The author of this volume, a Roman Catholic journalist, presents the Roman Catholic view of current developments and conditions in Latin America, along with occasional illusions to historical background. It consists of a brief foreword, nine chapters, a rather pessimistic five-page conclusion, and an appendix which includes “some statistics” on each of the twenty independent nations composing the region. These are the chapter headings: Latin America in Eruption; The Have-Nots; New Wine in Old Bottles; Successful Social Revolution—Mexico; Abortive Social Revolution—Bolivia; Perverted Social Revolution—Cuba ; Foreign Capital Primes the Pump ; Religion’s Prime Role; Leadership from Within.
The first two chapters, based mainly on personal observations, deal with oppression, poverty, frustration, discontent, and insurgency; the third, with attempts at reform and the broad aspects of social change. The chapter on Mexico’s social revolution attempts to set forth its merits and shortcomings as the author sees them. His discussion of Bolivia’s revolution, as the chapter’s title suggests, is diffused with doubt in respect to its achievements and its future. His survey of the revolution in Cuba reveals that Roman Catholics, like many others, misjudged Fidel Castro—and the author, like many others, tries to exculpate the false prophets by blaming public officials, newsmen, and businessmen in the United States for the unexpected and alarming trend of events. His appraisal of the role of foreign capital appears to place somewhat more emphasis on “Exploitation” than on benefits, though admitting that it has been less malevolent than the domestic variety.
Chapters eight and nine, both concerned with the place and influence and mission of the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America, seem to indicate the main objective of the book. The author does not try to conceal the fact that many of the Roman Catholic clergy have allied themselves with oligarchic reaction in the past, but he expresses his firm belief that they are now the champions of the middle and lower groups, and he contends that neither private capital investments, nor technical aid, nor “government-to-government” loans and grants from foreign countries can shield Latin America from Communism without the accompaniment of moral reform. Neither does he anticipate that these countries, by and large, will develop into free-enterprise democracies. He rather expects that most of them will at best become socialist or welfare states ruled by governments more dictatorial than democratic.
His conclusion reveals that his enthusiasm for foreign aid is limited mainly to the Peace Corps. He recommends tremendous emphasis on the part of religious and benevolent and non-profit organizations, including colleges and universities, on person-to-person programs. His statistical appendices indicate that membership in the Roman Catholic Church is increasing rapidly, along with the general population of the region and the growth of urban centers.