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tv   Truman Administration and Latin America  CSPAN  September 30, 2017 9:13pm-9:59pm EDT

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both of them will go on. as a kind of detached observer, i like to sit back and watch the civil war carnival unfold as it always does, kind of in waves. but it always does. here is what i want. here's the main thing that i want, and i know this is going to happen because some of you down the road, when you're much older, you know, mid-20's, you're going to sit down in front of your computers or you probably text by then and admit to me that you have either been to a battlefield or read something that made you think about hius 3072. and if that happens, my heart will soar. i love to think that some of you -- now, many of you are going to be unscarred either that way by this class. some of you, as i've said
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before, i don't think even a week's counseling even in the , but cases here in 3072 some of you are actually going to go out of here and stay in touch with the civil war. and i consider that a spectacular success. and you only papers, you know when. i'm looking for them. go write them. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer 1: join us every saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern as we join students in college classrooms to hear lectures ranging from the american revolution to 9/11. lectures in history are also available as podcasts. visit our website,
9:15 pm, or download them from itunes. announcer 2: next on "the latin americantin expert stephen rabe talks about the successes and disappointments of harry truman's policies in that region. the truman little white house hosted this event, part of the 15th annual symposium, which this year is titled "harry truman's legacy toward latin and south america." this is 40 minutes. hello, happy to be here. i thank everyone for arranging this. what we have decided to do is each introduce ourselves for the three panelists. i will take a little bit about myself and help you understand what we are going to do here today. my name is stephen rabe, and my
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research specialty is u.s. relations with latin america. i have done a variety of books on this. i've never done abook about truman and latin america. in fact there are no is real book -- there is no real book about truman and latin america. i have done a couple of articles of truman and latin america. i have done books on jfk and latin america and eisenhower and latin america. i have been a general study of the cold war relations in latin america. i've had the honor and privilege during my life to teach abroad. i have taught in 20 different countries, and in particular i have talked many times in argentina. i have taught in brazil, i've taught in ecuador, and i've taught in colombia. that will inform i talk here because i will look at truman and latin america in the way a latin american would look at it. i will go over some of the same material that ray did, but
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perhaps look at it for more of a latin american perspective. if you were to ask an educated latin american citizen, a latin american citizen who had a sense of history, if you were to ask them, what do you think of harry truman and latin america? you would probably pretty much draw a blank in terms of that particular question. truman does not have among latin americans a strong presence. if you mention the word harry truman, what a latin american citizen with a sense of history -- they would immediately bring up the marshall plan, which is probably the most successful u.s. foreign-policy ever. certainly an educated latin american would bring up nato. and certainly that person would bring up -- they would applaud truman's decision to resist north korean aggression in june 1940. but truman and latin america, not much response would follow. by comparison by comparison, , most latin americans would bring of many of the 20th
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century democratic presidents, as we already heard. franklin roosevelt, the good neighbor policy. virtually every latin american major city has a boulevard named after president roosevelt. john kennedy, the catholic president, the alliance for progress. you would not be hard-pressed, much as in the united states, to still find in the homes of latin americans a portrait of john f. kennedy, much as you would in the united states. jimmy carter, numero uno, perceived as a saint in latin america. carter is, of course he is human rights policy, actually save the lives of many including argentina. and he pushed through the panama canal treaty. bill clinton has a good deal of respect in latin america. he pushed through nafta, the free trade association, agreement of trade free trade , between the united states and mexico. planlso he initiated
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colombia, that basically rescued colombia. most americans don't know we have been giving money to colombia every year since 1999 and that has transformed the country into a peaceful and prosperous place. barack obama, wildly popular in color inpeople of latin america. pushed free trade agreements others,ombia and respected for normalizing relations with cuba. and obama perhaps received the highest honor a u.s. leader could ever receive in latin america. president obama was at a state dinner in argentina in 20 -- in in buenos aires, and the world's 2008 greatest tango dancer asked him to tango with her. if you have ever seen the tape of it the president did do very , well, which would have been one of his most challenging experiences tangoing with her.
