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Alberto Lleras:

Report on the Alliance for Progress, 1963



On October 26, 1962, the First Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council at the Ministerial Level approved Resolution A-8 designed to initiate a study of the inter-American system to determinate whether its present structure is adapted to the needs of the new Alliance for Progress program. The resolution commences by recognizing "that the inter-American system, as presently constituted, was in the main established prior to the Alliance for Progress and, in consequence, may not possess a type of structure permitting of achievement of the objectives of the Charter of Punta del Este in the dynamic and efficient way called for." . . .

Pursuant to this resolution, the Council of the OAS agreed to appoint the former president of Brazil, Mr. Juscelino Kubitschek, and the author of this report to carry out the aforementioned task.

I accepted the commission entrusted to me by the OAS even though I was thereby temporarily interrupting my intention to retire from all public activity, in the national or international fields, and even though my state of health made it inadvisable. I felt obligated particularly to fulfil this honorable commission because, owing to circumstances that it is not pertinent to recall at this time, I was closely associated with all the antecedents that led to the creation of the Alliance for Progress, since its remote origin in Operation Pan America, proposed by President Kubitschek, who has now been designated as my associate in the fulfillment of this task.

It became clear in December of last year that from several sources and for conflicting reasons an offensive was being launched against the new program, which like the Marshall Plan, had been greeted from the beginning with volleys of indignation, distortions, and malicious propaganda by the pro-communist forces throughout the world and particularly in the Latin American countries themselves. President Kennedy alone, in the entire hemisphere, defended the audacious plan to transform the lives of millions of human beings in the face of their own political opposition and the indifference of a major part of those whom it was to serve directly.

The reactionary right wing of the American world, therefore, was and is working against the objectives of Punta del Este. In the United States it was represented by the systematic enemies of all foreign aid, even more exalted now with the apparent initiation of a new program of expenditures; by those who maintain that loans and donations to governments only serve to encourage socialization in Latin America and weaken private enterprise; by the adversaries of the type of social-welfare investments recommended in the Charter of Punta del Este. In Latin America, by the system of the latifundia, which is always alert to any type of agrarian reform, entrenched in the governments and congresses; by a certain native capitalism, -which accepts no restrictions upon its action but which defends itself with the same arguments as United States private enterprise, which is actually subject to strict competition and to anti-monopoly regulations; and, in general, by all the present beneficiaries of the social situation that was boldly denounced in the daring document signed in a moment of inspiration and, why not, of anxiety at the meeting in Uruguay.

In the United States Congress the opposing elements of the Alliance had already found an echo and obtained substantial victories, both in reducing the allocations for aid to Latin America arid in introducing conditions for investment that were destined to protect United States capital unnecessarily and excessively, thereby succeeding in giving a displeasing aspect to the generous project. Taking advantage of the terms of the Foreign Trade Act, United States business men were already beginning to threaten the governments of Latin America with a suspension of the aid foreseen in the Alliance, if conditions arose that they considered intolerable and, even worse, the citizens themselves were approaching foreign authorities requesting them to intervene in this respect. The danger of a serious corruption of the spirit of the Alliance, its progressive weakening, and the disappointment of the people with it, in addition to the continual risk that it might become a bureaucratic operation, was obvious towards the end of 1962, when the enormous rehabilitation enterprise of Latin America began to be talked of as a new form of imperialism, as a policy on the part of the United States to soothe Latin American discontent, as a gigantic publicity stunt. These fears made it even more compulsory for me to accept the mission entrusted to me by the Council of the OAS, jointly with President Kubitschek, to examine the structure and procedures of the inter-American system to the end that the Alliance be carried out expeditiously and efficiently.

President Kubitschek and I began the study immediately after traveling to Washington, and contacted the organizations and entities that participated directly in the Alliance or that had correlating functions. We were received with the greatest interest and courtesy by the highest authorities of the OAS, members of the Council, the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretaries; the Director of ECLA, who up to that time was the coordinator of the Committee of Nine; by the members of this Committee individually, by the President and other high officials of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; by the President and directors of the Inter-American Development Bank; by administrative beads of the Agency for International Development (AID), and by the President of the International Monetary Fund. We also received, in due course, sufficient information from most of these international and national agencies regarding the manner in which their functions having to do with the Alliance were carried out within their respective spheres, together with very important suggestions, some of which are included in this report.

