The dawning of the sixties erupted with John F. Kennedy as President, the beginning of an anti-war movement, and the fear of communism. It was a new decade and called for many changes, domestic and foreign. New policies were initiated in the hopes for a better economy and relations with other countries.
In 1961, President Kennedy called for the establishment of the Alliance for Progress. The program was aimed towards promoting the social and economic development of Latin America. Kennedy proposed this cooperative program to replace prior failing efforts of the United States to aid Latin America. The intended alliance marked a shift toward a policy of expanded U.S. economic assistance to Latin America in the wake of Fidel Castro s successful Communist revolution in Cuba. The United States was fearful of a communism spread due to the poverty and social inequities of the Latin American nations. The U.S. felt that the southern continent was ripe for violent radical political upheaval, which would eventually bring forth the spread of communism. The Alliance for Progress program was initially met with open arms by most Latin Americans leaders and immediately boosted U.S. relations throughout the hemisphere.1
The alliance s charter was signed by all members of the organization except for Cuba at a special meeting at Punta del Este, Uruguay, on August 17, 1961.2 The drafters of the charter emphasized that the twin goals of economic development and social injustice should be pursued simultaneously and that both should be paralleled by efforts to expand political freedom in the hemisphere. One of the most important factors of the program was the promotion of self-help. Under the alliance s charter, the participating Latin American countries would provide eighty percent of the funding and the remaining twenty would be pledged by external sources, which would be furnished by the United states, other wealthy countries, and a variety of public and private groups.
Though created to ensure the improvement of Latin America, there were many dilemmas within the Alliance for Progress. The program was not really an alliance and it did not progress satisfactorily. The wealthy naturally wanted to remain in the position in society and were blind to the fact that it was hastening a Communist takeover. Contributions to the destitute countries of Latin America often found its way into the wallets of the wealthy instead of profiting the poor.
The initiator of the Alliance for Progress was the elected 35th president, John F. Kennedy. He asserted his platform, which was based on the “Rights of Man” issue, which referred to the civil and economic rights that are necessary to human dignity. Kennedy was a moderate conservative and a rational idealist. He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained. His domestic program, the New Frontier, called for tax reform, federal aid to education, medical care for the aged under Social Security, and the extension of civil rights. Many of his reforms, however, stalled in Congress, and foreign-affairs crises occupied much of his time. His beliefs soon took him to the continent of Latin America where he fought for the rights of the underprivileged there. From the onset, he was concerned with foreign affairs. In his memorable inaugural address he called upon Americans “to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.”3 Kennedy felt strongly that the United Stations needed strong and creative leadership in the White House, and it would be that person s responsibility to devote his all to lead the nation back to greatness. He wanted the United States to become a supreme nation in every sense. John F. Kennedy had many reasons and motives for initiating the Alliance for Progress. He knew it was a wise mood in the political world, which would assert his and the United States power over the southern continent.
The program was inspired due to the situation in Cuba. Kennedy believed that the program could successfully counter the Communist onslaught in the hemisphere. He did not want the program to intertwine with the troubles that would involve Cuba. President Kennedy also recognized that within the poor Latin American countries, illiteracy, inadequate housing, unfair land distribution, high inflation, lack of schools and sanitation opened doors to communism. Kennedy had long considered political turmoil in Latin America a threat to the security of the United States. He feared that the many revolutionary movements appearing there would establish Communist dictatorships.
The Kennedy administration believed that by supplying particular Latin American countries with United States financial support and good would help foil Communist revolutions in those countries.4 The president and his advisors were less consistent, however, on their attitude towards military takeovers.5 There was also a spread of anti-Americanism in Latin America which Kennedy hoped to diminish by setting up the Alliance for Progress.6
Many of Kennedy s advisors supported his decision to initiate the Alliance for Progress. They felt that it would not only domestically improve life of many Latin Americans, but also to politically ward off any Communist threats. Robert A. Hurwitcch, Department of State Representative, stated that he wished to continue and intensify where possible and necessary, U.S. efforts to strengthen the democratic sectors in Latin America under the Alliance for Progress in order to improve their capabilities of countering Castro-communist threats to political stability and orderly economic and social development.1 “It is USIA’s State for Inter-American Affairs view that the most effective information program in Latin America must have a position theme. That is why the majority of our output is still devoted to support of the Alliance for Progress. Our anti-Castro output, being essentially negative in nature, still is relegated to a less important position. We believe this accent on the positive to be most desirable and should there be an increase in anti-Castro material we would believe it necessary to similarly increase our positive support material for the Alliance for Progress.”7 Kennedy s advisors were a most important resource with his foreign policies. With their support, the president was given the chance to expand his programs in Latin America.
John Kennedy was very liked among the American public. Polls taken during the time period of his presidency indicate that he had the approval many citizens. A Newsweek survey reported that the new, young, and unlaced president one who had been elected by only 49.7% – now had the American people behind him.8 Kennedy s own pollster wrote that the ability to get “things done” was winning the highest rate of popular approval.9
Latin America was considered an ally first for the Americans but due to the ineffectiveness of the program, tension arose. Massive land reform was not achieved; population more than kept pace with gains the health and welfare. United States aid gradually decreased over the years and political tension between the US and Latin America increased. Communistic Cuba was considered a threat to the United States and referred to as an enemy. Americans feared that the Cubans would spread their communist ideals to the meager Latin American nations.
The Alliance for Progress was set up for various reasons. Political and economic reasons made it the more urgent for more people to John F. Kennedy had numerous motives for initiating his foreign policy which included the established the Alliance for Progress.