Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Radio and Television Address to the American People on the Eve of South American Trip.

February 21, 1960

[Delivered from the President's Office at 6:15 p.m.]

My friends:

Early tomorrow I start a journey to several of our Latin American neighbors, with three major purposes in mind. These are: to learn more about our friends to the south; to assure them again that the United States seeks to cooperate with them in achieving a fuller life for everyone in this hemisphere; and to make clear our desire to work closely with them in the building of a universal peace with justice.

Our interest in our sister Republics is of long standing, and of deep affection. This, in itself, is reason sufficient for the journey. But in these days of world tension, of awakening ambitions, and of problems caused by the growing interdependence of nations, it is vital for national partners to develop better understandings and to improve common programs.

The bonds among our American Republics are not merely geographic; rather they are shared principles and convictions. Together we believe in God, in the dignity and rights of man, in peace with justice, and in the right of every people to determine its own destiny. In such beliefs our friendship is rooted.

Yet even among close comrades, friendships too often seem to be taken for granted. We must not give our neighbors of Latin America cause to believe this about us.

So I shall reaffirm to our sister Republics that we are steadfast in our purpose to work with them hand in hand in promoting the security and well-being of all peoples of this hemisphere. To do so calls for a sustained effort that is, unfortunately, sometimes impeded by misunderstandings.

One such misunderstanding, at times voiced in Latin America, is that we have been so preoccupied with the menace of Communist imperialism and resulting problems of defense, that we have tended to forget our southern neighbors. Some have implied that our attention has been so much directed to security for ourselves and to problems across the oceans to the west and east, that we neglect cooperation and progress within this hemisphere.

It is true that we have given first priority to worldwide measures for security against the possibility of military aggression. We have made many sacrifices to assure that this security is and will be maintained.

But I hope to make clear, on my journey, that our military programs at home and abroad have been designed for one purpose only--the maintenance of peace, as important to Latin America as to us.

That there is need for these programs, postwar history clearly proves.

For the first 5 years following World War II, we in the United States, hopeful of a global and durable peace, pursued a policy of virtual disarmament. But, the blockade of Berlin, the military weakness of our European friends living face to face with the Communist menace, and finally the Korean war--together with arrogant threats against other peaceful nations--belatedly made it clear to us that only under an umbrella of military strength could free nations hope to make progress toward an enduring and just peace. World uneasiness rose to the point of alarm.

Since then our Nation has developed great arsenals of powerful weapons to sustain the peace. We have created a great deterrent strength--so powerful as to command and to justify the respect of knowledgeable and unbiased observers here at home and abroad.

Our many .hundreds of Air Force bombers deployed the world over-each capable of unleashing a frightful destruction--constitute a force far superior to any other, in numbers, in quality, and in strategic location of bases. We have, in addition, a powerful nuclear force in our aircraft carriers and in our host of widely deployed tactical aircraft. Adding constantly to these forces are advanced types of missiles steadily augmenting the armaments of all ground and other military units.

As for longer range ballistic missiles, from a standing start only 5 years ago, we have literally leaped forward in accomplishments no less than. remarkable. Our Atlas missile, already amazingly accurate, became operational last year. Missiles of intermediate range are in forward bases. The first Polaris missile submarine--an almost invulnerable weapon--will soon be at sea. New generations of long-range missiles are under urgent development.

Collectively, this is a force not unduly dependent upon any one weapon or any one service, not subject to elimination by sudden attack, buttressed by an industrial system unmatched on this earth, and unhesitatingly supported by a vigorous people determined to remain free. Strategically, that force is far better situated than any other that could be brought to bear against us.

As we have strengthened these defenses, we have helped to bolster our own and free world security by assisting in arming 42 other nations--our associates in the defense of the free world. Our part in this indispensable effort is our Mutual Security Program. It makes possible a forward strategy of defense for the greater security of all, including our neighbors to the south.

I am certain that our Latin American neighbors, as well as you here at home, understand the significance of all these facts.

We have forged a trustworthy shield of peace--an indestructible force of incalculable power, ample for today and constantly developing to meet the needs of tomorrow. Today, in the presence of continuous threat, all of us can stand resolute and unafraid--confident in America's might as an anchor of free world security.

But we all recognize that peace and freedom cannot be forever sustained by weapons alone. There must be a free world spirit and morale based upon the conviction that, for free men, life comprehends more than mere survival and bare security. Peoples everywhere must have opportunity to better themselves spiritually, intellectually, economically.

We earnestly seek to help our neighbors in this hemisphere achieve the progress they rightly desire.

We have sought to strengthen the Organization of American States and other cooperative groups which promote hemispheric progress and solidarity.

We have invested heavily in Latin American enterprise.

New credits, both public and private, are being made available in greater volume than ever before. Last year, these approximated one billion dollars. Our outstanding loans and investments in Latin America now exceed eleven billion dollars.

With our sister Republics, we have just established the Inter-American Development Bank. With them we hope that this new billion dollar institution will do much to accelerate economic growth.

Additionally, we have expanded technical cooperation programs throughout the Americas.

To improve our own knowledge of our neighbors' needs, we recently established a distinguished panel of private citizens under the chairmanship of the Secretary of State. 1 This National Advisory Committee will, by continuous study of inter-American affairs, help us at home better to cooperate with our Latin American friends. Members of this committee will accompany me on my journey tomorrow.

1The National Advisory Committee for Inter-American Affairs. See 1959 volume, this series, Item 287 and note.

This will be a busy trip, for our neighbors' problems are many and vexing; the lack of development capital--wide fluctuations in the prices of their export commodities--the need for common regional markets to foster efficiency and to attract new credits--the need to improve health, education, housing, and transportation.

All these are certain to be subjects of discussion in each of the counties I visit.

And wherever I go, I shall state again and again the basic principles and attitudes that govern our country's relationships in this hemisphere.

For example:

Our good partner policy is a permanent guide, encompassing nonintervention, mutual respect, and juridical equality of States.

We wish, for every American nation, a rapid economic progress, with its blessings reaching all the people.

We are always eager to cooperate in fostering sound development within the limits of practical capabilities; further, we shall continue to urge every nation to join in help to the less fortunate.

We stand firmly by our pledge to help maintain the security of the Americas under the Rio Treaty of 1947.

We declare our faith in the rule of law, our determination to abide by treaty commitments, and our insistence that other nations do likewise.

We will do all we can to foster the triumph of human liberty throughout the hemisphere.

We condemn all efforts to undermine the democratic institutions of the Americas through coercion or subversion, and we abhor the use of the lie and distortion in relations among nations.

Very recently, in a faraway country that has never known freedom-one which today holds millions of humans in subjugation--impassioned language has been used to assert that the United States has held Latin America in a colonial relationship to ourselves.

That is a blatant falsehood.

In all history no nation has had a more honorable record in its dealings with other countries than has the United States.

The Philippines are independent today--by their own choice.

Alaska and Hawaii are now proud partners in our federated, democratic enterprise--by their own choice.

Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth within the United States system--by its own choice.

After the two World Wars and the Korean war, the United States did not annex a single additional acre, and it has sought no advantage of any kind at the expense of another.

And in all of Latin America, I repeat, we adhere honorably and persistently to the policy of nonintervention.

It is nonsense to charge that we hold--or that we desire to hold--any nation in colonial status.

These are but a few of the matters that friends in this hemisphere need to talk about. I look forward with the keenest pleasure to exchanging views with the Presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, and with their colleagues.

It is my profound hope that, upon my return, I shall be able to report to you that the historic friendship and trust among the nations of this hemisphere have been strengthened, and that our common cause--justice and peace in freedom--has been reaffirmed and given new life.

Good evening, and to my Latin American friends, buenos tardes.

Note: The President departed from Andrews Air Force Base on February 22 at 8:30 a.m. His itinerary included stopovers at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico; Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo in Brazil; Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, and San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Montevideo, Uruguay. On his return trip he stopped again at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico. He returned on March 7, arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 3:01 p.m.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Radio and Television Address to the American People on the Eve of South American Trip. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234853

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