President Kubitschek returned to Brazil and I to Colombia, where we continued to receive documentation and to prepare the conclusions of the report that we would present to the governments. But from the first moment of our inter-view in Washington we agreed on some points that were to be dealt with in the two projects and that we intended to discuss at a second meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

Some of these concepts were mentioned in our addresses to the Council of the OAS at the time we began our assignment. As for myself, it was clear that our task would have to take the following facts into account:

a. Even though it is possible to visualize an organization different from the present one arid, in theory, much more efficient, our mission should limit itself to recommending partial changes that would not affect the Charter of the Organization of American States, or introduce radical changes in the procedures and institutional machinery created in Punta del Este.

b. Any amendment implying a modification of the Charter of the OAS would require an Inter-American Conference, which is the only organ empowered to make such amendments, arid the mere process of ratification by the member states would probably involve a longer period than the decade that the Charter of Punta del Este has established for the task of the Alliance.

c. The creation of the Alliance is very recent and an), opinion on the efficiency of its organization, which obviously requires time in which to develop fully, would be premature. The agencies called for in the Charter of Punta del Este could not be established at the very beginning, and in most cases there was no planning body in the Latin American countries to undertake the preparation of the programs required.

d. The administrative reorganization of United States agencies devoted to the management of foreign aid signified another initial impediment.

c. The mechanism established in the General Secretariat of the OAS to handle the Alliance should not be abandoned in order to create an agency independent of the OAS and outside the system. The autonomy that is required can be achieved without the need of increasing bureaucracy or creating new agencies, which according to the Charter of the OAS would always be subordinated to the Council and controlled from the technical point of view by the respective organ, namely, the IA-ECOSOC.

f. The opinions of Kubitschek and Lleras may have political value, but they cannot claim to have value in the technical field. The organization that the IA-ECOSOC has been establishing and that the Council of the OAS has approved, as a development of the provisions of the Charter of Punta del Este, may have defects but, in principle, it responds to a system that should not be modified by improvising. The weaknesses of the Alliance for Progress and its consequent slowness or lack of active implementation are due mainly to political elements that it is possible to correct with a minimum of structural changes. It is a mistake to believe that policies can be changed through organization; organization does whatever the governments want it to do. The important change in the position of the United States and Latin America in their collaboration in the economic field took place precisely within the Organization and with the same instruments and elements that had been preventing it until the Punta del Este meeting.

At the meeting in Rio dc Janeiro, President Kubitschek bad already prepared the basis for a report with whose conclusions, still tentative, Lleras was in agreement even though there were differences of opinion regarding the aim of the Alliance for Progress, as well as some of the procedures and the cause of its faults and deficiencies. Nevertheless, it was possible to eliminate these differences, and it was agreed that a new text prepared by Lleras would attempt to reconcile the two frames of mind.

Then I became ill and was prevented from meeting on time the commitment I had entered into with the OAS; in addition, this illness made it impossible for President Kubitscliek and I to coordinate texts. The difficulty of communicating between Rio de Janeiro and Bogota is unlikely, but we both chose to communicate through the coordinator appointed by the General Secretariat for this purpose, the Assistant Secretary for Cultural, Scientific, and Informational Affairs, Dr. Jaime Posada. It was planned to hold another meeting in Bogota, but this was not possible. Finally, I suggested that two reports should be made. The reason for this is very clear: there is very little difference between President Kubitschek's ideas and mine, and the conclusions are almost identical, but the desire to adapt our opinions to a common text would probably bring about a loss in the shades of criterion of each one that may be of use to the OAS in making its decisions.

The conclusions I have reached after examining the initial program of Punta del Este and the changes it has undergone in practice, are a result of the conviction that the Alliance cannot achieve its transforming and revolutionary effectiveness as long as the Latin American countries do not take the full responsibility that the document appeared to assign them but that unfortunately was not clearly defined in the document and that, finally, the Government of the United States assumed by itself, saving the program from immediate failure but turning it aside from its original meaning and making it appear, involuntarily, as a national policy and program of that country towards its sister nations to the South.

I therefore propose, as President Kubitschek will probably do, the creation of a new inter-American organ that will take over the functions delegated to it by the IA-ECOSOC for the direction and orientation of the program in its final phase-financing between the various channels: some banking, others governmental, some national, others international, and still others inter-American-in order that the Alliance will not be subject, as it has been up to now, to the occasional goodwill of entities that are alien to the program itself; and that will at the same time represent the Alliance in all its relations with other non-American countries and, naturally, with the members of the inter-American Organization themselves, particularly with respect to supervising the fulfillment of national programs and foreign investments in such programs. Thus, President Kubitschek and I believe that important objectives will be achieved and certain serious faults will be corrected that are weakening the Alliance by presenting it to the world as a United States program and not as the collective understanding of 20 countries to develop one of the most important regions in the West. It should be mentioned that an immense majority of the reports we have received coincide in this point of view, and that, up to now we have encountered no opposition to the procedures we are going propose.

Source:from Alberto Lleras, Report on the Alliance for Progress (Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, June 15, 1963), pp. v-x.

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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