THE LEADERS of the Americas met in Bogota and Punta del Este 6 years ago to inaugurate one of the most audacious programs in the annals of mankind.
The goal was to demonstrate that freedom and economic development are not enemies-that massive social and political transformations can be accomplished without the lash of dictatorship, or the spur of terror.
That was a time to state the challenge. The years that have passed prove beyond any doubt that the nations and peoples of the Americas responded creatively to this challenge.
We returned to Punta del Este for an assessment of our achievements and our future obligations. We met in a spirit of candor, with a full realization of the scope of the problems that confront us.
We have looked at the past and the future with cold realism, knowing that our cause will not be served by either naive optimism or cynical pessimism.
We have learned much, and much that we have learned confirms the judgment of Ecclesiastes that "he who increaseth wisdom, increaseth sorrow." We have long since abandoned the view that rhetoric could alter a social system--or that a blueprint could guarantee economic growth.
Economic and social development is a task not for sprinters but for long-distance runners.
We know now that transforming the lives of over 250 million people requires a commitment to specifics. It requires a fierce--a stubborn--dedication to those undramatic, day-to-day attainments that are the sinews of economic and social progress. This is especially true of the United States and Latin America.
We are greatly impressed by the steps that have been taken--the progress made by Latin America in recent years. We are also impressed by the high level of cooperation that has developed among the proudly independent nations of the Americas.
In my judgment, this has been an extremely valuable conference. We have set our priorities for the next stage.
First, we have made some vital structural commitments. The fulfillment of these objectives will not only be a major accomplishment in its own right, but it will make possible wide-ranging improvements presently beyond our reach.
The Latin American Common Market, once achieved, will alter the whole economy of the hemisphere, and will have consequences in every sector of social and political organization.
Multinational projects--opening the way for the movement of people, goods, electricity--will have a similar impact.
Second, we have moved to deal with a number of immediate problems:
--To expand Latin American trade.
--To modernize Latin American agriculture and increase food production to meet the needs of an expanding population.
--To combat illiteracy and improve educational systems.
--To provide access to the latest scientific and technological developments, and so to help bridge the "technological gap."
--To expand health measures so that the latest fruits of medical science will be at the disposal of all our people.
--To eliminate unnecessary military spending.
The first phase of the Alliance has been a success by any realistic standard.
The second phase is now underway. It will cut to the heart of the problem--the modernization of overprotected Latin American industry, underfinanced Latin American agriculture and education. It will be difficult and demanding. It will require sustained effort.
The American people have responded generously to the needs of their fellow Americans; and I am sure that our friends in Latin America realize that we can be depended upon in the long struggle that will follow, as we could in the beginning of the Alliance.
I return to my country in good heart-for this reason. I have met all of the Presidents of the Latin American Republics and the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. I am convinced that the leaders of Latin America are serious and determined to develop their nations. And I believe the people of the United States will continue to respond to their efforts.Note: The statement was released at Punta del Este, Uruguay.
On the same day the Office of the White House Press Secretary made public at Punta del Este the following release, entitled "The Summit--a Summary":
"The leaders of the American nations have met and renewed their commitment to the cause of Latin American economic and social development-a commitment undertaken at Bogota in 1960, and further defined at Punta del Este 6 years ago. "They agreed:
--to create and support a Latin American Common Market
--to bind the nations of the hemisphere in great transportation, power, and river development
--to expand Latin American trade
--to intensify the battle against illiteracy and disease
--to modernize agriculture and education
--to avoid unnecessary military expenditures
"Speaking for the people of the United States, the President announced that he would:
--Ask his country to assist Latin American economic integration by contributing assistance to ease the adjustment period.
--Recommend additional support for the Inter-American Bank to design multinational projects.
--Explore with his own people and with other industrialized countries, the possibility of temporary preferential tariffs for developing nations.
--Undertake to expand assistance to Latin American nations, particularly in the fields of education, agriculture, health, technology, and nutrition.
--Sustain American support for all the Latin American countries."