THE PRESIDENT [reading]. During my trip to South America in February and in numerous talks in Washington, I have obtained the views of leading Latin American statesmen on the problems which their countries and the area in general now face. They have told me of the aspirations and needs of their peoples for homes and land and a better life, and of their efforts to meet those needs.
I know that other leaders in the Americas are thinking and working along similar lines. I have given a good deal of thought to how the United States might do more in helping these efforts.
The National Advisory Committee on Inter-American Affairs, which I appointed last year to advise the Secretary of State and myself on matters of hemispheric concern, has given us the benefit of its knowledge and experience.
Within the Organization of American States, joint action is underway. The Council of that Organization, on the initiative of Venezuela, voted three days ago to call a meeting of their foreign Ministers to consider matters of extreme gravity in the Caribbean area--matters that involve a challenge to the ideals and purposes of the American community. The United States supported this move.
In September, the economic representatives of the twenty-one American Republics will convene in Bogota, Colombia, to consider an equally important component of our hemispheric future--the problem of social reform and economic growth. This problem is embraced within a joint hemispheric concept known as Operation Pan-America--a concept initially suggested by President Kubitschek of Brazil. This will be further developed at Bogota. 1
1 A statement released July 8 by the Press Secretary to the President noted that the President had been working with the Department of State for some time on a comprehensive plan to be submitted to the meeting at Bogota "in the hope of making more effective our mutual cooperative work in raising the living and social standards of our respective populations." "The plan," the statement further noted, "will deal particularly with methods for making United States participation more effective."
These two meetings will give the United States opportunities for frank consultations with our sister republics on measures to advance the political, economic, and social welfare of the peoples of the Americas.
I believe it would be well for me to state the basic ideas which will guide the United States' participation in these forthcoming meetings. first, widespread social progress and economic growth benefiting all the people and achieved within a framework of free institutions are the imperatives of our time.
Second, our nation's history and traditions place us in accord with those who seek to fulfill the promise of the future through methods consistent with the dignity of free men. Our interests and sympathies are with them.
Third, a new affirmation of purpose is called for in our cooperation with friendly developing countries in their efforts to progress.
In the Americas as elsewhere change is the law of life, and the interests of the people will be better served if that change is effected constructively and peacefully, not violently. Clearly, the aspirations and needs of the peoples of the Americas for free institutions and a better way of life must be met. Our desire is to help the American nations to meet their own responsibilities--to help them develop their institutional and human resources, to strengthen the framework of freedom, to protect individual dignity, and to gain a better life for those who are underprivileged, underemployed and undereducated.
Latin America is passing through a social and political transformation. Dictatorships are falling by the wayside.
Moderate groups, seeking orderly reform, are contesting with dictators of both right and left who favor violence and authoritarianism. Many of the extremists frequently endeavor to introduce dogmas which are inimical to the traditions of the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, the foreign Ministers of the American Republics met last August in Santiago, Chile, to consider the problems caused by the blatant intervention of certain extremists in their neighbors' affairs.
The interests of the United States no less than those of all the Americas are directly involved in this struggle, a threat to the security of the hemisphere. It is imperative that institutions be developed and strengthened sufficiently to permit the peoples' needs to be met through orderly processes of change.
A renewed hemispheric determination to preserve principles of liberty and the dignity of man is needed. There is also an urgent need for a broader and more vigorous cooperative attack by all American governments and peoples if adequate economic progress with freedom, is to be achieved.
Among the specific needs which it seems to me must be met through cooperative action are:
first, we need to consider with the other American Republics practicable ways in which developing countries can make faster progress in meeting their own needs and ways in which their friends can most effectively cooperate with them. A better knowledge and mobilization of resources, their more effective use, and the improvement of legal and institutional means for promoting economic growth are among the subjects which require special consideration.