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to be sure, not all latin americans would want to dance with democratic presidents. mexicans of course would announce woodrow wilson for dispatching general pershing in 1916 into mexico trying to chase down pancho villa. and any discussion of lyndon johnson in latin america, you would probably never get beyond vietnam. if you talk about foreign policy, it gets knocked out. but again if latin americans , tend to think favorably of democratic presidents, and they do, why would president truman not be remembered by most latin americans? at least, not have a real historical consciousness in latin america? in my judgment, president truman seems obscure in the history of latin american relations, especially as perceived by latin americans, because he is a transitional figure. he served as president between
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the seemingly happy time of the good neighbor policy and the cold war era of anti-communism and covert intervention in latin america. put another way, the united states emerged from world war ii as the world's dominant power, with global ambitions and responsibilities. regional concerns like relations with latin america would be subordinated to the larger task of rebuilding europe and japan and containing the soviet union. prior to 1940, particularly from 1933 to 1940, u.s. foreign-policy was focused on latin america. post 1945, latin america is perceived as not important in the global balance of power. they perceive thisperiod as a -- they tend to perceive this period as a period of when they were neglected. so let me briefly explain my -- by going back over some of the things that ray had spoken
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about and put them in the latin american perspective. now, the heart of sdr, franklin roosevelt's policy, was the nonintervention principle. no nation has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another nation for any reason whatsoever. beginning in 1933, the roosevelt administration renounced the policy of fdr's distant cousin teddy of overtly intervening in latin america or exercising international police power. between the time of the roosevelt corollary of 1904 and 1933, there were 34 u.s. -- 35 u.s. armed interventions throughout the caribbean region, long-term occupations of countries like nicaragua haiti, , and the dominican republic. the principle that no nation has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another nation for any reason whatsoever became the bedrock
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principle of american relations. beginning in 1933, the secretary of state and then president roosevelt announced the policy that the u.s. had no right to intervene overtly in the internal affairs of latin american nations, and the united states renounced the right of exercising international police power. and of course this became the major part of the las charter of 1948. but there were other parts to the good neighbor appreciated by latin america. the terrace policy had badly damaged american trait. -- trade. the 1930's.y 30% in the great depression in latin america was as devastating as it was in the united states. the roosevelt administration 's way of helping the united states and latin america initiated the reciprocal trade agreement act, basically
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congress was given power to conduct negotiations over trade deals. either congress could say yes to the deal or no to the deal. during the 1930's, united states struck a whole variety of trade deals with most latin american countries. it was basically a form of free-trade to revive prosperity. so that by the end of the 1930's, inter-american trait -- trade had recovered, and you could begin to see some of prosperity in latin america and the united dates. this expansion of trade was bolstered also by the establishment of the export-import bank, which gave latin americans short-term loans in order to purchase american goods. and, as the world order collapsed in asia and europe, the roosevelt administration decided as a matter of national security to promote economic development and economic diversification in latin america. latin americans wanted to escape their basic role as providing
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raw materials, primary food products, etc., to the developed world. so in 1940 for example, the united states granted brazil a $45 million credit to create the steel mill. it was the expansion of inter-american trade as well as the united states making at the end of the decade, and as the world order was collapsing, making a kind of commitment that the u.s. was committed to economic diversification of latin america, and that the united states was going to put money up to back this pledge. now the good neighbor policy really paid dividends through world war ii. the approach to transformation of the u.s. approach to let america was repaid during the war. each of the 18 latin american nations immediately declared war against the axis nations after pearl harbor. costa rica is proud that within hours of hearing of pearl harbor, they declared war against japan.
