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Operation Pan-America, 1959

An Aide Mémoire Sent by the Government of Brazil to Governments of Other American States, August 9, 1958


The Brazilian Government considers that a clearer definition of the objectives of Operation Pan America is necessary in order that this movement, which has been initiated at the right time and under the best auspices, may not be impaired or lose its impact.

A. General definition: Operation Pan America is not an undertaking limited by time, with objectives to be attained in a short period; rather, it is a reorientation of hemispheric policy, intended to place Latin America, by a process of full appraisement, In a position to participate more effectively in the defense of the West, with a growing sense of Vitality and a greater development of its capacities. Thus, Operation Pan America is more than a mere program; it is an entire policy.

B. Strategic political concept: Operation Pan America must be understood as a corollary of the general strategy of the West, and among its fundamental purposes the following are particularly outstanding: preservation of the democratic system, based on political and religious freedom and on respect for private ownership and free enterprise, and the defense of all areas that concern the security of the free world. Because of its intrinsic, political, economic, social and strategic importance, and because "a threat to the peace in any part of the world is now a threat to the peace of the entire world," it Is opportune to re-examine, with a view to strengthening it, the contribution to the resources of the free world that may be made by the nations that are signatories of the Treaty of Rio de Janeiro.

C. Economic concept: The more rapid development of Latin America's economic strength will result in a growing sense of vitality and will enable it to increase its contribution to the defense of the West.


A. Joint multilateral action: Operation Pan America is conceived as involving the joint action of the twenty-one republics of the Western Hemisphere, the preservation of its strictly multilateral nature being indispensable. Bilateral matters will continue to be handled through the channels normally followed in such cases, without becoming part of the aforesaid Operation.

B. Struggle for democracy: Within the framework of Operation Pan America, the struggle for democracy becomes identified with the struggle against stagnation and underdevelopment. The underdevelopment that prevails in this Hemisphere morally and materially involves the cause that we are defending. Underdeveloped areas are open to the penetration of antidemocratic ideology. From many standpoints and in all of its implications, the battle of the West is the battle for development. Materialist ideologies feed upon the poverty and misery that give rise to them in the first place; to combat these factors is the only sure way to combat those ideologies. Where there is poverty, our cause will always be in danger. It is illusory to expect positive action on behalf of a cause embracing such complex factors from peoples whose isolation in the rigors of extreme poverty prevents them from thinking or feeling anything beyond the narrow limits of their urgent needs for survival.

C. Latin America's participation in world policy: According to the Brazilian concept, Operation Pan America is a reflection of the need for more active and more vigorous participation and cooperation by the Latin American countries in international policy, and it reveals these countries' full awareness of their moral, political, and demographic importance. Latin America's contribution may become highly significant in the struggle for a balance of power.


A. Inter-American political reorientation: The Brazilian Government believes that the time has come for a revision of inter-American policy, with a view to strengthening hemispheric unity in the face of the increasing common danger. A stronger, more courageous, creative, and dynamic initiative is urgently needed in the Western Hemisphere at this time.

It is imperative that the West become ever more conscious of its mission in the modern world. The principal objective of this mission is to defend and to perfect man's spiritual and moral achievements. Spiritual and moral forces should be the ones to guide and regulate a world expanded and profoundly transformed by technology. This is what is important to the West; this is its own Cause.

B. Economic reorientation of Pan Americanism: The reasons for under development are many and complex. One could not in good faith fix responsibility for Latin America's chronic anemic condition and the consequent organic weakening of Pan Americanism. Although it is understood that efforts toward economic development devolve primarily upon each country individually,, it is now understood better than ever before that there must be cooperation on international bases.


A. Advance preparation: The Brazilian Government wishes to clarify the fact that it was never its intention or plan to hold a conference of American Chiefs of State without the most careful advance preparation. Furthermore, the Brazilian Government is riot committed to any, rigid plans for carrying out the Operation in question, and it believes that only after a series of contacts and consultations among the countries of our community will it be possible to make a definitive determination of the best methods for achieving the common objective.

B. Preliminary inquiries: The Brazilian Government would now be willing to assume responsibility for making diplomatic inquiries with a view to the preparation of a basic agenda and toward ascertaining whether the American governments would agree with the idea of reaching informal understanding and carrying out preliminary. negotiations in Washington through the embassies accredited to the Government of the United States.

C. Initiation of the Operation: The preparatory work could bc done at the diplomatic or technical level, and it is anticipated that the participation by members of the delegations accredited to the Organization of American States would be desirable. These informal understandings would become more clearly defined and bc better coordinated if a Committee of Twenty-one were created. Brazil does not wish to propose ans. date, but nonetheless it does state that it would be ready to begin its work in the said committee during the latter part of September.

D. High-level meeting: Once the bases for an agreement have been established and significant results obtained that might be looked upon as substantial progress, then the competent organs of the Organization of American States could study the idea of a high-level meeting among the republics of the Hemisphere to approve and to sign that group of resolutions and proclamations that could become the plan of action for achieving Pan American unity; among these would be included, with special emphasis, the preparation of dynamic and progressive program for the struggle against underdevelopment, and this would be the crowning feature of Operation Pan America.


The following points might be the basic objectives of the Operation:

1. Reaffirmation of the principles of hemispheric solidarity;

2. Recognition of underdevelopment as a problem of common interest;

3. Adaptation of inter-American organs and agencies, if necessary, to the requirements of more dynamic action to carry on the struggle against underdevelopment;

4. Technical assistance for increased productivity;

5. Measures to stabilize the market for basic commodities;

6. Adaptation to present needs and expansion of the resources of international financial institutions;

7. Reaffirmation of private initiative in the struggle against underdevelopment; and

8. Revision by each country, where necessary, of its fiscal and economic policy, for the purpose of assuring means to promote economic development.


from Council of the Organization of American States, Special Committee to Study the Formulation of New Measures for Economic Cooperation, Volume L Report and Documents, First Meeting, Washington, D.C., November 17-December 12, 1958 (Washington, D.C.: 1959), pp. 29-31.

This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998

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