Operation Pan America


Pan America

Following Simon Bolivar's defeat of the Spanish in South America, he called for a conference of American Independent States.  The Congress of Panama1 took place in 1826 the outcome of which produced the 'Treaty of Union, League and Perpetual Confederation'.       

"The main objective of the pact, according to Article 2, was the collective defense of the sovereignty and independence of those nations against all attempts at foreign domination. More important than the treaty and the deliberations that led to it, however, is that Latin America proclaimed a spiritual union that went beyond distinctions of geography, language, religion, and race."   OAS Educational Portal, Introduction to the OAS, Guillermo Belt, June 20022


The first International Conference of American Republics3 was held in 1889 in Washington DC. 

"They also established the Commercial Bureau of the American Republics in Washington as the Union's secretariat, with the participation of 18 Western Hemisphere nations, including the United States. In 1910, the Commercial Bureau became the Pan American Union4, and American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $5 million to construct a permanent headquarters in Washington, DC, which is today the historic OAS building on 17th Street & Constitution Avenue, NW."

Following World War II, the International Conference of American Republics reconstituted themselves as the Organization of American States (OAS).  The OAS Charter was adopted in Bogota, Columbia on April 30, 1948.  The OAS Charter proclaims the organization to be a regional agency within the UN system.  [OAS Mission History5]


OAS Permanent Mission, Washington DC




            TIME Cover Feb. 13, 19568

In 1958, Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek wrote an “Aide Memoire” to the Governments of the other American States proposing a plan for economic and social aid to “solve the disease of under development6 for Latin American countries.  The plan came to be known as Operation Pan America7.

A. General definition: Operation Pan America is not an undertaking limited by time, with objectives to be attained in a short period; rather, it is a reorientation of hemispheric policy, intended to place Latin America, by a process of full appraisement, In a position to participate more effectively in the defense of the West, with a growing sense of Vitality and a greater development of its capacities. Thus, Operation Pan America is more than a mere program; it is an entire policy.


The Latin American Problem

"Under Eisenhower, Nixon made the vice presidency a visible and important office. Nixon chaired National Security Council meetings in the president's absence and undertook many goodwill tours of foreign countries in an effort to shore up support for American policies during the Cold War. On one such trip to Caracas, Venezuela, on May 13, 1958, protesters first spat on the vice president and Mrs. Nixon at the airport. Later that day, rioters assaulted Nixon's motorcade, injuring Venezuela's foreign minister and making Nixon realize that he might actually be killed. Nixon attracted international notice for his coolness in the face of anti-American demonstrations."  Nixon Archives9.

On July 11, 196010, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech11 (audio) on the Latin American problem and expression of support for Operation Pan America. 


Kennedy... Solidarity with Latin America?

In an Editorial Note on the U.S. State Department12 archive website on Foreign Relations, the Office of the Historian notes:

Senator John F. Kennedy made his first address on Latin American affairs at a Democratic Party dinner in San Juan, Puerto Rico on December 15, 1958. In that speech he expressed solidarity with the Latin American peoples in their efforts to oppose Communist subversion in the region, endorsed the creation of an Inter-American Development Bank, the establishment of commodity agreements, land reform in Latin America, and expanded cultural and educational ties between the Latin American nations and the United States.

In September 1960, Presidential candidate Kennedy sought to establish a Latin American policy that distanced him from the Eisenhower-Nixon administration's regional diplomacy while stating affirmatively his intentions for the hemisphere. On a campaign trip through Texas in September 1960, Kennedy aide Richard N. Goodwin was struck by the title of the magazine Alianza, a Spanish language periodical published in the United States, as the possible basis for a phrase to describe Kennedy's views on a new U.S. policy toward Latin America. Further consideration and refinement led Goodwin to coin the phrase Alianza para Progreso (later Alianza para el Progreso or Alliance for Progress in English). Kennedy used the phrase for the first time in public during a campaign speech in Tampa, Florida, on October 18.

* * * * *


Organization of the American States

Act of Bogota - September 13, 1960

The Act of Bogota13 is probably one of the most important resolutions you've never heard of before.  This Act essentially calls for American financing (transfers of wealth) and technical assistance for the people of Latin America - all within the "framework of Operation Pan America". 


John F. Kennedy: Latin America's American President

Alianza para el Progreso  

On March 13, 1961 Kennedy announced his Latin American agenda in an address at a reception for members of Congress and Latin American republics' diplomatic corps.   The JFK Library14 describes the event this way:

"In his speech the President proposes the establishment of The Alliance for Progress, a cooperative effort between the United States and Latin America to improve social, economic, and health conditions for millions of Latin Americans in need..."


Kennedy Proposal:  The Alliance for Progress – March 13, 196115

It is a great pleasure for Mrs. Kennedy and for me, for the Vice President and Mrs. Johnson, and for the Members of Congress, to welcome the Ambassadorial Corps of our Hemisphere, our long time friends, to the White House today. One hundred and thirty-nine years ago this week the United States, stirred by the heroic struggle of its fellow Americans, urged the independence and recognition of the new Latin American Republics. It was then, at the dawn of freedom throughout this hemisphere, that Bolivar spoke of his desire to see the Americas fashioned into the greatest region in the world, "greatest," he said, "not so much by virtue of her area and her wealth, as by her freedom and .her glory."

Never in the long history of our hemisphere has this dream been nearer to fulfillment, and never has it been in greater danger...

The genius of our scientists has given us the tools to bring abundance to our land, strength to our industry, and knowledge to our people. For the first time we have the capacity to strike off the remaining bonds of poverty and ignorance -- to free our people for the spiritual and intellectual fulfillment which has always been the goal of our civilization.

Yet at this very moment of maximum opportunity, we confront the same forces which have imperiled America throughout its history -- the alien forces which once again seek to impose the despotisms of the Old World on the people of the New.

I have asked you to come here today so that I might discuss these challenges and these dangers.

We meet together as firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization.
For this New World of ours is not a mere accident of geography. Our continents are bound together by a common history, the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle, the revolt from colonial rule. And our people share a common heritage, the quest for the dignity and the freedom of man.

The revolutions which gave us birth ignited, in the words of Thomas Paine, "a spark never to be extinguished." And across vast, turbulent continents these American ideals still stir man's struggle for national independence and individual freedom. But as we welcome the spread of the American revolution to other lands, we must also remember that our own struggle --
the revolution which began in Philadelphia in 1776, and in Caracas in 1811 -- is not yet finished. Our hemisphere's mission is not yet completed. For our unfulfilled task is to demonstrate to the entire world that man's unsatisfied aspiration for economic progress and social justice can best be achieved by free men working within a framework of democratic institutions. If we can do this in our own hemisphere, and for our own people, we may yet realize the prophecy of the great Mexican patriot, Benito Juarez, that "democracy is the destiny of future humanity."

As a citizen of the United States let me be the first to admit that
we North Americans have not always grasped the significance of this common mission, just as it is also true that many in your own countries have not fully understood the urgency of the need to lift people from poverty and ignorance and despair. But we must turn from these mistakes -- from the failures and the misunderstandings of the past to a future full of peril, but bright with hope.


Throughout Latin America, a continent rich in resources and in the spiritual and cultural achievements of its people, millions of men and women suffer the daily degradations of poverty and hunger. They lack decent shelter or protection from disease. Their children are deprived of the education or the jobs which are the gateway to a better life. And each day the problems grow more urgent. Population growth is outpacing economic growth -- low living standards are further endangered and discontent -- the discontent of a people who know that abundance and the tools of progress are at last within their reach -- that discontent is growing. In the words of Jose Figueres, "once dormant peoples are struggling upward toward the sun, toward a better life."

If we are to meet a problem so staggering in its dimensions, our approach must itself be equally bold -- an approach consistent with the majestic concept of Operation Pan America. Therefore I have called on all people of the hemisphere to join in a new Alliance for Progress -- Alianza para Progreso --a vast cooperative effort, unparalleled in magnitude and nobility of purpose, to satisfy the basic needs of the American people for homes, work and land, health and schools -- techo, trabajo y tierra, salud y escuela.


Kennedy then went on to list the ten points of his agenda for Latin America - all using American taxpayer money and resources.16  

April 14, 1961 - Remarks at the Protocolary Session of the Council of the Organization of American States17


May 17, 1961 -  Address before the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa18


Third, let us turn to the less-developed nations in the southern half of the globe-those who struggle to escape the bonds of mass misery which appeals to our hearts as well as to our hopes. Both your nation and mine have recognized our responsibilities to these new nations. Our people have given generously, if not always effectively. We could not do less. And now we must do more.

For our historic task in this embattled age is not merely to defend freedom. It is to extend its writ and strengthen its covenant-to peoples of different cultures and creeds and colors, whose policy or economic system may differ from ours, but whose desire to be free is no less fervent than our own.
Through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Development Assistance Group, we can pool our vast resources and skills, and make available the kind of long-term capital, planning and know-how without which these nations will never achieve independent and viable economies, and without which our efforts will be tragically wasted. I propose further that the OECD establish a Development Center, where citizens and officials, and students and professional men of the Atlantic area and the less-developed world can meet to study in common the problems of economic development.

If we in the Atlantic Community can more closely coordinate our own economic policies--and
certainly the OECD provides the framework if we but use it, and I hope that you will join as we are seeking to join to use it--then surely our potential economic resources are adequate to meet our responsibility.


A special meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council was held in Punta del Este Uruguay.  It began on August 5, 1961 and concluded on August 17, 1961 with the signing of a declaration and a charter by all members of the Organization of American states except Cuba.


Charter of Punta del Este - August 17, 196119
Establishing an Alliance for Progress Within the Framework of Operation Pan America

Title I. Objective of the Alliance for Progress

It is the purpose of the Alliance for Progress to enlist the full energies of the people and governments of the American republics in a great cooperative effort to accelerate the economic and social development of the participating countries of Latin America, so that they may achieve maximum levels of well-being, with equal opportunities for all, in democratic societies adapted to their own needs and desires.

1. To achieve in the participating Latin American countries a substantial and sustained growth of per capita income at a rate designed to attain, at the earliest possible date, levels of income capable of assuring self-sustaining development, and sufficient to make Latin American income levels constantly larger in relation to the levels of the more industrialized nations.

Title II. Economic and Social Development

Chapter I. Basic Requirements for Economic and Social Development

The American Republics recognize that to achieve the foregoing goals it will be necessary:


4. That the Latin American countries obtain sufficient external financial assistance, a substantial portion of which should be extended on flexible conditions with respect to periods and terms of repayment and forms of utilization, in order to supplement domestic capital formation and reinforce their import capacity...; and that, in support of well-conceived programs, which include the necessary structural reforms and measures for the mobilization of internal resources, a supply of capital from all external sources during the coming 10 years of at least 20 billion dollars be made available to the Latin American countries, with priority to the relatively less developed countries. The greater part of this sum should be in public funds.

5. That institutions in both the public and private sectors, including labor organizations, cooperatives, and commercial, industrial, and financial institutions, be strengthened and improved for the increasing and effective use of domestic resources, and that the social reforms necessary to permit a fair distribution of the fruits of economic and social progress be carried out.

Chapter II. National Development Programs


2. National development programs should incorporate self-help efforts directed to:

a. Improvement of human resources and widening of opportunities by raising general standards of education and health; improving and extending technical education and professional training with emphasis on science and technology; providing adequate remuneration for work performed, encouraging the talents of managers, entrepreneurs, and wage earners; providing more productive employment for underemployed manpower; establishing effective systems of labor relations, and procedures for consultation and collaboration among public authorities, employer associations, and labor organizations; promoting the establishment and expansion of local institutions for basic and applied research; and improving the standards of public administration.

b. Wider development and more efficient use of natural resources, especially those which are now idle or under-utilized, including measures for the processing of raw materials.

c. The strengthening of the agricultural base, progressively, extending the benefits of the land to those who work it, and ensuring in countries with Indian populations the integration of these populations into the economic, social, and cultural processes of modern life. To carry out these aims, measures should be adopted, among others, to establish or improve, as the case may be, the following services: extension, credit, technical assistance, agricultural research and mechanization; health and education; storage and distribution; cooperatives and farmers' associations; and community development...

Chapter IV. External Assistance in Support of National Development Programs

1. The economic and social development of Latin America will require a large amount of additional public and private financial assistance on the part of capital-exporting countries, including the members of the Development Assistance Group and international lending agencies. The measures provided for in the Act of Bogota and the new measures provided for in this Charter, are designed to create a framework within which such additional assistance can be provided and effectively utilized.

Chapter V. Organization and Procedures

1. In order to provide technical assistance for the formulation of development programs, as may be requested by participating nations, the Organization of American States, the Economic Commission for Latin America, and the Inter-American Development Bank will continue and strengthen their agreements for coordination in this field in order to have available a group of programming experts whose service can be used to facilitate the implementation of this Charter. The participating countries will also seek an intensification of technical assistance from the specialized agencies of the United Nations for the same purpose.

2. The Inter-American Economic and Social Council, on the joint nomination of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, will appoint a panel of nine high-level experts, exclusively on the basis of their experience, technical ability, and competence in the various aspects of economic and social development. The experts may be of any nationality, though if of Latin American origin an appropriate geographical distribution will be sought. They will be attached to the Inter-American Economic and Social Council, but will nevertheless enjoy complete autonomy in the performance of their duties. They may not hold any other remunerative position. The appointment of these experts will be for a period of three years, and may be renewed.

Title III. Economic Integration of Latin America

6. In the application of resources under the Alliance for Progress, special attention should be given not only to investments for multinational projects that will contribute to strengthening the integration process in all its aspects, but also to the necessary financing of industrial production, and to the growing expansion of trade in industrial products within Latin America.

7. In order to facilitate the participation of countries at a relatively lower stage of economic development in multinational Latin American economic cooperation programs, and in order to promote the balanced and harmonious development of the Latin American integration process, special attention should be given to the needs of these countries in the administration of financial resources provided under the Alliance for Progress, particularly in connection with infrastructure programs and the promotion of new lines of production.

8. The economic integration process implies a need for additional investment in various fields of economic activity and funds provided under the Alliance for Progress should cover these needs as well as those required for the financing of national development programs.

11. The promotion and coordination of transportation and communications systems is an effective way to accelerate the integration process. In order to counteract abusive practices in relation to freight rates and tariffs, it is advisable to encourage the establishment of multinational transport and communication enterprises in the Latin American countries, or to find other appropriate solutions.

The original texts shall be deposited in the archives of the Pan American Union, through the Secretary General of the Special Meeting, in order that certified copies may be sent to the Governments of the Member States of the Organization of American States.


Part 2 - Alliance for Progress:  Marshall Plan for Latin America


Vicky Davis
July 15, 2012


1.       Organization of American States, Secretariat for Political Affairs, Virtual Library of Inter-American Peace Initiatives, Chronological Index, The Congress of Panama, 1826, Treaty of Union  http://www.oas.org/sap/peacefund/VirtualLibrary/virtualLibrary.html#3

2.       Organization of the American States, Educational Portal of the Americas, Guillermo Belt, June 2002,  The Organization of the American States:  An Introduction http://www.educoas.org/Portal/docs/Belt_Paper_rev.pdf

3.       Internet Archive, Digitizing Sponsor and Book Contributor: Library of Congress, Call Number 6787385, International Union of American Republics (1901), http://archive.org/details/internationaluni00inte

4.       United States Permanent Mission to the Organization of American States, About the OAS, History Section, http://www.usoas.usmission.gov/history.html

5.       IBID.

6.       TIME Magazine, June 30, 1958, THE AMERICAS: Operation Pan America, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,891915,00.html

7.       Fordham University, Internet Modern History Sourcebook, Paul Halsall, July 1998, Operation Pan America, 1959, http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1958panamerica.html

8.       TIME Magazine, February 13, 1956, Cover Story, Brazil’s President Jascelino kubitschek, http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19560213,00.html

9.       Nixon Presidential Library, A Politician: The Vice President, http://nixon.archives.gov/thelife/apolitician/thevicepresident.php

10.   Past Daily website, events of days in history, Shoring Up Cracks – Ike on Latin America, July 11, 1960, http://pastdaily.com/2012/07/11/shoring-up-cracks-ike-on-latin-america-july-11-1960/

11.   Past Daily Wordpress files, recording, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, http://pastdaily.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/eisenhower-latin-america-policy-july-11-1960.mp3 Text of speech can be found at The American Presidency Project, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 228, The President’s News Conference at Newport, Rhode Island, July 11, 1990, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=11871

12.   U.S. State Department Archive, Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume XII, American Republics, Released by the Office of the Historian, Documents 1-24, Alliance for Progress, Editorial Note, http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xii/35147.htm

13.   Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library, The Avalon Project, Act of Bogota; September 13, 1960, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/intam08.asp

14.   John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, About the folder for the Address at White House reception for members of Congress and Latin American republics’ diplomatic corps, March 13, 1961, http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/JFKPOF-034-013.aspx

15.   IBID.  Audio recording and text of the Address, http://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Ready-Reference/JFK-Speeches/Address-at-a-White-House-Reception-for-Members-of-Congress-and-for-the-Diplomatic-Corps-of-the-Latin.aspx

16.   IBID.

17.   The American Presidency Project, John F. Kennedy, 122, Remarks at the Protocolary Session of the Council of the Organization of American States, April 14, 1961, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=8059

18.   IBID. 192, Address Before the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, May 17, 1961, (print format), http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=8136

19.   IBID. 13 – Yale, The Charter of Punta del Este, Establishing an Alliance for Progress Within the Framework of Framework of Operation Pan America; August 17, 1961, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/intam16.asp#1