of the national economy.

These are precisely the same objectives as those of the Alliance. Obviously a revolution thus defined is not the only means whereby rapid change can be achieved in Latin America, but it is the one with which the Alliance has been identified from its very beginnings.

The immediate goal of those who support the Alliance should not be the achievement of perfect inter-American coöperation and solidarity; their task is rather to accelerate the liberation of the forces of freedom, justice and solidarity among peoples who are hindered in their advance by the intellectual limitations of those unwilling to adapt to anything new, and by the material limitations retarding development. The task is to construct a dynamic image of the Alliance on the basis of facts and not to permit it to become a mere formula. The responsibility for the success of the Alliance is that of the whole hemisphere, because, as John F. Kennedy said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

International coöperation is essential to secure these objectives. However important the internal effort of the developing countries may be, it will inevitably be insufficient in view of the enormous requirements of economic development and structural change. It would not be difficult, under a totalitarian régime, to arrange for the rapid accumulation of resources and thus advance economic development by sacrificing democracy; but neither the permanent values of the people of Latin America nor the international community as a whole would really benefit from such a solution. This is why international coöperation as established by the Alliance for Progress is absolutely necessary.

There are two basic positive aspects of the Alliance as it was originally proposed: first, it established principles for hemispheric coöperation with a clear ideological orientation expressed by its forthright support for a democratic revolution in Latin America; second, it represented a change in the hitherto prevalent concept of financial and economic assistance given by the United States. In future, this assistance would cease to be given haphazardly or lent to this or that country to face emergencies, and it would no longer be designed to solve problems solely in a form determined by the donor. According to the terms of the Alliance, donor and recipient nations coöperate. Foreign aid is only part of a program of common achievement previously agreed on by countries which subscribed to the Charter of Punta del Este. Such arrangements for multilateral mutual coöperation were certainly new in the history of economic relations within the hemisphere. If we concentrate on these two basic characteristics and ascertain whether they have led to the achievement of concrete results during the last few years, we shall have a clear understanding of the evolution of the Alliance and the reactions it has elicited in Latin America.


At Chapultepec in 1945, the countries of Latin America laid great emphasis on the economic problems which industrial development and the instability of their external markets would engender in the postwar era. They suggested to the United States the advisability of making formal arrangements for concerted action in the economic field. At that time the prevalent doctrine was based on the acceptance of the notion that the free market is a final arbiter in all questions regarding international prices and movements of capital. An agreement on such matters was therefore considered superfluous.

In 1948, at the Bogota conference, this attitude was maintained by the representatives of the Washington government. The United States was too concerned with the reconstruction of Europe and aid to Asia to pay attention to her southern neighbors, who, according to Secretary of the Treasury George H. Humphrey, had only to open their frontiers and grant facilities to investors from the United States for their troubles to be at an end.

In the years immediately following the Second World War, Latin America did not have to face excessively grave problems, because the foreign assets saved during the war and the bonanza created by the Korean conflict were sufficient to alleviate short-term pressures. But serious difficulties were accumulating for the future. The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) repeatedly pointed out that there were structural failures which could lead the Latin American economies into a period of stagnation. The economic recession at the end of 1953 and 1954 showed clearly how disadvantageous the situation of these countries really was. It was on the basis of this position that at the Petropolis conference Latin America searched for a solution grounded on greater coöperation with the United States. On that occasion it was agreed, with the United States abstaining, to form a Commission of Experts who were given responsibility for preparing a draft proposal for the creation of an Inter-American Bank.

The notorious failure of the 1957 Economic Conference of the Organization of American States marked the beginning of a period of evident deterioration in hemispheric relations culminating in the lamentable events which marred the visit of Vice President Nixon to Latin America in 1958. That same year, President Kubitschek of Brazil addressed a letter to President Eisenhower on the need to reformulate inter-American relations, and soon after announced his now famous Operation Panamericana. Two months later Secretary of State John Foster Dulles replied, advising the younger nations of Latin America to implement reforms and step up their internal effort to solve their economic problems.

In spite of the disproportion between the original conception of the Operación Panamericana and the response of the Secretary of State, the attitude of the United States was already changing. Two years later, in the Act of Bogota, Latin America obtained the United States' formal acceptance of the idea of the interdependence of social and economic development and also succeeded in weakening the former insistence of the United States that private capital should be the principal instrument for financing the region's economic development. At that time, too, the Special Fund for Social Development was created, with a contribution of $500 million from the government of the United States.

