Richard Nixon photo

Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Inter American Press Association.

October 31, 1969

President Copley, President Edwards, Mr. Secretary of State, Governor Rockefeller, all of the distinguished guests here, Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors from the American States, and members and guests of the Inter American Press Association:

As we stand here on this 25th anniversary meeting of the Inter American Press Association, I should like to be permitted some personal comments before I then deliver my prepared remarks to you.

I have learned that this is the first occasion in which the remarks of the President of any one of the American nations has been carried and is being carried live by Telstar to all the nations in the hemisphere. And we are proud that it is before the Inter American Press Association.

I am sure that those of you, and I know that most of you here are members and publishers of the newspaper profession, will not be jealous if this is on television tonight.

Also, I am very privileged to appear before this organization again. I was reminded it was 15 years ago that I, as Vice President, addressed the organization in New Orleans. It is good to be with you tonight, and particularly as the outgoing president is an old friend, Mr. [Agustin] Edwards from Santiago. The new president is also an old friend, Mr. [James] Copley from San Diego--sister cities, one in the Northern Hemisphere of the Americas and the other in the Southern Hemisphere.

There is one other remark that Mrs. Edwards brought eloquently to my attention as we heard that magnificent rendition by the Army Chorus of "America the Beautiful." She said, "That is for all of us. We are all Americans in this room."

And it is in that spirit that I want to address my remarks tonight to our partnership in the Americas. In doing so, I wish to place before you some suggestions for reshaping and reinvigorating that partnership.

Often we in the United States have been charged with an overweening confidence in the rightness of our own prescriptions, and occasionally we have been guilty of the charge. I intend to correct that. Therefore, my words tonight are meant as an invitation by one partner for further interchange, for increased communication, and, above all, for new imagination in meeting our shared responsibilities.

For years, we in the United States have pursued the illusion that we alone could remake continents. Conscious of our wealth and technology, seized by the force of good intentions, driven by our habitual impatience, remembering the dramatic success of the Marshall Plan of postwar Europe, we have sometimes imagined that we knew what was best for everyone else and that we could and should make it happen. Well, experience has taught us better.

It has taught us that economic and social development is not an achievement of one nation's foreign policy but something deeply rooted in each nation's own traditions.

It has taught us that aid that infringes pride is no favor to any nation.

It has taught us that each nation, and each region, must be true to its own character.

What I hope we can achieve, therefore, is a more mature partnership in which all voices are heard and none is predominant--a partnership guided by a healthy awareness that give-and-take is better than take-it-or-leave-it.

My suggestions this evening for new directions toward a more balanced relationship come from many sources.

First, they are rooted in my personal convictions. I have seen the problems of this hemisphere. As those in this room know, I have visited every nation in this hemisphere. I have seen them at first hand. I have felt the surging spirit of those nations--determined to break the grip of outmoded structures, yet equally determined to avoid social disintegration. Freedom, justice, a chance for each of our people to live a better and more abundant life--these are goals to which I am unshakably committed because progress in our hemisphere is not only a practical necessity, it is a moral imperative.

Second, these new approaches have been substantially shaped by the report of Governor Rockefeller, who, at my request and at your invitation, listened perceptively to the voices of our neighbors and incorporated their thoughts into a set of farsighted proposals.

Third, they are consistent with thoughts expressed in the Consensus of Vina del Mar,1 which we have studied with great care.

1A list of 46 specific proposals for United States trade and aid policy changes drawn up at Vina del Mar, Chile, by ministers from 21 Latin American nations in May 1969.

Fourth, they have benefited from the counsel of many persons in government and out, in this country and throughout the hemisphere.

And, finally, basically they reflect the concern of the people of the United States for the development and progress of a hemisphere which is new in spirit, and which, through our efforts together, we can make new in accomplishment.

Tonight I offer no grandiose promises and no panaceas. I do offer action.

The actions I propose represent a new approach. They are based on five principles:

--First, a firm commitment to the inter-American system, to the compacts which bind us in that system--as exemplified by the Organization of American States and by the principles so nobly set forth in its charter.

--Second, respect for national identity and national dignity, in a partnership in which rights and responsibilities are shared by a community of independent states.

--Third, a firm commitment to continued United States assistance for hemispheric development.

--Fourth, a belief that the principal future pattern of this assistance must be U.S. support for Latin American initiatives, and that this can best be achieved on a multilateral basis within the inter-American system.

