Wednesday, March 11, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty-four years ago today, March 11, 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked Congress to appropriate $500 million to promote economic development, social progress and political freedom in Latin America.  

The ten year program, called the Alliance for Progress, was designed to assist the people of Latin America to...

"build a hemisphere where all men can hope for a suitable standard of living and all can live out their lives in dignity and freedom."

President Kennedy's proposal made good on the pledge made in his Inaugural Address...

"to convert our good words into good assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty."

The Kennedy administration hoped to reverse the steadily deteriorating relations in the 1950s between the United States and Latin America. 

Cuban president Fidel Castro,  whose communist dictatorship was not included in the Alliance, was, not surprisingly, unimpressed by the proposal. 

Castro said:

"We'll see whether the conscience of Latin America can be bought for $500 million....or whether, as we contend, it cannot be bought at any price."

According to the JFK Library, the Alliance for Progress was "the largest United States aid program created for the developing world."

The Library acknowledges that the program failed to achieve many of its goals, but it "supported the construction of housing, schools, airports, hospitals, clinics and water-purification projects as well as the distribution of free textbooks to students."


"Alliance for Progress (Alianza para el Progreso),"

"Looking Back:  The Alliance for Progress and Its Legacy," by Lauren Monsen,

C. Douglas Dillon, JFK & the
Delegation of the Inter-American
Economic & Social Conference
August 19, 1961
Photo by Robert L. Knudsen
JFK Library Image