We have met to perform our commitments of honor to sign and seal American solidarity. We have assembled to plan the common defense of our Hemisphere, to prepare an America that shall be ever stronger, more united, more invulnerable.
EZÉQUIEL PADILLA, 1942
W ORLD WAR II posed a challenge to the validity of the numerous declarations and pledges of continental solidarity to which the American nations had subscribed. In their numerous conferences and meetings they had been long on pious pronouncements of adherence to common principles, but rather short on agreed procedures for defending those principles. Also, their formal security pledges did not go beyond the agreement to consult in the event of overseas aggression on any one of their membership. It remained to be seen, therefore, first, what was the degree of attachment of the American nations to the Havana "Declaration of Reciprocal Assistance and Cooperation," and second, how effective a common defense, beginning from scratch, could be erected by ad hoc procedures.
Pearl Harborand the Rio Meeting. The immediate positive reaction of the American states to Japanese aggression on the United States was encouraging evidence that the political, military, and economic agreements that the nations of the hemisphere had entered into prior to and following the outbreak of war in Europe were not to be taken lightly. If the purpose of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis had been to assure the solidarity of most of Latin America with the United States, it could hardly have found a better way than by bringing war to the United States.
Profoundly shocked by the perfidy of the Japanese attack, and awakened to the terrible reality of the war and their own peril, most Latin Americans now saw the crisis in full light. This was particularly