The Bogota meeting marked a change in inter-American politics and opened the possibility of realizing Latin American aspirations as to the direction hemispheric coöperation should take. The seeds of the Alliance had been sown and on March 13, 1961, President Kennedy announced his decision to carry out an Alliance for Progress. In August of that same year the Charter of Punta del Este was signed.

Latin American public opinion received the Alliance with enthusiasm; it was regarded as the beginning of a period which would open enormous possibilities for the economic and social development of Latin America. At the same time it marked the end of an unhappy period in which, as President Kennedy said, North Americans had not always grasped the significance of the Western Hemisphere's common mission. In fact, the Alliance was essentially a Latin American conception which became reality because it was accepted by the United States and specially by President Kennedy, who understood it and injected new life into it.

In spite of its limitations, the Charter of Punta del Este had an immediate and significant impact. In the first place, from a political point of view it was clearly seen that the United States supported basic change. As a result, economic and political interests became active in opposition. An unholy alliance of the extreme Right and Left took form to prevent the Charter's implementation. The reactionaries, mindful of their vested interests, maintained that the Alliance was a utopian and unrealistic program; the Marxist groups described it as an instrument of imperialism, useless for bringing about the needed change. Though using different reasons and channels, both were in accord-neither for the first time nor for the last. The victims have been the Latin American people, because this collusion prevented the reforms necessary for instituting a rapid and authentic democratic process in the hemisphere.

Thus started a long controversy on the nature of the Alliance. Its ideas have been interpreted and reinterpreted; its objectives, principles and achievements have been openly and covertly distorted. Moreover, governments which had accepted and wanted to put the Punta del Este program into operation were either overthrown or found themselves threatened by the reactionary forces of the continent or by the violence of the extreme left.

This has resulted in many divergent opinions being formed about the Alliance. Some regard it as a scheme to finance corrupt governments uninterested in reforming anything; others think of it as a program to make the rich richer. To the landed, industrial and financial oligarchies, the Alliance represents a danger because, by placing an exaggerated emphasis on social revolution, it deters foreign investors. To others, emergency aid is only a way of propping up a false stability which in turn prevents the working class from truly understanding its situation and opportunities, thus retarding the real revolution. Many others, especially those representing governments, complained that the work of the Alliance was being slowed up by the requirement that planning and reform precede the granting of aid.

If we compare the speech made by Secretary of the Treasury Dillon at Punta del Este with the text of the Charter itself, we will see that certain clear definitions presented in the speech were expressed much more ambiguously in the Charter. On the other hand, those who attended the meeting of Punta del Este will surely remember the efforts made by some Latin American delegations to diminish the force of the Declaración de los pueblos de América in order to obscure the need for implementing basic structural reforms. The decisiveness and skill with which Richard Goodwin of the United States delegation acted at the time secured a final text which, though weakened in some respects, was sufficiently clear to be considered a true interpretation of the real situation in Latin America.

Other criticisms have been made, but the ones that really matter have come from those effectively committed to the ideals of the Alliance-those who have expressly given it their backing or have supported national or international policies which coincide with the objectives of the Alliance.

Has the Alliance achieved these objectives? Has it preserved democracy and helped to implement substantial changes? Unfortunately the answer is negative; the Alliance has not achieved the expected success. It cannot be said that since 1961 there has been a consolidation of democratic régimes in Latin America. On the contrary, various forces have threatened democratic governments, seeking either to overthrow them or to prevent the implementation of their programs. Nor have structural reforms taken place at the expected rate.

This does not mean that the Alliance has failed. It has brought about many beneficial changes. Under its auspices there have been advances in education, in public health services, in communal improvement, in the development of rational economic programs and in better understanding between Latin America and the United States. But these constructive achievements could have been secured simply with the financial assistance of the United States, plus, of course, the demand that these additional resources should be used rationally by the recipient countries. The problem is that what was fundamental to the Alliance for Progress-a revolutionary approach to the need for reform-has not been achieved. Less than half of the Latin American countries have started serious programs of agrarian reform. Drastic changes in the tax system are even scarcer, while the number of genuinely democratic régimes, far from increasing, has actually declined. In other words there has been no strengthening of the political and social foundations for economic progress in Latin America. This is the reason why the ultimate objective of the Alliance-the formation of just, stable, democratic and dynamic societies-is as distant today as it was five years ago. Several experiences indicate that economic progress alone does not suffice to ensure the building of truly free societies and peaceful international coexistence. The problem does not stem solely from the inadequate flow of internal financial resources. What has been lacking is a clear ideological direction and determination on the part of the political leaders to bring about change. These two factors are intimately related and they involve the collective political responsibility of all the members of the Alliance.

