Evolving Summits of the Americas

Article excerpt

In Punta del Este, Uruguay, thirty-three years ago, the OAS and the Inter-American system received a jolt of creative energy and hope when the heads of state of the American nations formally established the Alliance for Progress. In March 1961, the newly elected president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, formally proposed a ten-year alliance to promote development and social reform.

In August 1961, the Declaration of Punta del Este called for the strengthening of representative democracy and "accelerated economic progress and broader social justice." The United States offered to contribute $1 billion annually of public funds and to encourage an equivalent amount of private investment. The Alliance for Progress stressed industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and social programs in health, housing, and education.

While the Alliance for Progress functioned principally on the basis of bilateral arrangements between the United States and the other American nations, a significant and enduring part of the effort was made multilaterally through the Organization of American States. Following the advice of former presidents Juscelino Kubitschek (Brazil) and Alberto Lleras Camargo (Colombia), an Inter-American Committee for the Alliance for Progress (CIAP) was established to determine the Alliance's priorities.

In 1967, at another Inter-American Conference, which met again in Punta del Este, the American heads of state reaffirmed their commitment to the Alliance. President Lyndon Johnson pledged the support of the United States for a continuation of the Alliance and the creation of a Latin American Common Market.

Although the Alliance, contrary to the designs of those who met in Punta del Este, was gradually and profoundly reduced to a series of bilateral agreements between the United States and other American nations, the multilateral programs continued through the 1970s as part of the technical cooperation programs of the OAS. The OAS programs generated by the Alliance included the reform and strengthening of government programs and technical agencies and the design of developmental plans. Where the OAS had the greatest impact, however, was in the development of human resources. Over the course of the past thirty-five years, the OAS has supported the training and education of hundreds of thousands of individuals in every area of academic specialization and human endeavor, both through in-country training programs and study abroad. …