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16 of the 20 latin american nations permitted the united states to build military bases on their territory. brazil sent an expeditionary force to brazil -- to italy, and mexico sent an air squadron to the pacific. all forms of inter-american solidarity. the region also served as the arsenal for allied victory. the united states relied on latin america for vital raw materials like copper quartz and , zinc. venezuela provided the united kingdom with 80% of its oil imports, and basically if you look at the war that people carried out, facilitating the war during world war ii they , would say openly at the end of world war ii that latin america was the arsenal for allied victory. that is supplied the raw materials that helped the allied powers defeated the axis powers. but more important, the effect
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of wartime goals had an immediate and profound impact on political structures in latin america. the idealism inherent in the new deal the atlantic charter, , the four freedoms, and the united nations charter all contributed to political liberalization in latin america. democratic political leaders of -- be do santos tancourt of venezuela, and others admired president roosevelt. these are social reformers that said president roosevelt has brought the new deal to american people. we want a new deal for the latin american people. in 1940, only four of the 20 latin american countries could be called representative democracies that respected civil liberties. by 1946, only five of the latin
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american nations remained authoritarian states. so there is an enormous transformation, political transformation, a constitutional transformation in latin america during world war ii as the united states allied with latin america and the axis nations -- against the axis nations. now as we come to president truman in principle, president , truman and his key advisers like the secretary of state embrace the policies and spirit of the good neighbor. but the realities of international politics intruded upon inter-american relations. and here i want to make a major point. that if president roosevelt have been able to serve his fourth term and serve until until 1948, i think u.s. policies toward latin america would have changed in the same way it changed under president truman. given the realities of international politics in the postwar period.
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in the postwar period, latin americans were expected the united states will continue to center foreign policy on the western hemisphere. article 51 of the united nations charter allowed for regional organizations. latin americans at the making of the united nations very much supported article 51 because it permitted regional alliances and from the latin american perspective, that would tie latin america and the united states closely together. as we heard early this morning, latin america and the united states joined in a military alliance and joined in a kind of political alliance with the organization of american states created in bogota in 1948. but in latin american minds, the real treaty and the oas were simply preparation for what they really wanted to focus on, what they wanted to be the key issue of inter-american relations. that would be an inter-american economic alliance.
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during the war, the united states -- during world war ii the united states had implied , that once the war was over, that the united states would support economic diversification and economic growth in latin america through economic aid. in particular, an economic conference was promised. there was going to be a political conference, which was the oas, a military conference, which was the rio treaty, but an economic conference also that would form an inter-american economic alliance. at that conference, latin americans hope to discuss commodity price stabilization, economic diversification, controls of foreign investment and a substantial economic aid. indeed to put words in the mouth, what they were thinkingabout was a marshall
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every year there is a different excuse why we can't have the conference this year. the united states had new challenges. the soviet union's domination of eastern europe. the greek civil war. the stagnation of western european economies and the collapse of chinese national forces. by comparison, the assessment of latin america was that let america was largely immune to soviet aggression. as the u.s. ambassador put it to the brazilian press, they asked him about the economic aid, when will it come, the u.s. ambassador put this to the press -- "the situation might be graphically represented as a case of smallpox in europe competing with a common cold in latin america." needless to say he could've chosen better words than that. then of course there was only so much money.
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the secretary of state tried to explain the political and economic reality why there would , be no marshall plan for latin america at bogota. he invited let americans to -- invited latin americans to trust in free-trade principles. latin americans would prosper once western europe and japan recovered and could resume regular trading patterns with europeans. marshall's speech was greeted by stony silence by latin american delegates. the reality is, there was only so much money. during the marshall plan years, the united states was contributing 2.7% of its gross national product to foreign aid. 2.7% of gnp was going to western europe and japan. we tend to think of ourselves as lady bountiful. the united states has been giving about 1/10 of 1% of the gnp to foreign aid the last
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three decades. the united nations asked wealthy nations to get 7/10 of 1%. during the truman administration, americans were digging deep. 2.7% of gnp went to rebuilding western europe and japan. there is only a certain amount of money. between 1946 and 1952, the united states would provide more economic assistance to belgium, a very small country, and luxembourg, about the size of this room. we were providing more money to belgium and luxembourg than to all of latin america combined. i would point out that from 1953 to 1961, we provided more economic aid to communist than to all of latin america. now, this denial of economic assistance had immediate regional ramification. the dreams of latin american
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democrats vanished. in 1948, military officers overthrew new, popular governments in peru and venezuela. elsewhere, the pace of change and reform slowed dramatically. without economic support, without u.s. economic support, the progressive governments that had come to power between 1940 and 1946 could not find the -- could not fund the promised social reform that would rule.mize constitutional as the mexican foreign minister put it, economic corporation was the one way to provide the only sound basis for hemispheric peace. there were immediate ramifications of the denial of economic assistance. i'm not suggesting that the truman administration had any other choice. there is only so much money. there was the issue of western europe.
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the denial of economic aid took its toll on inter-american relations. after chinese troops crossed the yellow river and attacked u.s. forces in late 1950, the secretary of state hastily convened a meeting with latin american foreign ministers and pleaded for military assistance, this was early 1951 in washington. this time, only colombia responded positively, sending a battalion of troops and a frigate to the korean theater. brazil in particular, the largest and most populist country that truman visited in 1947, deeply disappointed truman administration officials. they declined the u.s. request to send a division of troops to the korean theater. there would not be a repeat of the successful world war ii cooperation that saw the dispatch of a brazilian expeditionary force to italy. as the brazilian foreign
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minister observed, "brazil's present position would be different and our cooperation in the present emergency would probably be greater if washington had elaborated a recovery plan for latin america similar to the marshall plan for western europe." now, to be sure, the truman administration took no pleasure in what latin americans complained about. the word that would arise through 1960 was neglect. you are neglecting us. president truman and advisors understood the region was vital to u.s. prosperity. trade and investment with southern neighbors represented about 30% of u.s. total trade. u.s. direct investments in latin america amounted to about 4% of -- about 40% of u.s. direct investment around the world. u.s. oil companies had over $1 billion invested in venezuela in oil fields.
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up to about 1950, administration officials continued to speak the language of democracy, constitutionalism and human rights. the state department public we lamented the use of force in the aftermath of the overthrow of constitutional government in peru and venezuela, but as was pointed out this morning, united states adhere to the nonintervention principle. if authoritarian's overthrow democratic governments, the u.s. has no right to intervene. the administration was also loath to sign agreements with individual governments, knowing tyrants would simply use anti-communist agreements to repress their own population, labeling anybody who wanted change as a communist. knowing full well it would strike a responsive chord in the united states.
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the united states, they would sign anti-communist agreements, and the state department and truman administration generals would say this is just a ploy by right-wing dictators and family despots. by 1950, however, the truman administration began to perceive latin america in a slightly different way. the prism they were using was less regional and more global. interpreting events in latin america through the international . the soviets had successfully tested an atomic weapon. the communists had triumphed in china. shanghai scheck and his nationalist forces had retreated to taiwan. the u.s. forces have become at the end of 1950 stalemated.
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the global balance of power had seemingly turned against the united states. mccarthyism flourished in the fear of internal subversion begin to flourish within the united states. if you look at the national security papers, concrete threat perception to latin america had not changed. again, all of the varieties of assessments were that the soviet union posed no threat to latin america. nonetheless, the truman administration began to change its discourse when it came to latin america. the fear of an ascendant global communist conspiracy supplanted a commitment to democracy and social progress. not so much in action but more in words. we look at the papers, the memorandums of conversation, the national security analysis, you see more of interpreting latin america through a global prism. as we heard this morning the , assistant secretary of state
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for latin america openly speculated in a speech in 1950 whether the united states could adhere to the oas charter in the nonintervention principle. it was pointed out it was kind of a contradiction in collective defense and the nonintervention principle. suppose latin americans don't go along with the idea of collective defense? they would not if it finally does the nonintervention principle. george kennan made a famous tour of latin america. he hated everywhere he went. he hated the whole thing. he hated mexico city, caracas, lima, the whole thing. he was angry he had to meet with latin american foreign ministers and go through a variety of formal lunches and dinners, etc. he writes this really nasty review of latin american history and culture when he gets back.
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in this long memorandum, he then recommended that in the cold war, the united states should trust dictators more than democrats. the anti-communist dictators are ostensibly anti-communist dictators, whereas others would just parrot the anti-communist line. as was correctly pointed out, this thing was so inflammatory that it was put away in a safe. i will get to those reasons a second. in addition, the administration also pushed through congress in 1952 a $90 million military aid package for latin america. fears about the communist movement had overrode concerns the military aid would bolster authoritarian regimes and trigger a hemispheric arms race. during the period from 1945 until 1950, there has been talk of military aid for but that had
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been pretty much locked by the idea that if you give military arms to dictators, they will use the arms not to prevent threat from the soviet union they would , use the arms to repress their own population and was blocked. the one person that was not mentioned this morning we have to mention, the most formidable person in the state department and within the truman administration is secretary of state dean acheson. he would have none of that. secretary of state dean ashes and -- dean acheson through his entire life, he basically believed that no serious threat could ever come from latin america. he wasn't particularly interested in their affairs. he was an adherent of the non-interventionist principle. there was some talk about the addressing of free holdings in guatemala. he squashed that.