I have in mind the opening of new areas of arable land for settlement and productive use. I have in mind better land utilization, within a system which provides opportunities for free, self-reliant men to own land, without violating the rights of others. I have in mind housing with emphasis, where appropriate, on individual ownership of small homes. And I have in mind other essential minimums for decent living in both urban and rural environments.
Second, in our common efforts towards these goals more attention needs to be given, in a manner which respects the dignity and rights of all, to improving the opportunities of the bulk of the population to share in and contribute to an expanding national product. Soundly based economic and social progress in any of our countries is of benefit to all. Each nation must of course resolve its own social problems in its own way and without the imposition of alien dogmas.
Third, within this framework we need to consider whether there are better ways to accelerate the trend which is already evident toward greater respect for human rights and democratic government based on the will of the people as expressed in free and periodic elections. The United States with its tradition of democracy is opposed to tyranny in any form-whether of the left or of the right.
Each period in history brings its call for supreme human effort. At times in the past it took the form of war. Today it takes the form of social evolution or revolution. The United States will not, cannot stand aloof. We must help find constructive means for the under-privileged masses of mankind to work their way toward a better life. Indeed, so far as this Hemisphere is concerned, every American nation must cooperate in this mighty endeavor. Even the poorest nation can contribute its spiritual and intellectual strength. The important consideration is that every member of the American family of nations should feel responsible for promoting the welfare of all.
I have requested the Secretary of State to take the lead in conferring with our Latin American friends on these principles and purposes. Assuming their agreement, he will prepare for my approval as promptly as possible specific recommendations along these lines.
I intend to submit a message on this subject to the Congress promptly. I shall seek authority for such additional public funds as we may deem appropriate to assist free men and neighbors in Latin America in cooperative efforts to develop their nations and achieve better lives. [Ends reading]
Now, as far as the message itself is concerned, I am ready to entertain two or three questions.
Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, you mentioned here, I believe, that every American nation must cooperate in this new plan or program. Would that include Cuba, the present Cuban Government?
THE PRESIDENT. It would be only those nations who have shown a willingness and a readiness to cooperate with the others in this great effort--specifically with ourselves, because we are the ones that are making the statement.
Q. Felix Belair, New York Times: Mr. President, is it possible at this time to give any kind of estimate as to the order of magnitude of assistance contemplated, and would the proposed program operate as did the European recovery program with the so-called shopping lists?
THE PRESIDENT. No. You are talking about the so-called Marshall plan?
Q. Mr. Belair: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the Marshall plan was to repair and rehabilitate a destroyed industrial plant already existing. This is an entirely different problem, and I think it would be unfair to compare the effort we are now talking about--raising the social and economic standards of the people--with the effort of the Marshall plan.
Now, when it comes to terms of magnitude of the sums that would be affected, let us remember this, that I am talking about two meetings still in the future which we are calling with our own friends and which we are examining our own efforts, and it would be impossible to make any kind of even rough guess.
But I do want to say this, which I have said so often: the only real investment that is going to flow into countries that will be useful to them in the long term, is private investment. It is many times the amount that can be put in from the public coffers. And normally, the public loans are made so as to encourage and make better opportunities for the private investments that follow.
Q. Mr. Belair: Does it follow from what you just said, Mr. President, that no larger expenditure would be made than is now being made?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I would think this--I just say this: that in my own opinion, some additional sums would be probably necessary. But there are many ways in which this could be done. for example, all nations could agree to increase the capital and the lending capacity of the American Bank. In other words, I would not think of it just as a great--anything as remotely resembling the Marshall plan.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, I wonder if you would be willing to tell us in what context the current Cuban crisis was considered in your and the Secretary's discussion of this program? We have been told that you were analyzing that situation, too. Is there anything further you can say this morning?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Marvin, this has been on our minds and thinking and even almost written preparation for some months--ever since I came back from South America--and with my associates and the Presidents of those countries that I met or visited, this Cuban problem was discussed. Very naturally, every day that this thing has been under preparation, there has been discussion of the Cuban problem. But I don't for the moment see any benefit in going further in giving our attitude than was expressed in my statement, I think it was the day before yesterday, in answer to the Khrushchev rather crude threat. And I think that statement speaks for itself.
