FEBRUARY 25, 1960
NEW YORK—President Eisenhower certainly began his tour of Latin-American countries under very auspicious circumstances in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a place where he could readily give praise because Governor Luis Munoz Marin has made extraordinary gains in the economic condition of the island.
The little incident of the reception where Munoz Marin's opposition was entertained must have been amusing to the Puerto Ricans themselves. Those who come to our country find our politics difficult to understand, but when we go to Latin-American countries we are apt to make even more mistakes, for their politics are as complicated as ours with a little extra emotionalism thrown in.
It was interesting to read that Cuba will be a candidate for membership in the Security Council of the United Nations. This probably will come up next autumn when the General Assembly meets. Undoubtedly Cuba will expect the support of the Soviet Union, and perhaps she will have it.
Premier Nikita Khrushchev has been touring in Asia and his preoccupation with modern machines led him to a show of complete indifference to the culture and art and hand skills in Java, which has been a pride of that country for many years.
The beautiful batik materials one can buy only in Java brought no praise from Mr. Khrushchev. He even refused a gift in his effort to show how important he felt the development of machine-made goods are in contrast to the slower, handmade products.
Of course, if one is so preoccupied in perfecting machinery to provide one's people with quantities of things that they presently lack, then, I suppose, it is natural to forget that back of nearly every good machine development there must lie a hand skill, for the designs and colors very often of machine-made goods depend for their attraction on the work done by the artists and artisans who for generations have developed the hand skills.
There have been hand skills in Russia but since the Revolution they have been sadly neglected, and the little incident in Java explains the reason why. It is a most difficult thing today to find distinctive handmade goods in the Soviet Union, but when the country is a little older I feel sure that Mr. Khrushchev himself will be looking for people who can develop the old hand skills that once existed in his country.
Mr. Khrushchev has been so very busy with the development of machines and the preoccupation of catching up machine-wise with the United States that he has not perhaps realized that being a somewhat older revolutionary product we have reached the point of appreciating the freedom and uniqueness of the artists' and the craftsmen's products.
But it will come in the Soviet Union, too. And the ancient civilizations of Asia, which may be jealous of certain mechanical advances in the newer countries, can afford to wait for the inevitable time when their art and their skills will be fully appreciated by the people of the Soviet Union and the people of the U.S. as they grow older and wiser.