FEBRUARY 29, 1960
NEW YORK—Brazil has given President Eisenhower the expected warm welcome, and he has repeated the promises made a very long time ago by a President named James Monroe. Nevertheless it is wise to remind the world again that North and South America are closely knit and that outside interference of the kind President Eisenhower termed "invasion, coercion or subversion" will not be tolerated.
At the moment, however, it is far more important in the four countries being visited by the President to consider economic conditions. This is the area where there could easily be infiltration of a kind which would not be considered "invasion, coercion or subversion." An article by Samuel Shapiro in this month's Reporter magazine reminds us of the things we ought to look into and which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be covered in such a trip as the President is now taking.
I am not in any way belittling the value of a goodwill tour. I think improving the atmosphere of the world is an important thing, and the President has proved that he can have a very great influence. Where the President cannot possibly hope to gain much information is in the field of practical economics, where our major emphasis must be placed if we are going to do anything that is to be of lasting value to the people of Latin America. Our neighbors to the south are proud people. They are not going to show visitors, even those who come merely as tourists, the poverty of their countries. Mr. Shapiro notes that South America is a continent "racked by disease, illiteracy and hunger." Quite evidently this could be remedied with wise technical assistance and investment capital handled honestly. Education could get a good start. Along with it could go surveys of each country's resources.
In fact the U. N., through Paul Hoffman's committee, is making some of these surveys at the present time. There are vast areas which have not yet been opened up or developed in each of the Latin American countries. If this development is done without exploitation but with a far-sighted vision into the future—where our own advantage as well as the advantage of the country may lie—we may be sure of cooperation, especially if we work in conjunction with the U. N.
Mr. Shapiro tells us that the President's brief trip to Latin America "gives us an opportunity to take stock of our policy in that part of the world, to assess what we have done well and what we have done ill. . . . In the long run we need them just as much as they need us."
It would be easy to use these trips of the President simply as a quieting influence, after which we could pat ourselves on the back and say, "How popular we are!" But if they are used as a real jumping-off place for study, understanding and increased cooperation, I think we can be sure of getting some very good results in the course of the next few years.