The author of this volume was formerly deputy United States coordinator for the Alliance for Progress and deputy assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development. His theme is that prior to 1961 the United States had failed to undertake the role of “social revolutionary” in Latin America and therefore had failed to promote social, political, and economic change in order to solve Latin American problems of “poverty, stagnation, and impotence” Instead, the United States had treated the Latin American nations as sovereign states competent to manage their own internal affairs, protected them from European interference, promoted friendly relations and trade, and encouraged them to establish the stable governments and the fiscal integrity necessary to secure foreign capital needed for internal development.
Rogers views this as a rather sad policy. He acknowledges that some change took place in the attitude of the United States toward Latin America after 1933, and that the United States created the Export-Import Bank and Inter-American Development Bank and contributed to the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development; but these banks, he complains, conducted themselves like banks and expected their loans to be repaid. A new and shining era in inter-American relations dawned at the meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council at Punta del Este in August 1961. There the United States representative promised development loans with “very low or zero interest rates,” and undertook a program of aid to Latin America with foreign capital in the amount of some twenty billion dollars during the next decade mostly from public funds, with the United States providing “a major part.”
Thus having set the theme of the book in the first two chapters, Rogers devotes the next five chapters to a detailed, informed, and sympathetic analysis of the “problems of change” in Latin America He considers the problems of urban centers, housing, education, agriculture, population growth, monetary instability, inflation, trade and integration, public finance, taxation, the growth of dictatorships and the thrust of Communism. The tenor of the analysis is to explain why the problems of change are so vastly complex and why it is that after seven years and seven billion dollars of contributions by the United States, the Alliance for Progress has accomplished so little.
In the remaining five chapters, Rogers brings his theme to a climax of special pleading for continued American support of the Alliance for Progress. The United States, he believes, needs to have diplomats in Latin America who will not think in terms of the old diplomacy of representing one sovereign nation to another, but will intervene in the domestic affairs of the Latin American states for their own good. At the same time the Congress of the United States should quit thinking in terms of justifying expenditures to their constituents, remember that “foreign policy is presidential policy,” and double or triple appropriations for the Alliance.
It is doubtless a good thing to have this able and eloquent defense of the Alliance for Progress from a person who has been intimately connected with it. The serious student, however, should not neglect to read in addition Simon G. Hanson’s Five Years of the Alliance for Progress: An Appraisal.