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101 490 



THE COMING EXPLOSION 

IN 
LATIN AMERICA 



Also by the author 
IMPATIENT GIANT: Hl China Today 



The Coining Explosion 

in 
Latin America 



BY GERALD CLARK 



DAVID McKAY COMPANY, INC. 
New York 



THE COMING EXPLOSION IN LATIN AMERICA 



COPYRIGHT 1962, 1963 BY GERALD CLARK 
AND' PUBLISHED' SIMULTANEOUSLY IN CANADA 
BY THE MUSSON BOOK COMPANY LTD., TORONTO 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce 

this book, or parts thereof, in any form, except for 

the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. 



LIBRAKY OP CONGRESS CATALOG CARD NUMBER! 63-13174 

MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 

VAN REES PRESS NEW YORK 



To my mother 



FOREWORD 



WE TEND TO ASSOCIATE the word revolution with Latin 
America since governments there are overthrown with greater 
frequency than in other parts of the world. However, revolu- 
tion has many meanings. For Europeans and North Ameri- 
cans the Industrial Revolution changed a pattern of life a 
century ago; in more modern times social structures have 
been altered by ideological upheavals. But the significance 
of fundamental change, in the relationship of man to man, 
has hardly been felt in Latin America. With the exceptions 
mainly of Mexico and Cuba, revolutions of a profound na- 
ture are unknown. 

This condition is now bound to end. Whether the first 
action will take place in the Peruvian Andes, where Indians 
exist in virtual peonage, or in the Northeast of Brazil, a 
starving land by itself, is impossible to foretell. Celso 
Furtado, a brilliant Brazilian economist, categorizes the 
Northeast now as in a pre-revolutionary state. If or more 
aptly, when it blows up, its echoes will make the Cuban 
experience fade into triviality. 

I started my trip with the intention of examining the 
broad forces at work in Latin America, subject by subject, 

vii 



rather than country by country. That is, I was primarily 
interested in common denominators, such as the mood of 
landless peasants, the role of armed forces whether in 
Argentina, Venezuela, or Nicaragua and the dynamism of 
students whose influence is far more meaningful than is 
usually understood in North America. 

Many other topics have come into this book. Obviously, 
in this context, a chapter or section was planned on Fidel 
Castro and the impact he has had on the rest of Latin Amer- 
ica. But in the writing of the book I found that Castro's 
name crept in almost from page one. It appears, it will be 
noted, not merely in a single chapter but throughout the 
book as a steady, almost pervasive reminder that Castro 
cannot be dismissed in a few pages. For Fidelismo has be- 
come the greatest single subject, the greatest single force 
in this society of 200 million people. 

The reason for the pervasiveness of Castro's name, and 
the movement he introduced, is not difficult to comprehend. 
Even taking into account obvious differences in the char- 
acter of twenty countries, in almost all there is a uniform, 
dominant pattern: massive poverty contrasted with ex- 
treme and exclusive wealth. There is also a new awareness 
that man is entitled to some degree of respect and security 
as his basic right. Therefore the word dignidad, the dignity 
of the human being in striving for what he believes to be 
justice, will occur almost as often as Fidelismo. For reasons 
set forth in the following pages, Fidelismo has an appeal 
where one of its parents, communism, failed to incite pres- 
sures of any substance. 

North Americans are inclined to regard the resolution of 
the Cuban missile crisis as a severe setback for Castro in the 
eyes of Latin Americans. Suddenly, it is argued, the man 
who was identified as a Cuban patriot, defying the mighty 
Yankees, turned out to be nothing more than the pawn of 
another great power, Russia; he was pushed to one side and 

viii 



ignominiously ignored by Khrushchev when it came to dis- 
mantling the bases in response to a firm demand by the 
United States. 

There is, of course, some validity in talking about a loss 
of prestige for Castro, but the question of degree must be 
considered. Castro's personal popularity in Latin America 
was on the decline even before there was evidence that he 
had allowed himself to become a tool in the cold war. I have 
quoted Latin Americans to show the reasons for this decline ; 
at the same time I have emphasized that even if Castro as 
an individual no longer has unlimited prestige abroad, it is 
the movement to which he has given his name that is im- 
portant. It will long outlast the man himself. 

For a brief moment, following the withdrawal of Soviet 
offensive missiles, it appeared that a rise in United States 
prestige might result in a little more borrowed time, crucial 
for any tranquil transformation in Latin America. "If a free 
society cannot help the many who are poor it can never 
save the few who are rich," President Kennedy has said. 
These words, wise and probably prophetic, underlie the 
philosophy of the Alliance for Progress. But the Cuban crisis 
has had little effect in converting "the few who are rich' 7 to 
the idea of hastening reforms, relinquishing parochial privi- 
leges, and moving with urgency. Wealthy Latin Americans 
have shown little more faith today than in the past; they 
continue to send money to the safekeeping of Swiss banks. 
Meanwhile, Washington is confronted with a growing de- 
mand to rescue countries from bankruptcy while Alliance 
funds are not getting down to the grass roots where they 
might stave off upheaval. 

The blame is not entirely on Latin- American shoulders. 
Partly it rests with North Americans who consider capi- 
talism, of the North American version, as the salvation for 
underdeveloped nations. To the masses in Latin America 
capitalism, if it is thought about at all, is linked with a 

ix 



closed, feudal, aristocratic society; for this is precisely what 
Latin- American capitalism has been in its refusal to evolve 
into modern forms. 

There are many people to whom I am indebted for help 
during a survey that embraced 50,000 miles of travel and 
brought me in close contact with peasants and presidents, 
generals and priests, Communists and conservatives, intel- 
lectuals and laborers, and other representatives of the eco- 
nomic, political, and social complex of the continent. I 
would like to make two specific acknowledgments. One is to 
the Berlitz instructors who, in a concentrated course of 
drilling, gave me a grasp of Spanish that enabled me to get 
by without total reliance on interpreters and so opened in- 
formal roads of contact that otherwise would have been lost. 
I would also like to express my appreciation to John G. 
McConnell, President of The Montreal Star, who gave me 
the encouragement to spend more than a year on this project. 

FEBRUARY, 1963. GERALD CLARK 



Contents 

Foreword vii 

CHAPTER 1 The Open Door of Tequendama .... 1 

2 Palace Revolts, Flour, Semantics .... 17 

3 Students and Intellectuals 48 

4 A Warning from Pliny 81 

5 Another White Cross and Vices .... 113 

6 The Frock and the Uniform 144 

X 7 Brasilia: Symbol in the Wilderness ... 183 

8 Fidelismo: The Protagonist 215 

9 The "Little" Republics 254 

10 In the Wake of Trujillo 277 

11 "The Stars Are Low Tonight" 308 

12 Alliance for Progress? 363 

Index 421 

xi 



The Open Door of Tequendama 



MANY, MANY CENTURIES AGO, a legend of the Chibcha Indians 
relates, a fierce storm raged across a fertile plateau of what is 
now known as the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. Greedy and 
heartless torrents drowned the crops of maize and potatoes, swept 
away huts, and destroyed man and beast alike. The flood waters 
continued to rise more and more, while the terrified and bewil- 
dered people fled to higher ground. From these isolated little 
islands in the Andes, the chanted prayers of the people, appealing 
to their gods for deliverance, sounded above the roar of the roiling 
waters. Suddenly, there appeared the god Bochica to rescue the 
doomed Chibchas. With his gold wand he struck hard on the 
mountains that dammed in the waters; and, all at once, while 
thunder punctuated the shrill chanting, the mountains parted. 
Desperately, the evil waters sought an outlet and swelled through 
the opening, plunging far down the mountainside. Thus were the 
people of the Chibchas, and their land, saved from total disaster. 
Today, not far from Bogota, the new capital established by white 
men, the wild and dramatic Tequendama Falls still plunge nearly 
five hundred feet to the river below, keeping alive the ancient 
Chibcha legend of Bochica and the flood. In Chibcha language 
Tequendama means "open door." 

SOME SIXTY MILES SOUTHEAST OF BOGOTA, sheltered quietly 
on the slopes of the Cordillera Oriental or eastern range of 

1 



the Andes, is the small community of Viota. The people who 
dwell there are descendants of the Chibchas. Like highland 
folk in the rest of Colombia and, for that matter, in Peru, 
Bolivia, and other countries they struggle with the soil for 
subsistence living, without benefit of education, proper nu- 
trition, or hygiene. Coffee is the main crop, and tilling the 
precipitous hillsides is difficult and dangerous. Both the cof- 
fee trees and the tall shade trees, usually banana palms, 
require constant attention. When the coffee cherries are 
bright red, the farmer's entire family, including children of 
six or seven years, select the ripest from dawn to sunset; the 
next day they return to pick those that have ripened in the 
meanwhile. The women cook meals over a wood fire and col- 
lect water from a spring or shallow well. The only lighting 
at night is from homemade tallow candles ; even during day- 
time, light seldom penetrates the windowless and airless 
adobe hovels. The dry mud walls of a hut are topped by a 
palm- thatched roof, but the floor is of bare earth, and pigs 
are able to wander inside from what resembles a vegetable 
patch. 

Under a system of peonage, which the early Spanish set- 
tlers introduced along with coffee cultivation, the high- 
landers grew to realize that the land of their forebears, a 
sedentary agricultural people, no longer belonged to them. 
Four landowners in the twentieth century, for instance, con- 
trolled the entire region around Viota and its population of 
20,000 men, women, and children. Viota, located in a valley 
of subtropical foliage, has a rather hot, unpleasant climate, 
and two of the landowners preferred the surroundings of 
Bogota, with its bracing altitude of 8,600 feet and luxury 
imports from Europe and the "United States. They left their 
fincas in the hands of salaried managers, who, in common 
with the other two plantation owners, paid a campesino 
thirty cents a day for his family's output of coffee. More- 
over, the campesino, or peasant, had to show, on demand, 

2 



an identity card issued by the landowner ; if he failed to have 
the card on him he forfeited his produce without compensa- 
tion. 

This was a degrading practice that involved more than 
economics alone; not only did it take from a man food for 
his children, but it also denied him the most fundamental of 
human rights, the freedom to move elsewhere. For, in an 
alliance of self-interest, no plantation boss would hire a peon 
belonging to a neighbor, and simple existence itself hovered 
around the identity card. It may be argued that illiterate 
and barely articulate peasants could hardly comprehend the 
symbolism of the identity card. The same was argued in 
another part of the world of which few of the Colombian 
Indians to this day have ever heard: South Africa. And yet 
an instinctive, universal urge to break loose from unwar- 
ranted abuse impelled the Africans of Sharpeville to make a 
bloody and massive demonstration in March of 1960. When 
I saw the men and women of Sharpeville they were still 
counting their dead but they were also heaping on bon- 
fires the hated passbooks, which, like their equivalents 7,000 
miles distant, tied them to overlords, robbed them of human 
dignity, and threatened to engulf them forever. 

Bochica reached South Africa later than he returned to 
the Valley of Viota, for the peones tore up their identity 
cards in the 1930's. Without realizing it, they were in the 
forefront of a movement that is sweeping through South 
America. It has a common root in South Africa and other 
countries that shriek of man's inhumanity to man. In some 
instances the movement has behind it organizers who are 
skilful, dedicated, and knowledgeable, but usually the move- 
ment springs from within, with spontaneity and suppressed 
fury. Viota, in its time, was rather exceptional. About thirty 
years ago an unheralded stranger from another district ar- 
rived and promised the campesinos some land and an end to 
the evil waters that were drowning them. Such is the irony 

3 



that no one I met could recall the name of the modern 
Bochica, but in fact he was a Communist organizer, and 
Viota had been chosen as a test ground for Communist 
advances. 

Cleverly led and agitated, the peasants and sharecroppers 
simply began squatting on their employers' fincas, gradually 
taking over some of the properties for themselves. National 
guardsmen were sent down by Bogota in an attempt to evict 
them; but vigilante groups had sealed off all entries to the 
area an easy feat when you see the cliffs and mountain 
passes and know that in those days there were only dirt 
paths, with no road wide enough for motorized vehicles. 
There was not much shooting, and so far as anyone can 
remember only two persons were killed, one a campesino, 
the other a soldier. That was the end of government action. 
Viota was left alone, like an inflamed but insignificant pim- 
ple that would vanish if ignored. 

Viota, however, refused to disappear from public atten- 
tion. The campesinos, under the guidance of the Red 
Bochica, proclaimed a new name for Viota: "Republic of 
Tequendama." The door opened onto a new vista, thousands 
of hectares of land that the old owners were once and for all 
compelled to vacate and that the campesinos now divided 
"legally," according to their definition. For, did not the 
freshly printed pieces of paper give them the titles to the 
land? The Republic of Tequendama also printed its own 
money and bonds, operated its own law courts, and started 
its own schools. The central government in Bogota was 
forced to concede to the rule of the hills, until, in 1954, it 
decided that the highlanders were sufficiently mellow to 
accept another change. Bogota built a paved road linking 
Viota with the outside; and, more importantly, it enacted 
a special land reform law that recognized the campesinos^ 
right to the land they had seized. 

Now, in 1962, driving through the onetime enclave of 

4 



communism in the heart of Colombia, I found it physically 
no different from other impoverished parts of Latin Amer- 
ica. Emaciated women scrubbed clothing in brooks that 
trickled down from the hilltops; and barefoot children, some 
of them with the bloated bellies of malnutrition, scampered, 
along with hogs, in and out of the adobe huts. What, then, 
had communism meant to them? When I asked this of an 
oldtimer, a man who had received two hectares, not quite 
five acres, in 1934, he rubbed his fingers over the gray stub- 
ble on his chin, appeared puzzled, and then shrugged his 
shoulders. I rephrased the question: "Who are the Com- 
munists?" 

"Ah," he murmured, a glint of recognition in his eyes. 
"The Communists? They were men who gave away land." 

This definition was confirmed by a young parish priest, 
Hector Osorio, who said : "The people of Viota do not under- 
stand, and have never understood, the meaning of com- 
munism. To them it was simply a thing that distributed land 
and allowed them to tear up their identity cards. This, I 
suppose, was enough for them to know." 

I drove along the primitive dirt road that goes high into 
the hills surrounding the town of Viota. And at one place 
I stopped because I was attracted by a crudely lettered sign 
on the side of the road. The sign, of cardboard, read: "Hel- 
sinki, Seat of the 8th World Festival of Youth for Peace 
and Friendship." It was nailed to the wall of a frame hut 
that, as I discovered, doubled as a soft-drink stand and 
home for a woman and her sixteen-year-old daughter. 

"Where/' I asked the girl, "did the sign come from?" 

She said that a man had ridden by on his burro and had 
stuck it there. Yes, she had seen him before, but not too 
often because he lived a good kilometer or two away. I asked 
if she knew what country Helsinki was in, and she shook her 
head. But why was the sign here? 

The mother now replied: "It is to show that poor people 

5 



are having a meeting so they can live better/' Under Com- 
munist auspices? The woman did not understand the word 
Communist. I asked the daughter if she had ever heard of 
Fidel Castro. 

"Yes," she said, "he is a courageous man." Where had she 
heard that? The man on the burro had said that, and he 
had read it in El Tiempo, the big Bogota newspaper. The 
girl could not read, and was, of course, unaware that El 
Tiempo was very distinctly anti-Castro. What country did 
Fidel Castro live in? The girl again moved her head in con- 
sternation. Peru, Colombia, Chile, Cuba? She simply did not 
know. 

"But he is a good man, is he not?" she said. 

This was fairly representative of the degree of political 
sophistication I found in Viota. There are still in the district 
a few Communist propagandists, such as the elusive man on 
the burro; and obviously some of their words have had an 
impact. Occasionally, too, an outdoor rally is called in order 
to incite people to vote for leftist candidates in municipal 
elections. But it is a listless, disinterested crowd that at- 
tends; and the majority of officeholders belong to the tradi- 
tional Liberal and Conservative parties of Colombia. Over 
the years the character of Viota has swung back to an older 
way of life, and the Communists have no real following. 

"The trouble," explained a man named Milciades Nova, 
"was that they tried to make the campesinos into Commu- 
nists, when the campesinos for many generations had been 
Liberals or Conservatives." This, however, was not the 
entire explanation, as Nova's own case history indicated. 
Milciades Nova had been one of the first to get a few hec- 
tares of land, and he admits that he once applied to himself 
the term "Communist." But later he sold part of his land- 
holdings in order to buy a grocery store a rather pathetic 
business with a few shelves of packaged cereal and row upon 
row of chewing gum. Two developments have marked 

6 



Nova's career. First, he no longer is in bondage to any estate 
owner, as he was in his youth. Second, and more signifi- 
cantly, he is now a tiny capitalist. Around Viota there are 
many other men who have manipulated the property that 
was handed them some thirty years ago, so that their direct 
interest in land goes beyond any conception of communism. 
If there is a message to the story of Viota, it is a quietly 
dramatic one. Communism's appeal is not on ideological but 
on practical grounds. If initially it offers land, it also offers 
hope for the future. But once the cravings for land and 
dignity are satisfied, the potential of communism is weak- 
ened. The IlBpiibliojcifTequendama, embracing only 20,000 
^^r' ' ' ^-~* * L , , r , j. ' " 

people/ disappeared when a central government finally rec- 
ognized its mood and needs. But such recognition is not 
being applied on a full scale in Colombia, nor in the rest of 
the continent. There are nearly 200,000,000 people in Latin 
America, and there will be many more Tequendamas. The 
question is whether the ending will be quite so simple as it 
was in Viota. 

In Brazil they are called javelas, in Argentina they are 
poblaciones callampas, in Colombia they are bohilas, in 
Venezuela they are ranches, in Peru they are barriadas, and 
they all mean the same: slums. One third to one half of the 
people in the principal cities of each of these countries live 
in a nightmare of depression and squalor unequaled even in 
Shanghai. 

El Monton (the heap) is an example of a barriada in 
Lima. Built atop an old garbage dump, it stretches perhaps 
a mile in each direction, and if you jab a stick anywhere 
beneath its sandy surface you will hit rusty tin cans, bottles, 
and other refuse deposited by Peruvians of generations past. 
El Monton is one of a dozen barriadas in and around Lima, 
and in them subsist 400,000 souls. Children, with festering 
sores on their bare legs, play in the exposed garbage; adults 

7 



forage through it, picking out bits of cardboard or strips of 
metal to patch their shanties. El Monton lies almost under 
the shadow of San Cristobal, the hill crowned with a cross 
of pilgrimage and affording a sweeping panorama of the 
capital. The early Spaniards who came in search of Inca gold 
selected a splendid site for the haven of their viceroys, for 
the Andean foothills creep toward the nearby sea, and the 
air is crisp and clean, so long as you avoid El Monton. This 
is easy enough to do; discreetly erected mud walls cut El 
Monton off from the view of casual visitors, and you can 
wander instead through Lima's old plazas with their hand- 
some colonial palaces or go out to the luxurious suburbs of 
Miraflores and San Isidro, there to see mansions so sump- 
tuous that they are rarely matched in Europe or in the afflu- 
ent United States. 

Still, it is not always possible even for the ricos, the 
wealthy residents of Lima, to forget El Monton. Occasional 
breezes carry with them the odor of decayed garbage, which 
eomes to the surface and mixes with the dry earth spillftig 
from the unpaved alleys and the excrement of the open sew- 
age. The gulf between rich and poor is never so wide that 
the stench is isolated completely. The walls help you shut 
your eyes to the haphazard jungle of paper shacks and the 
scrawny bodies of babies left untended by working mothers ; 
it is difficult to close your ears to the moans of older folk 
dying of malnutrition; but this can be achieved as you find 
distraction in the screeching of sea gulls that somehow seem 
to have wandered off course and found El Monton oppres- 
sive. However, you can never get rid of the fetor, the stink 
that clings to your clothing and makes you want to retch 
and rush to your shower and send everything quickly, imme- 
diately, to the cleaners or to the fire. 

Twenty-five thousand human beings are huddled in El 
Monton, yet in a fashion they boast an advantage over a 
similar district I saw 2,500 miles away in Recife, Northeast 

8 



Brazil. In Recife, where people live alongside a swamp, they 
must pay for their drinking water brought around by human 
carriers (one third of a cent a pail). But at least in El Mon- 
ton a few community water taps have been linked with the 
main city supply. Actually, it is not necessary to go as far 
afield as Recife to see a mass of supposedly city dwellers 
living in bestially primitive conditions, without benefit of 
water or light or any of the amenities taken for granted even 
in China's overcrowded centers. A few miles from El Mon- 
ton, on the outskirts of Lima, is Pampa de Comas, the 
largest of the barriadas, with a population of 80,000. Private 
vendors earn a sketchy livelihood selling water by the bar- 
rel; a fifty-gallon keg fetches four soles (sixteen cents), and 
a family will make this last for a week of drinking, cooking, 
and washing. 

Walking through the dirt lanes of Pampa de Comas, and 
watching the water vendors hauling their carts while they 
shrilly proclaimed the sustenance they had to offer, I could 
not but think back to Shanghai in 1958. At that time a Com- 
munist guide escorted me through some of the worst quar- 
ters, and I remember the pride with which he motioned 
toward the rows of freshly installed communal water taps 
at street corners. In a way it was pathetic to find that water 
could take on such a precious meaning, but the taps did 
point up the advances of New China; and the water was 
free of harmful bacteria, and free of cost. Squads of sanita- 
tion inspectors and students also taught the rudiments of 
child care, with such startling results that a team of visiting 
British physicians was able to report in The Lancet, the 
medical journal, that in eight years the infant mortality rate 
in Shanghai had been cut by two thirds, so that it now 
stood at about thirty per 1,000 births: not much higher than 
the British figure of twenty-five. In the Western Hemisphere 
slums of Lima half the children are dead before the age of 
one. 

9 



Pampa de Comas takes its name from the hacienda it 
faces just across the highway. This privately owned planta- 
tion, right on the city border, covers 4,000 acres and draws 
its labor from the convenient barriada. At daybreak the 
workers walk across the paved road, into fields of cotton and 
maize, and at night they trudge back into nothingness, the 
men enriched by seventy-two cents each for thirteen hours 
of labor, the women by thirty-six cents. Other haciendas 
extend forty kilometers, through the Valley of Chillon, to 
the sea; and the workers of Pampa de Comas spend sixteen 
cents daily on bus transportation to get there ; in all, there 
are six landowners, giving each an average farm five miles 
long and three miles wide. 

Some of the residents of Pampa de Comas, of course, seek 
employment in the city itself. Roberto Huapaya, aged 
thirty-five, earns $36 a month as a stonemason hired by con- 
struction firms for Lima's new skyscrapers and tourist 
hotels. A thin, rather wan individual, Roberto told me: "I 
came down from the mountains to escape starvation and 
to find work." The same motive, according to a survey by 
a Canadian Catholic mission, is given by eight out of ten 
of the menfolk in the barriada. Most of the migrants from 
the Andes are Indians or mestizos (half-breeds of part- 
Indian, part-European blood). And it is quite true, as the 
ricos argue defensively, that the migrants' living conditions 
and hopes for advancement are somewhat better in a bar- 
riada than they were in the rocky hills. It is equally true 
that huge and costly housing developments would be re- 
quired to match the influx into the city that has taken place 
in the last few years, and little has been done about this 
problem. 

What makes the Roberto Huapaya of the city different 
from the Roberto Huapaya of the highlands is not merely 
economics or physical betterment. Indeed, Roberto and his 
family have today a little more security than yesterday. For 

10 



instance, the Canadian church mission, composed of a priest 
and three nuns, runs a health clinic inside Pampa de Comas, 
so that Roberto's three surviving children (two died in in- 
fancy) can claim a greater than even chance of living beyond 
the age of forty-one, which is the life expectancy for the 
half-castes of Peru, and certainly in excess of the thirty- 
two years fated to the Andean Indians or the mulattoes 
of Brazil's shocking Northeast. 1 However, Roberto's real 
change is in his state of mind. "In the sierra" he said, "I was 
just one man. Now I am many men." 

What he meant was this : Isolated in the Andes, removed 
from the impact of communications and world forces, Rob- 
erto felt that the individual had no power. In the year since 
his arrival in Pampa de Comas he has become aware of 
group strength. Sometimes in the evenings he and his neigh- 
bors sit around a kerosene lantern and discuss the phenom- 
enon of what happens when men do band together. "In El 
Monton," Roberto recounted firmly, "they received taps for 
drinking water because they said they must have taps." 
(The residents of El Monton threatened to descend en 
masse on another open Lima site, where pipes were already 
laid, and to take over the land by squatting ; municipal au- 
thorities, to prevent what might have developed into an 
ugly event, agreed to install a few community taps in the 
barriada.) 

Roberto said : "We decided last night that we will demand 
water here, and electricity as well." I could not stay long 
enough to find out whether Roberto and his friends have had 
their demands accepted. The concessions, in any case, would 
not be significant, because even today there is no sense of 
urgency on the part of Peru's oligarchic rulers, partly be- 
cause of unbelievably stupid blindness, partly because men 
such as Roberto have not yet become drunk with the power 

1 Just two years more than life expectancy in Roman times. In the United 
States today it is seventy years. 

11 



they have suddenly discovered. There is a slow, slow fuse 
beginning to bum ; but Roberto, for one, still retains a kind 
of Indian stoicism and fatalism, which imply patience and 
resignation. 

And yet there is conflict within him, for he has been 
brought, for the first time, in contact with strange but some- 
what appealing ideas. Students from the University of San 
Marcos have, from week to week, dropped around to make 
studies of the people of Pampa de Comas, and told them, 
as Roberto relates it, "that socialism will bring us a better 
life." Roberto cannot describe socialism or communism. But, 
since there are a few radios in the barriada and there were 
none in the Andes he has finally heard of a man named 
Castro in a country called Cuba. "I have heard," he said to 
me, "that socialism in Cuba means liberation." 

The liberation he talks about is liberation from want ; for 
Roberto is starting to sense, according to the interpretation 
I gave his words, that abject poverty and indignity and 
hunger are not necessarily ordained. Somewhere in the re- 
mote outer world are men who have managed to evoke 
promises of more plentiful attainment if not for them- 
selves at least for their children. And Roberto, it must be 
remembered, has three children. The older son is twelve, and 
he works in the city as a messenger to help feed the family, 
Roberto's own wage of nine dollars a week does not pay 
fully for the beans and potatoes they eat regularly, with 
perhaps once a week a piece of fish, and for the barrels of 
water, the bus to town, and the rent of his hovel. Another 
highlander, who came down a few years ago, actually owns 
the hut. 

It is a one-room shack; the room, about twelve feet by 
eight feet, is used for cooking and sleeping and all purposes ; 
the walls are made of flattened tin containers; the stove in 
a corner is a pile of rocks cemented together. A crate serves 
as a table, and the only other furniture is a single bedstead, 

12 



without mattress, on which Roberto and his wife sleep. The 
children sleep on sacking, which covers the earthen floor. 
There are no windows in the hut; but another piece of 
coarse sacking, across the doorway, can be drawn open to 
let in air and let out smoke from the stove. Roberto's 
younger son, Carlos, who is seven years old, goes to school, 
a squat adobe structure with benches but no desks. If the 
pattern for the majority of Peruvian children holds true, 
Carlos will spend no more than one year in school, because 
after that he will be needed to earn money. The middle 
child, a girl of nine, spends her hours searching in the rubbish 
of the barriada for scraps of metal that can be sold to sal- 
vage dealers, or she simply idles in the dust and garbage. 

The stench lingers on your clothes and in your heart 
when you drive away from Pampa de Comas or El Monton. 
It is a short drive to San Isidro and the Country Club, and 
there you can inhale deeply and sit beside the immense pool 
and watch other children splash about eagerly and in ig- 
norance of Roberto Huapaya's children. An ingenious con- 
crete bridge spans one end of the pool, and tots, accom- 
panied by nannies in starched uniforms, clamber onto it. 
Or they sit at tables set with linen and silverware, dipping 
their manicured fingers into platters of cream cakes and 
other goodies. A stunning woman, attired in clinging vivid 
green slacks and a dramatic pink silk blouse, leads three 
magnificent Great Danes on a multiple leash ; as they cross 
the immaculate lawn, there are shrieks of delight from the 
children. 

In all Latin America there are similarly striking contrasts 
of wealth and poverty, of vulgar opulence in a sea of misery. 
The degree varies, as I saw, from Rio de Janeiro to Mana- 
gua, from Buenos Aires to Santo Domingo, from Caracas to 
Santiago; but the fundamentals are the same. Peru, how- 
ever, possibly stands out as a classic example of a country 
with the elements of revolution, having inherited the rigid 

13 



class structure of the old Inca Empire and the more recent 
tyrannies of Spain. It is said that no more than two dozen 
families control the wealth of a nation of twelve million; 
and, if this is a statistical inaccuracy, it is no exaggeration 
to say that 2 per cent from the rarefied upper strata are 
dominant; only a small middle class serves as a buffer be- 
tween it and the huge indigent class. 

In Lima I visited the home of a man who proudly showed 
me his art collection, including several paintings by Matisse 
and Picasso and one of the biggest assemblages of pri- 
vately held Inca gold objects in existence, worth between 
$5 million and $10 million. The early Spaniards, in their 
lustful looting of Inca temples and palaces, treasured golden 
masks and religious ornaments and golden breastplates, 
not for their beauty but for their material value. These pre- 
cious items were melted into bullion and shipped to Spain. 
Some, however, survived in the original form; and now my 
host ushered me through a hall filled with showcase after 
showcase of golden necklaces and armor, of goblets and 
figurines. Speaking of the present-day descendants of the 
Incas, he said: "They are human cattle." (This was a 
phrase I heard also in the Northeast of Brazil, in reference 
to the mulattoes, and in other areas where men of power 
described the serfs they commanded.) 

"Unfortunately," said my host, dryly, "we Peruvians were 
not born equal and never will be." 

He spoke of the Indians today as being better off than they 
ever were in the past, though he also admitted, as an ab- 
sentee landlord who owns a sugar plantation larger than all 
of Luxembourg, that they form a plentiful supply of cheap 
labor. I asked him what he thought of the feasibility of land 
reform. "Land reform," was the reply, "is big propaganda 
from Cuba and Russia. If we had land reform in Peru, we 
would grow less cotton and less sugar." 

But does not the United States, in speaking of the Alli- 

14 



ance for Progress, call for essential agrarian reform in South 
America? My host glanced through the window, into the 
spacious gardens below, and observed: "Much of the harm 
that is being done in South America today is the fault of 
North American news agencies, which use false figures, such 
as eighty dollars a year in Peru, to report on per capita 
income. This is nonsense, and dangerous." 2 

"Do you think/ 7 I asked, "that there might be a revolu- 
tion here?" 

"It could happen," he said, "because the masses are being 
propagandized by Cuba and Russia." 

This, as I learned in five months of travel through the 
continent, was a gravely oversimplified statement. Cuba and 
the Soviet Union are indeed active in spreading propa- 
ganda; but communism, as we understand it, is not the 
immediate curse. Communist parties in most Latin Ameri- 
can countries are small, disunited, and relatively powerless. 
There is no evidence that they are responding, or are even 
capable of doing so, to cunning master plans developed in 
the Kremlin and transmitted by push button. The situation 
would be perhaps easier to grasp, and more in keeping with 
our preconceived notions, if we could hear an omnipotent, 
remote voice saying : "Let there be a revolution tomorrow in 
Peru ... or in Chile ... or in Ecuador." The situation, in fact, 
is far more subtle than this, and therefore the more difficult 
to comprehend and to alter. 

In isolated hamlets in the Peruvian Andes half the Indians 
have never heard of Peru, much less of communism. And 
yet, like their cousins of Tequendama, they have moved in on 
farmland that they felt they should possess, have been shot 
at and killed by state police, and stubbornly managed to 
hold on to the land. In the Northeast of Brazil, where a 
cane cutter earns fifteen cents a day and pays twelve cents 
for a pound of black beans, there is chronic hunger. There 

2 In fact, the per capita income in Peru is $119 a year. 

15 



are also humble men unknown to the outside world, among 
them priests, teachers, lawyers, who have started to organize 
the region's twenty-five million Negroes and mulattoes in a 
primitive drive for human rights. I met the same kind of 
men in a score of countries. These men are not Communists ; 
in most cases their movements have sprung up spontane- 
ously. Their label should be "social reformers/ 7 But they will 
tell you, bluntly, that if the present order will not provide 
essential, rudimentary needs, then they will look to any 
promising system, whether it is called fascism, Fidelismo, or 
communism. 

This is the real danger. The United States government is 
well aware of it, and through the Alliance for Progress a 
superb but handicapped plan is willing to lavish billions 
of dollars on Latin America. No outpouring of generous 
wealth, however, will have any substantial meaning, or pen- 
etrate deeply enough, unless Latin America's own members 
of the aristocracy and oligarchy undergo a basic transforma- 
tion in mentality. The dilemma no longer is whether these 
men will change but whether there is time. 

In the old colonial center of Quito, Ecuador, I visited a 
famous cemetery filled with elaborate and expensive family 
vaults, ornate statuary, and chapels. This has none of the 
somber atmosphere expected in a cemetery, and in fact is 
a tourist attraction. Alongside it, and beyond the same main 
gate, is the burial ground for los pobres (the poor), as my 
guide, a student, pointed out. There the grass is untended, 
and the weeds almost hide the wooden crosses or simple 
stakes. "Even in death/' said my guide wryly, "life is differ- 
ent for the rich." 



16 



Palace Revolts, Flour, Semantics 



WHEN PRINCE PHILIP, the Duke of Edinburgh, made a 
tour of South America last year, he put his finger perhaps 
unwittingly but more likely with his well-known sense of 
deviltry on one of the continent's lesser though significant 
evils. Introduced to a Venezuelan farm-union leader, Philip 
stepped back and said, "Come now, you're not in agriculture : 
your hands are too soft." 

There is a disdain for manual labor inherited from the 
original Spanish noblemen, and prevalent today not only 
among the upper class but among those in the middle cate- 
gory who aspire to emulate or join their social and economic 
peers. In this respect, Latin America as a whole can claim 
a kinship with pre-Communist China; the old-style man- 
darins also frowned on any kind of toil that soiled the fingers. 

