Recycling the Alliance for Progress?
Rafael González Morales
PRESIDENT Barack Obama has made his
first tour of Latin America and the Caribbean since
he was elected, by coincidence, exactly 50 years
since John F. Kennedy's launching of his Alliance
The trip was announced this past
January 25 during his State of the Union speech,
when Obama stated, "In March, I will travel to
Brazil, Chile and El Salvador to forge new alliances
across the American continent."
This statement has generated
reactions which range from great expectations to
doubts about his real intentions. Let's remember
that, at the 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad
and Tobago in 2009, the leader said, "I didn't come
to argue about the past but rather to think about
the future … As neighbors we have the responsibility
to trust each other. These words beg the question, "Why
should the peoples of Latin America and the
Caribbean continue to trust in their northern
neighbor after two centuries of exploitation and
Could these "new alliances" mean
profound change or is it only captivating rhetoric
filled with empty promises?
PLAN OF ACTION FOR THE HEMISPHERE:
FROM THE FRAUDUAENT ALLIANCE FOR
PROGRESS TO THE BUSH DOCTRINE
Hemispheric alliances originated
after the end of WWII. On July 26, 1947, U.S.
President Truman signed the National Security Act
which established the National Security Council, the
CIA and the Secretary of Defense. With this triad,
Washington had a design which allowed it to create a
system of alliances on a world scale. Its
application in Latin America, conceived as a
"political-military laboratory" began with the
Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance
(TIAR), signed September 2, 1947. Two years later
the principal imperialist alliance, NATO, was
From this point on, the CIA began to
play a leading role within this system of alliances
and carried out a policy of destabilization in the
region, guided by the Department of Covert
Operations established in 1948 by the National
Security Council. Thus, subversion, assassination
plots and coups d'état in Latin America were
institutionalized, organized and planned.
As part of these propositions,
although masked with a political focus, on March 3,
1961, President Kennedy made an appeal "to all the
peoples of the hemisphere to unite in an Alliance
for Progress … unprecedented in its magnitude or in
the nobility of its purpose, to meet the fundamental
needs of shelter, work, land, health and schools."
Among its "noble purposes" was the approval of the
mercenary Bay of Pigs invasion, when the U.S. was
handed its first great defeat in America.
Faced with that impotence, the
United States increased its efforts to destroy the
Cuban Revolution and counteract its influence in the
region. In August of 1961, the Organization of
American States (OAS) endorsed the fraudulent
Alliance for Progress, which planned to provide
Latin American countries $20 billion over 10 years.
Curiously, in April of 1959,
Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, during the
Economic Conference of the 21, in Buenos Aires,
commented that Latin America needed financing to the
tune of $30 billion over a 10-year period.
Paradoxically, the U.S. envoy leading the delegation
said, "I won't address that request," and Washington
called it "ridiculous and demagogic." Two years
later, Kennedy appropriated the proposal.
During the 1960's, in order to
guarantee the success of the alliance, according to
the confessions of Tom Polgar, CIA department head,
the agency was "supporting leaders in 11 Latin
American countries." He added that "as soon as a
friendly government was in power, the CIA station
chief had several options to maintain its influence:
become the government's foreign intelligence
service; craft an agreeable weekly summary; give the
leaders money and guarantee them weapons; offer them
entertainment and vacations in Washington."
In 1963, the U.S. Army Latin
American Training Center, functioning in Panama
since 1946, was renamed the School of the Americas,
also known as the School of Assassins. The course of
study included techniques of combat and command,
military intelligence and torture. The majority of
the graduates applied the knowledge acquired in the
form of coups d'état and the installation of
military dictatorships. Hundreds of thousands of
Latin Americans have been tortured, assassinated and
disappeared by officers trained in this school.
Despite these efforts and resorting
to various terrorist methods which continued
throughout the Johnson administration, the U.S.
failed with its deceitful Alliance for Progress.
According to OAS documents, "unfortunately, in 1967
a free trade vision was not established within the
hemisphere south of the United States and the
development plan was never fully implemented."
Throughout the Cold War, the
construction of alliances continued during
successive U.S. administrations. From Operation
Condor and the militarism of Reagan's Santa Fe
documents, the same objectives of Latin American
domination were maintained. After the collapse of
the Soviet Union, President Clinton launched the
FTAA, (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in Miami in
1994, an initiative which was defeated in the 2005
4th Summit of the Americas in Mar de Plata,
Argentina. The Bush administration maintained the
militarist agenda reflected in the Mérida Plan and
the reactivation of the 7th Fleet.
OBAMA LOOKING TO FORGE "INTELLIGENT"
The current U.S. administration is
trying to resurrect a "new alliance" based on the
concept of "intelligent power," which combines the
use of military power and economic coercion with the
ability to persuade and convince, using the
corporate media, the promotion of the American way
of life and foreign aid. That is, what has
traditionally been applied according to the
interests of the day: the carrot or the stick.
In the meantime, trapped in a
labyrinth of his own making, Obama has no choice but
to promote the "intelligent" alliance, recycling the
old components. According to a White House spokesman,
the leader's tour will address issues such as "economic
prosperity, the creation of jobs through increased
trade, shared values and collaboration in the areas
of energy and security."
No one could deny that analyzing
these issues is a priority and the formulation looks
as attractive as the fraudulent Alliance for
Progress. Beyond analyzing Washington's real
political intentions to move toward a different
relationship with Our America, we have to ask
ourselves to what degree Obama has modified the
mechanisms which sustain the system of U.S.
domination of the hemisphere.
As of yet, the current U.S.
government maintains the same strategic interests
held by its predecessors in relation to Latin
America and the Caribbean, designed to guarantee
access to and control of natural resources,
including primary sources of energy; to dominate
markets; to preserve the system of cultural and
ideological colonization and the containment of
revolutionary processes which challenge its hegemony.
It has left intact the economic, commercial and
financial blockade of Cuba, maintained its hostile
stance toward the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,
legitimized the coup in Honduras and installed seven
military bases in Colombia.
The only credible way to begin to
forge new alliances is to begin dismantling this
system of hemispheric domination. If not, rhetoric
and false promises will be the foundation of the new
"Intelligent Alliance" which from the start is no
more than the "Alliance for Progress" reborn, still
bearing the marks of its failure.