--Finally a dedication to improving the quality of life in this new world of ours, to making people the center of our concerns, and to helping meet their economic, social, and human needs.

We have heard many voices from the Americas in these first months of our new administration--voices of hope, voices of concern, and some voices of frustration. We have listened.

These voices have told us they wanted fewer promises and more action. They have told us that United States aid programs seemed to have helped the United States more than Latin America. They have told us that our trade policies were insensitive to the needs of other American nations. They have told us that if our partnership is to thrive or even to survive, we must recognize that the nations of the Americas must go forward in their own way, under their own leadership.

Now it is not my purpose here tonight to discuss the extent to which we consider the various charges that I have just listed right or wrong. But I recognize the concerns. I share many of them. What I propose tonight is, I believe, responsive to those concerns.

The most pressing concerns center on economic development and especially on the policies by which aid is administered and by which trade is regulated.

In proposing specific changes tonight, I mean these as examples of the actions I believe are possible in a new kind of partnership in the Americas.

Our partnership should be one in which the United States lectures less and listens more. It should be one in which clear, consistent procedures are established to insure that the shaping of the future of the nations in the Americas reflects the will of those nations.

I believe this requires a number of changes.

To begin with, it requires a fundamental change in the way in which we manage development assistance in the hemisphere.

That is why I propose that a multilateral inter-American agency be given an increasing share of responsibility for development assistance decisions. CIAP-the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress--could be given this new function, or an entirely new agency could be created within the system.

Whatever the form, the objective would be to evolve an effective multilateral framework for bilateral assistance, to provide the agency with an expert international staff and, over time, to give it major operational and decision making responsibilities.

The other American nations themselves would thus jointly assume a primary role in setting priorities within the hemisphere, in developing realistic programs, in keeping their own performance under critical review.

One of the areas most urgently in need of new policies is the area of trade. In my various trips to the Latin American countries and the other American countries, I have found that this has been uppermost on the minds of the leaders for many, many years. In order to finance their import needs and to achieve self-sustaining growth, the other American nations must expand their exports.

Most Latin American exports now are raw materials and foodstuffs. We are attempting to help the other countries of the hemisphere to stabilize their earnings from these exports, to increase them as time goes on.

Increasingly, however, those countries will have to turn more toward manufactured and semimanufactured products for balanced development and major export growth. Thus they need to be assured of access to the expanding markets of the industrialized world. In order to help achieve this, I have determined to take the following major steps:

--First, to lead a vigorous effort to reduce the nontariff barriers to trade maintained by nearly all industrialized countries against products of particular interest to Latin America and other developing countries.

--Second, to support increased technical and financial assistance to promote Latin American trade expansion.

--Third, to support the establishment, within the inter-American system, of regular procedures for advance consultation on trade matters. United States trade policies often have a very heavy impact on our neighbors. It seems only fair that in the more balanced relationship we seek, there should be full consultation within the hemisphere family before decisions affecting its members are taken, and not after.

--And finally, most important, in world trade forums, I believe it is time to press for a liberal system of generalized trade preferences for all developing countries, including Latin America. We will seek adoption by all of the industrialized nations of a scheme with broad product coverage and with no ceilings on preferential imports. We will seek equal access to industrial markets for all developing countries, so as to eliminate the discrimination against Latin America that now exists in many countries. We will also urge that such a system eliminates the inequitable "reverse preferences" that now discriminate against Western Hemisphere countries.

There are three other important economic issues that directly involve the new partnership concept and which a number of our partners have raised. They raised them with me, they raised them with Governor Rockefeller, with the Secretary of State, and others in our administration.

These are "tied" loans, debt service, and regional economic integration.

For several years now, virtually all loans made under United States aid programs have been "tied," that is, as you know, they have been encumbered with restrictions designed to maintain United States exports, including a requirement that the money be spent on purchases in the United States.

These restrictions have been burdensome for the borrowers. They have impaired the effectiveness of the aid. In June, I ordered the most cumbersome restrictions removed, three additionally requirements.

In addition, I announce tonight that I am now ordering that effective November 1, loan dollars sent to Latin America under AID be freed to allow purchases not only here, but anywhere in Latin America.

As a third step, I am also ordering that all other onerous conditions and restrictions on U.S. assistance loans be reviewed, with the objective of modifying or eliminating them.

Now, if I might add a personal word, this decision on freeing AID loans is one of those things that people kept saying ought to be done but could not be done. In light of our own balance of payments problems, there were compelling arguments against it. I can assure you that within the administration we had a very vigorous discussion on this subject. But I felt, and the rest of my colleagues within the administration felt, that the needs of the hemisphere had to come first, so I simply ordered it done, showing our commitment in actions rather than only in words. This will be our guiding principle in the future.

And with the presence of many Members of the House and the Senate here tonight, I am sure they realize that there are not too many occasions when the President can accomplish something by just ordering it to be done.

The growing burden of external debt service has increasingly become a major problem of future development. Some countries find themselves making heavy payments in debt service which reduce the positive effects of development aid. Therefore, tonight I suggest that CIAP might appropriately urge the international financial organizations to recommend possible remedies.

We have seen a number of moves in the Americas 'toward regional economic integration, such as the establishment of the Central American Common Market, the Latin American and Caribbean free trade areas, and the Andean Group. The decisions on how far and how fast this process of integration goes, of course, are not ours to make. But I do want to stress this: We in the United States stand ready to help in this effort if our help is requested and is needed.

On all of these matters, we look forward to consulting further with our hemisphere neighbors and partners. In a major related move, I am also directing our representatives to invite CIAP, as a regular procedure, to conduct a periodic review of U.S. economic policies as they affect the other nations of the hemisphere, and to consult with us about them.

Similar reviews are now made of the other hemisphere countries' policies, as you are aware, but the United States has not previously opened its policies to such consultation. I believe that true partnership requires that we should and, henceforth, if our partners so desire, as I gather from your applause you do, we shall.

I would like to turn now to a vital subject in connection with economic development in the hemisphere, namely, the role of private investment. Now, clearly, each government in the Americas must make its own decision about the place of private investment, domestic and foreign, in its development process. Each must decide for itself whether it wishes to accept or forgo the benefits that private investment can bring.

For a developing country, constructive foreign private investment has the special advantage of being a prime vehicle for the transfer of technology. And certainly, from no other source is so much investment capital available, because capital, from government to government on that basis, is not expansible. In fact, it tends now to be more restricted, whereas, private capital can be greatly expanded.

As we have seen, however, just as a capital-exporting nation cannot expect another country to accept investors against its will, so must a capital-importing country expect a serious impairment of its ability to attract investment funds when it acts against existing investments in a way which runs counter to commonly accepted norms of international law and behavior. Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, such acts by one nation in the Americas affect investor confidence in the entire region.

We will not encourage U.S. private investment where it is not wanted or where local political conditions face it with unwarranted risks. But I must state my own strong belief, and it is this: I think that properly motivated private enterprise has a vital role to play in social as well as economic development in all of the American nations. We have seen it work in our own country. We have seen it work in other countries--whether they are developing or developed--other countries that lately have been recording the world's most spectacular rates of economic growth.

Referring to a completely other area of the world, the exciting stories of the greatest growth rates are those that have turned toward more private investment, rather than less. Japan we all know about, but the story is repeated in Korea, in Taiwan, in Malaysia, in Singapore, and in Thailand.

In line with this belief, we are examining ways to modify our direct investment controls in order to help meet the investment requirements of developing nations in the Americas and elsewhere. I have further directed that our aid programs place increasing emphasis on assistance to locally-owned private enterprise. I am also directing that we expand our technical assistance for establishing national and regional capital markets.

As we all have seen, in this age of rapidly advancing science, the challenge of development is only partly economic. Science and technology increasingly hold the key to our national futures. If the promise of this final third of the 20th century is to be realized, the wonders of science must be turned to the service of man.

In the Consensus of Vina del Mar, we were asked for an unprecedented effort to share our scientific and technical capabilities.

To that request we shall respond in a true spirit of partnership.

This I pledge to you tonight: The nation that went to the moon in peace for all mankind is ready, ready to share its technology in peace with its nearest neighbors.

Tonight, I have discussed with you a new concept of partnership. I have made a commitment to act. I have been trying to give some examples of actions we are prepared to take.

But as anyone familiar with government knows, commitment alone is not enough. There has to be the machinery to assure an effective follow-through.

Therefore, I am also directing a major reorganization and upgrading of the United States Government structure for dealing with Western Hemisphere affairs.

As a key element of this--and this is one of those areas where the President cannot do it, he needs the approval of the Congress--but as a key element of this, I have ordered preparation of a legislative request, which I will submit to the Congress, raising the rank of the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs to Under Secretary--thus giving the hemisphere special representation.