Q. Mr. Arrowsmith: I wonder, you probably have seen that the President of Cuba last night strongly implied that Cuba might demand that we give up the Guantanamo Naval Base. Did you have any discussion of that? Do you have any reaction to that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will wait till I hear the demand on that one.
Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Mr. President, do you have the feeling, or do you have assurances from the other American Republics that they favor going ahead on this regional hemispheric basis rather than appealing to the aid--or accepting aid from powers outside of this hemisphere?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, so far as all the countries I have spoken to personally, this particular question has not been placed in specific terms. But the whole attitude and atmosphere of our conversation was, to make a more effective and stronger organization among all the States to work in a cooperative--I mean all the American States--to work in a cooperative basis rather than to go each individually seeking outside help somewhere. Now, if there's any specific difference outside of what we have seen in Cuba, why I think you should ask the question of the State Department, because I am not aware of it.
Q. Mr. Roberts: If I might rephrase that
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Roberts.--do you feel the other powers are opposed to any aid coming from outside this hemisphere to any country in the Western Hemisphere--such as the aid that Russia has offered to Cuba?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would--I don't want to speculate on what their general attitude is. I know the very cooperative attitude they have shown to me in conversations with me, and I think it's a question I would rather have you put to the State Department, and put it in more specific fashion, and let them give a specific answer.
Q. M. Stewart Hensley, United Press International: Mr. President, you of course talked at some length with Mr. Kubitschek, Mr. Alessandri, Mr. Frondizi, about this plan. from what you know of their aspirations, and what you have in mind in the nature of the size of the American contribution, do you believe that your plan is going to satisfy all their hopes in that respect?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, what I would say is this: if we can ever get a true coordination and meeting of minds on the problem itself, and its scope, and how it should be arranged in priorities, then I think the United States would feel it should do its own proper share.
Now I do not believe that any nation can be saved merely by outside help. The first need is the heart and the brains and the wills and the determination and the morale in a nation itself, and to do those things which it can itself do.
When it comes, though, to the need of foreign exchange, and so on, and assistance in technical and scientific fields which can be given from a country such as ours, I think that our nation will never quail from doing what it needs to do. But I do not believe that just great sums of money is the answer.
Q. Daniel Karasik, NBC News: Mr. President, would a question on your Saturday statement be in order?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I put it on this--I wanted to put the questions directly on this, and therefore I don't believe this is the place for that, because I think you'll start a precedent for me.
Q. Frederick W. Collins, Providence Journal: In your soundings, do you have a feeling that the other Latin American Republics would go ahead with a general cooperative plan of this nature if it excluded Cuba?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that no nation of course can come in unless it wants to cooperate, and I would see no reason why the others-so that the remaining 20 of us could not go ahead--and as a matter of fact, even if there were 2 or 3 excluded for any reasons of their own choosing, I think this would still be a practicable thing.
Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Does this require any action by Congress, apart from the funds, for this plan?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell for sure yet, Larry, for a very simple reason, that there may be something in the authorization. for example, suppose they want to authorize a little bit different kind of loan in the American Bank, then each country's Congress would have to approve.
Q. Mr. Burd: Are you hoping to get it through in the next session of Congress--
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. And the timing is just something that I cannot predict.
Q. Mr. Burd: Otherwise it might be done after you are gone--after you have left office?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would think that this plan would appeal to any thinking American and so I would--if I have--now I would like to get it done better, of course--quicker, but always as I think it's a soldier's attitude, if you know what you want to do, get it done in a hurry. But in this, you take some time to get exactly the agreements that you want.
Q. Mr. Burd: Have you had any discussions with the Democrats on this?
THE PRESIDENT. Not on this one.
Well, I think, gentlemen, that will cover the subject.
[Speaker unidentified]: Thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT. Didn't know there were so many of you up here!