But other parallels are even more ominous. Lavish United 
States gifts of food for Chinese flood and drought victims, 
before 1949, often did not reach their intended recipients, 
ending instead on the black market. In 1960 the southern 
part of Chile suffered a disastrous earthquake that killed 
2,500 men, women, and children, and left tens of thousands 
homeless and without nourishment. Prompt loads of flour 

17 



and other essentials were airlifted from the United States. 
Long after, almost two years later, I was having dinner in 
the home of a foreign diplomat in Santiago, when his wife 
murmured to me: "You will enjoy these hot biscuits more, 
I am sure, than you would have the last batch." She ex- 
plained : Her cook was in the habit of ordering flour by the 
sack, and one day a shipment arrived with the stenciled 
exhortation that this was a gift from the United States of 
America and not for sale. In Latin- American terms, as for- 
merly in Chinese, this was far from an isolated example of 
relief supplies moving through corrupt official channels to 
commercial vendors. 

Another likeness is discouraging. In China, men of means 
transferred their funds to banks in Switzerland and the 
United States, denuding their homeland's economy and self- 
confidence, and contributing to Chiang Kai-shek's downfall. 
In Latin America today, despite massive United States dol- 
lar assistance and loans, the exodus of capital is greater than 
the inflow. At the same time, not a single Latin- American 
country makes it a criminal offense to evade income taxes. 

Behind much of Latin America's malaise is an egotistical 
philosophy introduced by the Portuguese and Spanish con- 
quistadores, an attitude of mind repugnant to present-day 
North Americans. North America once had its robber barons 
who lived on a greedy, irresponsible basis. Today, however, 
whether because of force of society or inner compulsion, 
there is a code of social responsibility: so-called "American 
capitalists" contribute to welfare agencies; their wives do 
volunteer work. This code of social responsibility is lacking 
in Latin America, which, while pushing into the industrial 
era, has yet to graduate morally into the twentieth century. 

Historians have an explanation for it; the sociologists 
rationalize about it. In almost every book I read before first 
visiting the region, I noted recurrent references to one at- 
tractive feature bequeathed by the Portuguese and Span- 

18 



iards : a lack of a color line. It is true that the majority of 
people are of mixed blood and that, in theory, hue of com- 
plexion is no restriction to advancement. But in practice, 
most of the men of influence, of the aristocracy, are "white" 
and make a point of preserving the family lineage by mar- 
rying women of the same eugenic and economic back- 
grounds. Brazil is often held up as an example of a country 
with an enlightened racial harmony, because the tones range 
from pure white to amarelinho (high yellow), caboclo 
(white-Indian), and cafuso (coffee-brown) to plain preto 
or black. But no preto ever considers walking up to the regis- 
tration desk of Rio's luxurious Copacabana Palace Hotel. 
On the Copacabana itself, the famous public beach that 
offers miles of free sand and sunshine, the tacit understand- 
ing is that no "white 77 man will deign to show himself after 
two-thirty in the afternoon ; that is the time for the descent 
of hordes of Negroes and mulattoes. In Rio I was told by a 
cynical but observant Brazilian : "A Negro washes the car, 
a mulatto chauffeur opens the door, and a white man steps 
inside." 

The historians are right about one thing. Latin America 
is sometimes unjustly condemned by North Americans who 
think of their own pioneers and fail to take into account a 
different ancestry and motive for settlement in the New 
World. The Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth to seek 
freedom of worship; and those who followed were prepared 
to work constructively and industriously, to shape a future 
on the land which they dug themselves. The conquistador 'es 
who arrived in Hispanic America were no less brave; they 
fought hostile forces, and tropical diseases, and difficult 
terrain unknown even to the early North American settlers 
(one has only to drive through the mountains of Mexico 
or Peru to marvel how Spanish soldiers, weighted by armor 
breastplates, were able to penetrate them). But here the 

19 



similarity ends. The Spanish conquerors came to wrest from 
the land, to pillage the treasure houses, and to ship their 
gains back to the Old World at the expense of the New. They, 
too, were motivated partly by religion : a zeal to evangelize, 
to spread Roman Catholicism beyond the shores of Europe. 
But the clergy who accompanied the nobility together 
formed the same wealthy upper classes as in Spain, and 
neither could be said to possess the ideals of liberalism find- 
ing shape among the Anglo-Saxons. 

The sixteenth-century traditions and values the Spaniards 
brought with them were already beginning to lead to decay 
and decrepitude in Spain itself. Spain had emerged trium- 
phantly from a long series of wars, but an idle nobility was 
fostering political disorder and living on administrative 
graft while others provided cheap labor. The essence of life 
was quick gain ; frequently it was through bad and corrupt 
government or despotic repression. Huge landed estates in 
Spain, latijundios, which concentrated farming and grazing 
in a few hands, held back the growth of a middle class and 
hindered economic development. Summing up this period, 
J. Fred Rippy 1 says: "Spanish contempt for manual toil, 
Spanish love of display and fondness for military adventure 
and official position, profoundly influenced the character 
and history of the colonies." 

Rippy argues that the record was not entirely negative; 
the Spaniards taught the Indians skills, built cities, and 
transplanted culture. It can also be argued, however, that 
they destroyed a thriving Inca civilization. Their main eco- 
nomic effort as they hacked their way up and down the 
Pacific coast was to search for the sacred lake of El Dorado 
(the Gilded One), the elusive Indian chieftain who was 
thought to throw gold objects into the waters. This quest 
could hardly be considered capital investment in more 

1 Latin America, A Modern History, The University of Michigan Press, 
1958. 

20 



lasting forms of production. The first Spaniard to record 
his sight of Cuzco, the great Inca capital, spoke not of In- 
dian achievement but of a city ablaze with gold. As a sam- 
ple, he reported he saw a "quadrangular building . . . meas- 
uring three hundred and fifty paces from corner to corner, 
entirely plated with gold; of these gold plates [we] took 
down seven hundred which together weighed five hundred 
pesos of gold " 

Failing to locate El Dorado himself, the Spaniards looked 
for large concentrations of subdued Indians who could be 
transformed into slave laborers. 2 Some of the Indians were 
forced down from the Andean plateaus to perish on tropical 
latijundios; others were pushed up from the coast to die as 
miners. In an incredibly short period, millions were dead, and 
the Spaniards wrecked one of the most elaborate agricul- 
tural organizations in history. The Inca highland empire 
had provided abundant support for twenty-five to thirty 
million people, largely through scientific strip contour farm- 
ing. An intricate network of warehouses kept food in reserve 
for times of drought or crop failures, so that while Indians 
may go hungry today, they had security and were amply 
fed five hundred years ago. 

The Incas did not know of the horse or the wheel, but 
communications were better then than they are in many 
parts of present-day Peru or Ecuador. Swift chasqui-cour- 
iers could run messages in relays between Quito and Cuzco, 
a distance of 1,250 miles at an altitude ranging between 
6,000 and 17,000 feet, in five days. Today in the Andes a 
letter between two similar points takes up to three weeks, 
if it is delivered at all. Under Inca engineers many types of 
chacas, or bridges suspension, pontoon, cantilever, of wood 
and rope spanned the deep ravines. The most noted was 

2 Meanwhile the Portuguese, whose first white settlers included criminals 
or unwilling conscripts, were importing African slaves into their more thinly 
populated territories on the Atlantic coast. 

21 



the fiber-cable structure over the formidable gorge and 
river of the Apurimac; it has entered literary history as The 
Bridge of San Luis Rey. Under the Spaniards the chacas 
were left in disrepair or used until they simply decomposed, 
and in a way the collapse of the bridge of San Luis Rey is 
symbolic of the whole wanton colonial period. 

Driving through hundreds of miles of the Peruvian val- 
leys, in the midst of what had once been a wonderland of 
agriculture, I could now see primitive instead of advanced 
Indians working on pathetically tiny individual plots or 
turning the soil in obscurity for the big landowners in the 
cities. At Macchu Picchu, the mountaintop sanctuary of 
the Inca rulers and probably the most awe-inspiring sight 
in South America, I looked down upon hanging gardens 
carved in the sharp hillsides; in the fifteenth century they 
were watered by aqueducts, to yield sara, or corn, and other 
crops. The feat of building Macchu Picchu high in the An- 
dean clouds was never matched by any material accom- 
plishment of the Spaniards. All up and down the Pacific 
coast it is the same story of senseless plunder and disinte- 
gration. 

What was the legacy of the Spaniards? Whenever I asked 
this question of Latin Americans, I was told almost invari- 
ably: "They left us a good language; that is all." There 
were, of course, grandsons and great-grandsons of the con- 
quistadores who revolted against Spain, but not necessarily 
because of social evils. Their fight was against an absolute 
monarchy that functioned through such institutions as the 
viceroyalty, the captaincy general, and the audencia (royal 
judiciary), and was far more despotic than any rule experi- 
enced by the thirteen English colonies to the north. Aside 
from any divergence in the character of the peoples in- 
volved, the big difference between the struggles in North 
America and Latin America was this: the thirteen English 
colonies finally united, after a period of political strife and 

22 



civil war, into a single and powerful nation. A smaller group 
of Spanish colonies, following their break from European 
control in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, showed 
anarchist tendencies, engaged in a r series of boundary dis- 
putes and wars among themselves, to emerge as a score of 
relatively small and weak nations. Only Portuguese Brazil, 
which had undergone a less rigorous colonial policy, man- 
aged to cling together as a unit. 

The leaders of the new states acted with far less self- 
assurance than the Founding Fathers of the United States. 
They had taken no part in political affairs during the cen- 
turies of viceregal dictates, and, with only a minor say in 
running municipalities, lacked experience in public adminis- 
tration. Only a small percentage of the inhabitants were of 
European descent ; the rest, who needed direction after gen- 
erations in serfdom or slavery, composed a heterogeneous and 
ragged collection of mestizos and Indians, Negroes, and 
mulattoes. In a milder fashion the plundering conquista- 
dores were replaced by another breed of exploiters, ambi- 
tious and impatient businessmen of Western Europe and 
the United States. This was the shape of Latin America. 

I was determined to explore the issues and aspirations of 
Latin America not as a North American, but, theoretically, 
as a Latin American might like to see his present problems 
and the reasons for them. Obviously, it is impossible for an 
alien to project himself with whole success into a foreign 
environment ; and, no matter how good the intentions, there 
are bound to be areas where understanding is not accom- 
panied by sympathy; there are inescapable times when a 
North American finds himself behaving and reacting like 
a North American. 

For example, what excuse can be laid at history's door 
for the callous attitude toward the waifs who wander the 
streets of Santiago and Bogota? There are hundreds of them, 

23 



homeless and parentless, who roam the cities by day and 
night in complete abandonment, misery, and dirt. Like 
stray cats, boys and girls of six years and upward forage 
through dumps or sniff for scraps of food. In the traffic jams 
of rush hour they dart among the halted cars and wipe 
windshields in the hope of collecting a few centavos. In the 
night rain, half-naked and shivering, they stand outside 
theaters with hands outstretched. And then they retreat to 
their cardboard and tin shacks, or simply wrap themselves 
in newspapers and huddle in doorways for a few hours of 
sleep. In Bogota they are known disdainfully as gamins, 
though the purists in language prefer to call them pelafus- 
tanillos (little hoboes). "Look, fellow," said an el even -year- 
old, "everybody hates us, nobody wants to take care of us. 
The only thing we can do is to beg and be bothersome." 

In Santiago a North American resident told how she had 
seen a boy, possibly aged ten, prostrate in the gutter, ashen 
faced and gasping showing every appearance of grave ill- 
ness. She begged passers-by to help, but they ignored her 
and the boy. Finally she got hold of a policeman and asked 
him to call an ambulance. The policeman glanced at the boy, 
said that probably he did not possess a health card and 
therefore was not entitled to assistance, and anyway the 
likelihood was that he was going to die. The North American 
retreated, feeling helpless and bewildered and indignant. 

Shortly after hearing of this episode, I went to LAN 
Chilean Airlines to pick up a ticket for La Paz. The girl 
behind the counter said that I could not claim my reserva- 
tion until I produced a vaccination certificate ; so I returned 
to my hotel to hunt for it. The girl explained that the air- 
line might be heavily fined if documents were not absolutely 
in order. 

I cited this incident several times in my travels to point 
out to Latin Americans what I considered odd values; a boy 
could be left to die, but on the other hand there had to be 

24 



adherence to inconsequential regulations. The response var- 
ied, depending on the position of the person with whom I 
was talking. Wealthier people, ricos, said the boy in the gut- 
ter was almost certainly pulling an act to arouse sympathy 
and gain a handout; reformers agreed that it was an exam- 
ple of what was wrong in Latin America, a need for proper 
social consciousness. Others merely shrugged their shoulders 
and said, "What could we do about it?" They had problems 
of their own. 

Underlying the attitude, however, is a disregard for hu- 
man life as we think of it in North America, unless the life 
is that of a family member. In this respect another parallel 
can be drawn with China, where honor, brothers, and cous- 
ins must be protected no matter what the sacrifice; other- 
wise, life is cheap. In Nicaragua I met a man whose brother 
had had six bullets pumped into him by a political foe. 
Miraculously he survived; but the would-be assassin, said 
the Nicaraguan with a sly grin, later was found butchered 
to death. "I, of course," he said with another knowing smile, 
"had nothing to do with it." 

In Rio de Janeiro one day, sitting in the back seat of a 
taxi, I saw a pedestrian struck by a car in the lane next to 
us ; the man was flung against our fender. The car that had 
hit him did not pause, and other vehicles simply swung past 
the crumpled form on the road. I shouted at my driver to 
halt. He picked up speed, instead, and later explained he 
did not want to be bothered by questions from the police. 
In Brazil, as in some other countries, the law says that the < 
first man on the scene of an accident is held responsible un- 
less he can prove his innocence. 

There are indeed strange values in this part of the world. 
Some of these values revolve around the word vivo, which 
means "shrewd" or "sharp." A Canadian, visiting the home 
of a prominent industrialist in Buenos Aires, was treated 
to a story: The Argentine's son Arturo, aged twelve, was 

25 



bicycling along the street one day with a friend when they 
spotted in the curbside what looked like a 500-peso bill. 
Arturo leaped off his bike, snatched up the object, crumpled 
and tossed it back contemptuously, and said to his friend: 
"It is only a scrap of paper." It was in fact a 500-peso bill. 
Later, when his friend had gone, Arturo returned to the spot 
and retrieved the money. 

The father proudly recounted the incident in front of his 
son, tapping the boy's forehead and commenting, "Vivo" 
The moral was that it was better to take a chance, and 
gamble that no one else would meanwhile stumble on the 
money, than to consider sharing. 

The main paradox of Latin America is this: the men who 
are expected to introduce basic reforms, members of the 
oligarchy and government in each country, would in the 
process be committing financial suicide. They go through 
the motions of saying that they accept United States re- 
quirements such as agrarian and income-tax reforms, and 
giving assurances that United States funds will not end in 
already heavily laden individual pockets, but in practice 
they conduct themselves much as in the past. Since 1945 
Brazil has had ninety-two land reform bills before its Con- 
gress; every one of the bills, including the most recent in 
response to the Alliance for Progress, has been killed by 
land-owning members of Congress. 

It is, admittedly, unreasonable to lump together all Latin 
America. Marked economic differences exist even within a 
single country. In Brazil's Northeast the fiagelados (those 
who are whipped) live off cactus in times of drought; but in 
the rich agricultural and industrial heartland of Sao Paulo 
millions of people have already crossed the subsistence 
threshold. Latin America cannot be considered even a geo- 
graphic unit, let alone a political one. It includes not only 
South America (with the exception of British Guiana, Suri- 
nam, and French Guiana) but also Mexico, which is part of 

26 



North America. It takes in all Central America, aside from 
British Honduras, and several of the Caribbean islands. In 
the process it spans every type of climate known to man. 
Elongated Chile, for instance, has deserts in the north and 
ice fields in the south. Sixteen of the twenty independent 
republics are situated entirely or mainly in the tropics, a 
point residents are quick to make when they talk of de- 
pressing heat, matted jungles, and pestilent insects that 
debilitate them and not North Americans. (In fact, how- 
ever, many of these states have large areas at invigorating 
high altitudes.) 

The term Latin America, or Hispanic America, alludes to 
the influence of Spain and Portugal, but even here there 
must be an exception : the language of Haiti is neither Span- 
ish nor Portuguese; it is French. And even where Spanish 
is spoken, as it is in eighteen of the countries, it not only 
differs widely from the Castilian of Spain but from the ver- 
sion used by a neighboring state. In the illiterate Andean 
lands of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru entire Indian and mes- 
tizo populations are unable even to speak the official tongue. 
About the only thing that can be said without qualification 
is that Latin America is big, covering one sixth of the earth's 
land surface. Brazil alone is almost as large as the United 
States ; Chile's border would stretch from New York to San 
Francisco; Bolivia is the size of Texas and California com- 
bined. 

The variety in physical shapes is accompanied by multi- 
plicity in human energy and sometimes in temperament. 
The half -literate cariocas of Rio de Janeiro, with a handsome 
beach at their elbows, are happy-go-lucky in the midst of 
political crises ; and if Brazil overextends herself, by assem- 
bling automobiles uneconomical^ or erecting Brasilia at 
the price of near-bankruptcy, so what? On the other hand, 
the people of Argentina, who are largely a cultured middle 
class of European origin, have managed to attain much the 

27 



same industrial production and per capita income as Canada 
of a generation ago. 

Brazilians and Argentines, rivals for a position of pre- 
eminence on the continent, speak loathingly of one another. 
Erudite Colombians, who are jealous of the more prosperous 
oil-endowed Venezuelans, say sneeringly : "Venezuelans fell 
out of trees into Cadillacs/' Paraguay and Bolivia as re- 
cently as 1935 fought a war that killed 100,000 of their 
young men and left their economies impoverished. Bolivia, 
while I was there, was still arguing this time with Chile 
over the rights to a waterway, the Lauca River ; the dispute 
set off street riots in La Paz and a break in diplomatic rela- 
tions. The disparities among Latin Americans, in many di- 
rections, are indeed noteworthy, as they themselves hasten 
to emphasize in trying to arouse a North American under- 
standing that each country is distinctive. 

And yet, despite the variations, some common denomina- 
tors are paramount, because they touch on explosive social 
problems in almost every one of the twenty republics. More 
than half of Latin Americans are chronically undernourished 
and hungry, and some of them live under conditions worse 
than any I saw in China a few years ago. Most people pos- 
sess nothing but their simple clothing (half the Brazilians 
have no shoes) and a decrepit chair or two; any hope of 
owning more is necessarily slight among human beings with 
a per capita income of only $280 a year. But even this figure 
is deceptive, since the statisticians divide among the many 
the billions of dollars owned by the few. At least half, and 
probably closer to two thirds, do not rank in the statistics 
as consumers at all; these are the men and women in the 
rural areas who exist on what they can grow on minuscule 
patches, and in the cities, on what they pick up in scrap 
heaps. 

Although 60 per cent of all Latin Americans are engaged 
in agriculture, the bulk of the arable soil three quarters of 

28 



it is owned by a landlord class numbering 2 per cent. Sim- 
ilarly, the mines, the oil fields, the utilities, when not under 
the control of foreign investors, are owned mostly by a thin 
layer of wealthy families. In essence, the feudal design created 
by the conquistadores persists, with minor modifications, 
to this day. Six out of every ten Latin Americas 
read or write (in Haiti, nine out of ten) and mos 
do not go beyond second grade in school. "Even if there 
was a classroom," said a harassed^ woman in Guatemala, 
"how could I send my daughter? She has no clothing to 



wear." 



If there are few schools, there are many tanks and guns 
and jet fighter planes. Some states spend half their budgets 
on the armed forces; Argentina got an aircraft carrier, so 
Brazil had to get one. "Our country is not in any danger of 
attack," said a Peruvian. "The real function ojQhe army, is 
to protect the oligarchy from the people." Peruvian officials 
argue that their soldiers are put to use building roads, and 
this only points up another glaring deficiency. All Latin 
America has a smaller network of highways than Prance 
alone; Bolivia has only a three-hundred-mile paved stretch, 
built with United States funds. Canada, with one tenth the 
population, boasts more cars than the whole of South Amer- 
ica. Brazil's tiny, ramshackle railway system runs over fewer 
miles than Belgium's; it operates on five different gauges, 
and most of the engines burn wood. 

South American reformers talk lustily of the immense 
wealth that lies inland for the taking, once communications 
are put in order. Great untapped reservoirs of energy are 
to be found in oil and hydroelectric power; the continent 
can claim the biggest storehouse of timber in the world, 
uncalculated deposits of virtually every chemical required 
by industry, of every metal, base or rare. It has at least three 
times as much fertile land, per head, as Asia. But the men 

29 



with money, in control, consider it far more agreeable to 
draft blueprints for a factory than to tackle the obstinate 
burden of an archaic and inefficient land-tenure system; it 
is less hazardous to manufacture textiles, or even refrigera- 
tors, than to venture into the uncertain and uncomfortable 
tropical belts where the real frontiers await opening. After 
all, in Sao Paulo or Caracas or Santiago you can make from 
24 to 36 per cent interest a year on your capital. 

Wealthy Brazilians and Venezuelans and Chileans say 
they must insist on a quick return for unreliable currency; 
and it is true that inflation sometimes cuts profits in half, 
leaving still an appreciable amount. In Chile the cost of 
living rose fourteenfold from 1953 to 1962; in Argentina 
ninefold. But why the inflation? In part it is because of cha- 
otic politics and planning, but it is also because governments 
refuse to enforce equitable tax measures that would affect 
their oligarchic members. 3 Some countries have simply 
printed more and more money to meet their needs. Even in 
those states that have succeeded in keeping their currency 
reasonably stable, the hangover from inflationary days 
lingers; the rich have yet to be convinced that it is patriotic 
or wise to invest in their nation's long-range development. 
If it comes to smaller yields they prefer the safety of banks 
abroad. 

Ironically, the ricos are afraid of the future because the 
same spiraling prices that have made them richer have made 
the poor poorer and spread more germs for social disorder. 
In the few weeks I was in Brazil, the cruzeiro dropped 30 
per cent in value. A night watchman spent one quarter of 
his wage merely getting to and from work. Bank clerks in 
Rio, few of whom were Communists or even sympathizers, 

3 In Venezuela in 1962 a man with a personal income of $100,000 paid 
$8,000 in taxes; in Canada or the United States he would have paid more 
than $50,000. 

30 



went on strike bearing placards : "Less whisky for the rich, 
more bread for the poor." 

In Bolivia's capital, La Paz, a local journalist arranged a 
midnight meeting for me with Mario Gutierrez, the leader 
of the rightist Falange Party. It was not exactly a cloak- 
and-dagger affair; but, since Gutierrez, a strident opponent 
of the government, had only two weeks previously returned 
from exile, he said he had to be careful. And so the rendez- 
vous was in the apartment of a third party, up some creaky 
stairs and through a darkened hallway. Gutierrez covered, 
in two hours, complaints ranging from the reform policies of 
President Paz Estenssoro to what he called the "Commu- 
nist" attitude of the United States in fostering reform ideas. 
At the end, he took a flashlight from his pocket. 

"I closed all the lights in my house," he explained, "be- 
cause this afternoon in Congress I said some nasty things 
about the government, and maybe someone is waiting to 
beat me up. It is better to enter unseen." Then, from his 
other pocket, Gutierrez extracted an automatic and tested 
the safety catch. 

The point about the story was not the quiet drama but 
the fact that a political enemy had indeed come back from 
banishment, and, although still a little uneasy, was able to 
function at all. Contrary to North American misconception, 
Latin- American politicians do not always execute their ri- 
vals, nor do they bear grudges. There is a great degree of 
sophistication involved, largely out of self -protection ; no 
political chief really knows today whether he will be out 
tomorrow. And the ground rules take this into account. 

General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla was a vain and despised 
dictator of Colombia; he was deposed on May 10, 1957, and 
promptly flew to the sanctuary of Spain. A year later, be- 
lieving he still had a following, Rojas returned to Bogota. 
A similar act in a European country just recovering from 

31 



the effects of a corrupt and brutal rule would have been 
considered foolish, at the least, and more likely suicidal. 
But Rojas was simply stripped of "political rights/ 7 which 
meant that he could not run for any office. Instead, in the 
1962 presidential contest, he actively campaigned on behalf 
of his former minister of the interior, who had also been 
chief of the hated secret police and, like Rojas, had experi- 
enced foreign asylum. Rojas' man lost, but Rojas received 
47,842 write-in votes, though they were invalid and he him- 
self could not vote. Such, to North American despair, are the 
caprices of Latin- American politics. 

Another dictator, Manuel Odrfa of Peru, outlawed the 
country's strongest party, APRA, among whose noted dis- 
ciples was Dr. Luis Alberto Sanchez. While in forced seclu- 
sion in Chile, Sanchez received word of his father's death 
in Lima. He telegraphed the Peruvian minister of the in- 
terior for permission to return home for the funeral. Twen- 
ty-four hours later the minister, a first cousin, wired back : 
"Obviously there is not enough time now for your return. 
Deepest sympathy and best regards." In telling me of this 
incident, Dr. Sanchez, who became rector again of the ven- 
erable University of San Marcos in a change of government, 
said: "I carry no enmity. I see Odrla, and even my cousin, 
quite often socially. We like to think we are civilized in 
Peru." 

Semantics, quite obviously, take on distinctive vagaries 
in Latin America, and this applies to several phases of 
political and social life. One of the first diplomats I met, 
a Pole, said: "The best advice I can give you is to forget all 
the definitions that obtain in other parts of the world, such 
as 'right wing 7 or left wing.' " This, as I soon discovered, 
was shrewd counsel. There is in our sense no methodical way 
of placing a label on ideological elements in Latin America, 
nor on loyalties. 

Oswaldo Filho threw many alleged Communists in jail 

32 



when he was chief of police in Recife a few years ago. Later, 
as a congressman representing this principal city in Brazil's 
Northeast, he began preaching radical reforms. Asked why 
he now talked like the men he once imprisoned, he grinned 
and replied: "I've grown up." The inconsistency may be 
attributed to expediency, but it^may also be nothing more 
than a revision of definitions. Early in 1961 a Brazilian cab- 
inet minister assured a North American envoy that com- 
munism was no threat in Brazil; what he feared more, he 
said, were upheavals in Paraguay, Uruguay, or British Gui- 
ana which could sweep across the border and infect Brazil. 
Six months later, during the crisis caused by the unexpected 
resignation of President Janio Quadros, the same minister 
talked tremulously of government offices "riddled with Com- 
munists." Stated simply, a man who is against what you 
stand for is often a "Communist," or, conversely, an "im-\^ 
perialist reactionary." In each case he may be, by our terms ( 
of reference, a genuine liberal; but this does not matter. ; 
Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, head of the left wing of Colom- ^ 
bia's Liberal Party, put it this way: "Our wealthy class does 
not really understand what communism means. If the maid 
walks off with the silver, they say she is a Communist. In 
the same way, 90 per cent of the people of Latin America 
haven't the slightest idea of what the United States means 
by capitalism, or at least the kind that exists in the United 
States. To them, from experience with their own capitalists 
and some North Americans, the word just stands for exploi- 
tation." One must even be careful with the use of "national- 
ize." In North America or Europe the expression usually 
connotes a public takeover of industries or utilities. A Latin 
American who talks about "nationalization" often signifies 
he is in favor only of controlling foreign holdings in his 
country, not domestic. Thus a "nationalist" in Brazil is 
neither a socialist nor a rabid fanatic but someone who be- 

33 



lieves that the billion-dollar Canadian-owned Brazilian 
Traction Company should be made purely Brazilian. 

The word democrada is also misleading and is covered by 
sham and a fagade. Aside from Paraguay, all South Ameri- 
can countries are supposed to be democracies. But in Brazil 
there are only twelve million eligible voters in an adult 
population of more than thirty-five million; the others are 
barred because of literacy tests and various devices deliber- 
ately invoked by upper echelons to keep their own com- 
mand secure. In Chile, voters are required to register four 
months in advance of an election. Some fundo owners who 
disapprove of their laborers 7 political leanings do not give 
them the necessary time off for registration; other people 
are penalized when they move from the countryside to the 
cities in search of jobs. The result is that in a nation that is 
considered one of the most advanced politically in Latin 
America, some 30 per cent of Chileans are disfranchised. 

It can be argued, of course, that elections in our sense are 
meaningless anyway, since governments are replaced more 
by military coups than they are by the electorate. Even the 
Spanish word revolution has nothing of the English impli- 
cation of fundamental change. With the exception of Mex- 
ico, which started its social transformation a half century 
ago, Bolivia which began in 1952, and, more recently, Cuba, 
the revolutions that have taken place in Latin America have 
been political rather than benevolent or ideological. Mostly 
/they are "palace revolts 7 ' or "barracks rebellions" or other 
^mutinies which involve changes in personnel and not 
j changes in beliefs or values. The switch is carried out en- 
' tirely within the existing system. Tiny Ecuador, for in- 
\ stance, has had some thirty presidents and ruling juntas in 
\ the last twenty-five years, but has yet to demonstrate a 
capacity to change the old order. 

One group moves out, another group moves in, and with 
constant repetition of .the process it is not surprising that 

34 



government stability is rare. And, since Latin Americans are 
prone to nepotism, massive shifts in the civil service some- 
times accompany alterations in leadership. Relatives as 
well as supporters must be given jobs. But again it is an 
error to think of a "civil service" in North American or 
European terms. France averaged a new government every 
six months for several years after World War II, but the 
state apparatus was so ingrained, public administration had 
so impressed its characteristics on the whole structure of the 
country, that dislocations were slight. The strength of 
France is that it is able to survive one crisis after another 
because of its permanent civil service. In Latin America 
generally the army is the only agency with any sort of con- 
tinuity. 

One inevitable result is waste and inefficiency. A United 
Nations expert, sent to Colombia to help streamline gov- 
ernment office operations, reports that staffs are about half 
as productive as their North American counterparts. The 
poor quality of work begins with the selection; in Bogota 
each ministry hires its own people; there is no coordina- 
tion of standards or requirements through a central bureau. 
It ends in the cult that scorns "manual" labor; no stenog- '; 
rapher will dishonor herself by carrying a file from one side 
of the room to the other; this has to be done by a menial, a 
messenger. 

A lack of proper organization cuts into virtually every 
phase of Latin America's public administration. A Scotland 
Yard officer, on a tour to advise on police operations, told 
me of a simple but graphic example: Not a single South 
American country maintains a central bureau for criminal 
records. What happens, for instance, in Peru or Bolivia is 
that town and rural police keep their own records, but copies 
are not sent to the capitals. When a suspected criminal is ! 
picked up in Lima or La Paz there is no way of checking on " 
his past, short of despatching a message to scores of police 

35 



stations scattered through thousands of miles of hinterland. 

If the bureaucratic machine is inefficient, it is at any 
rate big, because of the custom of rewarding friends and 
relatives with sinecures. Argentina, a nation of twenty mil- 
lions, has 1.3 million government employees, largely the 
legacy of Per on. 4 Even Bolivia, despite attempts at reforms, 
has been unable to shake off the inordinate red tape of a 
civil service swollen out of all proportion to needs. In order 
to leave the country, I first had to go to a government de- 
partment in La Paz where one man glanced at my passport, 
handed it to a man at the next desk who entered my name 
in a ledger, and, in turn, gave it to a third man who stamped 
it : this aside from later airport formalities. Part of the ex- 
planation rests in the hard fact of life that wages are so low 
that a man must hold down two or even three jobs simul- 
taneously if he is to survive, and the state provides an easy 
outlet. 

This leads to the unavoidable question of corruption. If 
in La Paz your house is robbed, the police arrive and say: 
"Well, we have no car. If we had a car, or even a motorcycle, 
we might be able to chase the burglars. Would you care to 
make a contribution toward a motorcycle? 7 ' 

Asked about this hardly subtle form of extortion, an offi- 
cial replied: "What can you expect when a policeman 
doesn't earn enough to feed himself, let alone his wife and 
children?" 

Customs officers in most countries are so frugally com- 
pensated that they regard bribes not as indecent but as in- 
dispensable. A United States television team, arriving in 
Rio de Janeiro to film a program about Brazil, underwent 
a commonplace experience. The network had been assured 
by the Brazilian Embassy in Washington that since its cam- 
eras and equipment would be taken out of Brazil, there 

* Canada, with a slightly smaller population, has 440,000 federal and pro- 
vincial employees. 

36 



would, of course, be no entry duty. Customs men on the spot 
did not dispute this point; they simply said they would 
require "time" to examine the equipment to be certain it 
did not include any contraband. Ten days elapsed, and the 
examination still had not taken place ; every day of lost work 
was cutting into scheduled shooting and therefore repre- 
sented a financial loss. Finally, the North Americans tumbled 
to the rites; a bribe of one hundred dollars was slipped to 
a customs inspector, and the television crew drove smartly 
away with their cameras. 

Even when legal duties are called for and have been met, 
you still pay extra if you want prompt action. Some North 
American firms doing business in Argentina and Venezuela 
budget as high as 20 per cent of operating costs for neces- 
sary handouts; they figure this is cheaper than having sup- 
plies tied up in customs warehouses. But the big payoffs 
extend through cabinet ministers to presidents. While I 
was in one country, an indignant North American manu- 
facturer of machinery told me how a presidential aide had 
approached him for an additional 5 per cent kickback, after 
a government contract had been signed. "I guaranteed 
enough in advance/ 7 said the businessman; "I'll be damned 
if they get more now." Then, calming down, he said reluc- 
tantly, "I suppose if I want to do business in the future I'd 
better go along with them." 

The system works all the way up and down the line. I 
learned in Peru not to affix expensive stamps to airmail let- 
ters if I wanted to ensure delivery; underpaid postal clerks, 
who take their cue from higher officials, were likely to steal 
them (hotels provide meter machines for foreign guests). In 
Peru, universities collect part of their revenue from a special 
tax on imported Scotch whisky. Dr. Luis Alberto Sanchez 
estimates that ten times as much Scotch is consumed today 
as in 1946, when he was first rector of the University of San 
Marcos; but tax revenue is only about half as much. In 

37 



other words, the bulk of whisky, at a lower price than the 
official, is smuggled into the country. 

A Brazilian, whom I met at a cocktail party in Rio's fash- 
ionable Leblon district, openly traffics in contraband. His 
comment: "If an employee sees his boss engaged in smug- 
gling millions of cruzeiros' worth of stuff into the country, he 
won't report it to the authorities. He hopes one day to be 
in a similar position where he can make some easy money." 
The Brazilian was saying in effect that a sense of public 
responsibility is lacking not only at the top but at the bot- 
tom of the economic or social ladder. 

Smuggling began early on the continent; sixteenth-century 
seadogs and corsairs engaged in it as well as in piracy. By the 
seventeenth century the Portuguese alone were shipping out 
from Europe about two hundred vessels a year filled with 
contraband cargoes destined particularly for Spanish Amer- 
ica. The hazards were slight, because Spanish governors not 
only accepted bribes but set up their own exclusive agencies 
to peddle the illegal articles. In some countries today the 
corruption can be said to be reasonably equitable, since it 
ie spread among many officials at many levels; in this way 
it may be likened to the old Chinese system of "squeeze" 
which was relayed from the humblest hsien functionary 
along a chain to the emperor's men in Peking, with every- 
one sharing. But in other states there is a kind of centraliza- 
tion of graft. Nicaragua in 1962 was notable. No one made 
a move or considered setting up an industry without a direct 
payment to a representative of the ruling Somoza family, 
which ran Nicaragua like a private estate. 

The corruption in Latin America is pervasive and digs its 
roots in history and economics. But, like all other statements 
dealing with this turbulent part of the world, there are excep- 
tions. Costa Rica is situated next to Nicaragua, which has 
the most venal and depressing regime of Central America. 
And yet little Costa Rica is clean and refreshing, a Switzer- 

38 



land in an alien sea. Except for the Spanish language, you 
hardly feel you are in Latin America. There is honesty, self- 
discipline, and orderliness; the country is well administered, 
and past presidents do not wind up abroad with huge for- 
tunes. 

Costa Rica inherited none of the racial complexities of its 
bigger cousins to the south, but this is not the only reason 
for its stability and enlightenment. When I asked Ricardo 
Castro, editor of La Nation, for an explanation of why his 
country was different from the others, he pointed out that 
the conquistadores knew that El Dorado was not to be found 
here, and so they moved on, toward Venezuela, toward Peru. 
The Spaniards who colonized Costa Rica thought of it as a 
future home, not as a fortune chest to be smashed open. 
Costa Rica was free from the imprints of governors who 
introduced greed and theft, which have lingered to this day 
in most governments. 

Ricardo Castro related an apocryphal but telling story of 
a viceroy in Peru who, questioned on how he was able to 
get away with so much graft, said simply: "The King is too 
far distant, and God is too high." 

When I visited the United States Embassy in Caracas, 
workmen were still busy repairing the building that had 
been marred by a skilfully planted bomb only a few weeks 
earlier. The bomb was left in a seventh floor washroom adja- 
cent to the ambassador's office. It went off to tear a hole in 
the wall, so that unplanned daylight streamed jarringly onto 
the sixth and seventh floors. No one, miraculously, was hurt, 
but the impact on morale was considerable. U.S. Marine 
guards now subjected all visitors to intensive scrutiny; no 
stranger could ascend any more with a bulky briefcase to 
the seventh floor, or to any other floor. The bomb was 
thought to be of Communist or possibly student origin, as a 
protest against anti-Castro action by the United States. But 

39 



its derivation was not really as important as the point it 
made. Embassy people and the United States were reminded 
once again that the revived "good neighbor" policy does not 
carry with it an automatic guarantee that Latin Americans 
can forget the past. 

Only one salient feature was different. A few decades ago 
even the stoning of a junior embassy official might have 
brought about armed reaction from the United States. To- 
day the United States, at least in theory, proscribes the use 
of force in interhemisphere affairs. But for many Latin 
Americans, particularly students and intellectuals, pro- 
nouncements of nonintervention are to be distrusted, espe- 
cially since the thinly disguised invasion attempt of Cuba 
in 196L For these Latin Americans the shadow of U.S. 
Marines still seems more ominous than any threat from 
Fidel Castro. This is an intricacy that North Americans must 
bear in mind in trying to look logically at the moods and sen- 
sibilities of the people. The discontent of Latin Americans 
revolves not only around their own deficiencies but around 
all forces they consider to dominate them, including the 
United States. 

The reasons for doubting United States intentions are 
steeped in history and are varied. Mexicans still talk of "the 
lost territories of the North," Texas, New Mexico, and other 
parts of the United States Southwest, annexed by the United 
States in the nineteenth century; they talk of "aggression" 
in this century when President Wilson, responding to a mis- 
guided American moment of pique because some United 
States sailors had been arrested by Mexicans, ordered the 
occupation of Vera Cruz ; two hundred Mexican soldiers and 
twenty-one U.S. Marines died as a result. Colombians speak 
of the "treachery" of President Theodore Roosevelt in 
promoting a revolution in Panama, which declared itself 
independent of Colombia, so the United States could get its 
hands on the Canal Zone. And the people of Guatemala, 

40 



Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic cry out about the 
neocolonialism of the United States, which installed gov- 
ernments or manipulated their affairs to some degree even ki 
the second half of the twentieth century. Ecuador still ac- 
cuses the United States of forcing it to cede the equivalent of 
almost half its territory to Peru in 1942, after an invasion by 
its far stronger Andean neighbor. 

Whether or not these historical complaints are justified 
in full, the one inclination Latin Americans have in com- 
mon is that they blame the United States; anti- American- ; 
ism is possibly the only area in which they are all united. 
They feel that United States policy, with the exception 
of the Franklin Roosevelt "good neighbor" policy and may- 
be the current Kennedy one, has been totally to dominate 
the hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine, in their eyes, is an 
artifice so designed that the United States can intrude in 
domestic affairs without giving Latin Americans a chance 
to summon aid and stand up to intervention. 

Where armed might is not in the background, there is the 
accusation of economic aggression. Here, too, the arguments 
are diverse. In some instances, the United States is con- 
demned because it invested too much in a country so it could 
possess it like a colony; or it did not sink enough money in 
a country so it could keep it underdeveloped and compliant. 
This an ti- Americanism translates itself in absurd yet signifi- 
cant details. A Chilean market researcher, making a survey 
in 1961 on why relatively little Coca-Cola was sold in San- 
tiago, found that the product was unpopular because it was 
identified with "Yankee imperialism." Pepsi-Cola, a newer 
entrant in the market, was not so stigmatized. 

The story of United States business practice is not nearly 
as sordid as it is depicted by many Latin Americans. Giant 
United States corporations have introduced to the republics 
efficient production and, even more importantly, wage scales 
and benefits far superior to those of domestic rivals. How- 

41 



ever, the fact remains that the record is marked by destruc- 
tive blemishes. While United States private investments, now 
totaling eight billion dollars, have improved conditions for 
some groups, individual firms too often have been indifferent 
to the distribution of this wealth or whether it has led to the 
construction of schools and hospitals, roads, and homes. The 
most tragic example, of course, was Cuba. It is being repeated 
to a measure today in Venezuela. Venezuela receives oil roy- 
alties of nearly one billion dollars a year, enough for a sub- 
stantial down payment on a generous welfare program. And, 
though Venezuela is held up by Washington as a great hope 
in Latin America, the rate of illiteracy is 70 per cent, elements 
of wealth and poverty are as sharp as elsewhere, and extreme 
insufficiencies make this one of the most explosive places in 
an explosive continent. 

The blame, obviously, cannot be laid exclusively on North 
American entrepreneurs interested in quick gain without a 
concern about the future. Until Castro, the United States 
government itself showed little interest in the lot of ordinary 
Latin Americans ; nor did it care if the prevailing system con- 
tinued forever, so long as it did not hinder United States 
operations. The United States, busy thinking of the more 
obvious zones of unrest, and implicitly the inroads of com- 
munism, paid its attention first to postwar Europe, then to 
such areas as Quemoy and Matsu, and Laos. From 1945 to 
I960, of the billions in loans and grants the United States de- 
livered to the world, scarcely 2 per cent of the total went to 
Latin America, less even than to the Philippines. And then 
one day Washington, to its horror, awoke to discover there 
were masses of people next door who were discontented and 
restless and volatile. Castro, as he himself continues to remind 
his fellow Latin Americans, was quite a blessing for them. 
The aid from. Washington at last began to move southward, 
and with it came a realistic look at the regimes and an in- 
sistence that reforms be carried out, reforms that only a 

42 



couple of years previously were considered "socialist" and 
that might easily have saved Cuba from extremism. 

The questions whether much can be retrieved in the way 
of good will and whether effective reforms can be hoped for 
will be examined in a later chapter. But one thing can be said 
with certainty : the United States is in for a difficult time, no 
matter what it does, no matter how lofty its motives or gen- 
erous its offers of assistance. Much of the anti- American sen- 
timent of Latin America can be traced to a recognizable and 
understandable spirit of patriotism and a fear that gunboat 
diplomacy may one day be dominant again. But the more 
I talked with Latin Americans, including presidents and po- 
litical leaders, the more convinced I was that an entire con- 
tinent is suffering from a form of split personality. On the 
one hand it needs and wants United States financial and 
technical aid; on the other hand it is resentful and suspicious 
of the aid. 

Despite all efforts to remember the rationale, some of the 
sensitivity emerges as unreasonable and perverse and irritat- 
ing even to a Canadian visitor. In La Paz, I had a long inter- 
view with Bolivia's minister of economics, Alfonso Gumucio. 
A calm, orderly individual, Gumucio made some intelligent 
points in outlining United States-Latin-American relations. 
He explained, for example, that South Americans would re- 
quire a long time to forget past administrations, up to and 
including Eisenhower's, which tried to keep the continent as 
a producer of raw materials and a dumping ground for United 
States products. But he also said that the new team under 
Kennedy appeared to be taking a more enlightened and hope- 
ful course. 

I questioned Gumucio about the Alliance for Progress. 
Suddenly he stopped me and said: "You have been referring 
to 'aid. 7 For us it is not aid, only time drafts that we are now 
collecting." What did he mean? Gumucio continued: "Dur- 

43 



ing the war, when it was not our war, we made an effort to 
help the United States. We sold our tin to the United States 
at one sixth the price the United States and Germany were 
offering on the neutral Lisbon market. On this basis, the 
United States is indebted to us for an additional $400 mil- 
lion. Since 1954, the United States has put $180 million 
into Bolivia. Therefore it still owes us $220 million." 

There are some men who are tolerant, trustful, and bal- 
anced in their views about the United States. Among them 
is Alberto Lleras Camargo, one of Latin America's most 
respected statesmen, whom I met shortly before his retire- 
ment as President of Colombia. When I confessed that at 
times I found myself annoyed by Latin- American postures, 
and cited the above Bolivian example, Lleras reflected for 
a moment. "Bolivia's attitude is understandable," he finally 
said, "but how wise is it?" For instance, he went on, he could 
stand up and denounce the United States because Colombia 
has lost several million dollars in coffee sales in the last few 
years. But what are the reasons? Because Brazil and other 
countries are producing more and there is greater world 
competition. 

"Can you reasonably expect the United States," Lleras 
asked, "to pay two or three cents a pound more in order 
to sustain Colombia's coffee economy when other countries 
are jockeying among themselves, rejecting agreements, and 
throwing more coffee on the market?" 

Lleras, as a moderate, is one of the exceptions in a con- 
tinent of passionate partisans. 

In almost every capital someone sooner or later produced 
a chart for me to study. The chart showed two critical 
curves: first the birth rate, second the gross national prod- 
uct. Latin America has the highest rate of population 
growth in the world. In the thirty years after 1920 its popu- 

44 



lation soared by more than 80 per cent; countries of South- 
east Asia, in that period, increased only 63 per cent. At 
present, Latin America's population is about the same as 
the United States and Canada combined. By 1975 it will be 
an estimated 300 millions. In thirty-seven years, when Anglo- 
Americans will number approximately 300 millions, Latin 
Americans will number 600 millions. 

The statistics need not be disquieting; on the contrary, 
they could be looked upon optimistically, if one could vis- 
ualize this massed human energy working constructively 
toward a life of fulfillment. But the trend is the other way. 
Discontent grows with the growth in numbers. It is not that 
space is lacking. In Britain seven hundred and fifty people 
live in every square mile, in the United States fifty, in South 
America only eleven. But among landless peasants there is 
land hunger. And, ironically, the one practical gift left by 
the Spaniards, skill and energy in building cities, proves a 
burden on the continent's economy. With few opportunities 
to sustain life in the interior, and with no sign of any appre- 
ciable expansion of pioneer frontiers, more and more people 
continue to move into the urban centers. A third of Argen- 
tina crowds into Buenos Aires and its suburbs, a quarter of 
Chile into Santiago. The new arrivals squat in cardboard 
hovels, search fruitlessly for jobs, and contribute to the 
already prevalent and grave social unrest. 

The second curve on the chart completes the disturbing 
picture. Production of goods is not keeping pace with the 
increase in population; some authorities reason that per 
capita output not only has stopped growing but has started 
going down. "Those republics that are running as fast as 
they believe to be within their power," comments The Econ- 
omist of London, "only succeed in holding their positions. 
And those that are failing to spurt, drop further and further 
behind." 

45 



Latin Americans themselves tend to argue that their part 
of the world is only now embarking on its industrial revolu- 
tion, and one should be hopeful about the future. "You must 
make comparisons not with Europe of today/' a state plan- 
ner told me, "but with Europe during the Industrial Revolu- 
tion." This point might be considered valid, were it not for 
the fact that Europe's industrial revolution took place in 
the nineteenth century, and not, as Latin America's, in the 
twentieth. Today there are social forces unknown a century 
ago, there are such factors as communications which trans- 
mit the power of example and there are men who preach 
what should be expected in man's relations to man. For 
the first time, all Latin America is echoing to cries for a 
substantial revolution. 

Adlai Stevenson has called it "the revolution of rising 
expectations." But how will it end? What will be the ulti- 
mate impact of 600 million Latin Americans on half their 
numbers to the North? In the face of social injustices and 
inequalities, the portent to someone from the outside seems 
obvious. All over the world in Africa, the Middle East, the 
Far East changes are coming about, some of them through 
violence. But nowhere, I believe, will the explosions be as 
severe or as contagious as in Latin America, unless there are 
urgent and drastic reforms. 

To me, one of the most baffling questions remains without 
satisfactory answer. Wherever I talked with landowners, 
industrialists, politicians men of wide travel and knowl- 
edge, of intelligence I asked: "Surely you see the writing 
on the wall, surely you know what has been happening in 
the rest of the world. Why don't you modify the extremes 
and make social improvements before time runs out?" In 
many cases I received this kind of reply: "Nothing will hap- 
pen here; our people are not violent." In Brazil I heard over 
and over again the familiar saying: "God is a Brazilian." 

46 



(He will protect us*) Generally, the idea is that maybe your 
house will catch on fire, but never mine. 

In Rio de Janeiro I met a perceptive, understanding mem- 
ber of the aristocracy. He said : "It is better to give up the 
rings on your fingers than to lose your fingers/' But he, 
tragically, spoke almost alone. 



47 



Students and Intellectuals 



MY FIRST CONTACT with university students in South Amer- 
ica was at Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Jan- 
eiro. I had been told by a Brazilian businessman, just that 
day at lunch, that most universities were of the left, having 
heavy infiltration by Communists. Catholic University, 
whose faculty was made up mainly of Jesuit priests, hardly 
conformed to this label, though one of the first students I 
spoke to, a pretty and sweet girl named Ana Carolina 
Valenca, aged nineteen, promptly informed me that she 
knew of at least one undergraduate who was in the pay of 
the Communists. Why was she so certain? "Whenever we 
have a discussion," said Ana, "he tries to agitate for his 
point of view," And what was that point of view? "Different 
from ours/' said Ana. 

Ana was studying law, following the example of her 
father, a prominent advocate. She found herself, by her 
own admission, quite confused about what beliefs to hold 
in politics. For example, she had placed great faith in Janio 
Quadros; and when he walked out as President of Brazil, 
she was terribly let down. "I thought he would give us 

48 



stability/' said Ana with a sigh, "and instead he caused more 
confusion. I do not know what to believe any more. 3 ' 

At this point another student, Sergio Monteiro, joined 
the conversation. Sergio, twenty-three, the son of an admi- 
ral, was taking philosophy and journalism; he intended to 
combine a career in journalism with politics. Sergio said the 
only hope for Brazil was a dictatorship by the military; the 
best fifteen years of Brazil's history were during the dic- 
tatorial rule of Getulio Vargas with the blessing of a junta 
of generals. Sergio added: "Salazar is not doing a bad job in 
Portugal." Since Sergio had also identified himself as a 
"democrat/' I asked if he thought there was democracy in 
Portugal. "There is no democracy in Brazil," he replied, "so 
what is the difference?" Ana, who had been silent the while, 
now commented that she did not like any kind of dictator- 
ship; but, if there had to be one, she preferred it to be of 
the right rather than the left. 

Sergio was secretary general of the Students' Council, a 
post he won along with other "rightists" (his own terminol- 
ogy) over so-called "leftists" on the campus. It was a narrow 
victory, because even in this privately endowed Catholic 
University, the wealthiest in Brazil, the "rightists" carried 
the election with a majority of only twenty-eight out of a 
total enrollment of 2,500. Ana said: "We should really 
divide the student body into Communists and non-Com- 
munists." But how could there be many Communists, I 
asked, among students who originated from obviously high- 
income levels? Should they not perhaps be classified as 
"socialists" or "reformers"? Ana shook her head in puzzle- 
ment. 

A third participant in our talk, Luiz Oscar Dubeux Pinto, 
had come along. Luiz, whose father is a civil engineer, said : 
"On the right we want reform, too ; but we must use intelli- 
gence." 

They were showing me through the university; and now 

49 



we stood on the roof of the main building, a handsome, 
modernistic structure, ten storeys up. In the background 
were Rio's beautiful mountains and Corcovado Peak with 
its extraordinary statue of Christ surveying the city. But 
not far off, on the edge of the campus in fact, and almost 
directly beneath us, was a favela. Laundry fluttered from 
lines strung between the slum shacks; lifting toward us 
were the piercing notes of children chasing one another, 
barefoot, through the dirt lanes. 

Sergio volunteered: "It is not very pretty, is it? It will 
have to change." But by what means? 

Luiz answered : "We will start land reform and other re- 
forms." But how much time will be required? 

"It does not matter," Sergio said. "We must study the 
problems of reforms and do things in a constitutional way." 

A question of legality had arisen previously, when Presi- 
dent Quadros resigned and the generals tried to prevent the 
vice-president, supposedly "leftist" Joao Goulart, from fol- 
lowing the rules and assuming the chief executive's office. 
Nearly every college and university in Rio de Janeiro and 
Sao Paulo went on strike to protest against the army's at- 
tempted violation of the constitution; the sole exception 
was Catholic University. Ana declared: "I am for the con- 
stitution, but not when it came to Goulart." 

At the time, an assembly was held at Catholic University 
to vote whether or not to join students of other universities 
in the demonstrations. As Sergio recalled it, "There was such 
a tumult at the meeting; the Communists caused such an 
uproar in demanding the floor that it was impossible to 
hold a vote." Instead, Sergio and fellow members of the 
Council convened privately and decided the issue. I asked 
if undergraduates at other universities might have con- 
sidered this a rather high-handed action. Sergio said: "They 
respect us because they think we are rich here." 

From Catholic University I drove over to the offices of 

50 



the Brazilian Students' Federation, the national organiza- 
tion that speaks for the majority of students in Latin Amer- 
ica's most populous country. The president of the Federa- 
tion, Aldo Arantes, had organized the proconstitution strike 
that resulted in an all-night street battle when police were 
ordered to disperse students with tear-gas bombs and ba- 
tons. Police set out to arrest Arantes; but, tipped off in 
advance, he fled to the home of friends in Rio Grande do 
Sul. Now Arantes, aged twenty-two, greeted me with an 
apology for the shabby appearance of the Federation build- 
ing: chipped plaster, scribblings on the wall, a couple 
of patched-up chairs in the lobby. Arantes explained that 
money for student activities, in common with other public 
activities in Brazil, was lacking. I assured him that student 
headquarters of my university days bore the same battered 
trademarks, although this was not exactly so. Student cham- 
bers at home can look abused and informal, but here there 
was plain deterioration. 

The majority of the officers of the Federation, from mid- 
dle class backgrounds, were studying at state universities. 
Arantes, however, was in law at Catholic University. When 
I told him I had just come from his school, where it was 
suggested a Salazar-type regime would provide the answers 
for Brazil's problems, Arantes threw his hands up in disgust. 
If this was not enough of a gesture, he removed his eye- 
glasses and waved them very emphatically. "Salazar?" he 
echoed. "Horrible!" He said that the Federation had long 
ago passed a resolution condemning the dictatorships of 
Antonio de Oliveira Salazar and Francisco Franco. 

"What would be a good form of government for Brazil?" 
I asked. 

Arantes was decisive: "Socialist." A half-dozen of his 
colleagues, who sat around the office while we chatted, 
nodded in agreement. There was a clear distinction in 
Arantes' mind between social democracy and communism. 

51 



"If I thought communism would work, I would be a Com- 
munist," he said. "But I am not a Communist. I am a 
Catholic and a democrat." What he wanted was this: 
"Socialism in Brazilian style : it must be based on Brazilian 
reality." Something on the pattern of Sweden or Britain 
under socialist governments? "No," he said, again with 
determination. "It is bad for Brazil always to be trying to 
follow others; we must create a country that has its own 
personality." 

He went on : "We have a low cultural and economic life 
because we have always looked elsewhere, and for this rea- 
son the student mission today is more important than it 
would be, say, in Canada or the United States. The most 
important class is the student class because we are clean; 
other groups have interests that are dirty. Students have 
the responsibility to show the people of the country what 
are the real issues, the right ideals. First, there is something 
wrong when other countries are always trying to exploit us. 
These countries yes, especially the United States try to 
sell us clothing, Coca-Cola, and cars. They spread the word 
through advertisements; and people think it is good to buy 
Coca-Cola, without considering whether it is good for the 
country. Sixty per cent of the pharmaceutical companies 
here are foreign. Foreign investors are against us developing 
our own steel industry because they wouldn't get immediate 
returns. They don't want Brazil to wake up." 

I said: "But do you really think Brazil could have 
advanced, even as far as she has, without foreign invest- 
ments?" 

"The results have not been good for the Brazilian people : 
only for the top ones who make the profits." 

"What, then," I said, "should be done?" 

Arantes had his answer ready: "The first fundamental is 
agrarian reform, because Brazil is mainly an agricultural 
country. Most of the land is in the hands of rich men who 

52 



don't do anything to help the nation as a whole. Banks 
don't lend money to poor people; they lend it to the rich, 
and the terrible thing is that much of the land in these few 
hands is not even being put to use. The government should 
take over all the land and pay for it over a long period. 
Those owners who have hung onto land but never cultivated 
it would be compensated the last. The land would be dis- 
tributed among the peasants who would own it because they 
would pay for it through financial assistance from the gov- 
ernment." 

With hardly a pause, Arantes made his second point: "We 
must also have a planned economy, and this means state 
ownership of the basic industries : transportation, steel, and 
so on. Foreign capital should be applied by the state, never 
by private industry, and this includes loans from interna- 
tional banks." 

His third point: "Half our people are illiterate because 
they have been kept that way deliberately by men who feel 
that mass ignorance gives security to their rule, that once 
a person gets an education he begins to demand improve- 
ments in life. We really haven't a national conscience in 
Brazil; and so one of the first things is to educate people, 
to put them to study, to help them develop a national 



conscience." 



I asked Arantes what he thought of Fidel Castro and the 
Cuban revolution. 

"The Cuban revolution," he said, "was a good thing; the 
history of Cuba called for it. It represented the beginning 
of freedom in Latin America. It is essential to believe in the 
revolution of Cuba; otherwise, if it is defeated, it will 
represent a defeat for all Latin America." 

I said he had evaded my direct question about Castro. 
He denied this, saying, "The revolution is the fundamental 
thing. Fidel is incidental. Only by revolutionary process can 
our own needs be reached." 

53 



"At the expense of bloodshed?" 

"We shall aim for revolution without bloodshed, but we 
shall not reject it because of bloodshed. We already have 
bloodshed. What else do you call it when children die from 
starvation or disease?" 

Quadros? 

"Quadros had the courage to go against the established 
interests, but it is limiting to put all hopes of a country in 
one person. Maybe Quadros could be a leader, maybe not." 

Goulart? 

"He always worked for the people, but in a weak way, 
thinking of his own interests. He has had a paternalistic 
approach to the solution of BraziTs problems, as did Vargas. 
But Goulart has never been in a revolutionary mood." 

Disenchanted by Goulart? 

"Yes, but this doesn't mean that he alone is guilty." 

United States-Brazilian relations? 

"They should be based on coordination, not subordina- 
tion. We want dialogue with all countries of the world, on 
the same level." 

Arantes' conclusion: "In the situation in which we are 
living, anything can happen at any hour. The political crisis 
over Quadros brought about a new consciousness among the 
people. The government that came out of this crisis has the 
contradictions of Brazil; it will not be able to solve our 
problems. Two classes appear as the revolutionary ones: 
first the students because they have no commitments to the 
old setup, second the city and farm workers who have the 
most to gain." 

I have quoted Aldo Arantes at length, partly because he 
was chosen as spokesman by 75 per cent of the entire student 
body of Brazil, and partly because his views coincide re- 
markably with those I heard in a score of other vulnerable 
nations. His beliefs, his complaints, his desires, his demands 
for advances, and the forms to be taken have more in com- 

54 



mon with those of students in Chile and Venezuela and 
Guatemala than with classmates in his own Catholic Uni- 
versity. There is, as we shall see, some disillusionment with 
Castro as an individual; but this does not alter the unyield- 
ing support for the Cuban revolution itself. There is a 
recognition that some leaders may be trying, but they are 
incapable of making basic changes because of ingrained 
patterns and opposition power. There is a universality to 
student thinking in Latin America, much of it based on 
intense nationalism and therefore, by indirection, intense 
anti- Americanism. And above all, there is a fervent insist- 
ence on social revolution, by force if necessary. 

Latin America's students are in a category of their own. 
Whether they spring from impoverished or wealthy homes, 
they are for the most part restless and radical. They are also 
influential far beyond their numbers. When Peruvian police 
punished a few University of San Marcos demonstrators by 
throwing them deliberately into cells with common criminals 
and homosexuals, the public outcry was so loud that the 
minister of the interior, responsible for policing, was forced 
to resign. But the authority of students manifests itself in 
much more dramatic, more cogent ways. Within the same 
fortnight students in two widely separated states, Ecuador 
and the Dominican Republic, touched off disorders that led 
to the downfall of governments. 

A student in Quito was killed when police, with drawn 
sabers, charged a university parade protesting against the 
demagogic policies of President Jose Maria Velasco. The 
bloodletting, coming at the height of a political crisis, sent 
Ecuadorian students into the streets for two days of battle; 
in short order, army units were pitted against one another, 
and thirty-five persons, many of them students, lay dead; 
Velasco, realizing his time was up, fled the country. Fifteen 
hundred miles away, in Ciudad Trujillo, students behind 
barricades held off riot squads by heaving at them rocks 

55 



and cast-iron water-meter covers, eventually being driven 
off themselves by machine-gun bullets; but in the process 
they generated enough turmoil to cause the flight of the last 
of the Trujillo clan and give the Dominican Republic its 
first taste of freedom in thirty-one years. 

Student weapons are not always so prosaic as sticks and 
stones, as I discovered in Caracas. At Universidad Central 
de Venezuela, the largest in the nation, there are secret 
caches of pistols, tommy guns, and Molotov cocktails, used 
frequently in the last few years. Venezuelan students are 
possibly the most violent in Latin America; certainly they 
have been at the forefront of recent disturbances. In order 
to visit Central University I first had to pass through a 
police checkpoint and show my credentials. The place was 
under a state of siege. 

Like many other Latin-American seats of learning, Cen- 
tral University has extraterritorial rights; police, at least 
in theory, cannot enter the grounds without permission from 
the rector. And, again in common with similar state-fi- 
nanced institutions, which draw mainly from white-collar 
families, it reflects the moods and politics of articulate 
young people. Sixty per cent of the undergraduates have 
elected as executive of the Students 7 Federation a combina- 
tion of Communists, socialists, and other left-wing ele- 
ments. Thirty per cent could be classed as "moderate" or 
"conservative" ; the rest are scattered in sentiments. 

The university became officially leftist shortly after the 
overturn, in 1958, of Venezuela's dictator Marcos Perez 
Jim6nez. From the early days of his rule, which began in 
1950, students had made up the hard core of opposition and 
helped lead the revolution that finally threw him from office. 
But Pferez Jimenez meanwhile had managed to suspend the 
university's autonomy and to stack its faculty with syco- 
phants. The new provisional government, headed by Admi- 
ral Wolfgang Larrazabal, set out in 1958 to evict the Perez 

56 



Jimenez appointees from professorships and administrative 
jobs. Larrazabal also restored the traditional claustrum 
found in other universities in Latin America : a sort of elec- 
toral college, composed of student representatives, faculty 
members, and alumni, who have the power to choose the 
university rector, who, in turn, has a say in selection of key 
staff personnel. Under leftist direction, the university soon 
found itself a fresh command post against higher authority, 
this time against the government of President Romulo 
Betancourt, who, the students and faculty members said, 
was far from the liberal reformer he claimed to be. 

The initial anti-Betancourt demonstration erupted in 
1960, when Venezuela supported the San Jose Declaration, 
which gave Castro his first gentle rap on the knuckles by 
Latin American neighbors. Students barricaded themselves 
on university grounds while riot troops, forgetting about the 
inviolability of the campus, moved in and tried to quiet 
them. For three days a couple of hundred youths, holed up 
in a dormitory they called "Stalingrad," peppered away at 
their besiegers with rifles, submachine guns, and Molotov 
bombs. One result, aside from bloodshed, was a split in the 
Betancourt coalition, with the socialist U.R.D. (Republican 
Democratic Union) breaking away from the government. 

The next year an even more gruesome series of student- 
inspired outbursts took place, first over Venezuela's break in 
diplomatic relations with Cuba's Castro regime, then over 
the announcement of a visit to Caracas by President Ken- 
nedy, and finally, spilling into 1962, over the Punta del Este 
conference, which declared Castro an outlaw in the hemi- 
sphere. 

The Punta del Este riots cost at least thirty-five lives, 
among them two students, with hundreds more wounded. 
Betancourt suspended some constitutional rights, shut down 
leftist newspapers, and ordered the arrest of eight hundred 
opponents, including former U.R.D. members of his coali- 

57 



tion government, and three hundred and fifty students. The 
university's administrative council the rector, the vice- 
rector, and all eleven deans of the various colleges resigned 
in protest; the university automatically shut down. This 
gave the students something else to storm about; but now 
the police, using more refined tactics, kept off the grounds. 
They waited outside the main gates, ready to pounce on any 
student who ventured in or out of the hallowed territory. 

The university had been closed three weeks when I drove 
up; where normally 17,500 young men and women wandered 
through the sprawling campus or into the stunningly mod- 
ern buildings, only thirty diehards were on hand, and they 
were busy writing antigovernment and pro-Cuban litera- 
ture. I spoke with two of the remaining leaders, the president 
of the Students' Federation himself being in jail. Frederick 
Munoz, an economics student, was vice-president of the 
Federation and a proclaimed Communist. Victor Jose Ochoa, 
a law student, was treasurer and a member of the socialist 
U.R.D. They, and their couple of dozen comrades, slept on 
camp cots in the paper-littered student offices, surrounded 
by walls covered with posters that said: "Kennedy juera" 
(Kennedy get out) and "Cuba si! Yanqui no!" There 
were also quotations from Lenin. 

The "insurgents" were fed at the University Medical Col- 
lege Hospital and between meals churned out, on mimeo- 
graph machines, leaflets with such headings as "For la 
defensa de Cuba" and "Contra la fascista represion polit- 
ical. 33 Munoz and Ochoa said it was necessary to print these 
leaflets because downtown newspapers were under instruc- 
tions not to publish any statements by the Students 7 Fed- 
eration. They argued righteously that President Betancourt 
employed military planes to drop leaflets exhorting the pub- 
lic to show up for government rallies while the right to 
assembly was denied opposition parties. Any argument that 
Betancourt might have been compelled to ban other meet- 

58 



ings, to prevent further bloodshed, was brushed aside with 
contempt. 

Mufioz and Ochoa struck me as being quite fanatic. They 
ushered me into the Room of Martyrs, an office lined with 
photographs of six students who had been killed in street 
fights in the last three years. One of the portraits was of 
Livia Gouverneur, a young, attractive girl who died in 1961 
with a bullet in her back. The story is still hidden in mystery. 
The known facts are that some students, armed with tommy 
guns, raked a Caracas house occupied by anti-Castro Cuban 
exiles; the Cubans returned the fire. Next morning Livia's 
body was brought around to her parents by two students in 
a Volkswagen; they claimed she had been killed by the 
Cubans, but it is equally likely that in the melee she was 
accidentally shot by one of her colleagues. 

"Where do you get your arms?" I asked Munoz. 

Munoz smiled and said that most weapons bear a Vene- 
zuelan mark that is, they once belonged to the army and 
were issued to students in 1958, after the overthrow of Perez 
Jimenez, by the Larrazabal junta "to defend the constitu- 
tion." Some weapons, he admitted with a grin, were retained 
when they should have been returned to the army. But there 
is also no doubt that arms smuggling is common, and for a 
price you can obtain an automatic or a rifle brought over the 
border from Colombia; the government claims, too, that 
weapons come across the Caribbean from Cuba. 

"I don't deny that we have arms/' said Mufioz, "but they 
are necessary for our defense." 

Having heard this fairly standard rationalization in other 
parts of the world before, I asked the students what their 
ambition was for Venezuela. 

Ochoa, the U.R.D. youth, answered: "To free ourselves 
from imperialism, the economic control of the United States." 

But what about the Alliance for Progress, which is far 
from an imperialist concept? 

59 



Mufioz, the Communist: "The Alliance is still Yankee 
imperialism. Its aim is to try to stop the work that has been 
done in Cuba and to put up a future barrier against Cuba." 

Ochoa, the socialist: "Under the Alliance the United 
States does not speak of industrialization of our country. 
The imperialists of the United States are not interested in 
letting Latin Americans produce their own goods because 
this would destroy markets." 

And all the investments the United States has put into 
Venezuela, including the oil industry, which accounts for 90 
per cent of Venezuela's foreign exchange? 

Ochoa: "It should be one of our objectives to nationalize 
the oil industry." 

Mufioz: "Nationalization is indispensable for our inde- 
pendence. And there is no need for compensation. The 
United States oil monopolies have taken out more money 
than they have given Venezuela." 

The remarks by Mufioz were predictable. Socialist Ochoa 
is frowned on by older U.R.D. leaders as being an extremist ; 
U.R.D. itself does not call for a takeover of the oil industry. 
Ochoa, nevertheless, is worth recording because he delineates 
the attitude of other students in Venezuela and elsewhere, 
youth who do not necessarily follow the line advocated by 
their elder statesmen. It should be remembered that polit- 
ical parties in Latin- American universities are more than 
junior branches of national parties. Political disciples on 
campuses south of the United States border are far more 
active than their opposite numbers in Cambridge, Mass., or 
Berkeley, Calif. They are included in national party com- 
mittees, they plan strategy, and they organize demonstra- 
tions that are often crucial in general elections. The national 
parties, in turn, devote substantial effort and funds to 
student elections; at the same time, bowing to the strong- 
student feeling for autonomy, they avoid dictation. For its 
part, the public, recognizing the influence of student think- 

60 



ing, follows campus campaigns closely; press, radio, and 
television provide wide coverage. 

Students sometimes take their cues from adults, and then 
spurt ahead of them. The case history of the University of 
San Marcos is illustrative not only because of the rejection 
of an older philosophy but because of the development of 
something more powerful: Fidelismo. Lima's San Marcos, 
founded in 1551, though not constructed until twenty-five 
years later, claims to be the oldest university of the Amer- 
icas. In the early days its students came only from the 
aristocracy or privileged classes. But gradually wealthier 
families sent their sons to Europe, and more recently to the 
United States for higher studies. Some moneyed students 
still attend; but San Marcos, like other state institutions on 
the continent, draws mainly from what passes as the middle 
class : shop-keepers, artisans, professionals, technicians, who 
have moderate incomes and have managed to save their 
children from the same fate as the mass of poor who seldom 
emerge beyond the first couple of grades of primary school 
Though fees are nominal, life in San Marcos is often a great 
economic burden ; and many students are in their late twen- 
ties because they step out alternate years to work. Some 
who study law or medicine or economics hope to improve 
their financial positions, but others look to a profession as 
a stepping stone to a career in politics. 

San Marcos has long been a sounding board for new polit- 
ical and social ideas. Forty years ago a youth named Victor 
Raul Haya de la Torre conceived, along with fellow stu- 
dents, the dynamics of a party that was to become known 
as APRA (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance). 
Flowering in the old palm-shaded patios of San Marcos, 
APRA was radically leftist; it declared itself against "im- 
perialism" and the "oligarchy"; it declared itself for land 
distribution and a better break for the Indian population. 
APRA, though anti-Communist, stood for many of the fea- 

61 



tures of Marxism. But Marxism was a foreign ideology, born 
in a German mind and nurtured on Russian soil. APRA was 
the first genuine Latin American movement tailored to the 
Latin- American mentality and needs. It spread its branches 
to several other countries and grew quickly in strength, so 
much so at San Marcos that no one could think of holding 
student office without membership in the party. 

Apristas, using methods later attributed to Communists, 
infiltrated trade unions and government posts and were not 
beyond employing political terrorism to shock people into 
support. Despite the fact that it was the greatest political 
force in the country, APRA could never gain a real foothold 
in the face of oligarchic resistance; it degenerated into a 
rabble-rousing movement, and in 1948, after attempting a 
rebellion against the government, was outlawed. By now 
founder Haya de la Torre, imprisoned and exiled at various 
stages, and the focus of much controversy, was becoming 
a middle-aged revolutionary; the party was regarded by 
some students as feeble and without purpose. 

The major disaffection occurred in 1956, when national 
leaders instructed APRA followers to support a conserva- 
tive presidential candidate, banker Manuel Prado, in an 
exchange deal that would legalize the party and give some 
of its members cabinet posts. Prado, with the help of APRA 
votes, won the election ; but four years later his government 
was still conservative (or ; to use a student term, "reaction- 
ary") and most of the Apristas had been dropped from the 
cabinet. 

The timing was to prove of possibly lasting significance, 
because it was just about then that a new star was beginning 
to shine brightly the 26th of July Movement of Fidel 
Castro. This again had the required ingredients : Latin Amer- 
ican in concept, reformist, and, as an appealing added meas- 
ure, a challenge to the dominance of the United States. 

62 



APRA moved toward the right, Fidelismo moved toward the 
left. 

It is said that Communists in San Marcos promptly took 
advantage of the students' disillusion with APRA and ma- 
neuvered skilfully behind the scenes to build up Fidelismo 
even before it was identified with communism. While some 
such performance would be standard procedure, it by no 
means explains away the tremendous pull of the Cuban 
experience. The story, simply told, is that San Marcos stu- 
dents were revolutionary in spirit, and Castro's revolution 
gave a fresh outlet to this spirit. A new party, Revolutionary 
Student Front, composed of adherents to the principles of 
the Cuban revolution, built up quick strength at the ex- 
pense of APRA and a third party, the Christian Democrats ; 
with 80 per cent of San Marcos' 15,000 students taking part 
in campus elections, the Fidelistas won a substantial plural- 
ity in 1960, to control the Students' Council; they increased 
their figures in the succeeding two years. 

And what about other universities, such as Lima's private 
Catholic University, which is populated mainly by "con- 
servative" students from upper-income categories? By 1961 
"leftists" dominated the Students' Council, in sharp con- 
trast to the previous five years when Christian Democrats 
led the elections. One of the members of the Council, En- 
rique Bernales, a twenty-two-year-old law student, turned 
out to be something of a tragic figure. He had been expelled, 
along with nineteen others, by university authorities, for 
supporting a pro-Cuban resolution at a national congress of 
the Federation of Students of Peru. The Lima press stuck 
on Bernales the tags "Marxist" and "Communist." Bernales, 
with a heritage of wealth and privilege, is not a Communist. 
He is, so far as I could judge from talks with his professors, 
a sincere and middle-course reformer. 

"Was the expulsion justified?" I asked Bernales. 

"It was not a just decision," he said quietly, "because 

63 



not enough attention was paid to the text of the resolution. 
We were referring to historic reasons for the Cuban revolu- 
tion and the need for reform. We were not necessarily ap- 
proving the later methods of the revolution." 

What are the main points about the Cuban revolution? 

"One of the things that impresses us a great deal/' said 
Bernales, "is the general mobilization against illiteracy in 
the countryside, putting students into field work. This would 
be even more important in Peru than in Cuba, since our 
illiteracy rate is higher. I am not referring to the kind of 
textbooks in Cuba, with Marxist orientation, but to the 
main idea of creating a mystique about work with peasants, 
an effective mystique about work." 

Land reform? 

"We disagree with the Cuban method because we try to 
apply the teachings of the Church ; which respects private 
property. But land reform is absolutely indispensable in 
Peru. We must not only distribute land belonging to the 
present handful of the ruling class paying for this land, 
not confiscating it as in Cuba but we must also give tech- 
nical aid and education to the people who would have the 
land. Without such reforms I am convinced there will be 
a horrible revolution." 

And the negative features of the Cuban revolution? 

Bernales pondered for several moments before answering : 
"Among the negative elements are the person of Castro him- 
self and the attitude of the United States government under 
the Eisenhower administration. This United States attitude 
helped Marxist influence in Cuba to become more decisive." 

Here, I think, were the salient clues to the reasoning of 
young Latin Americans. There are, of course, students who 
violently resent Castro and all he signifies. The bulk, how- 
ever, can be said to favor in one way or another the Cuban 
revolution. This group can be broken down roughly into 
two categories: those who unhesitatingly applaud Castro 

64 



and everything he has done; and those, like Bernales, who 
understand the circumstances of the revolution but became 
increasingly upset by Castro's behavior as time went on. 
Bernales, for instance, was shocked by the wave of execu- 
tions of political prisoners ; such killings were in violation of 
the Latin- American code of political ethics. Bernales also 
disapproves of the extreme approach to nationalization, but 
here there is some attempt to justify it on the grounds that 
the United States pushed Castro into communism. 

What it adds up to is this : Whether or not Castro stays 
in the picture, whether he lives or dies, he is no longer im- 
portant. Fidelismo, with its promise of changes, its challenge 
to the Colossus of the North, has caught on. It has a firm 
grasp on students and will, I believe, continue to dominate 
their thinking. This does not imply that they have disowned 
democratic principles of personal and economic freedom, 
but it does suggest that they have been unable to accept the 
existing social inequalities and are prepared to risk even 
these liberties to alter course. 

I sat in with a half-dozen graduate students at the Insti- 
tute of Economics, University of Chile. The institute, akin 
to the London School of Economics, is the best of its kind 
in Latin America and attracts from all over the continent 
young men and women who intend to enter government 
work or industry. It was a serious, sober group, with not a 
"rightist" among them, nor, for that matter, a Communist; 
the conversation, too, was impressive, because everything 
they had to say was related to reform ; and nothing was said 
in sloganeering language. We held an impromptu poll of 
opinion, and there was unanimous agreement that on bal- 
ance the impact of Fidelismo was positive rather than nega- 
tive. Here are some of the comments: 

Fernando Mateo of Argentina: "The main thing is that 
Castro captured the imagination of the people. Cubans are 
on the move, living more intensely than ever before." 

65 



Juan Prado of Bolivia: "Fidelismo isn't just a Cuban 
matter. It is a correct and just solution to Latin American 
problems. In Bolivia we also had a social revolution but the 
plans were half-hearted and the results unsubstantial. So 
far, the Cuban revolution is the only solid road that has been 
found in Latin America. I do not relate this to Castro's 
demagoguery, because this is vague, but to the fact that he 
has solved desperate, pressing problems." 

Julio Funes of Argentina: "The measure of support that 
Castro has in Latin America is a direct measure of the 
frustrations of the working classes; they see the present 
ruling classes as ineffectual. Fidelismo is showing the way 
democracy could work, too, if it wanted to work properly." 

Does all this sound repetitious, monotonous? If so, it is 
the theme I found throughout this vast expanse of the 
world. Here are some more jottings from my notes gathered 
from one end of Latin America to the other, in places as far 
apart as 5,000 miles. 

In Santiago, Chile, Sonia Gallegos speaks: "None of our 
countries can solve their problems without total, planned 
economy. Partial solutions are no good." 

In Panama City, Lillian Mi j ares judges: "There is de- 
spair among students ; our relations with the United States 
will always be bad so long as we are cheated out of revenue 
from the Panama Canal." 

In Quito, Ecuador, Milton Burbano: "Cuba trading one 
master for another? Nonsense. In the case of United States- 
Cuban relations, the means of production were owned by 
United States companies. Now, in Cuba, deals with Russia 
are made on a government to government basis." 

In Mexico City, a medical student: "We like the money 
from the Alliance for Progress but not the conditions that 
go with it. Look at Argentina; it breaks relations with Cuba 
and immediately gets a loan of $25 million." 

In Bogota, Colombia: "We are making the United States 

66 



rich because they buy our products at low prices, then pay 
us back with loans that we have to repay with interest ; and 
all the while they make us feel we are taking charity." 

The same mood prevails in Argentina, despite the fact 
that the country stands apart from most of the others on 
several grounds. For one thing, the extremes of wealth and 
poverty are not as blatant as elsewhere; moreover, trade 
unionism is strongly organized; and, no matter how poor 
conditions have been, the average worker has never starved. 
In this rich, meat-producing land, the per capita consump- 
tion of beef is a pound a day; gauchos average two and a 
quarter pounds each. But there are anomalies. While other 
countries may talk vaguely of state ownership of some basic 
utilities, Argentina has reversed the process. Under the gov- 
ernment of former President Arturo Frondizi, it denational- 
ized the oil industry in an effort to attract more United States 
private investors. "This was done/' said Daniel J. Divinsky, 
"at the expense of our independence." 

Divinsky, aged twenty-one, is a law student and son of a 
prosperous physician. He accused Frondizi of betraying Ar- 
gentina by promising reforms and not delivering them. "He 
mounted the horse from the left, and he descended from the 
right," said Divinsky. But the main complaint was that 
Argentina was getting deeper into the orbit of what Divin- 
sky, along with other students, called "foreign economic 
imperialism." One evening, after a two-hour talk over drinks 
and dinner, I asked Divinsky bluntly: "If I had a million 
dollars, and invested it in Argentina, in my own business 
here, would you take it from me?" 

He sipped his liqueur, looked at me steadily and replied: 
"It is unfortunate, but I am afraid I would take it from 
you." 

Yesterday's students are today's intellectual leaders. When 
they reach this mature status, they may lose their physical 

67 



vehemence, their urge to plunge headlong into bloody street 
marches. But they attain something else: the respect and 
attention of a calm audience drawn to them by the printed 
word, the drama of a stage setting, the power of flashing wit, 
of deep thinking. For these are the pensadores, the men to 
whom Latin America has always looked for its intellectual 
guidance : the authors, the critics, the political scientists, the 
moralists, the sociologists, the men who analyze the whole 
social spectrum as they see it, who look into the uncertain 
future bearing in mind the influence of the past. 

They occupy a position of authority of far greater im- 
portance than the writers and analysts of North America. 
In bygone days there were such sages as Esteban Echeverria, 
who a century ago sang of Argentina: "The great thought 
of the revolution has not been carried out. We are inde- 
pendent, but we are not free. The arms of Spain do not op- 
press us; but its traditions still weigh us down." Or Domingo 
Faustino Sarmiento who told Chileans in 1849 of his terror 
of industrial and international rivalry : "Against the violence 
and injustice of the Yankees there is no appeal on this 
earth." And, of course, Cuba's Jose Marti who declared: "I 
am not a man speaking, but a people protesting." 

The basic perplexities have not changed much in the 
twentieth century. Today's pensadores are concerned with 
their own national identities and a search for answers to 
some distinctive problems, and yet, underlying this groping, 
there is a common quandary: how to develop, how to live 
with the United States, what form the relationship should 
take, what should be made of Fidel Castro, or rather of the 
movement he unleashed. If disciplined orderliness has re- 
placed student unruliness, most of the intelligensia, it can be 
stated safely, are still on the left. Some are Communists ; the 
bulk fall into a more moderate though reformist class. Some 
justify the extreme measures of Cuba; others are disturbed 
by them. But all feel the need for changes in Latin America. 

68 



I have assembled here a cross section of contemporary 
thought as it was expressed to me informally: 

PLAYWRIGHT 

Vinicius de Moraes was renowned in Brazil as a poet and 
playwright long before his Black Orpheus reached foreign 
screens and won the 1959 Grand Prix at Cannes. De Moraes, 
with characteristic Latin fascination for the soul and heart 
of man, took the ancient, legendary Orpheus and made him 
into a Rio streetcar conductor. Eurydice is his love, and to- 
gether they go down from a favela in the high bluffs above 
the city to celebrate the riotous carnival in the streets below. 
There her enemy, who is Death, finds her and carries her 
away. 

De Moraes is still interested in allegory, and now he ties 
it to Janio Quadros. "He was our great hope," de Moraes 
says, "and the shock of his resignation was overwhelming, as 
though a trusted father had gone." Sitting, drinking gin and 
tonic, he points to our glasses and says, "when Janio was 
here, as leader, we would drink in pleasure and relaxation, 
with no worries about the country back of our minds. Now 
I do not drink with the same ease, the sheer joy, as one 
should when one is being sociable." De Moraes feels that 
Quadros was pushed out by right wingers. This view is not 
accepted by others who claim that the president was at- 
tempting an ill-conceived political move to gain more power. 
Nevertheless, de Moraes says he is going to write a play with 
a "religious undertone . . . almost like Christ surrounded by 
men who did not understand him or what he was trying 
to do. Quadros will emerge with a universal flavor as a man 
who attempts to change the established order but is crucified 
by other men who fear him because they do not understand 
him ... a tragic figure." 

In a broad sense he feels, too, that Brazil tragically is 
caught up in the squeeze between East and West. "One of 

69 



the troubles/' he says, "is that our neighbors to the North 
think with a Protestant mentality, forgetting we are Cath- 
olics. There are different backgrounds, and these must never 
be overlooked. I remember seeing in Florence several paint- 
ings of the Nativity Scene. You could always tell which 
painters were Protestants ; all the figures were looking out- 
ward, at the artist. But in the paintings by Catholics they 
were all looking at the Child. Here was a difference of tender- 
ness in inner feeling." In other words, the concept of "soul" 
is important; but then, with some reluctance, de Moraes says 
that perhaps Brazil's greatest trouble is that "we are suffer- 
ing from a fatal disease which I call politicism, brought about 
by inept, corrupt, selfish, unprincipled men in politics who 
have no sense of social responsibility." 

CULTURAL DIRECTOR 

Manuel Benjamin Carrion is one of Ecuador's most dis- 
tinguished men of letters. As director of the state-financed 
but autonomous House of Culture, he determines the sub- 
sidies to be paid struggling authors, magazines, and literary 
reviews. "The mass of people are for Castro," he says. "If 
Castro came here he would receive an overwhelming recep- 
tion. If Kennedy came he would receive a courteous recep- 
tion. That is the difference." But how does Dr. Carrion re- 
gard the bloodshed in Cuba? "The Cuban revolution is the 
most economical revolution of all time," he says. "More 
than one million died in the French revolution. Even Colom- 
bia, which officially has not had a revolution, has seen be- 
tween 200,000 and 300,000 dead in recent years; in Cuba 
there were perhaps seven hundred killed. All revolutions are 
violent, this was the least violent of all." 

ECONOMIST 

Claudio Veliz, a prominent Chilean economist, says the 
definition of private enterprise as it is practiced in the 

70 



United States is different from the version in Latin America. 
"In the United States," he says, "there is genuine competi- 
tion ensured by antitrust laws; here private enterprise is 
simply a cover for monopoly." For instance, in Chile, he 
avers, industries ranging from copper and steel to processed 
food and cigarettes are monopolies. "At one time/' he goes 
on, "we had several breweries, but gradually they were al- 
most all absorbed by one giant. Only one man held out, and 
the giant made a deal to have him produce a trickle of beer 
so that the public would be lulled into imagining it had a 
choice. A beer vendor tried to make a test case by complain- 
ing to the Department of Commerce, and an official feigned 
horror and said if a monopoly existed it would have to be 
stopped. Everyone has always known about the beer monop- 
oly here ; but hypocrisy exists in industry, even to the offi- 
cial's reaction. Of course, nothing has been done." 

Veliz is anti-Communist. In his writing for Ultima Hora, 
the socialist newspaper, he urges radical reform as a safe- 
guard against communism. Veliz, whose father is a land- 
owner, also talks about the pernicious disdain for manual 
toil prevalent in the middle and upper classes. Once he was 
on a farm with a North American visitor, watching a campe- 
sino guide a single-blade plow and horse. The American said 
he would like to try plowing; the furrow came out very jag- 
ged. Claudio also tried, unsuccessfully. His father happened 
by and was horrified, saying, "First, you must never do me- 
nial work; second, in effect, you lose face, because a peasant 
must always believe that you can do anything better than he 
can." 

While a student, Veliz was shocked during a visit to a 
fundo, where he saw the owner step accidentally into a 
puddle, and automatically snap his fingers at a peasant. The 
peasant ran over and used his own shirt to wipe the mud 
from his master's boots. "From that moment on," says 
Veliz, "I knew there would have to be changes here." 

71 



SOCIAL SCIENTIST 

Universities around the world have heard lectures by Gil- 
berto Freyre, Latin America's most noted social scientist. 
Educated in the United States, he is a Brazilian constantly 
pondering about his country, its past and future, its culture, 
and its race. He is an anthropologist and sociologist but 
prefers to be called simply a "writer," understandably, since 
his works have been translated into several languages. At 
the age of sixty-two, Freyre is possibly the most hopeful and 
patient of the many intellectuals with whom I have spoken. 
"I do not think the situation in Latin America is a desperate 
one," he says. "But we are going through a tremendous crisis 
of leadership. Young men, instead of entering politics, are 
gravitating toward industry. There are some very able men 
in industry, but they have too much of a private vision of 
things profits, technical developments instead of a public 
vision. As industrial leaders they are not interested in lead- 
ing politically. This trend 13 apparent in Argentina and 
Mexico, but in an acute way in Brazil. The political leaders 
of the nineteenth-century Brazil were far superior to the 
leaders of today. They were statesmen as well as responsible 
leaders. At the present there is not a single political leader 
in Brazil who could be described as a statesman. Quadros 
was a dramatic man, but not a statesman or even a leader." 

Would it be fair to say that Latin America is at the same 
development stage as Europe, or North America, in the mid- 
nineteenth century, the difference being, of course, that this 
is now the twentieth century? 

"It is difficult to generalize/' replies Freyre, "because even 
in each nation there are different groups living in different 
times. In Brazil, for example, the elite live in the twentieth 
century. At the same moment, some Indian tribes live as 
they did when Brazil was discovered four hundred years ago. 
Between these two extremes there are gradations. In the 

72 



Northeast you can find a change that began only fifty years 
ago, when the old colonial sugar mills became industrialized. 
But with this industrialization of mills you had a preserva- 
tion of bad feudal traits and a loss of the good ones. At 
least, previously, mill owners were also planters, and they 
had a sense of paternalism because they lived close by their 
workers. If a worker or cane cutter was sick, the patron was 
there to make sure someone took care of him. But now the 
plantation and mill owners live far away, in Rio de Janeiro, 
and have lost all sense of social responsibility." 

What is the prognosis for the Northeast, Brazil's most 
troubled region? 

"Owners will not voluntarily make the necessary changes; 
they have had a chance, and they ignored it. What is needed 
is social legislation. Without it, there are seeds for violence." 

MORALIST 

Until recent times ten years or so ago the trend in 
Chilean literature was toward folklore and history. But now 
it is changing. The extreme leftists write about farm and 
labor conditions, and the urgency for reforms. Even in the 
center or right, where writers tend to describe the society 
they know best, the implicit message is that things are not 
going too well. A good example of the latter school is Jorge 
Edwards, who is thirty years of age. Edwards is the scion 
of one of Chile's oldest and wealthiest families. He writes 
short stories and works at the foreign ministry (only one or 
two of the older, more established writers live completely on 
authorship). Edwards does not write bluntly of the need for 
social and land reforms, since he believes an artist should not 
preach but, rather, should let the moral tell itself. He feels 
strongly, however, that reforms are necessary, along with an 
altered attitude among the oligarchy. 

And so he deals primarily with familiar subjects, such as 
the dilemma in which his own society finds itself. One of his 

73 



persistent themes is about members of the oligarchy who 
lose their money because of poor investments and prove in- 
capable of adjustment. The point is that "menial work" 
(and this often includes any form of effort short of living 
off invested capital) is still considered degrading "and they 
stoop to dishonest practice or thievery in order to maintain 
their old positions." A sample short story by Jorge Edwards: 
A young man of the impoverished nobility finally accepts a 
senior post in a bank, at a good salary. Over a period of two 
years he embezzles a fortune. It is what he does with the 
money that makes the tragedy; he uses it to pay accumu- 
lated debts at the fashionable country club his family helped 
to found, to hire once again a valet, in short to preserve, 
vainly, his social position. 

"The mentality of the old aristocracy must change," Ed- 
wards says simply. "The aristocracy must learn not to look 
down on those of us who try to adjust to the transformation 
in life around us." 

ACADEMICIAN 

Gerardo Molina is rector of Bogota's Universidad Libre, a 
small and dynamic university founded by liberals forty years 
ago. A man of fifty-four, lean and handsome, with close- 
cropped gray hair and a fair skin, Molina looks like a campus 
type from the United States Midwest. But he is much more 
than a small-town college figure ; he is widely accepted as the 
leader of the intellectual left wing of Colombia. Molina is 
an anti-Communist Marxist. He says that communism 
denies liberty and freedom of action, and therefore the road 
to progress is through socialism. Questioned about Cuba, 
and the fact that only one political party exists there, he 
answers by saying Cuba's case is unusual: "There are refu- 
gees in Miami, the former oligarchy who would, by devious 
means, attempt to take over in Cuba if any kind of election 

74 



were held at the moment." (The same reasoning is heard 
today in Havana.) 

On the bigger question of United States-Latin-American 
relations, he says : "The United States must understand that 
the problems of Latin America will not be solved by money 
alone. We want more than money: independence, respect, 
the choice to negotiate and avoid alignment with any bloc. 
I am a neutralist." 

When I ask him to amplify the meaning of "independ- 
ence," he says it goes beyond political or economic matters; 
it involves, also, culture. "Students take their higher studies 
in the United States," he comments, "and come back with 
North American mentalities. The United States has a 'tech- 
nical' mentality; our thinking is much closer to that of 
Europe, and I would prefer to see more of our young people 
interested in France, Britain, Germany, or Italy." 

On the political side, he considers that perhaps Mexico, 
Brazil, and Chile are independent of United States domina- 
tion, but not Colombia, nor Venezuela, nor Peru, nor most 
of the other countries : "It is wrong for the United States 
to think only in terms of communism and anticommunism. 
Life is wider than that. It is for this reason that the United 
States does not understand the revolt in Latin America: a 
revolt very near socialism, but not communism, since it is 
based on national conditions." 

ARCHITECT 

One of the world's great architects, and designer of vir- 
tually every major building in Brasilia, Oscar Niemeyer is 
a pleasant, soft-spoken man with receding black hair and 
dark complexion, which give him an almost ethereal appear- 
ance. He is a Communist, but a rather naive one despite his 
fifty-four years; for he talks in cliches and slogans that fell 
out of fashion a generation or more ago. For instance, he 
describes a visit to Moscow several years ago, when he found 

75 



that "the Soviet Union is a haven for architects, because 
here we work only for the rich, while there they work for all 
the people/' However, occasionally he breaks away from a 
set patter to cite a telling detail : "There is such poverty in 
the Northeast that the people cannot even afford a simple 
casket in which to bury their dead." 

The problem, he says, is not created by men but by the 
system: "Kubitschek (the president who built Brasilia) was 
a good human being; Quadros was a clever man. But neither 
could be of much use when you have a system such as exists 
here." 

Niemeyer has been neither to Cuba nor Red China (he is 
frankly afraid of air travel) but he says the proper answers 
will be found there: first socialism, then communism. "In 
Russia," he adds, "there will be real communism in a few 
years, with free food and shelter for all. This is the kind of 
revolution we need in Brazil and the rest of Latin America." 

JOURNALIST 

Alberto Zalamea, thirty-one, is editor of La Nueva Prensa, 
a Colombian political and cultural weekly something of the 
order of Britain's New Statesman. Young, alert, progressive, 
he would be termed by British standards a Gaitskellite but 
certainly no further left. Despite the fact that he believes in 
mixed economy, and sees foreign investments of benefit to 
Colombia, his magazine falters along on a circulation of 
15,000, with flimsy advertising, because the big companies 
consider him "radical" and impose a boycott. 

"In your opinion," I ask Zalamea, "why does the United 
States look on Colombia and Venezuela as 'good 7 examples 
in Latin America?" 

"Because the presidents of these countries," he replies, 
"are ideologically in tune with the president of the United 
States, rather than with their own national interests. They 
talk of democracy, but actually there is no such thing as 

76 



democracy in Venezuela or Colombia. The governments of 
these countries assume that problems here can be solved the 
same way as problems in the United States a hundred years 
ago. They think in abstracts." 

"What is your view of the Alliance for Progress?" 
"It is well intentioned but it is going to end badly. Perhaps 
President Kennedy believes the ruling classes will make a 
revolution of sorts, but in practice they will not. Besides, 
look at the financial figures. The Alliance talks of twenty 
billion dollars in ten years, but half of this is to be provided 
by Latin-American countries and by private enterprise. 
Think of the one billion dollars from the United States each 
year divided by twenty countries ; it means fifty million dol- 
lars apiece, and this is not enough. International banks are 
lending more than this amount now, so that nothing is really 
changed except the name." 

"Then what is the forecast for Latin America?" 
"If nothing more is done, different forms of Communist 
governments will creep up. Castro was never a Communist; 
he was forced by circumstances into taking a position with 
communism. We shall have right-wing governments trying 
to preserve their interests, and then there will be a reaction 
against them, with extremism of the left. In any event, in 
underdeveloped countries, 'right' and 'lef t' have no meaning. 
The term should be 'nationalism/ not of the pattern of old- 
fashioned European nationalism, with one country against 
the next, but along the lines of modern Europe, with integra- 
tion in the national interest." 

"And how do you see the Cuban revolution?" 
"If the United States had adopted a different policy, 
Castro could have made a national revolution similar to 
Nasser's in Egypt. It's too late now; Cuba is firmly on the 
other side. I don't favor the Cuban revolution as it is today; 
but I fight for the right of any country to have what it wants, 
whether it is fascism or communism. Twenty years ago, in 

77 



North American eyes, it was wrong to be a Nazi; now it is 
wrong to be a Communist. Maybe in twenty years the vision 
will change again, and it will be wrong to be a democrat. We 
should think historically, not ideologically." 

A MEXICAN VOICE 

The young and well-known Carlos Fuentes is one of 
Mexico's most outspoken novelists and political commenta- 
tors. His background is of the old nobility; his father was 
a diplomat. Fuentes, in his early thirties, identifies himself 
as a Marxist but non-Communist. He is aware that in his 
kind of pursuit, which demands complete intellectual free- 
dom, he would be one of the first to suffer under communism. 
Nevertheless, he supports Castro, arguing that Fidelismo 
was inevitable, that Cuba, "a colony of the United States/' 
had to swing to the other extreme : not only because it was 
pushed by Washington into awkward reliance on Russia but 
because Cuba's geographic position made it imperative for 
the island to get as far away from the United States, psycho- 
logically, as possible. 

Fuentes is not repulsed by the executions in Cuba. Blood- 
shed and violence are understood by students of the Mexican 
revolution. "After all," he says, "we had our Zapata and his 
firing squads." He dismisses as "naive" the concept that some 
Mexicans frown on the Cuban revolution because it did 
not retain its original distinctive character, as did the Mex- 
ican forerunner, at least in its early years. "World conditions 
have changed since Mexico's revolution," he points out. 
"Since ours was before the Russian revolution we had no 
recent experience to emulate and no one with whom to align 
ourselves. In fact, we adopted an outmoded and unrealistic 
constitution that went back to the last big revolution in the 
world, in France." 

While intellectuals in republics south of Mexico are pre- 
occupied with the desire for fundamental social revolutions 

78 



in their own areas, Fuentes' grievance about his country is 
more subtle. His principal complaint is that Mexico's revolu- 
tion, now fifty years old, is faltering, "that a new moneyed 
class has been created, and that the money is once again 
unevenly distributed." Three per cent of Mexicans, he esti- 
mates, own 50 per cent of the wealth. A new bourgeoisie has 
been created, the bulk of whose members are settled and 
content with their lot. But the life of the peasant and the 
city worker, he believes, is steadily becoming worse. This 
gives rise to a new ideological conflict inside Mexico, a con- 
flict preceding Fidelismo by at least a few years. Fuentes 
fears that "rightists" are gaining in strength because of the 
fate of all revolutions : after a while indifference and stagna- 
tion set in. 

A recent novel by Fuentes, Where the Air Is Clear, was 
translated into English and published in the United States 
(by Obolensky, New York). It is a big book and it talks 
about the shades of splendor and squalor, about the smugly 
satisfied in contrast to those desperately searching for new 
meanings in what should be a continuous revolutionary age. 
One character says: "How can we keep it from sinking, a 
country where instead of poetry, men read ads that pro- 
claim the need to use antisweat cream on pain of losing your 
sweetheart, to gargle with chlorophyll on pain of being un- 
popular? Paradox, metaphor, imagination, to what a chasm 
you lead!" 

There is the character Rodrigo Pola, a writer whose 
father, a member of Zapata's army, was executed by another 
revolutionary leader, Huerta; and there is Ixca Cienfuegos, 
a journalist and the modern conscience of Mexico, who as- 
sails both young and old for their apathy. 

Rodrigo says : 

"You learn when you are very young. I had learned. After- 
ward, I always knew that I was what I had felt myself to be 
then: a spy. That is to say, a looker-on, destined to make 

79 



my life of the lives of others. And that was all. And I made 
something shoddy, because of my ability to understand all 
my defects, my inability to rise above them." 

"You resemble the nation/' said Ixca. 

"No, Ixca, no. Why did my father know how to throw him- 
self into the struggle, to overcome his defects, and I haven't 
known? Why was there a path of honorable action open to 
him and his men, while for us there is only conformity, burn- 
ing inside and secretly, and the goddamned hopelessness? I 
tell you, from the time I knew anything abomj anything, I 
knew that I am less his son physically than morally, and that 
today I ought to act, that I have better reasons than* he had, 
that he would act today, one way or another, that he wo^j.<in 7 t 
live at second hand. ..." 



80 



A Warning from Pliny 



The incontestable fact is that the struggle between the Commu- 
nist and non-Communist countries, notably between America and 
the Kremlin dictatorship, is not over the capitalist industrialized 
nations in Europe or elsewhere, but over the under-developed or 
peasant countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Having 
failed to persuade, beguile, or drive the proletarian in industrial- 
ized countries into revolutionary uprisings, the Kremlin leaders 
are concentrating their attention, now as never before, on the 
peasant in the backward areas of our planet. We are indeed living 
in an age not of proletarian but peasant revolutions. 1 

Maurice Hindus 

PRESSED BETWEEN THE huge walls of the Andes to the East 
and the Pacific Ocean to the West, long and thin Chile ap- 
pears on a map to be simply a ribbon decorating the edge of 
Argentina. But potentially Chile is one of the richest agri- 
cultural areas in the world. The central valley, the heartland 
of the country, rests in the shelter of the Andean ranges and 
is easily irrigated by the melting snows that tumble from the 
hilltops. About two thirds of Chile's eight million inhabit- 
ants live in this fertile belt stretching a few hundred miles 

1 House Without a Roof, Doubleday, Garden City, 1961. 

81 



from north of Santiago down toward Conception. Wheat, 
corn, barley, beans, potatoes, lentils, grapes, and a variety 
of other fruits, as well as prize-winning horses, cattle, and 
hogs come from the bountiful valley, and yet Chile each 
year finds it is less able to feed itself. It spends nearly $100 
million annually, largely from United States loans and 
grants, to import foodstuffs. The anomaly, created by a 
medieval mentality as much as by inefficient farming, is 
accompanied by an ever-increasing gap beween the standard 
of living of jundo owners, the handful of men who control 
the land, and the inquilinos, the hired hands who labor on it. 

Armando Garcia, now thirty, grew up as an inquilino ; he 
works for the same jundo as his father before him. He is paid 
the equivalent of ninety cents a day, of which forty-five 
cents are deducted as rent for his mud hut and personal vege- 
table patch. In return, he provides not only his own labor 
five days a week; his wife, working in rotation with other 
inquilino wives, spends every second week in the big jundo 
home as a cleaning woman without additional pay; the 
Garcia children, aged six and eight, are too young for heavy 
toil; but they are on call for free services whenever the 
jundo owner so requires. The Garcias eat beans and bread 
every day and meat once a week; they take their drinking 
water from an irrigation ditch. About half the farm workers 
in Chile, one of the most advanced countries of Latin Amer- 
ica, live in similar fashion. 

Garcia's employer is a woman whose family has held the 
same couple of thousand acres for something like two hun- 
dred years; she maintains a town house in Santiago, where 
she spends most of her time. It was at a reception in the 
city that I met her and also received an invitation to drive 
down to the jundo to see for myself "how content everyone 
really is." When I enquired about the food allotment for 
inquilinos, she said, rather heatedly as she fingered her four- 
strand pearl necklace, "You do not understand customs here. 

82 



They eat beans and bread because they don't like anything 
else." Was there a danger, I asked, that "customs" might 
change, that landless peasants might be caught up in the 
swirl that has enveloped much of the globe? After all, in the 
most recent revolutions of significance notably in China 
and Cuba the appeal was directed at masses of peasants 
rather than at any other groups. 

The reply was made with firmness and a degree of primi- 
tive dignity : "If the Communists have to come, I will wait 
for them and let them seize my property. I will never relin- 
quish it of my own will." Another landowner, who had been 
a silent member of our group, now spoke : "Give the inqui- 
linos land? You have to have human material capable of 
running the land. These are no better than animals. They 
work only a few hours a day, they get drunk on weekends." 

There was an element of truth in this statement, applying 
not only to Chile but to every country where the majority of 
farm people are not owners of the land they work. (The ge- 
neric term is colono, but the local name is different in differ- 
ent countries: inquilino in Chile, conuquero in Venezuela, 
huasipungo in Ecuador, yanacona in Peru.) The reasons for 
the so-called indolence and drunkenness, however, are not 
always as pictured by the owners. Sociologists with whom I 
spoke in almost every republic produced medical evidence 
to prove that the average peasant is so badly undernourished 
that he is incapable of sustained, intensive labor. Andean 
Indians take to chicha, a crude corn liquor, to deaden stom- 
ach cramps; or they chew the leaf of the coca plant, from 
which cocaine is derived, as a more effective killer of hunger 
pains. Any argument that proper agrarian reform might im- 
prove living standards as well as satisfy a basic emotional 
want is dismissed with contempt by most members of the 
oligarchy (but not by all, as we shall see later). A fairly 
representative remark was made to me by Hernando de 
Lavalle, a onetime Peruvian presidential candidate, who 

83 



referred to agrarian reform as "the big cancer of Latin 
America." 

Armando Garcia, standing outside his hut in Chile's cen- 
tral valley, was not so forceful in his language. He said 
simply, "I cannot buy shoes" and "my children have no 
clothes." As he was speaking, a group of children sauntered 
down the road, chanting, "Fidel, Fidel." They had no real 
idea who Fidel was, except that, vaguely, he stood for some 
sort of Latin Robin Hood. Garcia could not enlighten them 
in their ignorance. He did know, however, beyond the fact 
that he was tied to another's land, that something else was 
lacking. Some people from the big city had come along and 
asked him if he was receiving the federal family allowance 
to which he was entitled. Garcia had never heard of a family 
allowance, but the people from the city now made him sus- 
pect that his jundo owner was collecting it from the govern- 
ment but not distributing it, as she should, among the m- 
quilinos. His suspicion was probably well founded, because 
one newspaper advertisement I saw for a jundo up for sale 
boasted not only of its size but of the income from family 
allowances: about six thousand dollars a year. 

There are two main troubles with the land-tenure system 
in Chile. First, only 14 per cent of the nation's arable land 
is cultivated. Second, three quarters of this cultivated land 
is divided into large jundos whose owners (2 per cent of the 
population) find it more profitable to speculate in land than 
to farm it properly. Between the extremes of large land- 
owners and inquilinos is a third group of smallholders whose 
mintfundios, averaging twelve acres apiece, are not big 
enough to sustain family life. The minijundios represent a 
scratched-out existence based on every form of destructive 
farming with no measure for preservation of the soil. The 
net outcome is that Chile, which twenty years ago was able 
to export more agricultural products than she imported, now 
has a huge deficit consuming a quarter of her foreign ex- 

84 



change. Unless there is a basic change in policy and attitude, 
the situation can only grow more ominous; food production 
is increasing by only 1.6 per cent a year while population 
grows more than 2 per cent. From time to time, various 
governments, with different degrees of sincerity, have gone 
through the motions of revitalizing land tenure, of consider- 
ing equitable and more economic distribution; but not a 
single administration has been able to break through the 
aristocratic wall of conservatism. 

"Maybe my son will have a different life/' Armando Gar- 
cia said. Garcia's employer has told me that he, like other 
campesinos, was fatalistic and taciturn; and yet his attitude 
belies this comforting notion, for Garcia at least thinks in 
terms of advancement for his children if not for himself. 
Interestingly enough, too, Garcia in the last election exer- 
cised for the first time a vote of his own choice. Previously, 
the inquilinos in his district were handed ballot slips by their 
patrones, who told them precisely how to use them, with the 
result that a Conservative representative to Congress was 
always elected. In 1961 a man named Salvador Allende, 
about whom we shall hear considerably more, ran on a 
socialist platform and decided to buck the system of elec- 
tions in Gareia's area. Allende hired a bus, equipped it with 
loudspeakers over which he urged peasants to vote without 
fear of reprisal, and displayed charts and photographs that 
pointed up the difference in standards between jundo owners 
and inquilinos. More pungently, Allende pointed up the 
lesson that the campesinos in Cuba, according to him, are 
now better off than ever before. Allende won the election, 
and Garcia in his own way indicated that he was not quite 
so "taciturn" as his employer would wish to believe. 

Latin America, as I have mentioned previously, cannot 
be tied together as one unit. In some countries the elements 
of feudalism are not as great as in others; Mexico was the 

85 



earliest of Latin. American countries to start land reform; 
and while after many years controversy still rages about the 
results, there is no doubt that peones achieved a large meas- 
ure of emancipation; in Brazil's Northeast, on the other 
hand, plantation workers live virtually as slaves. Purists 
may quibble about references to "feudalism" or "slavery." 
In the classical sense, it is true that Latin America was 
never feudalistic in the fashion described by Henri Pirenne 
and other experts on the Middle Ages. But in practice it 
makes little difference what terminology is applied; the im- 
portant factor is that a traditional society feudalism, semi- 
feudalism, modified slavery survives to this day in much of 
Latin America, the statistics concerning which are shocking. 
And again common denominators creep through the graphs 
and figures. 

In a few republics it appears that there is a large propor- 
tion of owner-cultivators. Statistically, for instance, Guate- 
mala has great numbers of landowners; but this record is 
deceptive. Ninety-seven per cent of the farms are of the 
handkerchief size, much of the land so depleted it barely 
produces enough to compensate the tiller for the seeds he 
has planted. But at the other end of the scale there are 516 
Guatemalan families who control 41 per cent of the best 
agricultural land. Half the farm land of Brazil is in the 
hands of 1.6 per cent of the owners. Since, for historic rea- 
sons, these lattfundios, or large estates, embrace the most 
desirable soil, it automatically follows that what is left over 
is both minute and unproductive. In Colombia some 325,000 
farms average one acre, and a further 500,000 average five 
acres. In Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela 90 per cent of the 
minifundios fall into the same bracket of hand-to-mouth 
farming; and, since they hardly feed the immediate occu- 
piers, are outside the market economy. 

"Picture to yourselves the social and political effects the 
political dynamite of hundreds of thousands of tiny, ex- 

86 



hausted holdings persisting side by side with tremendous 
estates that, as often as not, are uncultivated and managed 
more or less efficiently (usually less) for absentee landlords." 

The man who made this shrewd observation was hardly 
a wild revolutionary or an extremist. He was, instead, Lester 
D. Mallory, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter- American 
Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Another point raised by 
Mallory: "The land problem and land-reform movements 
are nothing new. They are not something invented by Com- 
munist agitators; much less is the desire to solve them a 
Communist ideal. They are, in point of fact, as old as history 
and have been at the root of political and military conflicts 
since time immemorial." 2 

Another wise observer of the Latin American scene, Dr. 
Solon Barraclough, of the United Nations Food and Agri- 
cultural Organization, put it this way : "There is no reason 
that the Communists should take all the credit for support- 
ing land reform. After all, one of the most devastating criti- 
cisms to be found anywhere of the system of large semi- 
feudal estates is to be found not in Marx but in Adam 
Smith's Wealth of Nations" 

The quotations can be drawn from farther back in antiq- 
uity. In Athens, in the seventh century B.C., Solon made 
efforts to limit the amount of land controlled by any in- 
dividual; his denunciation of the wealthy landowners and 
their failure to release men from bondage could be translated 
with ease into a contemporary accent. In Rome, in the first 
century A.D., Pliny the Elder looked fearfully at the strongly 
entrenched system of estates and wrote : "Latifundia will be 
the ruin of Rome." Some modern historians echo Pliny's 
words and say that the Roman obsession with big, privately 
held farms drove landless peasants into the cities, over- 
crowding facilities and contributing to Rome's decline. Re- 

2 Department of State Bulletin, November 28, 1960. 

87 



gardless of this point, the latijundia pattern itself survived 
and was handed down to later Latin kings who, in old 
Roman style, rewarded faithful followers and conquistadores 
with immense tracts of land ; Latin America, in the middle 
of the twentieth century, is unwilling to relinquish the sys- 
tem; and as a consequence agrarian reform is unquestion- 
ably the most burning issue of today. 

It was so, as well, in China of 1949 and Cuba of 1958. The 
message is obvious; and yet it has not sunk in where it is 
most required, in the minds of the strongly entrenched mem- 
bers of the oligarchy. Mao Tse-tung, in his appeal to four 
fifths of the Chinese, the peasantry, bypassed cities in the 
early stages of the battle with the Kuomintang and con- 
centrated on the countryside, dividing the land as he went 
along and recruiting his soldiers from among the peasants ; 
what happened later the state takeover of the land and 
the establishment of communes was cynically incidental, 
because by then the Chinese Communist revolution had 
established itself solidly. Fidel Castro also received much of 
his initial support from campesinos, who remain among the 
strongest supporters of the Cuban revolution. 

Today, under the stimulus of dangerously warm breezes 
from Cuba and strong urgings from Washington, some of 
the Latin- American governments appear to be entering the 
road toward reform, but at a stumbling pace and over 
hurdles carefully erected in some instances by the govern- 
ments themselves and continually by the landed gentry. 
If a few leaders are aware that farm problems must be faced 
squarely, there is a multitude of other leaders ready to push 
these problems to the background, either in self-interest or 
an effort to gain the moneyed support of the aristocracy. 
Fundamentally lacking is the will to give even a minor con- 
cession, lest it lead to a major concession. Many of those 
who talk about land problems, especially to impress the 
United States and qualify for funds under the Alliance for 

88 



Progress, refuse to concede that a solution to those problems 
must by necessity entail some sacrifice. 

There are no simple or inexpensive answers to questions 
involving agrarian reform, as any Mexican or Bolivian 
authority can verify. The concept of land reform in itself 
is a controversial and academically fascinating subject. The 
narrowest definition implies simply redistribution with edu- 
cation (so peasants can learn how to get the best use from 
their soil), with credit facilities (so peasants can borrow 
money for seeds and farm implements), with marketing 
arrangements (so they can get a fair return for their efforts) 
and a hundred other details, including irrigation schemes, 
research, and so on. 

Land reform means different things to different countries. 
It does not automatically signify seizure of the big estates 
or plantations and division into hundreds of thousands of 
small units. Minifundios, as we have already noted, do 
exist in Latin America, but generally they are characterized 
by limited capital and manpower and cannot provide sus- 
tenance even for their owner-families. Bolivia knew the most 
extreme form of concentration of big estates (92 per cent of 
the land was in the possession of fewer than 6 per cent of 
the people) ; and in the chaos following the 1952 revolution 
the land was fragmentized haphazardly into minijundioSj 
so that today there is actually a decline in over-all produc- 
tion of commercial crops. 

Every expert with whom I have discussed the problem 
comes to the same broad conclusions : Agrarian reform must 
be tackled diligently and scientifically. In some instances, co- 
operative farming is the solution ; in others, especially those 
of sugar plantations, which cannot be subdivided with any 
economic sense, a form of outright state ownership with 
state management might provide the answer; in still other 
cases, minijundios, so long as they are sufficiently sizable, 
would be acceptable. But two main points remain para- 

89 



mount. First, there is the immediate need to satisfy land 
hunger of landless peasants; Bolivia has had 175 revolutions 
in its short history as a republic, approximately one a year; 
but despite the drop in commercial crops the one that 
was really meaningful took place in 1952. Second, there is 
the equal need to make better use of available land. Some 
Latin Americans, especially the largeholders, claim that 
only 5 per cent of all the continent is suitable for cultiva- 
tion. Even accepting this figure, it works out to one and a 
half acres a person; on a comparative basis, this is three 
times as much arable land as Asians can place their hands 
on. But the big trouble, as illustrated by Chile, which utilizes 
less than one sixth of its cultivable soil, is that jundo owners 
retain title to surrounding territory, out of greed or a desire 
to keep investments in property, without putting a plow to 
it. In other words, much of Latin America is wasted. 

And so the key to agrarian reform, regardless of the var- 
iants or details, rests ultimately in the grip of each of the 
Latin-American governments and the people who make up 
the governments. No matter how the key is twisted it must 
turn on a measure of self-denial. Before any scientific plan- 
ning can be contemplated, the door must first open on the 
central problem of the present land tenure. States can carve 
up or in other ways make economic the overextended and 
often idle estates in one of two methods: either by expro- 
priating the land or altering the tax system so that owners 
no longer find it profitable to neglect useful soil. In most 
countries, land taxes for the big estate owners are extremely 
low, but laws already exist giving governments the authority 
to penalize the wastrels and even, under certain circum- 
stances, to take over their holdings. What the laws do not do 
is to convert hyprocrisy into solemnity. 

If the intentions of Peruvian governments, for instance, 
were honest or sincere, degrees of land reform could have 
been pushed through years ago. There have long existed on 

90 



the statute books regulations that say that any hacendado, 
or estate owner, who has thirty or more yanacona children 
in his domain is required to provide a school and a teacher. 
This law is observed by United States-owned estates and 
companies, some of which employ as many as sixty teachers; 
but most Peruvian hacendados in the mountains ignore it. 
A large number of their haciendas are so marginal and ineffi- 
cient in operation that the added expense of a teacher would 
force them out of business ; one North American agriculture 
expert in Lima gave me his estimate that as many as 90 
per cent of the Andean estates could, in this fashion, be 
taken over painlessly by the government. While I was in 
the capital, a reform-inclined deputy actually had the au- 
dacity to stand up in Congress and suggest that the law be 
applied; he was shouted down by landowner deputies. 

Peru, however, insists, for propaganda purposes, that its 
intentions are good. Typically, the government brought over 
in 1961 an Italian land expert as a much-heralded adviser; 
the publicity value was believed to be considerable, espe- 
cially since the same man had helped to design Italy's post- 
war agrarian reform program. But within four months he 
quit in disgust, reporting that the Peruvian government and 
oligarchy simply did not have the will to alter the status 
quo. Again while I was in Lima the Congress went through 
maneuvers of debating a land-reform bill; because of intri- 
cate legislative rules, the bill would have to be debated two 
years in a row, and because of complex constitutional 
changes involved, the earliest any effective action could take 
place would be in 1964, if then. 

Peru, of course, is not alone in such exercises, designed 
largely for Washington's benefit. Brazil has a clause built 
into its constitution that prohibits any takeover of land 
without prior payment in cash. Therefore, as matters stood 
in 1962, no government could introduce the first necessary 
step : a bond issue, redeemable over a period of several years, 

91 



to pay off the big existing landowners. During my visit, the 
government had ten university committees working on vari- 
ous problems of land tenure and reform. Nine of the reports 
came in sooner than the government expected. Awaiting the 
tenth, obviously without impatience, an official told me: 
"Well, I suppose it will be in next month. Then, naturally, 
we will have to take two or three years to examine and study 
the reports/ 7 It was with similar cynicism that Brazil's Con- 
gress had previously discarded the scores of agrarian reform 
bills submitted by individual deputies. Ironically, one of 
these Brazilian presentations formed the basis for Cuba's 
radical land scheme. 

A sensitive point about agrarian reform hinges on the 
question of how owners should be compensated for expro- 
priated property. In Chile, for example, the three par- 
ties, so-called Liberals, Radicals, and Conservatives, which 
formed the coalition government in 1962, agreed in principle 
that land changes were necessary, but a major blowup en- 
sued over the form of payment. A joint committee recom- 
mended twenty-year bonds. But Old Guard Liberals of the 
upper class rejected the committee's exhortation, and instead 
demanded cash, knowing that the government could not 
raise sufficient funds to meet any immediate and major bills. 
Finally, young Liberals, whose eyes had been opened by the 
growing influence of Fidelismo and who were well aware that 
Chilean socialists and Communists in a new alliance might 
easily win the next election, swung their elders to accept the 
notion of bonds. "You have swept away the right of owner- 
ship," cried an indignant Old Guard. However, at this writ- 
ing a substantial Chilean land-reform scheme has yet to be 
put into motion. 

Colombia at least is ahead of Chile, having enacted an 
agrarian reform bill on November 22, 1961. But even here 
only time will determine its effectiveness. As far back as 
1936 Colombia's Congress passed a law allowing for the 

92 



expropriation of unproductive territory; but nobody was 
ever able to define what "unproductive" meant. In 1957 
another bill was approved dividing arable land into four 
classifications ; but nobody could ever figure out which clas- 
sification was which. The newest act came about as a result 
of the efforts of President Alberto Lleras Camargo, who had 
some disturbing figures gnawing at him: Colombia spends 
$30 million a year to bring in food while most of the nation's 
campesinos grow only enough for their own needs, with 
nothing to spare for city markets ; at the same time, 40 per 
cent of the land is held by 1 per cent of the landowning class, 
who leave much of this 40 per cent uncultivated. By rectify- 
ing the maldistribution and increasing acreage under culti- 
vation, Colombia in a few years could become self-sufficient 
in agriculture. 

Lleras' bill, by any standards except Colombian, was mod- 
erate. It set up an Agrarian Reform Institute to resettle a 
modest 50,000 campesino families in four years mainly on 
expropriated large holdings of more than five thousand acres 
that are not under proper cultivation. In return for relin- 
quishing this type of unused property to the state, owners 
are to receive twenty-five-year bonds at 2 per cent annual 
interest. But where land is "partly" cultivated, owners are 
to get cash : 20 per cent outright, and the balance in eight 
yearly installments. It so happens that much of Colombia's 
uncultivated land belongs to families of relatively humble 
means with insufficient capital to develop it; they simply 
pass their properties down from one generation to another. 
It is this group that is the hardest hit by the legislation, 
while the really big and wealthy landowners, who have man- 
aged to find loopholes in the past, may be expected to take 
token steps "partly" to cultivate their unused land, thereby 
receiving cash settlement, or, since the treasury is limited, 
avoiding all state intervention. 

Still, such is the emotional depth surrounding any event 

93 



that might indicate the beginning of the end of traditional 
rights that, when Lleras' bill reached the House of Repre- 
sentatives, right-wing Conservatives hysterically went into 
a near riot. As the clerk of the House started to recite a 
section of the bill, a Conservative Congressman leaped to his 
feet, attempting interruption by launching into an entirely 
different subject. The speaker of the House rebuked the 
Congressman, who then yanked the microphone off his desk 
and hurled it at the clerk. Other Conservatives joined in, and 
proceeded to rip out all microphone wires so the clerk would 
be silenced. When this tactic failed (the clerk continued to 
read without benefit of the public address system), the 
mutineers contrived to turn off all the lights. Decorum was 
eventually reestablished, but not before a Conservative, in 
a last stand, hauled an automatic from his pocket and 
threatened to shoot Congressmen who supported the bill. 
Eventually, a union of Liberals and less fanatic Conserva- 
tives succeeded in pushing it through the House. 

Leftist parties also denounced the bill, but for not going 
far enough. What stood out, however, was the lesson that 
even as mild a reform as this is sufficient to arouse oligarchic 
passions in Latin America. President Lleras, a middle-of- 
the-roader who firmly believes in constitutional democracy, 
spoke wisely when he confessed that his bill was the best 
that could be expected under the political circumstances. A 
Colombian economist, with the memory of past measures 
that failed, said : "This could be a good agrarian reform law 
if our people want to make it good." 

It is clear that agrarian reform cannot be evaluated in 
immediate or practical results alone. An intangible yet vital 
factor enters into it: the promise of a better life for the 
multitude who up to now have had no reason to hope. This 
psychological element was brought out in Bolivia in the 
1950's, and more recently in Venezuela. In many ways, Vene- 

94 



zuelan reform is something of a test case. Its history does 
not follow the violence of the Bolivian or Mexican or Cuban 
pattern, but is an outgrowth of an active campaign by the 
party of Romulo Betancourt ; who fought verbally from elec- 
tion platforms. Venezuela's new land program had its official 
beginning in March, 1960, before there was any talk of 
reward from the United States through the Alliance for 
Progress. Today Washington looks upon it optimistically as 
an example to other countries that want to solve basic agri- 
cultural and social problems through peaceful and harmoni- 
ous means. The hope for advancement still existed among 
Venezuelan campesinos when I was there last year, but, 
tragically, signs of political discord were also creeping in 
because progress was not rapid enough. 

I drove out from Caracas, with its spectacular skyscrapers 
and white-faced buildings, along a six-lane expressway com- 
plete with toll booths and billboards reminiscent of North 
America. There was a choice between Philip Morris ciga- 
rettes and Kool, between U.S. Royal and Firestone tires, 
between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, or 7-Up. In this atmos- 
phere of speeding cars and flashing signs, it was strange to 
know first that this was South America, and second that the 
consumer market could hardly benefit from the advertising, 
since it really takes in only a minority of the population. 
The bulk could hardly afford any of these U.S.-inspired 
products, and, in fact, live beneath any monetary economy 
and with far fewer than the minimum calories required for 
adequate health. But on and on ; for a hundred kilometers 
to the bustling city of Valencia with a myriad of modern 
factories : electronics, a Ford assembly plant, Colgate-Palm- 
olive. And still on and on, for another hundred kilometers, 
into the countryside, where live the majority of Vene- 
zuelans, as ill fed and as primitively housed as the peasants 
on the Delhi plain in India and worse off even than some 
of the fellahin of the Nile delta. 

95 



It is toward the advancement of these Venezuelans that 
Betancourt's agrarian reform program is primarily directed. 
The land allocated to them is from a variety of sources; 
some has simply been confiscated from cabinet ministers and 
other officials of the evicted government of dictator Perez 
Jimenez; some is old state property; in a few instances, 
latifundios have been purchased from wealthy owners, with 
up to $30,000 of the value in cash, the balance partly in 
cash and partly in bonds. 

One of my stops was at El Topo, formerly a private ha- 
cienda, in the state of Cojedes. Here dwelt fifty-two campe- 
sino families in a kind of collective life. Each had two or 
three hectares (five to seven and a half acres) for individual 
farming, but the main hours were spent working in the vast 
community fields. Before the state scheme, men such as 
Nicolas Bolivar and Pedro Perez had been classified as 
conuqueros, nomadic laborers or squatters on badly cleared 
subsistence farms to which they did not have titles. Bolivar 
could never really claim the security of even borrowed land ; 
he toiled merely for a few cents a day and a handout lunch 
provided by his patron. Perez at least had possessed a mini- 
fundio of one hectare, on which, as he put it, "my wife and 
my two children starved." 

I asked Perez if his life was any better today. "Better?" 
he echoed, and, not bothering to answer by words, he led me 
across the fields into a neighboring estate still held by a 
private owner. He pointed to a cluster of huts, some of mud 
heaped on frames of small poles lashed together with thongs, 
and palm leaf roofs, others of primitively thatched sidings 
which at least allowed a breeze to circulate. But around all 
were scrawny chickens and hogs, freely entering the dwell- 
ings and sloshing through the human and animal excrement. 
Perez, still in silence, escorted me into one of the airless 
adobes, one room with no furniture of any kind. Then, as 
we walked back across the fields, he said: "I lived in that 

96 



kind of house. My wife carried water from a spring, five hun- 
dred meters away, three times a day." Now he showed me 
his new home ; it was far from lavish but it was at least neat 
and trim, its cement walls freshly whitewashed, its roof of 
proper construction. The two bedrooms and the combination 
dining room-living room boasted furniture: a couple of 
chairs and a table, and real beds instead of the mats on 
which Perez and his family used to sleep. Possibly the most 
dramatic feature was the bathroom, with indoor toilet and 
shower. 

Pedro Perez built his home with his own hands and the 
help of neighbors, and, more importantly, under the direc- 
tion of a government man who knew something about build- 
ing. It cost five thousand bolivars (about $1,000), the credit 
extended by a government agency, Banco Agricola y Pecu- 
ario. Perez 3 repayment is four dollars a month; but, working 
in the communal fields, he can figure on an income of nearly 
two dollars a day, a far cry from the old days when he 
existed virtually outside the money system. The bank also 
provided El Topo with enough funds to buy two threshing 
machines (the first mechanical equipment any of the 
peasants had ever enjoyed), deducting installments from 
revenues from the marketing which it handles for the com- 
munity. For the first time, there is a school for the Perez 
children, and a dispensary attended by a state doctor every 
Tuesday. 

But the main impact of modern El Topo is that it has 
aroused hope in Perez and the other former serfs; Perez 
eventually will have title to his house and two hectares of 
soil, on which he has started to grow his own vegetables and 
raise some plump chickens. I questioned him about Fidel 
Castro. "A dangerous man," said Perez. Previously, he con- 
fessed, he had given some sympathetic thought to Castro's 
words, but now he believes the Cuban approach to reform 
would make no sense for Venezuelans. "We are tired of 

97 



slavery/' said Perez in a reference to the almost unbroken 
series of dictatorships that governed Venezuela in the last 
century. 

Perez, better informed than most campesinos, can express 
intelligibly why he supports Action Democratica, the coun- 
try's leading political party headed by Betancourt. Many 
peasants idolize Betancourt, and for good reason, because he 
at least made an effort to deliver some of his campaign 
promises. Perez' friend, Nicolas Bolivar, not so sophisti- 
cated politically, frankly admitted that he did not know why 
he had been given his particular plot of land. Someone, he 
recalled, had just come up to him and said: "That bit is 
yours." But what Bolivar could understand and resent was 
the neglect by previous administrations of the well-being 
of conuqueros. "Year after year," he said, "I worked my 
conuco, and never had enough to eat. Did anyone care if 
I lived or died?" 

But the story does not quite end with a flourish of trium- 
phal trumpets. Rather, the quest-ion now is: Was Betan- 
court's plan a recurrence of the tragic "too little and too 
late"? Betancourt himself, a onetime vocal socialist, was 
beset by a series of ailments common to any dedicated re- 
former in Latin America. For one thing, he inherited a 
distorted economy left by Perez Jimenez, who found graft 
easier to extort from industry than from agriculture ; Perez 
Jimenez concentrated on fraudulent public works in the 
cities, neglecting irrigation and other essentials that would 
make food more plentiful. Betancourt quietly told me: 
"Perez Jimenez poured concrete into Caracas. I have gone 
mainly into the countryside." 

But Betancourt's main problem was extremism; on one 
side were military and oligarchic figures strenuously opposed 
to changes of any kind ; on the other side were Communists 
demanding sweeping and speedy dismemberment of the pre- 
vailing land tenure. "It was," said Betancourt, "like being 

98 



a fakir lying on a bed of nails, with pricks from a hundred 
directions at once.' 7 Betancourt's admittedly cautious ap- 
proach to land reform, he assured me, was not dictated by 
compromise or expediency but by a genuine belief in grad- 
ual process. "Otherwise," he said, "I call it an erosion of good 
things. If you do things too quickly, they can spoil." 

What the Betancourt plan has been trying to do, in es- 
sence, is to create a class of small landowners or capitalists 
to replace the idle movement of men who were reduced to 
shifting from one piece of unused land to another; these 
squatters, who still exist in droves, are at the mercy of title 
holders who can appear at any moment and demand their 
removal. But the idea now is to give them, in stages, legal 
rights to the land on which they have struggled to achieve 
some degree of livelihood and dignity. The alternative is 
organized land invasion by impatient campesinos and a 
Fidel Castro type of collectivism. That the threat is a real 
one was indicated in May and June of last year when gov- 
ernment forces had to put down a series of revolts by garri- 
sons of marines, and a few leftist civilians, who, Betancourt 
charged, were attempting to lead a "Cuban-style rebellion." 

And so the success or failure of Venezuela's agrarian re- 
form really hovers on the precariousness of time. From El 
Topo and its optimistic air (El Topo is exceptional, and a 
showpiece for visitors) I descended into other areas filled 
with the blight and depression that mark most of Latin 
America. Campesinos were listless and confused; their lives 
had not yet been remotely touched by the charts and graphs 
drawn up by the National Agrarian Institute, which employs 
some five hundred planners in Caracas. The target is to 
resettle or to give financial assistance to approximately 
400,000 farm families by 1970. The government claims that 
in the first year of operation land grants were made to 30,000 
families; opposition economists with whom I spoke said the 
realistic estimate was no more than 15,000; and at the 

99 



present rate, taking into account normal population growth, 
at least fifty years will be required to complete agrarian 
reform. 

This gloomy forecast, in turn, is rejected by government 
officials who argue that Venezuela is proceeding not only 
with the purchase of haciendas but with schemes to open 
up virgin territory. But "colonization" of far-off land runs 
afoul of two main problems: the difficulty in convincing 
large numbers of people to move into new and remote areas 
and the enormous cost of building roads and other facilities 
to get them there. I heard the cry for "colonization" in every 
Latin American republic, almost invariably uttered by large 
landowners who have used the same chant in the past as a 
diversionary move to forestall fundamental changes in land 
tenure. Chilean landowners supported in 1935 the establish- 
ment of Caja de Colonization, a government agency empow- 
ered to finance settlements on state property; in twenty-six 
years new farms were set up for the benefit of only 3,300 of 
Chile's 200,000 landless rural families. 

What are the chances for peaceful, democratically planned 
land reform in Latin America? An authority, Thomas F. 
Carroll of F.A.O/s Latin American Regional Office, gives 
his answer: 

The available evidence is not encouraging. In fact, on the 
basis of past experience alone, an outlook of pessimism is 
warranted. With the possible exception of Venezuela, policy 
tends to polarize on one side in a "do nothing' 7 attitude and 
on the other in a radical, revolutionary stance. The former 
group may tinker with some land settlement or tax reforms, 
and is likely to appoint commissions to "study the problem"; 
it may even pass some laws which, however, are likely to 
remain on the books. With this group, in general, the hope is 
that the problem will go away. Where, on the other hand, 
land reforms have been imbedded in violent revolutions, 
there is either a nearly complete neglect of the technical and 

100 



developmental aspects (as in Bolivia) or a tendency toward 
political excesses (as in Cuba) 3 

Dr. Carroll goes on to say that the picture is not without 
hope, partly because of pressures by the United States on 
Latin-American governments, partly because of some real- 
ization by ruling elements that the impact of Fidelismo must 
in some way be offset. The conjunction of these influences, 
he concludes, may eventually lead to meaningful land re- 
form over wide areas of Latin America. Time is still the 
intangible ingredient, and possibly the final word is from 
another F.A.O. man who told me: "The average peasant, 
used to the domination of an overseer on horseback, wouldn't 
care much if he worked on a collective farm with a party 
officer telling him what to do especially if he got more 
out of it." 

"SOCIAL SECUKITY" DE LUXE 

As far back as a half century ago a prominent Brazilian 
jurist, Ruy Barbosa, said: "Brazil has the finest laws in the 
world, but it needs one more to make the others operate." 
The reference was not only to criminal and civil codes but 
to social legislation; for Brazil, like Latin America as a 
whole, can be said to possess advanced labor and welfare 
rules if not for the peasantry at least for industrial work- 
ers. Indeed, by United States terms of reference, many of the 
republics today can almost be called "Communist" because 
of their cradle-to-the-grave mentalities. In several instances 
they are much farther ahead even than such European 
countries as Britain and. Sweden, which implement some 
genuinely socialistic principles of welfare. This phenomenon 
is interesting for two reasons : First it points up the fact that 
radical thinking in Latin America is nothing new and cer- 
tainly is not the result of a fledgling ideology known as 

3 Latin American Issues, The Twentieth Century Fund, 1961. 

101 



Fidelismo. Legislators have long been aware of the senti- 
ments of the growing industrial and labor classes, and have 
catered to their moods in theory. Chile, for instance, has 
no fewer than forty-eight separate social-security funds 
covering various categories of workers. But the second part 
of the story is equally significant: Few of the ambitious 
schemes of Chile and other states are put into practice, 
partly because governments default in payments, partly 
because of inefficiency and gross bureaucracy, partly because 
of corruption. In virtually every republic free education and 
a free health service are provided on paper. But these fa- 
cilities are rarely translated into actuality. 

In Argentina it is theoretically possible for a railway 
employee to retire at the age of fifty, and to go on receiving 
three quarters of his wages. In Uruguay a miner who started 
to work when he was eighteen can, again in theory, retire 
when he attains the ripe old age of forty. The fact that law 
provides, but practice refutes, does not unduly disturb gov- 
ernment officials. "You Anglo-Saxons don't understand us," 
said a Chilean. "When we have a law it is not necessarily 
that we say that this is what we are going to do. Rather, 
it is an ideal toward which we will strive." In Chile for 
every active army officer there are five on pension. But out 
of every hundred factory workers only one receives a pen- 
sion. Trade unionism in Chile supposedly is strong, but not 
nearly as strong as military unionism. People who have 
made contributions toward retirement funds must wait in 
line, hoping to collect after welfare agencies have met their 
immediate overhead expenses; usually there is nothing left 
over. People also cure themselves, or die, before vaunted 
medical help reaches them. 

Brazilian and Argentine businessmen complain, some- 
times with justification, that they cannot run efficient estab- 
lishments because government labor regulations cripple 
them. In Brazil you cannot dismiss an employee without 

102 



"fair reason" and without severance pay amounting to one 
month's salary for each year's work. There are, of course, 
dodges. In Sao Paulo I met a textile-mill owner who con- 
fessed the following: He had overproduced, and his ware- 
houses were jammed with unsold goods. But he could not 
lay off workers because he could not afford the huge labor 
compensation. And so he simply called in a couple of union 
leaders and slipped them a private packet of money. The 
next morning workers were pulled out on "strike." Curi- 
ously, the "strike" lasted until the mill's stockpile was down 
to normal. 

It is hardly any wonder that even though Brazilian law 
provides for collective bargaining, only 10 to 15 per cent of 
industrial workers bother to join unions. "What is the use?" 
said a typically dismayed Paulista. "The syndicates just 
steal, or get involved in politics." In Brazil, as in most other 
countries, the fanciful scheme for social benefits is run by 
a number of semiofficial organizations, to which unions, 
employers, and government contribute. Much of the syndi- 
cate money assessed from members is unaccounted for ; while 
the government itself is billions of cruzeiros in arreas. "We 
have been betrayed," said a Brazilian. "Our money is squan- 
dered, and there is none left for our old age." I spent an 
evening in his company, along with five of his mates who 
were trying to establish what they called a benevolent syn- 
dicate to take over from the existing big confederation of 
labor. It was a pathetic group, comprising, by their own 
definitions, two "Trotskyites," two "democrats," and two 
"anarchists." Anarchists are not new to the Latin-American 
labor scene. They helped establish Argentina ; s first unions, 
back in 1870. They, along with Communists, dominated 
trade unions in Brazil until Getulio Vargas came along in 
the early 1930s and transformed the syndicates into state 
instruments, just as Peron did several years later in Argen- 

103 



tina. Labor affairs have been mixed with confusion, inepti- 
tude, and dishonesty ever since. 

On a continent where social improvement is so obvious 
and desperate a necessity, undelivered paper promises only 
add to the appeal of Fidelismo, whose advocates talk of 
social security equitably and honestly delivered. Uruguay's 
social security system may be too idealistic and therefore 
impossible to put completely into effect (there are one hun- 
dred and twenty-two laws of social legislation) . But the tiny 
state does prove what can be done without the abuses of 
communism. Its government is truly democratic, being run 
by an efficient nine-man council representing the major par- 
ties. Its utilities are almost all state owned. You ride to work 
on a state bus, you watch state television, you fill your car 
tank with gasoline refined by the state and sold in state 
service stations. The chances are you spend your vacation at 
a state hotel, and, perhaps most comforting of all, you never 
really fear hunger because you collect a pension when you 
are entitled to it. 

Uruguay's attitude was summed up last year by its presi- 
dent, Eduardo Victor Haedo, when he told a group of visiting 
United States businessmen : "You are capitalists ; we believe 
more in socialism. But we like your ideas of freedom. 7 ' And 
that is the essence, and the need : a respect for dignidad and 
liberty, but also a pride in social legislation that effectively 
provides a measure of security in a neighborhood of mount- 
ing insecurity. Uruguay is not terribly ebullient by Latin- 
American standards, but it is stable, and it has a place for 
everyone. 

THE BANDIDOS OF COLOMBIA 

Colombians tell a bitter-sweet joke about a backwoods 
prefect who, informing Bogota about a local election, tele- 
graphed: "Voting going smoothly. Order prevails. Only 
nineteen dead." Apocryphal or not, it sums up a situation 

104 



little known to the outside world, yet perilous to Colombia's 
stability. While newspapers in the United States and else- 
where were devoting headlines to bloodletting in the Congo 
and Algeria, more people were being killed every day 
through senseless violence in Colombia than in either of 
those two countries. What began as an undeclared civil war 
degenerated into family and political feuding, aggravated 
by sheer banditry and undertones of Castro-like action in 
the hills. In the last fifteen years, some 300,000 Colombians 
have been hacked or shot to death : a greater number than 
the total battle toll of all United States forces in World 
War II. 

La violencia, as Colombians have learned to call it with 
fatalism and resignation, has its roots in the old hatred, jeal- 
ousy and antagonism between Colombia's two traditional 
parties, Liberals and Conservatives. Murders had long 
marred Colombian politics; but the current warfare broke out 
in earnest on April 9, 1948, after the assassination of a Liberal 
leader. The Liberals accused the Conservatives of the kill- 
ing; the Conservatives denied it. Rioting swept the capital, 
Bogota, with hundreds of victims. The Conservatives, who 
were in office, drove Liberals from their farms; Liberals 
retaliated by organizing guerrilla bands and seizing Con- 
servative property. From that time on both sides were 
obsessed only with the thought of slaughtering one another. 
Whole villages were wiped out because the inhabitants were 
known, for generations back, to have Liberal or Conservative 
sentiments. Individual communities themselves were divided 
by barricades. In the Andean town of Libano, for example, 
more than 8,000 of a population of 60,000, lay dead after 
nine years of skirmishes; one third of the homes and build- 
ings were in ruins. 

By 1957 the nation was understandably weary of decima- 
tion ; it was also disenchanted with the dictatorship of Gen- 
eral Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, who had come to power four 

105 



years previously in a coup d'etat pledged to restore peace 
and establish prosperity. Rojas' inept leadership only ac- 
celerated the chaos. The Liberals and Conservatives finally 
joined forces to throw him out; they agreed to an armistice 
in which the parties would alternate the presidency and 
divide evenly all government offices down to the level of 
municipal councillors. The arrangement, unwieldy as it was, 
worked to a point. At least the massive onslaughts ended. 
But now the habit of killing was so prevalent that even in 
1962 lawlessness still dominated five of Colombia's seven- 
teen departments. Despite martial law in these areas, at 
least one hundred persons continued to be slaughtered every 
month. 

If the immediate reasons were not political, the origin 
could be found in politics. Bands of armed youths, left 
homeless and parentless through earlier killings, roamed the 
mountain passes, setting up ambushes for travelers or simply 
descending on farms to rob, rape, and butcher the campe- 
sinos. In one representative day last year, a bus was forced 
to halt because of a roadblock on a lonely rural road. Gun- 
men sprang out from behind rocks and bushes, removed the 
money from passengers as they dismounted, and then de- 
capitated them one by one with machetes; hours later the 
same bandidos, led by a self-styled "Captain Poison," in- 
vaded the isolated finca belonging to Miguel Antonio Vill- 
egas, murdered him, raped and then killed his wife and two 
daughters, leaving behind a badly wounded farm hand to 
tell the story. By the time police heard it, three days later, 
Captain Poison was off in the hills striking another finca. 

There are scores of similar bands whose chieftains boast 
such names as "The Avenger" or "Captain Trigger." Occa- 
sionally revenge is the motive, for the Liberal-Conservative 
feud has left bitter memories recalling lex talionis, the law 
of retaliation, which disfigured early Italian history. So in- 
grained is political hatred in some villages that attempts at 

106 



"mixed marriages" between offspring of Liberal and Con- 
servative families end in Romeo-and-Juliet tragedies. Some 
of the marauders wear army uniforms, which they have 
stolen or bought from indifferent quartermaster sergeants, 
and are believed to be Fidelistas, determined to emulate in 
the Andes the example of Castro in the Sierra Maestra. But 
most today are nonpolitical, content to hijack coffee crops 
or confiscate the belongings of entire villages. No construc- 
tion has gone on in the town of Sevilla for a decade because 
those with the means have fled to the somewhat safer en- 
virons of Bogota. Bogota itself is free from danger by day, 
but few residents consider venturing into the surrounding 
countryside by night. On any excursions I took outside the 
city I was warned to return by dusk. 

When Lleras Camargo became the Liberal president in 
1958 he offered amnesty to all bandidos who would turn in 
their weapons. He also established a special antiguerrilla 
army unit known as the Lanceros to root out those still in 
the hills. The difficulty here is that you think back to 
Malaya, where it took the British, with modern equipment 
and scores of thousands of troops, nine years to eliminate 
Communist guerrillas from the jungles. In Colombia, the 
handful of Lanceros have two helicopters at their disposal; 
usually when they or the police arrive at the scene of a raid 
they can do little more than count the bodies. In some of 
the more fearsome areas the troops refuse to leave their 
vehicles. 

Still, the moves by Lleras met with some success; in 1958 
the estimated number of bandidos was 100,000; four years 
later the figure was calculated at 60,000. But Lleras, in keep- 
ing with the political armistice, retired from office, to be 
replaced by a Conservative president, Guillermo Leon Va- 
lencia. This led to a fresh outbreak of shootings by resentful 
extremists among the Liberals. Aside from the steady and 
expensive toll in lives, Colombia's little-publicized violence 

107 



costs the economy untold millions of pesos annually, retards 
development of some of the nation's richest countryside, and 
could resume its former massive scale at any time. 

A COMMON MARKET? 

Many of Latin America's new political leaders have, at 
least in theory, a sensible and enlightened awareness of the 
hazards implicit in the gross inequality of wealth that en- 
dangers the continent's social and economic stability. But, 
as The Economist of London points out, nowhere, except in 
Cuba, has the redistribution of income yet been seriously 
thought about as a primary means to avert this danger. 
Instead, the governments tend to pin their hopes on projects 
for increasing the total wealths of their countries in the 
belief that by a simple process of arithmetic all the people 
will eventually have more. "This, however," says The Econ- 
omist) "is not an automatic development. The mathematical 
division of export earnings stops short long before it reaches 
the people most urgently in need of relief. The bulk of profits 
are divided between the producing companies often owned 
by foreign interests, and the governments, which need most 
of the money they can collect from taxation on exports to 
keep their civil services and their armies in being. What is 
left percolates through to industry, to commerce, and to 
the local labor employed by export industries." But the vast 
disparity in the wages earned in the main export industries 
and by the ordinary urban worker is in itself a disrupting 
social factor; a Chilean copper miner, for example, earns 
the equivalent of $90 a week compared with the average 
industrial wage of $14. 

Most of the Latin-American countries that have been 
largely dependent on one-item economies (coffee, in the case 
of Colombia; tin, in the case of Bolivia) are now aiming 
at more diversified economies. But will industrial develop- 
ment, if allowed to run its own course, necessarily result in 

108 



a more equitable division? The Economist asks this ques- 
tion and then answers : Probably not, for two reasons. First, 
trade-union organizations in Latin America are very weak 
and are unable to have their voices heard above the din of 
conflicting interests. With the exception of Argentina, where 
trade unionism is based on Peronism, and to a smaller degree 
in Chile, the labor organizations do not compete with any 
effect against the most powerful pressure groups: the 
armies, the church, the foreign companies, property owners. 
Second, as industrial expansion goes up, agricultural produc- 
tion is faltering, and agriculture still acounts for the occupa- 
tion of nearly two out of three Latin Americans; unless 
investors get rid of their notion of quick profit in industry, 
and fortify agriculture with better use of the land, any 
industrial growth is not likely to remove the disparity in 
income, and may even increase it. 

With this danger in the background, Latin-American 
countries some with ambitious five- and ten-year programs 
of economic planning have nevertheless plunged into what, 
on the face of it, appears a noble aim: the creation of a 
common market. The enormity of this project can be better 
understood if the twenty republics are considered in the 
same light as the many European countries, with different 
nationalities, conflicting frontiers, and a variety of other 
problems. But here the comparison with Europe takes an- 
other direction and becomes a contrast. European countries, 
even before their own common market, traded among them- 
selves. Trade among Latin-American neighbors has been 
almost nonexistent, largely because of mutual political mis- 
trust. Trade routes traditionally have been from each coun- 
try to its European or United States market: a shipment out 
of raw materials, such as coffee and cotton and minerals, and 
a shipment back of industrial and consumer supplies. 

A striking example of Latin America's economic separate- 
ness, as described by The Reporter, is to be found in the 

109 



northern regions of Chile and Argentina. In northern Chile 
the mining town of Antofagasta is located in arid desert; 
just across the Andes, linked by a railroad, is the fertile 
Argentine region of Salta, whose fruits and vegetables are 
isolated from the markets of Buenos Aires. The sensible 
arrangement would be to have Salta send its produce to 
Antofagasta, where it would be appreciated. The idea was 
voiced a couple of years ago, with several disturbing results. 
For one, it was discovered that the rail link between the 
Chilean and Argentine system had never been completed. 
Approximately fifty yards separated them: a defense, it was 
argued, against invasion. The two railroads had no agree- 
ment for the exchange of freight cars, each fearing the other 
would never return them. Moreover, there were no telegraph 
lines between Salta and Antofagasta; messages had to go 
via Buenos Aires and Santiago, a detour of several thousand 
miles. Banking arrangements followed the same impractical 
route. When steps were taken to overcome these hurdles, a 
great cry went up from Chilean farmers in the agricultural 
central and southern valleys. Although they had -never been 
able to ship perishable fruits or vegetables to Antofagasta 
in any event, this was a Chilean market and not Argentine 
territory. Soon, they complained, Argentina would think of 
annexing northern Chile. ("It is not only the United States 
that is accused of imperialism/' comments The Reporter 
wryly.) The idea of supplying a Chilean desert community 
with fresh Argentine produce was finally pushed aside, to 
await development of a common market. 

European planners, of course, ran into the same kind of 
parochial obstructions when they first sought to establish 
their common market. But the trade patterns for Latin 
America are more rigid than Europe's, and no one believed 
it would be an easy task to create a system of communica- 
tions between countries accustomed to ignoring one an- 

110 



other. However, with prodding and encouragement from the 
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America 
(ECLA) nine republics (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, 
Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Mexico) formed 
the Latin American Free Trade Association in 1961. They 
agreed to eliminate all tariffs between members within 
twelve years, at a minimum annual rate of 8 per cent. 

The treaty, on paper, is a weak instrument, interwoven 
generously with escape clauses. Plainly, it will work only as 
well as its subscribers want it to work. But the logic in favor 
of trade among neighbors is there, especially in view of the 
fact that Europe bought 30 per cent of Latin America's 
exports before forming its own economic union; and now 
Latin Americans fear the Europeans will give a preference 
to products from African states. "Faced with the European 
Common Market, the Latin Americans are only now be- 
ginning to realize how isolated they really are," a vaguely 
optimistic ECLA official told me. One indication that the 
republics might now be willing to forget old differences and 
to compromise came six months after the treaty : members 
consented to 2,500 mutual tariff cuts averaging not 8 but 
27 per cent each. 

To finance their economic plans, the republics are turn- 
ing first to private investment, and then, when this is not 
available, to international loans and credits. The Economist 
adds a note of caution : 

The reliance on foreign capital illustrates one of the basic 
shortcomings of nearly all the plans: the fact that they do 
not probe deeply into Latin America's failure to raise more 

of its own money for development Nowhere is there a 

radical attempt to divert the money that flows into salaries, 
defence and food imports. So the problem twists back, as do 
most economic and social problems in Latin America, to the 
weary tangle of under-employed land and a weak and dis- 
criminating tax system. The admonitions of self-help and 

111 



self-discipline that roll forth these days from Washington 
find little response in the economic development plans. The 
plans themselves are bold and imaginative exercises; they 
run the risks of toppling over unless the structure on which 
they are built is strengthened. 



112 



Another White Cross and Vicos 



STRETCHING UP from Chile, the great cordillera of the Andes 
forms a massive barrier between Peru's coastal desert and 
the eastern plains of the Amazon River. The loftiest Peru- 
vian peaks are almost as high as Mount Everest, and the 
canyons are tremendous, some nearly twice as deep as Grand 
Canyon. In many places the rivers pass through narrow 
gorges with vertical rock walls. Roads, a few of them built 
by the ancient Incas, are carved like winding shelves on 
these awesome parapets left by Nature. 

The Incas were a clever people, and well advanced in civi- 
lization. Five hundred years ago they could perform intricate 
brain operations- The only trouble with the Incas is that 
they never thought of inventing the wheel, so that no matter 
how marvelous were their engineering feats in hacking a 
road on the face of perpendicular rock they did not visualize 
man in speedy locomotion. The Incas, who had good nerves, 
went by foot around the steep and blind curves, or used 
llamas as beasts of burden. 

There is a modern version of the llama, and it is called a 
colectivo. A colectivo is a kind of taxi: that is, an old sedan 
boasting four wheels, a motor of sorts, and a horn. The name 

113 



comes from the connotation that it is a pool operation ; the 
driver takes off for a journey up into the Andes when he 
has four or five passengers. 

I started out in good faith for the community of Vicos, 
high in the sierra. It was four in the morning, an ideal time 
to vacate a hotel room in Lima, the comfortable and sophis- 
ticated capital of Peru. But I was anxious to visit Vicos 
because of an experiment conducted there among the In- 
dians by Cornell University, a grass-roots effort that antic- 
ipated the United States Peace Corps by nine years. The 
Cornell representative in Lima, Dr. Henry Dobyns, assured 
me it would be a pleasant and scenic trip. 

Now, I should not malign my friends from Cornell. The 
scenery for three hundred miles was indeed varied and pic- 
turesque. At first my colectivo driver, a mestizo whose name 
was Garcia, pointed out that the smooth surface we were on 
belonged to the Pan-American highway, which runs a good 
length of the continent. This felt like a fine flat road, and 
we clipped along it merrily in the dark. 

And then, in the first glimmering of dawn, I saw that we 
had reached the coastal desert: a pretty sight, except that 
on the right side of the road shifty sand dunes spilled a bit 
over our path, and on the left there was nothing but a clean 
drop of several hundred yards directly into the Pacific Ocean 
below. 

Garcia disapproved of vehicles ahead of him. So, with 
the precipice and the sea to the left, he passed a few cars at 
about seventy miles an hour. I had to estimate the speed; 
the speedometer, which had known better days ten years 
ago, was not functioning. 

Suddenly, Garcia, coming around a curve, jammed on the 
brakes. The car rolled, but finally stopped, A hill of sand had 
cascaded right across the highway. Maybe if we had hit it 
the sand would have acted like a cushion; or maybe it would 
have been like a billiard table and we would have bounced 

114 



into the sea. For a moment I thought of asking Garcia's 
opinion, but decided instead I urgently needed fresh air. 

Waiting for a bulldozer to clear the road, I made my way 
along the edge of the cliff, and it was then that I noticed for 
the first time the white crosses. There were three of them, in 
a neat row, planted on the roadside and confronting the 
Pacific. 

I retreated to the colectivo. Two of my fellow passengers 
were Indians who spoke the Quechua language of their Inca 
ancestors and no Spanish. The fourth occupant was an agri- 
culture student from Lima en route to visit his family in 
the town of Carhuas. "What," I asked him, dreading the 
answer, "is the meaning of the white crosses ?" 

"Cars/' he said. "Cars that went over the edge. One cross 
for each car. It is a nice kind of remembrance." 

He glanced obliquely at me with an amused gleam in his 
eye. "Nervous?" he asked. 

"Not at all," I protested. 

"We Andeans," he said, "are quite used to this kind of 
driving and living." 

For the next hour or so I was able to forget the white 
crosses and the fact that I had foolishly examined our tires 
and found them pathetically bald. The barren desert with 
its treacherous sand was gone, and we were driving through 
the richly green landscape of tropical valleys. Cotton plan- 
tations intimately nestled between quiet streams; and, even 
though the road had a dirt surface, it was straight and clear. 

It occurred to me after a while that where you have val- 
leys you usually find mountains, and here they were 
breathtakingly beautiful all around us, complete with 
snowcaps. We then began the climb, higher and higher. 

It was only after we were on the Andean road for about 
twenty minutes that I realized that the surface was still of 
dirt but the width was cut down to a single lane. The beauty 
of the mountains vanished. The road twisted and wound in 

115 



an endless series of S's, except that the bends were shaped 
more like Z's. Garcia honked his way past the blindly fear- 
some corners without slackening his pace. 

On one side was a rocky mountain wall straight up; on 
the other side was an escarpment straight down, a sheer 
plunge in places of about half a mile, with no trifling bushes 
to break the view or the fall. Garcia was obviously a man 
of aesthetic spirit; he kept peering over his shoulder at 
the spectacular scenery, guiding the 1950 Chevrolet at 
fifty miles an hour by instinct and horn. At one particularly 
steep decline he thought prudently enough to shift into sec- 
ond; but the gear refused to hold, and slipped into neutral. 

The car gathered speed. Garcia steered with his left hand 
while he continued to wiggle the lever with his right hand, 
until the gear clicked into position. 

I found myself stammering in my Berlitz Spanish: "Are 
you sure your brakes are good?" 

Garcia swung around to answer. "We used them on the 
Pan-American road. They worked, didn't they?" 

Since there were tortuous curves every fifty yards or so and 
Garcia insisted on answering by looking at me instead of 
the road, I withheld further questions. A few white crosses 
flashed by. I leaned toward the agriculture student and 
said, "What happens if a car comes from the opposite direc- 
tion?" 

He made a resigned shrug of the shoulders and said, 
"There's no room for two cars." 

Actually we did encounter a few colectivos and trucks 
coming the other way. I am still not sure of the rules of 
the Peruvian road, whether the car on the ascent or descent 
is expected to give ground. But Indian drivers must have 
a code of signals of their own. After a few honks and a toot 
we backed up until we reached a patch wide enough for 
the other vehicle to go by. 

This was an interesting operation. In order to get better 

116 



vision while he twisted and navigated backward, Garcia 
opened his door. As a result I got a much clearer view of the 
toylike bottom of the ravine. The open door also provided 
a magnificent frame for photographs of the white crosses. 

By the time we had gone twelve hours and risen to 14,000 
feet I felt I was in a rarefied and almost holy atmosphere. 
I thought: if I have to commit suicide I would prefer it by 
my own hand and not the hand of a stranger named Garcia 
whose Inca blood gives him courage but not necessarily a 
knowledge of the wheel. 

Garcia, as though reading my mind, murmured something 
about having to be on the lookout for huaycos, avalanches; 
this was the height at which they sometimes occurred, and 
there was no telling when boulders might tumble on the 
road. I said to the agriculture student: "When a car goes 
over the side, can they ever find the wreckage in the depths 
below?" 

Gently he patted me on the shoulder. "There are far more 
accidents on the Pan-American highway; it is wide and peo- 
ple drive faster." Then, noticing the numb expression of 
my face, he said in what was intended to be a reassuring 
tone : "These mountain drivers are very experienced." 

What he did not mention, and what, unfortunately, I 
remembered from incidental research, was that the life ex- 
pectancy of the average Andean is thirty-two years. Garcia 
was thirty-five years old, at least three years overdue. 

At the end of the line, in Vicos, I was greeted by two 
young Cornell archaeologists, Gary Vescelius and Nicholas 
Asheshov. They asked me how I had enjoyed my trip. I told 
them that not even wartime shellfire had left me so terrified 
and shaken. 

The Cornell men promptly decided I needed a drink. 

"You may wonder," said Vescelius, "how we managed to 
get ice." 

I had not wondered 

117 



"Remember/' Vescelius said, abidingly, "there are no 
refrigerators in this part of the world." 

My mind, I made it clear, was not on refrigerators or ice. 

"Glacier ice!" Asheshov announced, undaunted. "That's 
million-year-old ice in your drink, sir. We've an Indian who 
chops a chunk for us once a week." 

"Under no circumstances," I said, "will I return to Lima 
the way I came." 

The two archaeologists considered this amusing. Could 
I suggest an alternative way? 

A few days high on the shoulders of the Andes, living with 
stoical and simple Indians, can be wonderful for your nerves. 
Perhaps the paucity of oxygen affects your reasoning power. 
In any event, the decision suddenly appears very simple: 
either you stay there or you go back. My driver this time 
was much older than Garcia. He was at least thirty-seven, 
and therefore more mature and experienced. But he had 
more Indian in him, and his eyelids gave the impression of 
being mongoloid and half closed. I was not really certain 
whether he was awake at the wheel. 

As we started out, shrouded in the clouds that grace the 
heights of the Andes, he confessed that he had just driven 
the three hundred miles from Lima and had managed to 
snatch only an hour's siesta. His breath also broadcast the 
stale odor of chicha, the devastating corn liquor first brewed 
by the Incas hundreds of years ago. 

But he was resourceful. He stopped at a stream and dipped 
his head in the icy water. This gave him the uncanny ability 
to maneuver the car through a herd of llamas clogging the 
road. Every once in a while he repeated the performance at 
a stream, returning to the driver's seat dripping wet but at 
least refreshed. 

We had only two near misses. The first took place just 
outside a quaint village where the adobe huts clung to the 
mountain ledge. We were proceeding toward a curve at the 

118 



leisurely speed of forty-five miles an hour, with nothing 
between us and the chasm but a thin native horn. Honking ! 
Screeching of brakes! A car from the other direction! We 
halted two inches apart. 

As I glanced at the scenic wonders about a quarter of a 
mile underneath us I choked and said to the driver: "Would 
you kindly drive a bit more carefully?" Those may not have 
been the exact words. Still, there is nothing more effective 
in a foreign country, if you want to establish rapport with 
the people, than to speak their language. 

The next time around a turn we touched bumpers with 
an oncoming car. It was one of the few places in hundreds 
of miles where the outside rim of the road was protected by 
jutting rock. In the slamming of brakes, our car skidded on 
the dirt surface; the rear end jammed into the protuberance 
and held fast. Visualizing what otherwise would have been 
a swift drop into the abyss, I again used my "impeccable" 
Spanish. 

The driver shouted back: "But I honked my horn, didn't 
I?" 

Obviously, I made Lima. I reported immediately to the 
Cornell office and asked Dr. Dobyns why I had not been 
warned about the shattering adventure that befalls anyone 
ignorant enough to scale the Andes. Dobyns, a rather shy 
professorial type, grinned and said: "If I had told you, 
would you have gone? We want publicity for our project." 

He settled back slowly in his chair and reminisced. "As 
a matter of fact," he said, "I made the trip to Vicos myself 
two weeks ago in my station wagon (I would never trust a 
colectivo). And do you know, as I was coining around one 
of the bends I saw a crowd on the road; and a policeman 
stopped me. He asked if I wouldn't mind taking four bodies 
to the nearest mortuary. A car had gone over the cliff, land- 
ing, fortunately for the relatives I suppose, in a place people 
could get at. 

119 



"Anyway I couldn't argue. They loaded the back of the 
station wagon with the bodies." 
Another car, another white cross. 

Vicos is situated in a spectacularly beautiful valley, 
Callejon de Huaylas, under the peaks of the White Cordi- 
llera. It is here that the Andes reach their greatest average 
height; the twin towers of Huascaran, perpetually covered 
with snow, soar to 21,000 feet and dominate Vicos' setting. 
Vicos itself, an old hacienda of about 35,000 acres, rises and 
falls in levels ranging from 9,000 to 14,000 feet. The higher 
slopes are devoted to pasture for sheep and cattle ; the lower, 
hilly fields are turned to maize, potatoes, wheat, barley, 
beans, and quinoa. Vicosinos live in primitive adobes and get 
about by foot or burro, sometimes visiting the glacier above 
the high plateau or, even more occasionally, descending 
through the clumps of eucalyptus into the valleys below 
them. The life of the people of Vicos is or rather, was 
the same as that of millions of other highland Indians 
through Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador: one of physical isola- 
tion, neglect, and insecurity, accompanied by deep-rooted 
distrust and suspicion toward the outside world. 

No one knows precisely how many "Indians" make their 
homes in the sierra of the three principal Indo-American 
countries, which, because of the "Indian problem," stand 
apart from the rest of South America. Estimates run any- 
where from five to fifteen million. In Ecuador 60 per cent 
are supposed to belong to the purely Indian proportion of 
the population, in Bolivia 55 per cent. Peru classifies as 
"Indians" only 3.5 million of its twelve million inhabitants, 
though almost everyone has some Indian blood in him. None 
of the figures is especially meaningful, since by definition 
"Indian" is open to dispute. In practice, it is an economic 
and cultural classification rather than a racial one. The 
label "Indian" cannot be applied on the basis of physical 

120 



characteristics, such as skin color, in contrast to the clearer 
interpretation of "Negro" in the United States. 

With the biological mixture becoming increasingly more 
complex every year since the arrival of the first Spaniards, 
many ethnologists feel that racial differences between the 
two originally divergent groups, "whites" and Indians, have 
largely disappeared. Some exceptions are to be found in 
remote villages where 100 per cent Indians do exist and in 
the cities where European migrants have come over in the 
last few decades. But generally the lines have been drawn 
more and more around habits, education, and wealth. A man 
who speaks only Quechua or the other major Indian lan- 
guage, Aymara, wears a homespun poncho, and chews coca 
leaf, automatically is stigmatized as "Indian." If the same 
man moves from the sierra into an urban or coastal area, 
learns a little Spanish and discards coca for Coca-Cola, his 
poncho for Western-style garb, he may earn the more desir- 
able title of mestizo (mixed ancestry), especially if, in the 
process, he also receives cash for his services. At the top of 
the status hierarchy, and centered in the towns, stands the 
minuscule upper class elite that calls itself bianco, or pure 
white. 

The imputed "inferiority" of the Indian goes back to colo- 
nial times, and each of the two "superior" castes strives to 
keep the "Indian" in his place, arguing that he is incapable 
of accepting advancement. In turn, those discriminated 
against have, over a period of four hundred years, learned 
hostility and insularity. This is aggravated by economic 
backwardness that ties millions of landless and unpaid 
peones or serfs to the big haciendas. The "Indian problem" 
is a very real and explosive social issue; it should more 
accurately be called the "sierra problem," for it is in the 
mountains where the most withdrawn of the people live. 

Bolivia was the first, and thus far the only one, of the 
Indo-American countries in South America (as distinct from 

121 



Mexico), to alter appreciably the social structure, following 
its revolution in 1952. This revolution had been aimed not 
only against a previous government but against the institu- 
tions and traditions that enabled an oligarchic regime to 
stay in power. Yet, even before the new president, Victor 
Paz Estenssoro, could introduce land-reform measures, 
chaos and lawlessness swept the altiplano, the high plateau 
(12 ; 000 feet) with the densest population. Frustrated and 
impatient Indian peones, many of them armed, drove land- 
owners off their estates and simply occupied these haciendas 
as their own. 

This was a genuine peasant uprising, but the situation, 
with overtones of a war of extermination between "Indians" 
and blancos, became critical. Paz Estenssoro quickly decreed 
the abolition of latifundios and the redistribution of the 
land. Economic disaster followed. Ignorant peasants, in their 
hunger and release from restraint, killed off cattle indis- 
criminately, thereby destroying breeding stock; other cap- 
ital investments deteriorated. During the first few years 
farm production fell by almost one third, or at least that 
portion of the marketable crops reaching the cities. Urban 
areas are still feeling the food pinch, though it is likely that 
campesinos themselves are eating better than they did 
before 1952. Land distribution is nearly completed, with 
some 100,000 farm families the beneficiaries. 

The revolution, inevitably, was accompanied by abuses; 
former landowners have received almost no compensation, 
and the dangerous extension of minijundios has not yet been 
offset by sufficient state aid in scientific planting or irriga- 
tion. Nevertheless, the psychological advances have been 
profound. With the disappearance of an entire class of 
wealthy, largely absentee landowners, Bolivians have begun 
to throw off the inferior and depressing status imposed on 
them and to experience a new sensation of power and dig- 
nity. It was the President of Bolivia himself, Paz Esten- 

122 



ssoro, who pointed out to me a telling detail: for the first 
time, the faces of Indians are appearing on billboards and in 
advertisements as worthy consumers. The country, stated 
simply, has formed a national consciousness and sense of 
purpose. 

This is not so in the case of Ecuador or Peru, though the 
topic holds the attention of some political leaders and many 
sociologists and writers. Jorge Icaza is one of Ecuador's most 
famed authors. A book he wrote in 1934, Huasipungo, won 
him international recognition and was translated into a half- 
dozen languages. In this slim volume, Icaza described the 
events that impelled a group of Indian peasants to rebel 
against their latijundista, or landlord, and how they asserted 
their claim to the soil. I asked Icaza whether conditions to- 
day are much different from those twenty-eight years ago. 
"Basically, no," he said. 'The point, though, is that the only 
people who talked about the burdens of the Indians in 1934 
were Communists or others considered extremists. Today 
everyone with a conscience talks about agrarian reform and 
the need to rehabilitate the Indians. It is not a problem of 
the Indians but a problem for all of us, involving economic, 
social, and psychological changes. People who still say that 
the Indians refuse to change their ways, simply do not 
understand them." 

Icaza, who describes himself as "a progressive reformer," 
does not advocate violent revolution. But he is frankly pes- 
simistic about the chances for social improvements to evolve 
peacefully. Ecuador, for instance, is speculating about the 
possibility of transforming comunidades into modern co- 
operatives or collectives. Comunidades, common to other 
Andean countries, are throwbacks to the days of the Incas. 
Members of them work in a vague kind of community effort, 
but without incentive or effective leadership or group action. 
Their land is usually the poorest, and without benefit of 
capital investment. Thus the system in its present shape 

123 



reflects a stagnant type of agriculture, as much as the ha- 
cienda, a Spanish innovation, represents the extreme in 
autocracy. 

Is there, possibly, a happy blend, a way to encourage 
peasants in self -improvement? Can they be made to drop 
their enmity toward blancos and strangers, to confound the 
skeptics and the extremists, to enrich themselves spiritually 
and physically without violent upheavals? Vicos is a re- 
markable example of what can be done by a handful of men 
in this case, North American and Peruvian anthropol- 
ogists to engender a spirit that knocks down mental bar- 
riers and builds up confidence and economic gain. 

Vicos possessed all the negative elements of thousands of 
similar mountain haciendas. It had undergone few changes 
since it was first established in the colonial period four cen- 
turies ago. A lone patron, in the style of a feudal baron, 
manipulated the lives and fates of some three hundred and 
sixty families, 1,850 Quechua-speaking Indians. They were 
attached to the land, but owned none of it. The peasants 
worked in the main fields on commercial crops four days a 
week without pay, except for the occasional gratuity of one 
sole (four cents) to buy coca, the mild narcotic leaf. In addi- 
tion, the men and their wives were compelled to do labor 
service in the "big house/' the home of the hacendado, or 
estate owner; sometimes only one adult of each family had 
to meet the obligation for the remaining three days of the 
week; at other times the entire family moved over to fill 
the roles of cooks, grooms, watchmen, or shepherds. This 
effort, too, went unpaid. The only reward to the peon la- 
borer was a tiny plot of rocky land supposedly sufficient to 
feed his family and leave a little produce for sale in the 
market. But, if he failed to execute all his liabilities, he stood 
to forfeit to the hacendado his tools, his animals, and even 
his sliver of land. 

Vicos, like many other comparable properties, belonged 

124 



to the state. It was auctioned every ten years or so iron- 
ically through an agency known as the Public Benevolent 
Society of Huaras for lease to the highest bidder. The 
average annual rent for the 35,000 acres, complete with serfs, 
was $1,400. Vicos has had some particularly evil patrones and 
some relatively good ones. Recalling a few of them, a mid- 
dle-aged Vicosino, Leon Stelso, told me about Senor Manuel 
Lostonoa: "He rented us to other haciendas as if we were 
cattle. 3 ' For this unquestioned right, the patron gained for 
himself some handy extra income, about twenty cents a day 
for every body rented out; if he did not lease them to neigh- 
boring hacendados, he leased them to the mines at Pompey 
or Huamana. One of the worst patrones, Stelso remembered, 
was named Schereiber, who took from an elderly Vicosino 
his only cow, because the elderly man, while on duty with 
the hacienda herd, had allowed a wild dog to bite one of 
Schereiber's cows. Under Schereiber, most of the peasants 
fell desperately in debt for lost livestock; if a sheep strayed 
from the flock or was slain by a fox, the shepherd doing his 
labor service at the time had to make good. On the other 
hand, there was Senor Basagoitia who once in a while doled 
out grain and other food to the children. 

"But when the patrones were bad, what could you do?" 
I asked Stelso. 

Stelso gave me a quizzical look, as though this was a 
pointless question. Then he said: "We did not complain, 
because if we complained we were punished more. Some- 
times the patron beat us with sticks, or the mayoral (fore- 
man) did it for him. Once, I did object to a beating, and I 
shouted at the mayoral. He ran to the patron, and the 
patron had me taken to jail in Carhuas. The patron told the 
police I stole some vegetables from the big house, and I 
stayed in jail for two weeks/ 7 

Such was the oppression and depression around Quebrada 
Honda, or "Deep Broken Place," the ice-rimmed area in 

125 



which Vicos' Andean valley is located. It was here that Dr. 
Allan R. Holmberg, Professor of Anthropology at Cornell 
University, looked in 1952 when he cast around for a typical 
highland community in which to undertake a systematic 
program of study and development; the objective was to 
determine how an Indian population would react to a sym- 
pathetic endeavor to introduce it to a more modern kind 
of existence. 

Some facts and figures about Vicos were already known ; 
for the previous three years a noted Peruvian anthropol- 
ogist, Dr. Mario Vasquez, had conducted research there, 
Vicos was impaired by the usual decays: its people were 
listless, its habits ingrained from centuries of repetition; 
life's trials were insoluble because of "the will of God" ; the 
world beyond the valley was alien and unfriendly. Only 
static conditions could be expected, and anyone who would 
attempt to change them must be looked upon as a fool or 
a dangerous devil. The United States, North Americans? 
Half of the Vicosinos had never heard of the Peru in which 
they lived, much less a foreign country or another system. 

For diplomatic as well as practical reasons, Holmberg 
enlisted at the start the collaboration of government officials 
and the Indigenous Institute of Peru, so that his experiment 
could be called the Cornell-Peru Project. From the begin- 
ning, it had modest proportions ; at no time were more than 
two North American and two Peruvian experts present at 
the site; only small grants, mostly from the Carnegie Cor- 
poration of New York, were available, and much of this 
money was used to sublease Vicos from the existing hacen- 
dado. The rest of the funds went toward simple equipment 
and salaries of the few trained technicians who could direct 
integration of four major areas of development: agronomy, 
health, education, and social organization. The underlying 
philosophy was one of self-help the individual did have 

126 



power to elevate himself so that at no point were the peas- 
ants given financial handouts. 

Holmberg soon realized that many of the abuses of the 
hacienda system were stupidly uneconomic and could easily 
be eliminated, to the advantage both of the owner and the 
peones. The peasants did not deplore so much the time they 
had to devote to the hacienda fields in exchange for their 
plots of land; what irked them was the extra service de- 
manded. A campesino wife might have to go off to cook in 
the "big house" when she was needed urgently to care for her 
own children ; a man might have to work as a shepherd for 
a few days when his lone cow was ailing and required atten- 
tion. These were the prevalent annoyances that caused 
resentment, and feelings in the community often ran high. 
The simple and obvious solution was to abolish the canon 
of free service and to pay wages to men and women who 
were willing to assume a real responsibility toward domestic 
jobs. Holmberg came up with a particularly graphic illus- 
tration of how abolition of the established order could be 
beneficial for all: 

The heights above Vicos, Quebrada Honda, were grazing 
areas not only for the hacienda; pack trains making the 
three-day journey from mines on the other side of the gla- 
ciated canyon also had to rely on Quebrada Honda to pro- 
vide at least one night's pasture for their animals. For this 
public use of his territory, the hacendado charged a small 
fee. Peones, performing unpaid duty, stationed themselves 
at the narrow mouth of the canyon which served both as a 
collection point and a check point to prevent theft of the 
hacienda's cattle. But, since the peones received no direct 
reward, and in fact were sacrificing time that could be spent 
on their own chores, they saw justice in making deals with 
muleteers who were allowed to "steal" cattle. Even if the 
hacendado attempted to penalize them by demanding re- 
placements, he often took a loss; many peones simply did 

127 



not have livestock of their own, and sufficient cash was un- 
known to them. Project people discovered that by posting a 
permanent collector at the check point, and letting him keep 
the toll as his wage, the rustling was drastically reduced. 
The hacienda, as a result, saved money, and the peones saved 
time. 

Not all the transitions were so relatively effortless. Holm- 
berg and his colleagues were confronted with far deeper 
problems when they attempted to persuade the peasants to 
alter their agriculture methods. Tradition and suspicion 
were the two main obstacles. Peasants employed ancient, 
unproductive farm techniques, such as row spacing; they 
had never heard of insecticides against plant diseases ; ade- 
quate fertilizers were nonexistent; seeds were old and im- 
potent. In short, Vicosinos, like other highlanders, abided 
by the fatalistic formula of "plant and pray." Aside from 
poor soil and even poorer habits, they were handicapped by 
bigoted mistrust of any advice or ideas that came from the 
exterior. 

Fate, in a'way, assisted the Cornell group. Soon after the 
Vicos project was launched, blight knocked out the Indians' 
mainstay, the potato crop. Technicians tried to convince the 
farmers that not only could the blight be controlled but the 
potato crop actually could be multiplied if they would follow 
a few simple rules involving adequate preparation and fer- 
tilizing of the soil, planting of healthy seed, and periodic 
spraying with insecticide. 

"Presented with this formula for increasing their potato 
yields," Holmberg recounted rather soberly, "the Indians did 
not immediately scramble to adopt the practices suggested." 
Many clung to their superstitions about alien intervention. 
Others, more amenable but outside a money economy, sim- 
ply lacked funds to buy the necessary supplies. Finally, the 
project announced a scheme to extend credit so the Indians 
could buy the supplies, repaying at the end of the season 

128 



with part of the increased crops. Still, the response was far 
from overwhelming. But a few of the peones figured they 
had nothing to lose, and so, on a small scale, Vicos farm 
reform was inaugurated. 

The results were dramatic. For these few adventurous 
Indians, yields of potatoes more than doubled in the first 
year. Within the next two years almost the entire com- 
munity accepted the formula, and yields in some instances 
rose by 400 per cent. Within another couple of years peones 
found that where they had once been able to grow only 
enough potatoes for their immediate families, they now had 
surpluses that they could sell in the markets of Carhuas, 
sixteen kilometers away. Vicos, in fact, grew more potatoes 
per head than any other region in Peru. Vicosinos entered 
the monetary economy, buying little household items pre- 
viously unattainable. More impressively, they were able to 
entertain what was once an inconceivable notion: the 
thought of buying title to the land on which they had 
always been serfs. 

Under Cornell sublease the hacienda fields continued to 
be worked by the community as a whole. But now, instead 
of four days a week, a peon put in only one day, with the 
rest of the time for his own plot. Startlingly, the hacienda 
crops, too, were bigger than ever before. In part, there were 
practical reasons; peones no longer were rented out to neigh- 
boring estates or to the mines, and so the lost man-hours 
were devoted to Vicos itself; and, of course, a measure of 
scientific farming helped. But another factor overrode all 
others, and Leon Stelso, the simple Vicosino, provided its 
clue : "Now we did not mind working, because we were not 
treated as cattle." Formerly, they resisted showing up in 
the patron's fields before eight in the morning; under the 
project they chose to be there at six- thirty. It paid them, for 
after the project met its immediate expenses a portion of 

129 



the hacienda crop went toward the peones' communal bank 
account. 

By 1958 the fewer than 2,000 Indians of Vicos had saved 
enough to put down a deposit on the hacienda. By late 1961 
they had $20,000 and then possession of the title! It was 
the first time in Peruvian history that Indians were ever in 
a position to buy a big hacienda; individuals, of course, had 
owned uneconomic minifundios of a couple of acres apiece, 
but nowhere else could you find such a large expanse inde- 
pendent of overlords or patrones, glowing with a refreshing 
air of hope. 

Vicosinos continue, by any standards, to lead primitive 
lives. Even while I was there well after emancipation 
few families could boast a net income of more than two or 
three dollars a month. Diet to this day consists of potatoes 
or boiled wheat, and for the children mazamorra (corn meal 
and sugar pap). The children, barefoot as usual, spurt in 
and out of mud huts, which are thatched with ichu grass and 
closed off from sunlight. The women, following tradition, 
wear floppy, wide-brimmed fedoras indoors and outdoors, 
and wash their heavy dark robes at streams and then only 
for fiestas three or four times a year. But there are differ- 
ences, substantial ones. Infants do not die in quite such 
heavy numbers as before ; the mud huts and the plots that 
go with them belong to the families ; and Vicos runs its own 
affairs. 

From the start, the project was concerned with transfer- 
ring power to the community, not with retaining it in the 
grand manner of a patron. But this, by necessity, had to be 
a cautious and gradual process. The only Vicosinos with any 
vague sort of experience in administration or leading other 
people were the mayorales, the half dozen foremen of the 
hacienda. Though chosen by the patron to represent his in- 
terests, mayorales commanded respect. They were old men, 
and therefore considered by the rest of the community to be 

130 



wise men. As a first step, Holmberg invited the mayorales to 
sit in with project experts while they discussed the economic 
and social problems of Vicos. After a while the mayorales 
were given the responsibility of settling small issues, such 
as disputes between peasants over boundaries. From here 
the graduation was toward policy decisions affecting the 
whole group, so the mayorales could broaden a onetime 
parochial outlook. Now the campesinos themselves were 
introduced to the rudiments of democracy; after weekly 
project-raa?/ora sessions, members of the entire community 
gathered to discuss resolutions and to offer amendments. 
From their ranks came men assigned to build a new school- 
house, to spread some basic lessons of hygiene, to organize 
political discussion meetings, and in general to assume crea- 
tive leadership in community affairs. 

Seven years after initiating the project, Holmberg and the 
handful of other Cornell scientists were able to withdraw 
from direct control or even supervision of Vicos 3 affairs. Dr. 
Mario Vasquez, the Peruvian anthropologist, stayed on to 
study the process of social change and to advise the Vicos- 
inos whenever they so requested. The only Cornell men 
who show up now, such as the two youthful archaeologists 
who offered me glacier-chilled drinks, are engaged in pure 
research ; they have no authority. The community council, 
expanded from six to thirteen representatives and chosen 
by a popular vote of all the adults, includes younger men 
who demonstrate an aptitude for self-rule and self-reliance. 
This is not to suggest that the Vicos council in any way 
reflects the sophistication of a Western-style institution. 
In one session I attended there was a simple but touching 
discussion about whether the community could afford to 
buy, rather than rent, a truck to haul produce to the market 
(this, incidentally, now goes directly to Lima, where it 
fetches a better price than in nearby Carhuas). The coun- 

131 



cillors, fresh from the fields and cloaked in dirty homespun 
garments, sat on roughly planked benches in a hut with a 
pounded mud floor. But it was in the same hut, just a few 
years previously, where they had reached the momentous 
decision to buy the hacienda and to prove after centuries of 
serfdom that they could be their own masters. Today they 
deferred judgment on expenditure for a truck; this would 
be considered again next week. But they agreed unani- 
mously that work must be done immediately to remove some 
of the rocks from the bumpy and treacherous dirt road to 
Carhuas. 

"It is truly hard to recognize in the new Vicos the be- 
draggled and hopeless village where our project first began 
its studies/' comments Holmberg, who still manages to pay 
a visit every summer. Holmberg sums up : 

This is simply one example of what can be done through 
a bootstrap operation to raise both the economic level of the 
Indian household and the production of food. When we ex- 
amine the important increases in food production that can 
be brought about in Peru and elsewhere through the patient 
and careful introduction of more modern methods, the sierra 
of Peru no longer stands out as the area of poor resources 
that it has always been considered. The Vicos experience in- 
dicates so far that dramatic results can be achieved at a rela- 
tively small cost. They can be attained, however, only if 
careful attention is given, not only to the problem of modern 
techniques, but also to the people and their culture. For this 
reason, from the very start the Cornell-Peru project has 
given careful thought to the problem of developing a spirit 
of independence, responsibility, and leadership in community 
affairs a spirit that had never existed before. . . . Our ex- 
perience at Vicos indicates that, if granted respect, the Indian 
will give respect. If allowed to share in the making of de- 
cisions, he will take responsibility and pride in making and 

carrying them out An approach to the sierra people along 

132 



these lines can lead them into a dynamic and progressive 
society. 1 

Vicos is operated on semicomiminal lines. While individ- 
ual peasants are allowed a couple of hectares of land each, 
the main fields are held by the community and profits go 
into a common treasury. On the surface it even resembles 
a Chinese commune. Houses are scattered through the coun- 
tryside, but people gravitate toward a kind of village com- 
pound that takes in the main buildings: the school; the 
clinic, a makeshift hostel for visitors, a "club" or community 
center for women. There is obvious pride in this develop- 
ment, for walls of these large adobes are whitewashed and, 
as in Communist China, exteriors are covered with hand- 
lettered slogans. But here the similarity fades away. In 
Hsushui commune, Hopei Province, I read such phrases as : 
"Chairman Mao thinks of our welfare/' and, "One Hand on 
the Hoe, One on the Rifle." In Vicos the quotations were 
from the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: 
Todos los seres humanos nacen libres e iguales en dignidad 
y derechosf All human beings are born free and equal in 
dignity and rights. Hsushui, backed by government re- 
sources and autocratic direction, was far more efficiently 
managed than Vicos, a rather disturbing message until one 
remembers that Vicos retains dignity and individuality. The 
option of whether Hsushui or Vicos will set the future pat- 
tern for Peru remains with the government in Lima. 

There is no evidence that the Peruvian government was 
ever enamored of the concept of Vicos. On the contrary, 
though Holmberg discreetly avoids any such references in 
his writings, the indications are that if Lima had suspected 
any widespread social undertones to the project, it might 
never have permitted its start. But the dictator Manuel 

1 Social Changes in Latin America Today, published for the Council on 
Foreign Relations by Harper & Row, 1960. 

133 



Odria was in power at the time and eager to make a favor- 
able impression on the United States. One of the ways in 
which he could appear cooperative was to allow a small 
group of harmless United States professors to conduct an 
experiment in the remote Andes; at least the established 
order was not in any sense in jeopardy. Later, when the 
practical results of Vicos became known, the government 
took the propaganda line that it was trying to help peasants, 
and, to prove it, would establish on its own five similar 
projects. 

Significantly, however, Vicosinos have the United States 
President's youngest brother, Edward M. Kennedy, to thank 
for the title to their land. Ever since making their down 
payment in 1958 on the purchase of the hacienda they had 
appealed to the state-controlled Public Benevolent Society 
of Huaras to relinquish the title. The society held back, even 
after the community could guarantee full payment; the 
supposition was that Vicos was a dangerous embarrassment 
because its unfettered ideas were spreading to other ha- 
ciendas. Kennedy, on a visit to Vicos in 1961, heard of the 
plight of the Vicosinos, and on his return to Lima put pres- 
sure on Peru's president, Manuel Prado, to issue orders to 
the "Benevolent Society.' 7 Again because a government 
wanted to keep in well with Washington, a small request 
involving a justified land title was granted. 

Much of the battle the Vicosinos have learned to fight for 
themselves. Long before the first Cornell men showed up, 
Vicos had a schoolroom, yet not a single child of primary 
school age could read or write. In the entire population of 
1,850, only four persons were literate, and just barely so. 
Not more than a few men had even a smattering of spoken 
Spanish, an essential if contact was ever to be made with 
the world beyond the valley, and they had learned this dur- 
ing compulsory army service. The reasons for the backward- 
ness were general throughout the highlands. For one thing, 

134 



the hacendado, or patron, who was responsible for educa- 
tion, simply did not desire to see it pursued. "I come from 
a country/ 5 cried the great pensador Domingo Sarmiento 
after a nineteenth-century visit to the United States, "where 
education is everything, where education has succeeded in 
establishing true democracy, making races and classes 
equal!" In the minds of pair ones, even in the twentieth cen- 
tury, it was precisely this risk of democratization that was to 
be avoided; for them, peones were a plentiful source of 
cheap unskilled labor that might be lost if they were given 
an opportunity to acquire knowledge and new values. At 
the same time, nescient parents did not press for the educa- 
tion of their children; if God would command it, fine; other- 
wise, why bother? Besides, on the rare occasions when a 
teacher did make an appearance, she would, being a mestizo, 
treat Indian children as inferiors and usually put them to 
work as servants in her house rather than in the classroom. 
If this was the case, their labor efforts were of greater value 
at home. 

It did not take the Cornell people long to convince Vicos- 
inos that they were entitled to reasonable instructors and 
that education would mean an improvement in their living 
standards. The Peruvian ministry of education was per- 
suaded to send out a teacher, and by the end of the first 
year thirty children were in attendance in the classroom. In 
the second year, men of the community set out to build the 
first wing of a modern schoolhouse; thirty-five boys and 
girls were now using it. By the third year a second wing was 
being erected, including an auditorium, and enrollment had 
jumped to eighty-five. In 1961 two hundred and seventy 
children were registered, but the Vicos community council, 
now in command and feeling novel confidence, was not satis- 
fied with the caliber of the teachers. The mestizos sent out 
by the government came from faraway areas, bringing with 
them the old prejudices against Indians; some children 

135 



found themselves assigned to the menial chores of former 
days. 

The council attempted, unsuccessfully, to get the ministry 
of education to hire teachers from the region, men and 
women who would take a more understanding attitude to- 
ward their charges. When the government failed to respond, 
the council simply voted to hold a strike, and for a week 
the children stayed away from school. The council made its 
point, and today the Vicos school boasts seven state teachers 
from nearby towns, one teacher for each of the classrooms. 
The average Vicosino child is likely to receive seven years 
of primary school education, a far longer course than in the 
rest of Latin America. 

Moreover, Vicosinos speak proudly of the two children, 
the first ever, who have been transferred to high school in 
Carhuas. The community pays for their room and board 
away from home, and the intention is that after graduation 
the children will become teachers in their own village. 

Girls, who previously were considered unfit for education, 
are beginning to appear at the Vicos school along with the 
boys. One reason for the constantly increasing enrollment 
is eminently practical. Cornell men, in swinging Vicosinos 
toward education, used as bait a free meal ; that is, children 
would be given a nutritious hot lunch if they attended 
classes. This stimulus had natural appeal among desperately 
poor families for whom the feeding of every mouth was a 
burden. The tradition of free meals goes on, but now the 
community itself maintains the kitchen at the schoolhouse. 
Another Cornell-inspired lure is employed in passing out 
some simple lessons in child care. The women of Vicos are 
fascinated by the five Singer sewing machines that adorn 
one of the two rooms in the whitewashed adobe which serves 
as a clubhouse. They arrive in large numbers to learn how 
to handle the machines and mend their garments; while 
there, a "seamstress/' herself barely qualified, coaxes them 

136 



into the adjacent room where they are given homely lec- 
tures on hygiene and other measures designed to cut the 
infant mortality rate. In 1952, 60 per cent of Vicos' children 
were dead before the age of five; the figure is still shocking, 
but at least it has declined to 40 per cent. 

A state doctor also calls around once a week at the clinic 
(he had not shown up for several weeks before my visit, and 
the community council was drafting a strong protest). Many 
Vicosinos continue to abide by old superstitious medical 
rules : When sick, take a guinea pig and rub it against your 
chest ; this will transfer your sickness to the guinea pig. But, 
slowly, they are accepting Western medications. Some of 
the adults, too, are taking night courses in reading and writ- 
ing, so that today about 10 per cent have a glimmering of 
Spanish and the United Nations inscriptions on the wall are 
becoming meaningful. 

One of the delicate problems of the original project hands 
was to introduce the Indians to the higher standard of living 
enjoyed by Spanish-speaking mestizos but at the same time 
protect them against mestizo mentality, which tries to copy 
the upper classes in thinking that physical labor is undigni- 
fied. The mestizo group acts as a hindrance rather than a 
help in any effort to bring the Indians into communication 
with outer civilization. The Indians themselves have sensed 
this, especially after watching Cornell blancos 3 or "white" 
men, dig into the soil with their own hands or otherwise 
pick up filth while demonstrating farm techniques. Mestizo 
technicians, sent occasionally by the state, have not been 
similarly inclined. A curious result is that Vicosinos, who 
have seen fewer than thirty North Americans in the last ten 
years, have discarded their ancient suspicion and fear of 
strangers, 2 and now place more confidence in blancos than 

2 1, for instance, was treated with great courtesy, and continually called 
"doctor," a tribute to the anthropologists and other deserving academic types 
who had come to Vicos before me. 

137 



in mestizos. Dr. Vasquez, the benevolent social scientist on 
the site, and himself a mestizo, recognizes this denouement, 
rather sadly but with sympathy. He can quite understand 
why Vicosinos, who were hardly aware of the existence of 
the United States before 1952, have asked ; through their 
elected council, for help from the United States Peace Corps. 
After a taste of instruction and education they want more : 
someone to teach accountancy so the community books can 
be better kept, to teach animal husbandry, and even 
English! 

The Vicos project, with its encouraging years of results, 
is the greatest single justification I know for the work of 
the Peace Corps and similar agencies that have men and 
women willing to live among and labor with indigent people. 

The terrible irony is that the Peruvian government itself 
has done little to move the human resources into rewarding 
channels. The five integration programs it has started else- 
where in the Andes, based on the Vicos experience, embrace 
only a few hundred families and have more a publicity than 
a practical value. The main talk in Lima is about "coloniza- 
tion," an escapist formula to shift peasants into the virgin 
Amazon jungle; this is no substitute for basic agrarian 
reform of existing cultivable soil, which Vicos proved could 
be made fruitful beyond expectation. The example of Vicos 
has spread far and wide by word of mouth. Dr. Vasquez, 
who is familiar with the mood of the countryside, believes 
ardently that unless Lima moves rapidly to* satisfy the ag- 
gravated frustration of peones the outcome will be one of 
violence. He says: 

In the highlands they know nothing about politics noth- 
ing about communism or even their own government. But 
one day they could well know about communism; people 
from here sometimes move to the cities, and when they come 
back on visits they explain what is happening in the outside 
world. The Indians may be ignorant and illiterate, but there 

138 



is an instinctive hunger for land and freedom. One way or 
another, they will get it. It would be better if they got it the 
way Vicosinos got it. 

The sum of Vicos is that it is the most inspiring phenom- 
enon I met in all Latin America. Here is a simple and clear 
case of how a people, previously oppressed but now treated 
with respect, can, given the opportunity, pull themselves 
from endless misery by their own energies. They might have 
languished in the hills or drifted off to the slum poverty and 
degradation of the Lima barriadas. Instead, they are attain- 
ing a better life with dignity and self-confidence. 

Near the rolling lands of Vicos, and in the same valley, 
Callejon de Huaylas, are other haciendas where the peas- 
ants for centuries accepted their lot. Touchingly, once the 
Vicosinos began to feel secure, they engaged in their own 
informal "Point Four 77 program, passing on to neighbors 
their new farm techniques. But for some of the recipients 
information by itself was not enough. They wanted land. 
Adjacent to Vicos was the hacienda known as Huapra. In 
accordance with a medieval custom, the descendants of the 
original title-holder leased Huapra, over a period of hun- 
dreds of years, to the church. A group of forty-five Indians, 
realizing that a huge portion of Huapra was uncultivated, 
went to their parish priest. Their spokesman said : "Here is 
unused land. We wish to farm it. We will save the money 
we make from the crops, and one day we will buy the land, 
the way the Vicosinos bought their land." The priest gave 
his permission and his blessing. 

But overlooked was the archaic specter of a hacendado 
somewhere in the background that is, a man who tech- 
nically could claim to be the owner since the title was still 
in his f amily's name, regardless of the fact that the church, 
.and not the family, had been administering the estate for 

139 



generation upon generation. The hacendado, characteristic 
of his caste, did not believe that Indians should be permitted 
to step an inch out of predestined line. He drove to the 
regional prefect's office and demanded that fifteen national 
guardsmen accompany him back to Huapra to evict the 
"squatters." Once on the fields, the hacendado pointed to 
the Indians he felt were the leaders of the group, Guardsmen 
moved closer, to make arrests. But the other Indians shouted 
that if one or two were going to be killed, they would all 
have to be killed. A youthful guardsman, frightened by the 
uproar, leveled his rifle and fired. The rest of the soldiers 
fell into a chain reaction and also opened fire. Within 
seconds, three Indians lay dead and five were critically 
wounded. It may have been a quirk of timing, or, more pre- 
cisely, a sign of the times, that the incident at Huapra took 
place shortly after police in Sharpeville, South Africa, 
slaughtered other men appealing for their rights. 

As at Sharpeville, the local authorities claimed they had 
to act in self-defense; in this case they said they were 
attacked by a savage mob of two hundred heavily armed 
Indians. In fact, there were forty-five Indians, all unarmed. 
The episode might have ended there, but for the presence 
of three witnesses from the Cornell project at Vicos: Carlos 
Tolentino, a Peruvian student writing a thesis on agrarian 
reform; Ralph Klein, a New York psychologist; and 
Norman Fine, a New York medical student. Pine, hearing 
that guardsmen were on their way to Huapra, mounted a 
horse and raced over to the hacienda. He saw the soldiers 
take aim and then heard the shots, but assumed they were 
blanks until a bullet landed in the dust beside him and he 
had to hold his horse from bolting. The three students gave 
first aid to the wounded; Carlos Tolentino, protesting in 
heated Spanish the viciousness of the guardsmen, was ar- 
rested on the spot. Soldiers also tried but failed to confiscate 
film taken by Klein. Unaware of the eyewitness accounts, 

140 



authorities in Lima later asserted that the Indians, "led by 
outside agitators/' charged an army outpost. Cornell people 
made up a booklet of photographs, together with statements 
from the three students, to prove the true sequence; and 
Lima finally called for the resignation of the district prefect. 

The Huapra event pointed up the fact that "serfs" are 
no longer submissive; the survivors of the shooting did not 
flee, as might be expected (nor did the men and women of 
Sharpeville decide to cease agitating after some of their 
numbers were killed). To this day the Indians are "squat- 
ting' 7 at Huapra, but now the hacendado dares not call out 
the national guard. Huapra was simply one of twelve known 
similar incidents in the Peruvian Andes, within a year, in 
which there were deaths. What makes it different is that it is 
the best documented massacre of Indians on record. 

Other violent occurrences pass without the clear-cut testi- 
mony of neutral observers. In October, 1961, the first of 
some four thousand Indians began squatting on the pastures 
of, five large haciendas in the copper-mining area of Cerro 
de Pasco, high in the Andes. The Indians were from the 
community of Yanahuanca, which suffered from the usual 
complaints that landless peasants were going hungry while 
absentee landlords ignored them. Without warning, on 
March 3, 1962, a national guard battalion of three hundred 
soldiers arrived at Yanahuanca to expel the Indians. The 
date is undisputed. The rest is lost in conflicting accounts. 
According to one of the peasants, Fermin Espinoza, 

It happened after the shepherds had brought their flocks to- 
gether and everyone was resting and happy, drinking a little 
chicha and playing their quenas (reed flutes) and singing. 
Suddenly, mounted guards appeared and started shouting 
for us to go away. When we refused, they began to use tear 
gas. Everyone ran in confusion, women and children crying. 
They set fire to our huts. Some of the men refused to leave, 

141 



saying "Let's hold onto this land. It is truly ours." But the 
guards broke us up with their horses, beat us with their 
sabres, and fired into us, and that is how several were killed 
and many more were wounded. 3 

The official report, issued 110 miles away in Lima, gives 
a different version. It quotes General Humberto Quea, of 
the national guard, as saying that his men, on their way to 
one of the estates, were attacked without provocation by a 
hostile band of Indians armed with shotguns, knives, and 
slingshots. When the soldiers threw tear gas, Quea said, the 
Indians really started the bloodshed by rolling boulders 
down the steep hillsides and firing their guns and slingshots. 
The guardsmen then retaliated, said Quea, by opening fire 
with their own rifles. 

Whichever interpretation was correct, eight Indians who 
had died of bullet wounds were buried on a rocky mountain- 
side near Yanahuanca. At the funeral, Yanahuanca's mayor, 
Eladio Lobaton, called them "the first heroes of the agrarian 
reform." The government, meanwhile, published another 
bulletin claiming that the drama was part of an extremist 
campaign intended to exploit Peru's Indians and create tur- 
moil under the cry for agrarian reform. This glib dismissal 
of an ugly shooting covered up the grave features of a deeply 
significant trend. There was no evidence that the Indians 
of Yanahuanca had been subjected to external influences. 
But there is also no doubt that leftist reformers from Lima 
are now making use of the mood of peasants, moving among 
them, and even setting up farm unions. Part of the appeal 
to Indians is that the haciendas are actually their lands, 
taken from their ancestors centuries ago by the Spanish con- 
quistadores. Implicit in this approach is an effort to establish 
a pan-Indian or pan-peasant movement, as in Bolivia, which 

3 Quoted in Time, Latin-American edition, March 16, 1962. 

142 



would seize control of the government and usher in radical 
reform. In this connection, it is interesting that the loudest 
shouts of a new chant, "A la cubana!" (the Cuban way), 
I heard in the chill mountain air of Cuzco, the former 
capital of the Inca empire. 



143 



The Frock and the Uniform 



IT WAS BY SHEER CHANCE that I met Padre Antonio Costa. 
Along with an interpreter in Portuguese, I had stopped near 
the village of Cabo, in the Northeast of Brazil, to ask a 
farmer for directions to a nearby sugar plantation. He 
jumped into our car and guided us in person. Later he sug- 
gested that we visit the village priest, who, he said, could 
tell us many interesting points about the area. 

Brazilian newspapers, it turned out, had already caught 
sight of Padre Costa and published articles about him, in 
the expectation that he might become a national figure. My 
own impression is that he well might, if only because of the 
strength of his personality. A man of twenty-eight, with 
flashing brown eyes and a marvelously expressive face, Padre 
Costa has the gifts of fervor and rhetoric. One of my first 
questions was about Francisco Juliao, the founder and leader 
of the Northeast's growing and revolutionary chain of Peas- 
ant Leagues. Did the people believe in him? 

"They do not believe in Juliao, they do not believe in the 
Church, they do not believe in anything," said the padre, 
with a flourish of the hands. "They are too hungry to 
believe." 

144 



Padre Costa, a member of the Secular Order of Brazil, does 
not preach politics in church, but he does hold informal 
open-air meetings near the railway station. He also teaches 
school. While he was speaking to me in the schoolroom, 
about thirty children, ranging in age from about eight to 
thirteen, clustered outside the open door, obviously savoring 
his words and looking on with undisguised admiration. 

Three things, he said, are indisputable about present liv- 
ing conditions: "First, everyone accepts that there is a 
problem. Second, everyone says something must be done 
about it. Third, no one does anything/ 7 In Brazil's North- 
east, which has more inhabitants than all of Argentina, there 
is massive peasant poverty, unemployment, and malnutri- 
tion and enough discontent to create a half-dozen Cubas. 
To Padre Costa the cure for the chronic ailments is mani- 
festly simple, yet it would involve a measure of magna- 
nimity by landowners and other greedy oligarchs. "We need 
land reform and education immediately," he says. "The rest 
can come later. 7 ' The rest? The padre speaks almost with a 
Gandhian philosophy: "We can think of industrialization 
after we have fed the people and given them the knowledge 
with which to work. We have the greatest machinery in 
man's two hands, but first we must give him hope." 

