Seven years ago, in October 1968, the Interamerican Planning Society (SIAP) held its seventh congress in Lima, Peru. Thirty-three papers were presented and discussed by participants with international reputations in planning and related disciplines. They had a double objective: to anticipate what was likely to happen in the hemisphere during the following thirty years on the basis of existing factors as seen by the speakers; and to propose modifications of economic, social and political structures and practices in order to ensure a better life for more people in the year 2000.
The five broad areas covered were: the social situation in 2000; national and international politics in that year; integration and development; the new culture; and demography and planning. This volume is a condensed translation of five studies in Spanish, each of which dealt with one of the above themes. It consists of seventeen edited papers judged by the editors to represent the total range of judgments and opinions.
A basic dichotomy of “scientific” approach—not necessarily undesirable but made more glaring by the passage of seven years—distinguishes the contributors. Many specialists in Latin American studies, in academia as well as in business and government, still supported in the late 1960s the developmentalist theory which provided the rationale for the Alliance for Progress. They held that rich and poor countries formed part of a single continuum of development, simply located at different points in the process, and that the technological and economic aid being generously provided by the rich would rapidly narrow the gap and bring the poor countries (and the residual poor in the rich countries) into full membership of the cornucopian consumerist club.
Most of the North American contributors and a few of the Latin Americans are in this channel. Kaiman H. Silvert of New York University, for example, sees the United States as having eliminated its internal depressed minorities by 2000 (p. 35), and judges that the people of Latin America were in 1968 “more the master of their destinies than they have ever been before” (p. 41). Harvey S. Perloff and Lowdon Wingo, Jr., boast of the great strides made by the Alliance for Progress (p. 45) and see salvation in such technological breakthroughs as the “miracle grains” (p. 55), the main effect of which so far has been to marginalize further the world’s rural poor.
A radically different interpretation of Latin American reality is found in Oswaldo Sunkel, Marcos Kaplan, Helio Jaguaribe, Cándido Mendes, and others. Sunkel identifies clearly the structures of dependency by which the rich countries achieved their progress at the expense of the poor and insists that they can maintain their relative advantage only as long as they are able to defend those structures (p. 71). Kaplan is still more explicit. A continuation of the existing United States hegemony, exercised by the great international corporations, will universalize “totalitarian repression” (p. 123), leading to two sets of options: “reform or revolution, capitalism or socialism” (p. 126). The growth of U.S.-supported institutionalized violence to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor in all of Latin America, most notably in Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile and lately Honduras, since 1968, confirms Kaplan’s prophetic prescience.
In a similar vein, Helio Jaguaribe is characteristically profound and logical in his analysis of the time factor. Latin America, he insists, “has a strict time limit for initiating autonomous and endogenous development. Though exact estimates are impossible, this goal will not be attainable after 2000” (p. 216).
A major value of this book is its confrontation of the philosophical, emotional and observational gulfs that divide planners and others involved in building the Latin America of tomorrow. What is difficult to understand in an era of instant communications and accelerated change is the delay of seven years in getting the messages of these specialists to U.S. academics. If that is a measure of our sense of urgency, Jaguaribe’s pessimistic projection dooming the hemisphere to satellization and dependency for the indefinite future would seem unchallengeable.