Many Latin American governments have used the Alliance as a bargaining lever to obtain increases in U. S. aid precisely so as to avoid changing their domestic situation. These governments have committed themselves to internal reforms which later they knowingly allowed either to become a dead letter, or worse, to be completely controlled or used for the benefit of those in power.

For some of those who signed the Charter of Punta del Este, the important fact was the promise of the United States to help find $20 billion for Latin America. The reforms and the structural changes were regarded only as marginal conditions, clearly less important than the increase in financial aid. That is why the meaning of the Alliance was distorted and its origins often forgotten. To avoid compulsory reforms-in other words, to avoid revolution-the Latin American right wing willingly coöperated with the Marxists in regarding the Alliance as a creation of the United States exclusively. From this position they made unfair demands on the United States, destroying the true meaning of the national effort to accomplish the tasks of the Alliance. The Alliance ceased to be mentioned or studied in Latin America except when it involved a commitment on the part of the United States, while in the United States the Executive, Congress, the intellectuals and even public opinion accepted it as a vital task-but a distorted task because, unfortunately, the United States also fell into the trap.

It is unnecessary to point out names or dates, but at some stage the imaginative, dynamic commitment of countries united by a common ideal was gone. The name, Alliance for Progress, became yet another label for all forms of aid. Uncoördinated emergency loans became "Alliance loans;" technical and financial aid freely given to dictatorships was also "Alliance aid." The Alliance in fact became just one more source of assistance instead of a concerted program of mutual coöperation. Even though the aid retained its financial value, its ideological significance was completely lost. The flow of dollars given by the United States was carefully watched, but there was no equivalent effort on the part of Latin Americans to reform and become more democratic. Hence the Alliance has not reached the people of Latin America for whom it was created.

This is one of the most serious criticisms made of the Alliance: that the people have not been able to participate in it. Could it have been otherwise? The people are grateful for the assistance received, but they have no sense of belonging to the scheme. The revolutionary awareness of the Latin American people has evolved in such a way that it can now be considered as a norm-giving direction to their principal activities. The Alliance has failed to channel this awareness, and it has not provided the needed leadership; in fact, it does not belong in this revolutionary mainstream.

The Latin American institutions which collaborate with the Alliance do not include trade unions, student federations, peasant leagues, coöperatives, etc., yet it is vital that such organizations should take part in an enterprise which is essentially popular and whose success depends fundamentally on its capacity to satisfy the demands made by the community. From a political point of view this is one of the weakest aspects of the Alliance; its task is to carry through a revolution which will bring about economic and social development, and for this it is absolutely necessary that the people as a whole be committed to it. The loyal participation of the community in this effort to build an egalitarian society is the only way in which the objective can be achieved. This is why the Alliance must incorporate all sectors of society in its work of transformation.


Another grave problem of the Alliance is its inability to promote the integration of Latin America. The process of integration lacks speed and direction; it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it has stagnated. This is certainly the case with the Latin American Free Trade Area. The number of approved concessions declines annually; even now there is not a single product enjoying preferential treatment in all the LAFTA countries. Although the Treaty of Montevideo has been in operation for only five years, the rate of increase of the intra-zonal trade has actually started to decline.

Faced with this frustrating experience, one is inclined to look at the success of the Central American Common Market. Yet the objective of the Alliance is a Latin American common market which means that integration must be successful in both groupings. Again, we come up against the absence of a political decision on the part of each individual country and a lack of leadership in the Alliance as a whole. The forces of nationalism, and of those committed to the status quo, have been stronger than those representing the real interests of these countries. Noisy voices are raised to decry the more advanced schemes of integration as utopian. But what is really utopian and illusory is to pretend that the countries of Latin America will be able to develop and achieve their destiny in the world of the future if each is locked up in its own isolated compartment.

The alternatives are clear: either the Alliance achieves one of its most important objectives by giving integration the needed vital impulse, or in a few years it will become evident to all that in the 1960s a great opportunity was lost because of petty nationalism.