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he ordered george kennan's nasty memoranda to be put in a safe and not opened. it was gone for 25 years until it was inadvertently discovered. throughout his life, he also believe that latin america was not a threat united states. in 1961, he had a face-to-face with john kennedy and he was withering in his criticism about the bay of pigs in terms of john kennedy, saying that the operation should never have been approved. atchison believed the united states should defend western europe, the greatest threat would be from the soviet union. particularly defending west berlin. to conclude, during the 1952 presidential campaign, dwight eisenhower lambasted the truman administration for reneging on
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promises of economic aid. the truman administration had turned a good neighbor policy into a poor neighbor policy, he charged. eisenhower promised change. indeed change came, but not for the better, at least as perceived by latin america. the president and secretary of ruledjohn foster dulles the u.s. could not abide by the nonintervention principle. when i first discovered this in the documents, it was already -- it was all redacted. but if you look hard, you can find the drafted memorandums, the actual passage where the u.s. ruled it could not abide by the nonintervention principle. dulles also implicitly accepted george kennan's advice that in
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guest: -- that in the name of anti-communism, united states should ally with right-wing dictators like in cuba and venezuela. eisenhower and dulles also authorized the cia to destabilize the constitutional government in guatemala. the intervention proved catastrophic for guatemala, setting off a cycle of political violence that led to the deaths of 200,000 people and set a president for future cold war interventions in countries such as brazil, chile and nicaragua. dean acheson thought this intervention was asinine. , hehe previously year sought the intervention in iran was asinine. and those are still with us today in to return to the 2017. theme, perhaps truman
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is not well remembered in latin america because educated latin americans focus on the post truman years and what happened after 1952. with the repeated cold war interventions that brought such misery to the region. thank you for listening to me. [applause] >> i have told all of our students that they have to ask questions. >> hello again. you talked about how eisenhower later supported the memorandum implicitly after their response. however, if let's say, truman however happened to continue
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along the lines, once the dissolution of democratic governments in those countries, were they going to happen anyway even without covert intervention? stephen: there are several things here. one of the theses is that the lack of intervention may have caused the collapse of democratic society. that is a hypothetical that cannot be proven or disproven. i don't make the argument that transitioning from an authoritarian past -- it is always different. in terms of eisenhower, could you repeat the question? >> did eisenhower, in terms of expediting the transition to authoritarian government? stephen: john foster dulles is very different from dean addison. dulles takes a patronizing, condescending attitude toward latin americans. he tends to think that democracy and constitutionalism and human
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rights was not in the nature of things. i think if you pushed them hard, he would probably think it was pretty much written that let -- that latin americans were incapable of respect for human rights. prison eisenhower several times address the issue at national security council meetings and would simply reject that point of view. but the reality is the policy of united states in the 1950's was to ally with right-wing dictators in latin america. the highest award we can give to a foreign person is the legion of merit. we gave it to perez of venezuela and a dictator improve. the legion of merit said they were strong, anti-communist, etc. the legion of merit cited them for perfecting u.s. oil investments.
