Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Receiving the Pan American Society's Gold Medal Award.

January 09, 1969

LATIN AMERICA has always held a very special place in my mind and heart. It has always stood in a very special relationship to the United States. In that relationship we have moved from controversy and dispute to cooperation, alliance, and partnership.

The Alliance for Progress is a revolutionary document. It was foreshadowed by the ideas of great Latin American spokesmen looking to the future of their peoples. Its policies and institutions began to take shape in the latter years of the Eisenhower administration, and were brought to full life and vigor by President Kennedy.

It seeks peaceful revolution because it promotes economic and social transformation without violence.

It seeks to expand benefits for all the people rather than merely redistributing them.

It is an alliance against the status quo, when the status quo means ill health, hunger, latifundia and one-crop economies, illiteracy, and ignorance.

It is an alliance for land reform, jobs, new schools, roads, more electric power, more consumer cooperatives, improved irrigation and bountiful agricultural yields, and, above all, an equitable sharing of national financial burdens by all citizens.

It is an alliance which will promote regional economic cooperation and hemispheric integration.

In spite of setbacks and disappointments, new beginnings have been made in our alliance. In the past 5 years:

--Latin American exports have diversified and increased by almost $2 billion.

--Primary school enrollment is up by 7 million.

--15 Latin American nations have enacted land reform measures since the Alliance formally began.

--Tax collections increased by $3 billion from 1964-1967.

--In 1967 alone, Latin American farmers produced food at twice the rate of new mouths which had to be fed.

--1968 was a year of more than 5 percent growth in GNP for Latin America, the third year of the past 5 when the Punta del Este target has been approximated.

The United States has placed more than $6 billion at the disposal of Alliance programs.

We have pledged $900 million to the Inter-American Development Bank over the next 3 years.

We have placed our weight and financial support behind Latin American economic regionalism and integration.

And we have pledged our help to forge the new communications and transportation links needed to make Latin America a true regional entity.

With the passage of time it has become increasingly clear that the task of Latin American economic and social development is primarily a task for Latin Americans.

We in North America are the junior partners in this great enterprise. We have helped the nations of Latin America generate development momentum of their own.

Along with them we must now do all we can to sustain that momentum. For our hemisphere has reached the crucial stage when the material foundations of development can now begin to provide a better life for more than 200 million Latin American citizens.

But all our efforts in the Alliance and other inter-American programs will succeed only if Latin America achieves the goal of a truly integrated economic system.

The first promising steps have been taken in the Central American Common Market, the new Andean group, and the Latin American Free Trade Association.

There is clearly a long road ahead, but in the 1960's the peoples of Latin America have taken the most important step of all: They have proved to themselves--and to the world--that the job can be done; there has been enough progress for all to know that it is possible for a modern Latin America to emerge peacefully, true to its own traditions and culture and to its own vision of the future.

A decade ago that would have been a statement of faith. Now, it is a statement of fact. And we in the United States shall always be proud to have played our part in this historic demonstration.

I accept this medal as a sign of past successes and as a reminder of how much more Americans--North and South--must achieve in the years ahead.

Note: The Gold Medal Award was presented to the President in the Cabinet Room at the White House by Robert M. Reininger, president of the Pan American Society of the United States. The Pan American Society, a group of business and professional men interested in promoting inter-American friendship, had previously presented the award to Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy.

A White House release announcing the presentation and listing the members of the society and others attending the ceremony is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 5, p. 37).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Receiving the Pan American Society's Gold Medal Award. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives