Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC
Castro Calls for Vast Program of Economic Aid to Latin America

Enclosed are copies of the extemporaneous speech made by Cuban Premier
Fidel Castro on May 2, 1959, at the Committee of 21 conference in Buenos
Aires. Dr. Castro, speaking officially as chief of the Cuban delegation to
the conference, called on the United States to supply Latin America with 30
billion dollars of economic aid over a period of ten years. He said that
the people of Latin American have lost faith in international conferences
because they see no real accomplishment emanating therefrom and because the
actions taken at such conferences are but palliatives, not cures, for the
economic ills of the area.

Dr. Castro reviewed and interrelated the political and economic
problems of Latin America and emphasized that political instability is the
result, not the cause, of economic underdevelopment in the area. He
referred to the recent trend toward elimination of dictatorial governments
in Latin America as an "illusion" and warned that the existence of
constitutional regimes in several countries will be only temporary if
economic progress is not achieved.

Approaching the essence of his message, Dr. Castro outlined three
possible methods for achieving economic growth in Latin America: national
savings, private capital investments and foreign assistance with public
funds. He rejected the method of savings on the grounds that the
restrictions in the United States prevent Latin American countries from
exporting to that market in sufficient quantities to accumulate savings. He
said that if the United States and Canada removed all restrictions on the
importation of Latin American raw materials, and withdrew all subsidies
being paid to domestic producers of competing raw materials, the Latin
American countries could earn enough dollars to undertake their own
development. (In this section, it is not clear if Dr. Castro was speaking
for Cuba or for all of Latin America). He said that such a change would be
most difficult for the United States to effect and that he no illusions
about its possibilities.

Dr. Castro said the second alternative, private capital investment, is
no solution to the economic problems of Latin America, primarily because
private capital will seek the best "climate" and will tend to bypass those
countries where social conditions are most turbulent and where development
is most needed. He recommended encouraging the investment of capital by
national enterprises by making available to them credits which have been
secured from international credit agencies. While preferring investment by
national firms, he would not exclude international investors and would
offer them THE equal rights and guarantees.

Dr. Castro then concluded that the best method for inter-American
economics cooperation lay in governmental financial aid (financiamento
publico), which could be obtained only from the United States. He said
that technicians of the Cuban delegation had calculated that 30 billion
dollars were needed over a period of 10 years for the full economic
development of Latin America. He realized that such a program would mean
sacrifice for the American taxpayer, but noted that the latter had made
financial sacrifices before to assist Europe and the Middle East. He also
stated that this policy would be the easiest for the United States to
implement, much easier than eliminating restrictions against the
importation of Latin American products, and would redeem to the mutual
benefit of the United States and Latin America. In closing, Dr. Castro said
that he had found support for the proposed aid program in American public
opinion and referred to recent statements by three United States senators
which gave some support to his ideas in this regard.

Comments: Dr. Castro's one hour and 25 minute speech was eloquently
delivered and warmly received, with frequent applause which, at the end,
lasted some 5 to 10 minutes. According to la Prensa, the head of the
Brazilian delegation, Augusto Frederico Schmidt, was moved to applaud
vigorously and to exclaim: "you are defending perfectly the spirit of
operation Panamerica" when Dr. Castro stated that political instability in
Latin America is caused by economic underdevelopment. By the same report
the delegates of Nigaragua, Paraguay, Panama, and the Dominican Republic
are said to have received the speech in complete silence.