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if you were to give a list of presidents to latin americans, i notice in the last c-span list of presidents, dwight eisenhower was number five and truman was number six. how truman is below eisenhower, i don't know. but if you ask latin americans to list u.s. presidents in order, people such as eisenhower, richard nixon, ronald reagan, would be near the very bottom. many of the democrats that would return to power, such as in venezuela and costa rica, simply loathe john foster dulles and to a certain extent president eisenhower. they perceive not only a distance, but alliance with the dictators in the name of anti-communism. >> my question is, do you think that during the truman
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administration, in retrospect, do you think they made a mistake in not giving more economic aid to latin america, and also would it have helped prevent a lot of the future problems and dictatorships and things like that? stephen: you ask an excellent question. it is normally not a historian's duty to assign mistakes. i'm not critical of the lack of economic aid because there is only so much money. one would be hard-pressed to criticize the marshall plan. in my view, it is the most successful foreign policy the u.s. has pursued during the history of international relations. i don't think that is controversial. rebuilding western europe and japan was in the best interest of the united states and
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international security. there is very little doubt about that. again, from the latin american perspective, how they might see it. that's what a historian should do, how each side should see it. if you're in the field of international relations, and it you will see as tom and brad speaks, they have done enormous research in bolivia and columbia to get their perspective. it is important as a historian to explain how people perceive things. if you are a latin american, here is what they are saying. you're giving money to germany and japan, the enemies, and leaving your friends out. how can you do this? as you proceed through the 1950's and you are giving more money to communist yugoslavia than all of latin america, it rubs raw. i think the other part of the question, is probably true that if there was more economic assistance offered, it probably would've helped some of these young governments to survive.
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we can point to the alliance for progress, it certainly helped country such as venezuela solidify its constitutional role in the 1960's. i could certainly point to contemporary examples in columbia. i would not call it a mistake because i am not sure, given how the truman administration perceived world, given the need to defend western europe and rebuild western europe, given the obvious suffering in western europe, i don't know what other choice they had. mistake is too strong a word. when you are in power, you have to make difficult decisions. these are the decisions made. again, latin americans are very disappointed because they perceive this idea that if western europe and japan were rebuilt, you could sell more things to these societies. in the perspective, we will sell raw materials and food products, which will leave us in a dependent status, and they want to have economic diversification. it may be tragedy is a better word than mistake. and again, in the way faulting the truman administration for the choices they made. yes?
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>> during your speech, you said that during the korean conflict, we were devoting 2.7% to the marshall plan. then it went, what we were giving south america was very small. today, what percentage are we providing in foreign aid to south america? stephen: i couldn't give you the percentage, the amount of money is very small. we are still funding columbia, as best i know. when i was in columbia -- we've been giving them about $6
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billion, $7 billion since 1999 for security and economic development. so the central government could gain control of the entire country. in the last year or two of the obama administration, a significant aid package of several hundred million was prepared for central america, particularly honduras, guatemala and el salvador. the children were fleeing the country because of internal violence and showing up at the u.s. border. the idea was internal development might stem the flow of migration to the u.s. texas border by children and mothers. i think someone like secretary acheson might point out that the policy pursued in the 1980's in
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countries such as el salvador and guatemala, helped create the conditions that led to violence. >> hi. when you were discussing how they did not implement anything like a marshall plan in latin america, do you think truman would have thought that was more because latin america would not have posed a threat being neglected as europe would have, or because he agreed with his advisor that latin americans are unlikely to form strong democracies, and thus the money would not achieve its goal? stephen: a good question. you don't see the patronizing, kind of condescending attitude toward let america in the truman
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restriction. in the state department, they are still in view of the good neighbor policy and that there is hope for the future. you saw that in what was discussed this morning about .4, still a desire to help. there is a clear change in attitude in the eisenhower administration. they be not by eisenhower, but in the larger national security and state department. the decision is made on national security grounds. they are a threat. i think i saw in order of listing that latin america was listed as number 11 as being a threat to the united states or international instability. that areas such as western europe, asia, china, vietnam, etc. were all considered a higher priority. from a let american perspective, they were perceived as number one from 1933 into 1940, and
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somewhat through world war ii. then, from their perspective, they are being neglected. this kind of enormous enthusiasm you see in the rio treaty, in oas, falls flat. thank you very much. [applause] a.m.ncer: sunday at 10:00 eastern, former president bill clinton delivers the keynote adjust at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the integration of little rock central high school in arkansas. also participating in the event in the school auditorium are eight of the little rock nine, the first african-american students to attend the school in 1957. here is a preview. clinton: we face an emotional question, a question
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of the heart and the mind, today. do you really believe in the legacy of the little rock nine? are you really grateful? if you are a parent or grandparent, can't you imagine how their parents felt? the first day they set out? the last memory i have of the not,reunion, believe it or i was glad that the most important thing i had to do was to hold a door open so that the world could see the reality of the symbolic message o was. i realized that when i got


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