I know that many in this room, 15 years ago urged that upon me, and I see Mr. Pedro Beltran2 here particularly applauding. He urged it upon me just a few years ago, too.

2Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Peru 1959-1961, and presently owner and publisher of the daily newspaper La Prensa in Lima.

I trust that we will be able, through the new Under Secretary of State, to do a more effective job with regard to the problems of the hemisphere, and the new Under Secretary will be given authority to coordinate all United States Government activities in the hemisphere, so that there will be one window for all those activities.

And now, my friends in the American family, I turn to a sensitive subject. Debates have long raged, they've raged both in the United States and elsewhere, over what our attitude should be toward the various forms of government within the inter-American system.

Let me sum up my own views very candidly.

First, my own country lives by a democratic system which has preserved its form for nearly two centuries. It has its problems. But we are proud of our system. We are jealous of our liberties. And we hope that eventually most, perhaps even all, of the world's people will share what we consider to be the blessings of genuine democracy.

We are aware that most people today in most countries of the world do not share those blessings.

I would be less than honest if I did not express my concern over examples of liberty compromised, of justice denied, or rights infringed.

Nevertheless, we recognize that enormous, sometimes explosive, forces for change are operating in Latin America. These create instabilities; they bring changes in governments. On the diplomatic level, we must deal realistically with governments in the inter-American system as they are. We have, of course--we in this country--a preference for democratic procedures, and we hope that each government will help its own people to move forward to a better, a fuller, and a freer life.

In this connection, however, I would stress one other point. We cannot have a peaceful community of nations if one nation sponsors armed subversion in another's territory. The ninth meeting of American Foreign Ministers clearly enunciated this principle. The "export" of revolution is an intervention which our system cannot condone, and a nation like Cuba which seeks to practice it can hardly expect to share in the benefits of this community.

And now, finally, a word about what all this can mean--not just for the Americas but for the world.

Today, the world's most fervent hope is for a lasting peace in which life is secure, progress is possible, and freedom can flourish. In each part of the world we can have lasting peace and progress only if the nations directly concerned take the lead themselves in achieving it, and in no part of the world can there be a true partnership if one partner dictates its direction.

I can think of no assembly of nations better suited than ours to point the way to developing such a partnership. A successfully progressing Western Hemisphere, here in this new world, demonstrating in action mutual help and mutual respect, will be an example for the world. Once again, by this example, we will stand for something larger than ourselves.

For three quarters of a century, many of us have been linked together in the Organization of American States and its predecessors in a joint quest for a better future. Eleven years ago, Operation Pan America was launched as a Brazilian initiative. More recently, we have joined in a noble Alliance for Progress, whose principles still guide us. And now I suggest that our goal for the seventies should be a decade of "action for progress" for the Americas.

As we seek to forge a new partnership, we must recognize that we are a community of widely diverse peoples. Our cultures are different. Our perception are often different. Our emotional reactions are often different. May it always be that way. What a dull world it would be if we were all alike. Partnership-mutuality--these do not flow naturally. We have to work at them.

Understandably, perhaps, a feeling has arisen in many Latin American countries that the United States really "no longer cares."

Well, my answer to that tonight is very simple.

We do care. I care. I have visited most of your countries, as I said before. I have met most of your leaders. I have talked with your people. I have seen your great needs as well as your great achievements.

And I know this, in my heart as well as in my mind: If peace and freedom are to endure in this world, there is no task more urgent than lifting up the hungry and the helpless, and putting flesh on the dreams of those who yearn for a better life.

Today, we in this American community share an historic opportunity.

As we look together down the closing decades of this century, we see tasks that summon the very best that is in us. But those tasks are difficult precisely because they do mean the difference between despair and fulfillment for most of the 600 million people who will live in Latin America in the year 2000. Those lives are our challenge. Those lives are our hope. And we could ask no prouder reward than to have our efforts crowned by peace, prosperity, and dignity in the lives of those 600 million human beings-- in Latin America and in the United States--each so precious, each so unique--our children and our legacy.

Note: The President spoke at 9:35 p.m. at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Copies of the advance text of the President's remarks were sent to Presidents Emilio Garrastazu Medici of Brazil, Carlos Lleras Restrepo of Colombia, Jose Joaquin Trejos Fernandez of Costa Rica, and Gustavo Diaz Ordaz of Mexico. Letters of appreciation from the Latin American Presidents are printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, PP. 1565-1566 and 1627).

Richard Nixon, Remarks at the Annual Meeting of the Inter American Press Association. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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