The United States has only recently decided to support the integration of Latin America; previously its position seemed to be rather negative. The United States has an important responsibility to discharge if the Alliance is really going to achieve one of the fundamental objectives of the Charter: the strengthening of the economic integration agreements, in order to build a common market which will widen and diversify trade among the countries of Latin America. In addition to liberalizing the trade of these nations, it is necessary to arrange stabilization schemes for the prices of some primary commodities to ensure that the income they produce does not go below certain acceptable levels.

The armaments race also conspires against the strengthening of the Alliance. The annual expenditure of the Latin American countries on armaments has reached $1.5 billion. Yet the average yearly sum made available by the United States to Latin America in the period 1961-65 was $1.1 billion. The two figures clearly show that present arms purchases seriously undermine the objectives of the Alliance. A Latin American country in 1965 had, in proportion to population, approximately the same number of men under arms as the United States. India, with twice the population of Latin America and having had two armed conflicts in recent years, has fewer soldiers than Latin America.

Nobody can possibly suppose that these weapons and armies are going to deter an aggressor from outside Latin America. Equally, the assertion that to stop subversion these countries must purchase fifty-ton tanks, supersonic aircraft and battleships defies belief. The armaments race encourages distrust and nationalism and these in turn are among the chief enemies of integration. It also diverts important resources which should be utilized to satisfy the urgent need for economic and social development. It is therefore essential that a decision be taken at the highest levels of the Alliance to establish a quantitative limitation on arms purchases.


Over a year has elapsed since President Johnson showed his determined support for the Alliance by announcing an extension of the period during which it will be in force. The commitments undertaken in 1961 will not now lapse in 1970, but only when the desired objectives have been achieved. Washington's various expressions of dedication to the Alliance have certainly kept hope alive, but the substantial decisions needed to inject life into this coöperative enterprise are still waiting.

The first and most important decision involves the restoration of the original character of the Alliance as a common enterprise solidly based on the needs of its member countries. For this to be achieved, its concept as a multilateral undertaking must be revived; this in turn demands a greater delegation of technical and political responsibility to the Inter-American Committee of the Alliance for Progress and the Committee of Experts. This is not just a doctrinaire need; it has a direct practical purpose, namely, the integration of the people into the work of the Alliance. This integration will take place when the Alliance identifies itself with Latin American interests, concepts and purposes. On the other hand, the need to bring about change, and the intimate relation between this and the securing of foreign financial aid, implies the adoption of decisions which, as a matter of principle, can only be taken by each nation independently. It is inadmissible that the mere fact of making available financial aid gives any nation the right to demand that another implement specific types of structural changes. This would constitute an intolerable infringement of national sovereignty. That is why, in this situation, it is necessary to use multilateral channels for the supply of foreign assistance. Any other system might lead to new forms of scarcely veiled paternalism.

It is also important that the Alliance should openly become identified ideologically with the more progressive groups in Latin America. The future of this continent will not be contained within well-worn political and economic channels, as was so often and unsuccessfully tried during the last few decades. The Alliance must regain its essential popular character by participating in and supporting the organizations and activities of all sorts of social groups, and by granting technical and financial aid for coöperatives and for community projects in matters of health, housing and education. In general, it must support the work of the basic popular organizations within each community. The best way to show the real meaning and direction of the Alliance is to give a decided impulse to the really important transformations such as agrarian reform. The social and political impact of this reform is so great that if the Alliance were really to support it, it would vastly strengthen the collaboration of the progressive forces of Latin America.

The salvation of the Alliance depends on the implementation of all these measures: the support of integration, the discouragement of the armaments race and the finding of a coöperative solution for the problems of external trade. The problem is not one of financial resources only, though at certain times these have been scant when compared with the legitimate needs of the region. It is essentially a political problem requiring the expression of the will to change, together with the acceptance of the measures needed to bring about this change. People do not support governments because they have dutifully complied with directives from this or that international organization; they support them when they offer a promising political and economic alternative to present frustrations, and the hope of moving into a better future.

The necessary measures can be secured only by overcoming age-old resistance and destroying privileges which have remained unassailed over the years. To achieve this will also return to the American continent its true revolutionary mission. This is both possible and necessary because, as Toynbee said, "If America can bring herself to go this far, she will, I believe, have worked her passage back to a point at which it will become possible for her to rejoin her own revolution." The American Revolution was a truly glorious revolution. It was glorious for two reasons. The basic issues that it raised were spiritual, not material; and, even if this may not have been the intention of some of the Founding Fathers, it was, in effect, as Jefferson perceived and Emerson proclaimed, a revolution for the whole human race, not just for the people of the Thirteen Colonies.

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