The reference to industrialization is an oblique criticism 
of Sudene, a Brazilian government agency that is attempt- 
ing an ambitious program of rehabilitation in the Northeast, 
with part of the emphasis on expanding the few existing 
factories. Padre Costa looks upon this as a dodging of the 
real issue: land. What he wants primarily is for the state 
to take over the large plantations and estates, with compen- 
sation, and to spread the land among the peasants. As a 
result, the planters call him a "Communist." This does not 
bother Padre Costa. He makes the point: "If changes are 
not made, then surely the Communists will win." 

Thousands of miles away, high in the Andean hills around 

145 



Vicos, I ran into another type of parish priest. Indians com- 
plained bitterly that they saw him only once every few 
weeks, for important funerals, and he would not conduct the 
service unless he was paid. The priest chanted the Requiem 
with one hand outstretched. As soon as the flow of coins 
ceased, so did the service. 

Between the two extremes is the story of the Roman 
Catholic Church in Latin America. The hierarchy in gen- 
eral, and many parish priests, cling to a Middle Ages men- 
tality that supports the traditional landowners and preaches 
that man's reward comes in afterlife. That this approach 
creates contradictions is attested by some statistics. In 
Brazil, which is almost entirely Catholic, fewer than 10 per 
cent attend Sunday Mass; in Argentina, according to a 
Church survey, "an average of Catholics who make their 
Easter duty would not be above 5 per cent." * The same kind 
of figures prevail throughout the continent. 

The Church in Latin America has long been characterized 
by ambivalence. Under the system of royal patronage, the 
cross and the sword moved alongside one another over the 
seas and into the New World. The cry was for conquest 
equally in the name of God and King, and to the religious 
orders fell the task of converting and taming the Indians 
brought into line by the conquistador es. The Church, which 
was dominated by the royal authorities, became a handy 
instrument for controlling the population and fostering ex- 
pansion. In this alliance, priests took on some of the worst 
features of their military partners: a buildup of exploitation 
and a greed for wealth and power. Some of the missionaries, 
notably the Jesuits, defended the Indians against abuse, 
establishing inland cooperative colonies and teaching them 
how to farm on scientific lines ; in this role they themselves 
were hounded by the colonizers. But on the whole the 

1 Latin-American Catholicism) by Father William J. Coleman, M.M., 
World Horizon Reports, 1958. 

146 



Church remained aloof from the material problems of its 
converts and opposed to social changes. In the process it 
amassed a great fortune. By the nineteenth century the 
Church, through gifts, tithes, and other revenues, owned 
between one third and one half of all the private property 
in the colonies. It also directed education. 

Since the Church had been an arm of the Spanish and 
Portuguese empires, members of the hierarchy, with minor 
exceptions, opposed the colonies 7 emancipation movements 
of the early 1800's. After independence, there was a bitter 
struggle and an attempt by high Church officials to set the 
Church free from the control of the State and make it a 
servant of the Church. In the end, the functions, privileges 
and wealth of the Church were reduced in the interests of 
the State. "In most instances," according to Rippy, "all that 
the people obtained from the expensive, bloody and pro- 
longed conflict was a little more freedom in religion in 
which they were not seriously concerned, since they were 
content to remain Roman Catholics and somewhat broader 
opportunities for education. 2 The Church properties taken 
over by the State were not widely distributed; they fell into 
the hands of the oligarchy and continued to be almost as 
immune from taxation as they had been under the Church, 
and almost as inalienable." 

Even after the loss of some of their riches, many priests 
continued to identify themselves with oligarchs and ultra- 
conservative elements. Today, however, just as two or three 
hundred years ago, encouraging exceptions are to be found. 
How many priests are there like Padre Costa, dedicated to 
social advances as well as to religion? How much freedom 
have they when their attitude runs counter to the hierarchy? 

2 Today the constitution of every Latin- American country sets up the state 
as the sole educator. Of the twenty republics, only six Argentina, Brazil, 
Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, and Peru have religious and moral education 
in the public schools. The Church, however, is permitted to run its own 
private schools and colleges in all countries except Cuba. 

147 



Padre Costa answers the latter question by saying that his 
bishop never interferes with what he has to say ; and, more- 
over, he expects to obtain permission to write for the press. 
Padre Costa, by his own admission, is in a minority; the 
bulk of priests in Brazil, as elsewhere, are at the extreme 
right or in the center, and say nothing to change the estab- 
lished order. And yet Padre Costa is joined in a crusade in 
his own troubled Northeast by such men as Bishop Eugenio 
Salles and Padre Antonio Melo. The dynamic Bishop Salles 
operates a legal-advice bureau for sharecroppers and carries 
into court their complaints against avaricious landlords. 
Padre Melo is busily engaged in organizing, in some ninety 
towns and villages, peasant syndicates to offer the hope 
without the extremism of Francisco Juliao's Peasant Leagues. 

Some of the priests sound more communist than the 
Communists. One padre in the Northeast, helping the peas- 
ants to establish cooperatives after illegal squatting on 
plantations, told them in a sermon: "You should raise a 
goat to provide milk for your children. If the landlord comes 
and tries to punish you by killing your goat, he is menacing 
the lives of your children. You must not let him kill your 
goat. You must kill him first." And on another part of the 
continent, Father Salomon Bolo, who is known as "chaplain 
of the Peruvian revolution/ 7 a rather premature title, busily 
tells open-air rallies that "when the guerrillas begin to fight 
in Peru, I will be with them to give them the sacraments." 
Father Bolo, most active around Cuzco, the old Inca capital, 
has defied his Church superiors and has been declared in a 
state of disobedience, but he goes on to proclaim his support 
of a Cuban-style revolution, blaming the United States and 
its partnership with the Peruvian oligarchy for his nation's 
social and economic ailments. 

These priests launched into their campaigns long before 
there was any official guidance in the form of 1961's historic 
encyclical Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher), which 

148 



summed up progressive Church policy on social reform. In 
his lengthy document, Pope John noted "the sorrowful spec- 
tacle of ... a harsh and offensive contrast . . . between the 
extreme poverty of the great majority and the wealth and 
the unbridled luxury of the privileged few." Since one third 
of the world's Roman Catholics live in Latin America, the 
words can be assumed to be aimed at that area as well as 
at other regions. The Pope was concerned not only with 
pointing out social injustices, "From instruction and educa- 
tion/' he urged, "one must pass on to action." If Father 
Bolo's response has been overly militant, it is sadly counter- 
balanced by inactivity on the part of other ecclesiastics. Few 
Church publications in Latin America bothered to reprint 
in full the 25,000- word encyclical, and few priests have read 
more than brief summaries. The digests in many countries 
have been so edited as not to disrupt the prevailing notions 
of local Church officials. "The trouble," as a foreign diplo- 
mat, himself a Roman Catholic, put it to me in Rio de 
Janeiro, "is that the Church is in league with conservative 
elements. Too many priests take a posture of charity, of 
giving handouts to the faithful. Instead, they should be 
telling the governing classes that it is their duty to establish 
reforms, that everyone is entitled not to charity but to a 
decent and dignified standard of living." 

Much of the attitude of fatalism, or defeatism, of the 
backwoods people of the continent can be attributed to the 
parochial preachings they, and their ancestors, have heard 
over many generations. "Our destiny," said an Indian in 
the Peruvian Andes, "is decided by divine will. Because 
God wills it, some are rich, some know how to read and 
write, some are masters while we are the servants. When 
God does not will that we be elevated, then we can never 
become anything in life though we might desire it with the 
greatest intensity." Here is a woman, five of whose nine 
children died in infancy: "I was very moved to see my chil- 

149 



dren die so soon after they were born. But then I felt easier, 
because I remembered the priest saying that young children 
who die go directly to heaven because they have committed 



no sins." 



The lesson that God's reward is in the hereafter is often 
appended to the more immediate understanding that the 
Church will perform a service for a fee. Priests argue that 
since the state takeover of Church wealth a century ago they 
can survive only by the cruzeiro or peso contributions of fol- 
lowers. Nevertheless, some of the practices are disquieting, 
especially to North Americans. A United States teacher, who 
is the principal of schools in a company oil town in Colom- 
bia, reminisced one evening during dinner in Bogota: 

I have seen some shocking things in my time, but one of 
the most shocking took place only last week. One of my 
pupils, a twelve-year-old boy, died, and I went around to 
see his parents. I asked what time the funeral service would 
be held at church. The father stared at me for a while, and 
then he said that he had six other children to support and 
he couldn't afford a Requiem. I was at the funeral. The coffin 
was just carried by some friends to the cemetery. There was 
no priest, and not a word of prayer was uttered. The boy 
was simply buried, and that was all. 

In parts of Ecuador peasants have to pay merely for the 
ringing of funeral bells. In Ecuador, too, 25 per cent of the 
husband-wife couples admit to living out of wedlock because 
they cannot raise enough money for a marriage ceremony. 
In Colombia, where a church wedding costs on the average 
fifty pesos, or four dollars (more than most campesinos earn 
in a month), half the children are illegitimate. Correspond- 
ing figures apply to almost all Latin-American countries. 
Ironically, it took a natural disaster to cause several Chilean 
common-law marriages to be solemnized. When the Cana- 
dian government shipped in grain for the relief of earth- 

150 



quake victims in I960, the rule was that heads of families 
would receive more than single people. But there had to be 
proof of marriage. Peasants, many with borrowed funds, 
rushed to priests to make legal a status that in some in- 
stances had existed for twenty years. 

"Religion among (Chileans) has been made the instru- 
ment of despotism instead of the basis of civilization/' So 
wrote philosopher Jose Victorino Lastarrla in the mid-nine- 
teenth century. The pensadores of old showed great hostility 
toward the power of the Church and were vitally con- 
cerned with organized religion's inability or unwillingness 
to promote the advancement of the people. "With very rare 
exceptions, from time immemorial, priests have been the 
more determined oppressors of humanity, especially of the 
underprivileged classes," commented Peru's Manuel Gon- 
zalez Prada at the turn of this century. "In the past, they 
did nothing to abolish pauperism and improve the social 
condition of the masses; in the present it is the same old 
story. They perpetuate the grossest superstitions and live 
petrified in an atmosphere of errors and lies. They consti- 
tute a force hostile to civilization." 

Today's pensadores, or at least most of them, are equally 
harsh and caustic. There are, of course, some intellectual 
defenders of the Church. While I was in Santiago, a famous 
Chilean literary critic, Hernan Diaz, argued in the news- 
paper El Mercurio that the concept of social justice, instead 
of charity, is against the principles of the Church and is 
therefore the forerunner of communism. But more common 
are the outbursts in the other direction. In Bogota, Gerardo 
Molina, rector of Universidad Libre, told me: "Castro has 
this advantage : he offers land now, the Church offers salva- 
tion in another life. What we need is education, not confes- 
sion." Anticlerical Colombians claim that the Church in 
their country is the most bigoted in Latin America. Ecua- 
dorians, in turn, say that theirs is worse. A Quito editor 

151 



recalled an expression by liberator Simon Bolivar who, when 
he saw the dissolution of his visionary Confederation of 
Gran Colombia in 1830, said that Venezuela would always 
be a country of the military, Colombia would always be a 
country of the intellectuals, and Ecuador would always be 
"a convent." 

The degree of Church influence and enlightenment does 
vary from country to country. The Church in Brazil, for 
example, is considered more liberal than in Argentina, where 
in principle it has accepted the encyclical but in practice 
does nothing. Argentina's hierarchy supported Peron until 
he threatened the Church's educational rights. His succes- 
sor, President Arturo Frondizi, collaborated more closely, 
restoring the privilege of private Catholic universities to 
grant degrees, much to the distaste of state educators. 
Frondizi's brother, Dr. Risieri Frondizi, rector of the Univer- 
sity of Buenos Aires, informed me flatly: "Our Church is 
ultraconservative, and if you are not with it, you are called 
a 'Communist'." 

In several countries the Church is still united with the 
State. 3 This arrangement, in general, is frowned upon by 
North American ecclesiastical authorities who say it is a 
survival of the old system of royal patronage, which gives 
the State the power to intervene in the nomination of 
bishops, in subsidies for education, and in other activities of 
the Church. They prefer the more normalized relations of 
such countries as Uruguay and Chile, where there is a 
separation between Church and State. But union of Church 
and State more often than not works in favor of the Church. 
In Colombia, the Church not only controls divorces but is 
answerable for an immigration law that admits only Roman 
Catholic migrants into the country. 

In Colombia, too, the Church has been and is still 
active in politics. It was responsible for the origin, in the 

8 Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. 

152 



early national period, of the two most important political 
parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, the latter identi- 
fied as clericals and reactionaries. As recently as 1948 village 
priests incited "Conservative" campesinos to attack neigh- 
boring "Liberal" villages, reviving old hatreds and contrib- 
uting to Colombia's devastating and unofficial civil war 
that goes on, in a fashion, to this day. During the 1962 presi- 
dential and congressional election campaign the Archbishop 
of Bogota, Cardinal Luis Concha Cordoba, issued a pastoral 
letter warning his people against supporting "candidates of 
a party that is allied to communism or shares in the ideas of 
the Communist Party." The exhortation by implication 
linked, unjustifiably, the left wing of the Liberal Party with 
the Communists and had only one meaning: Vote Con- 
servative. 

Interference in secular affairs is not limited to Colombia. 
In Brazil in I960, Cardinal Dom Jaime Camara urged 
churchgoers not to vote for vice-presidential candidate Joao 
Goulart because he was, allegedly, a "Communist." In 
Mexico, where the state introduced stringent anticlerical 
measures some forty-three years before Cuba, charges are 
constantly being raised that the Church is attempting to 
overstep its bounds. Violence erupted in the summer of 
1961, notably in the city of Puebla, when the hierarchy 
started a series of rallies in protest against a government 
decision to investigate the tuition rates of Church schools. 
Priests publicly labeled the minister of education and most 
of his public school teachers as "Communists." In Puebla, 
resentful students set fire to the office of a pro-Church 
newspaper, and the governor finally had to declare a state 
of siege. 

The sensitivity regarding the Church in Mexico is acute, 
and most Mexicans support the 1917 constitution, which 
took primary education out of ecclesiastical hands and pro- 
hibited the ownership by the Church of any private prop- 

153 



erty. The Church had long been held in disfavor by social 
reformers because of its opposition to change ; and this grew 
into bloody reprisal in 1910 when the hierarchy plotted, on 
the side of landowners, against the peasant revolution. A 
new wave of anticlerical turbulence broke out in the 1920's 
when priests tried to regain some of their lost authority; 
many of them had to flee to the hills around Mexico City 
to fight off attackers; and many, too, were slain. Priests 
today are forbidden to walk about in public in their habits. 
Though this law is not strictly enforced and though Mex- 
icans attend Sunday Mass, there is a lingering fear of the 
Church going beyond religious matters. I met peones who 
still recalled stories, handed down by their fathers, about 
irrigation ditches and springs that had their origin on 
Church property and would be dammed off if peasants failed 
to follow the dictates of their rural priests. 

The statistics on slim Church attendance are somewhat 
misleading, since most Latin Americans still follow Roman 
Catholicism to one degree or another. The contradictions 
previously mentioned are illustrated by a simple example : 
in the barriadas of Lima 90 per cent of the children are 
baptized, but only 9 per cent of their parents go to Mass. 
If the adults feel that children should be started in a right- 
eous direction, the same compulsion does not motivate their 
own later lives, particularly since formal worship involves 
a financial cost. In any event, they say, almost invariably, 
that they are "good" Catholics. But this does not mean nec- 
essarily that they are "safely" Catholic. The notion that 
communism, or more precisely Fidelismo, cannot make head- 
way in Latin America because of Roman Catholicism can no 
longer be accepted with complacency. 

Cuba, of course, is the classic example, although a rather 
special one. Latter day Cubans were not even as devout as 
Catholics in other parts of the hemisphere. The reason lies 
partly in history. While the rest of the continent won its 

154 



independence from Spain more than a hundred years ago, 
the Church in Cuba was merely an appendage of Spanish 
imperialism until the turn of this century. Five hundred of 
the seven hundred priests on the island in 1961 still came 
from Spain, and few Cubans identified themselves with this 
branch of the clergy. By forcibly deporting most of the 
priests, Castro set out to isolate rather than destroy the 
Church, much as Mexico had done earlier. His measures 
against the Church met with some opposition but not as 
much as the outside world, unaware of the superficiality of 
religion in Cuba, might have expected. 

The power of the Church to sway public opinion in other 
Latin-American countries has by no means disappeared; it 
is particularly strong among campesinos in rural areas, and 
few politicians would think of seeking local office without 
the support of the village priest. But there are virtually no 
republics today where the Church dominates community ac- 
tion or thought as completely as in the past. Some priests 
recognize this shrinkage of authority even in countries with 
obstinately rigid hierarchies, such as Colombia. In Viota, 
the onetime enclave of communism, the thirty-year-old 
Father Hector Osorio spoke to me soberly and realistically 
of his parish's history: "Religion was not at stake: just the 
correcting of social wrongs. 35 Some priests, he said, believe 
that communism should be tackled head on, with religious 
condemnation of it. Father Osorio believes, and he said that 
some other young priests share this view (though, by infer- 
ence, not the hierarchy), that the Church should take the 
approach that any danger of communism can be met by 
economic means and that, in any case, the Church should 
stay outside the field of politics, otherwise it runs the risk 
of being f oresaken. He said, 

The problem is that if we start talking against commu- 
nism, then it appears that we are on the side of the rich and 

155 



against the poor. Here in Viota I do not preach politics or 
ideology in church or even outside it. I am well received 
wherever I go, even in the homes of really true Communists. 
The idea is not to abandon them but to try to keep them 
close to the Church. I visit them not as Communists but as 
Catholics and Colombians. The result is that people who call 
themselves "Communists" come to Mass. 

But Father Osorio,, isolated in his own philosophy as well 
as by geography, is a rarity. Broadly, the most forward- 
looking priests are the ones who come in contact with foreign 
missionaries of the modern (not Spanish) variety. Half the 
two thousand ecclesiastics in Peru, for example, are from 
Europe, Canada, and the United States. The padres with 
whom I spoke, both Peruvian and North American, shared 
a common goal : to introduce liberalism not only for human- 
itarian reasons but to give the Church greater prestige in 
the contest with communism. 

In Bolivia, where four hundred of the six hundred priests 
are from abroad, a Canadian group, the Oblate Order of 
Mary Immaculate, is active in the impoverished tin-mining 
areas. Here the miners and their families subsist on a diet 
of rice and potatoes, and perhaps meat once a week. The 
average mother gives birth to eight or nine children, but 
only three survive. Conditions inside the mines themselves 
are not too bad, and compare favorably with some in North 
America. Miners are issued masks and other safety devices. 
Nevertheless, silicosis takes a high toll, simply because 
miners, who have not been educated in the use of masks, 
keep them slung idly over their chests. The death rate adds 
to an inherent fatalism. "Why should I make an effort/' 
said a typical miner, "when I know I have only ten years 
ahead of me?" 

This somewhat primitive mentality may have hastened 
the inflow of communism. But the facts are that the mine 
unions are run by avowed Communists, and while only 10 

156 



per cent of the miners attend Mass, some 90 per cent show 
up for union meetings. A course in Marxist indoctrination is 
part of union activities. In rebuttal, the Canadian fathers 
do not spend their time speaking of communism in a nega- 
tive way; instead, they offer the constructive alternative of 
health clinics, classes in child care, and adult courses in 
reading and writing. At one mine, Siglo Veinte (Twentieth 
Century), 12,000 feet up in the Andes, much of the educa- 
tional work is conducted through a radio station the fathers 
operate. 

On the air from five in the morning to midnight, with a 
generous sprinkling of music, Pio Doce (Pius XII) is the 
most popular station in the region. In July, 1961, resentful 
union leaders broadcast a command over their own trans- 
mitters for an attack on Pio Doce. The Canadians, in turn, 
appealed to miners to defend the station. By midnight, two 
thousand protectors were on hand, some armed with rifles, 
others with sticks of dynamite. A miner shouted at a restless 
mob of union-led demonstrators: "If you want the station 
you will have to take it over our bodies." The mob retreated. 
Here, as a Canadian priest pointed out to me, was a positive 
example of some influence of the Church. But two months 
later, in union elections, the Communist leaders were re- 
turned with a bigger majority than ever before. 

"When it came to an attack on the station," the priest 
recalled quietly, "the miners looked on this, deep down and 
perhaps without defining it, as an attack on their faith. But 
when it came to work, and the promise of greater gain, they 
supported the Communists. Ideally, they would like to be 
both Catholic and Communist. Some see that the two are 
incompatible. Others are confused, and this is where lies the 
real danger." 

The sword that hacked through the montana of Latin 
America, to create a New World in the name of Spain and 

157 



Portugal, still dominates much of the continent in the name 
of traditional order, social progress or patriotism, depend- 
ing on the individual leanings of army officers. Whatever the 
guise of their roles, the senior officers form a tripartite oli- 
garchy, along with the upper clergy and landowners or in- 
dustrialists. If their approach to political and economic 
problems is not always as orthodox as that of their partners, 
it leaves them, nonetheless, just as responsible for the com- 
mon malaise, discontent, that affects directly or indirectly 
the .majority of ^Ls^PLJ^SSS^S^L^^ million inhabitants. 
With only few exceptions Mexico, Uinagu^ Rica, 

Bolivia (and to a lesser degree Brazil, Chile, Colombia) the 
armed forces today make and unmake governments, just as 
they did a century ago. In some instances, their motives 
have altered, but militarism itself remains unabated. When 
presidents are not actually generals in civilian clothes they 
are, as Argentina rediscovered last year, at the mercy of 
armed commanders. 

At Buenos Aires 7 presidential Casa Rosada (Pink House), 
during an interview with Arturo Frondizi, I brought up the 
point some of his critics were uttering: that he had won 
office on a platform of liberal reforms, but, as one young 
man put it, while he had mounted the horse from the left 
he was clearly descending from the right. Could the presi- 
dent comment on this charge? The fifty- three-year-old 
Frondizi promptly replied: "I propose to get off the horse 
in the same way I got on, neither with the right nor with 
the left, but with the nation." A few short weeks later, 
Arturo Frondizi, who had survived thirty-five major na- 
tional crises in four years, fell with a hard and sad crash, 
pushed by the generals and admirals. In his demise was a 
story not unique in Argentina but common to all Latin- 
American countries whose elements of ferment include a 
growing industrial class, a frightened middle group that 
sometimes passes for a middle class, an omnipotent officer 

158 



corps, all mixed together in a batter of faulty or greedy 
economic planning. Argentina, it is obvious, had a specific 
hangover of Peronismo, but this only served to heighten the 
case history: the dilemma of any republic striving to attain 
sound government and to relegate the military to a func- 
tion understood in North America and most of Europe of 
subordination to civilian authority. 

Frondizi may be condemned on many grounds; he was 
crafty, a master of unsavory political adroitness and expe- 
diency; hejKZBs_^Eerspnally austere and uninspiring js_a 

end, an opponent of 
As far back as 1930, ^aduatingTrTlaw during 




the regime of dictator Jose Uriburu, he refused to accept 
an honors certificate from, as he proclaimed publicly, "a 
government put in power and maintained by military force." 
Later he risked imprisonment and torture by conducting 
clandestine meetings against another dictator, Colonel Juan 
Peron, who, in 1943, had led a clique of officers to overthrow 
the legal government. These officers, typical of their gen- 
eration, were discontented not only with civilian titular 
heads but with their own generals, who, they felt, were out 
of tune with popular needs. In other words, this was to be 
a benevolent and collective dictatorship, in youthful mili- 
tary style. But Peron, over the next couple of years, out- 
flanked his fellow conspirators through a shrewd realization 
that the balance of power was shifting from the landowners 
and fecund plains to the great cities with their frustrated 
labor classes. Deliberately he built up trade unions as a 
balancing force against the army, so that his own strength 
as caudillo no longer would be dependent on his old com- 
rades. But the armed forces could never be ignored; the 
navy, especially, with more democratic traditions than the 
army, showed its hostility to Peron from the start, and it 
was to be the navy, in September, 1955, that sparked his 
downfall. There were many contributing causes, including 

159 



antagonism of the Church against legalized gambling and 
prostitution; but Peron's collapse can be linked basically 
with his dream of converting Argentina overnight from a 
pastoral economy to an industrial nation with a loyal trade- 
union federation backing him. 

The dream had some popular appeal prevalent elsewhere 
in Latin America: to free the nation from dependence on 
foreign investors. Riding high on a wartime demand for 
Argentina's beef and grain, which had filled the country's 
treasury with foreign exchange, Peron bought out the Brit- 
ish railway network, United States oil refineries, and other 
alien industries. But in trying for rapid state industrializa- 
tion, the dictator violated every rule in the code book of 
economics, even penalizing the lifeline, agriculture, through 
export exchange rates. Peron won the allegiance of more 
and more descamisados, "shirtless ones/ 7 who poured into 
the cities in search of high, artificially fixed wages, but also 
the enmity of landowners, who now found it unprofitable 
to raise cattle and grain, and the hatred of the middle class 
(the only truly big one in Latin America) who were caught 
in a vicious inflationary spiral. Added to the anti-Peronistas 
were the hundreds of purged army officers just waiting for 
an opportunity for revenge. After more than a decade under 
Peron's domination, the military finally moved; Peron fled 
when a navy cruiser appeared ready to fire on Buenos Aires ; 
and he left behind him a fearful legacy; an economy vir- 
tually at a standstill (in seven years the gross national 
product had dropped by more than 7 per cent), with three 
quarters of the population now living in towns and swelling 
state enterprises out of all reasonable proportions at the 
expense of a now stagnant agriculture. 

What was Peronismo like? A Buenos Aires doctor gave 
me one answer : "I had my first experience of it as a young 
intern in 1953 when a man showed up at the hospital with 
a tiny cut on his finger. I put a Band- Aid on it; and he 

160 



said, Well, where's the medical certificate? 7 1 couldn't under- 
stand what he meant, and I asked him to repeat it. He prac- 
tically shouted at me, 'Where's the medical certificate so 
I can get my seven days off from work?' I shouted back, 
and said I had been on duty for eighteen hours without 
sleep and nobody was giving me time off. I sent him on 
his way." This, however, was not the end of the episode. 
The worker appealed to his trade union, which in turn made 
representations at the ministry of health; and he received 
his week's sick leave. "I," said the doctor, "got a bawling 
out from the ministry for not understanding that workers' 
demands have to be met." The doctor fell silent for a few 
moments, and then said, slowly, "Peron? He left a legalized 
laziness." 

Some of the work by Peron and his late wife, Evita, was 
notable. Evita established homes for the aged, for indigent 
mothers, for working girls; if the caudillo himself stifled the 
press and seized control of the universities, he was still a 
heroic figure to millions of workers; for he not only left them 
alone but subsidized the steaks they ate every day for lunch 
and made it impossible for any employer to fire them. The 
full tragedy of Argentina's economic ruin was never under- 
stood by the descamisados, but economists had merely to 
tally the figures to find a foreign-trade deficit of $300 mil- 
lion a year, a steady inflationary gallop of 50 per cent a 
year, and featherbedded state industries with 75 per cent 
surplus personnel. After a period of military receivership, 
Argentina elected Frondizi president in 1958, but only be- 
cause he was able to enlist the Peronista vote by making a 
deal with the exiled caudillo. 

Frondizi came in on a left-wing program pledged to con- 
tinue the prolabor policies of Peron and to restore outlawed 
Peronista union leaders to control of the powerful General 
Confederation of Labor. Within months he was caught be- 
tween two main power blocs: the armed forces who were 

161 



fitfully prepared to react, almost by reflex, at any suggestion 
that Peron might be recouping his former hold, and the 
unionized masses who remembered wishfully their plushier 
days. Even when I arrived four years later, it was only nec- 
essary to walk along the picturesque banks of the Rio de la 
Plata in Buenos Aires to hear the loud complaints of the 
Peronistas. Teamsters, pausing beside the row of carritos, 
or open-air diners, lamented that a charcoal grilled steak 
cost thirty pesos (thirty-five cents) while under Peron it 
had cost only twelve pesos. 

Frondizi engaged in a juggler's act, trying to keep in per- 
petual motion a half-dozen spheres representing the trade 
unions, the armed forces, the bankers, the rival factions 
within his own party, the landowners, the United States. 
If either of the first two dropped, it would mean the end of 
the act. Nimble a performer as he was, Frondizi never got 
close to solving his country's devilish problems ; he tried to 
appeal as a friend of labor by shuffling top military posts, 
and in the process deepened the already touchy suspicions 
of the generals; when he made concessions to the army, 
workers went out on strike. What was intended to be a reform 
program became instead an austerity program. "There are 
hard times ahead," Frondizi announced, "but the greater 
the contribution each one makes, the shorter and less pain- 
ful will be the period of stabilization." But because of the 
stirring Peronist memories among urban workers, he dared 
not permit wages to find their own normal levels; indus- 
trialists and landowners nagged at him while trade remained 
static and uncompetitive in foreign markets. Imports, mean- 
while, had to go up to satisfy the wants of the large urban 
groups. Argentina ended 1961 with a foreign trade deficit of 
$450 million. 

In one area Frondizi met with more success. The Inter- 
national Monetary Fund made available substantial credits, 
and North American, French, German, and British indus- 

162 



tries resumed the investing that had dwindled during the 
Peron era of nationalization. Argentina became a new sym- 
bol, a testing ground for private enterprise and United 
States policy toward Latin America; only a month before 
Frondizi's downfall, Buenos Aires received a pledge of $150 
million under the Alliance for Progress. Critics, among them 
army people, accused Frondizi of selling out to the United 
States ; but this type of carping did not disturb him, because, 
as he pointed out to me, his invitation to United States oil 
companies to drill and produce had made the nation self- 
sufficient in petroleum within three years and alone saved 
$300 million annually in foreign exchange. 

But still the national deficit remained huge, a major por- 
tion of it, for example, traced directly to the state-owned 
railway, which was running at an enormous loss. For a week 
I could not travel anywhere in Argentina by rail ; everyone 
was out on strike because Frondizi had finally decided to 
chance an attack on the Peron heritage of redundancy. Can- 
ada, where conditions in terms of population and distances 
are somewhat similar to those in Argentina, employs 1,270 
railwaymen for every million tons of freight; in Argentina 
the figure was 8,755. Frondizi sought to lop off 75,000 em- 
ployees and to get the remaining 135,000 to work at least six 
hours daily, rather than the four hours of Peron practice. 
The strike ended in a typical compromise that achieved 
little for the nation. 

Meanwhile, Frondizi was anxious to prove that the hold 
of Peronismo was not nearly as great as some of the skeptics 
believed. He persuaded a reluctant military command that 
Peronistas should be allowed to run, for the first time since 
their ban from office in 1955, in state and congressional elec- 
tions. Frondizi, with a vision of democratic process, was at 
the same time confident of victory for his own candidates. 
But the results on March 18, 1962 were more than disturb- 
ing. Out of a total of 7,200,000 votes cast, Peronistas polled 

163 



2,500,000. It was a minority vote, but enough to take ten 
governorships in twenty-two states and half of the congres- 
sional seats at stake. The furious military, fearful of any 
gains for Peronismo, blamed Frondizi for a miscalculation, 
forced him to annul the results of the elections, and within 
twelve days deposed him. There were among the officers 
some who were constitutionally minded and willing to ad- 
here to the results, as unpalatable as they were; but the 
more powerful generals won out. Once again Argentina went 
into military receivership. Soldiers and sailors covered them- 
selves with "legitimacy" by permitting an unimpressive, 
minor politician, Jose Maria Guido, to be sworn in as presi- 
dent; but they kept for themselves the right to veto all 
cabinet appointments and actions. New elections were 
promised, but so designed that a proper civilian government 
could not take office before May 1, 1964. 

The details were relatively unimportant. What stood out 
were the broad lessons: Castroism was not a direct factor 
in a nation that, despite its economic and political hard- 
ships, enjoyed the highest standard of living in Latin Amer- 
ica. Argentina, with 97 per cent of its people European in 
origin, had a solid middle class and few of the extreme 
poverty problems of its neighbor to the North, Brazil. And 
yet there was plainly discontent that presented dilemmas 
not only for Argentina but for the United States. How could 
Washington reconcile its Alliance grant ("an indication of 
confidence in President Frondizi") with the claims of some 
voters who said they had gone against Frondizi not through 
any sentiment for Peronismo but through fervent opposition 
to any marked return of private enterprise fostered by for- 
eign capital? How could Washington recognize a puppet 
government after backing so openly and strongly a demo- 
cratic government? President Kennedy, speaking of the 
"unfortunate" election results, said: "They reveal what 
happens if you neglect an area for a decade." But the "neg- 

164 



leet" included a United States attitude of catering to the 
military, not only in Argentina but all over Latin America, 
a hazardous defense policy that will be inspected in another 
chapter. 

The sum was this : Argentina's military leaders, who had 
not fought a war since 1870 and yet commanded a well- 
armed and disciplined force of 150,000 men, were in control 
of the continent's second largest country. Neither they nor 
the Peronistas appeared willing to relinquish narrow privi- 
leges in order to consolidate prosperity in this potentially 
wealthy land. There were some academic questions. If a 
democracy was to exist, could antidemocratic elements such 
as Peronistas be permitted to take seats in parliament? And, 
conversely, what justification was there for soldiers to pre- 
vent the seating of men chosen in a fair and secret ballot 
by a literate electorate? Which was preferable, a popularly 
elected government that could move toward one form of 
dictatorship, or a military dictatorship determined to pre- 
vent the first? The answer, of course, is that neither was 
desirable. "A nation which conducts its political affairs with 
responsibility and common sense/' said The New York 
Times in connection with Argentina's elections, "will not 
have to make a choice of dictatorships." 

Argentina, given the strength of civilian authority, could 
have avoided its latest tragedy. Two out of three voters 
chose a non-Peronist course; it was for them to decide how 
the minority could be appeased or allowed rein. But curi- 
ously, with a sense of resignation, they passively accepted 
militarism as inevitable. At the other end of the scale, tiny 
Costa Rica dissolved its army because it interfered with a 
civilian mandate. When Costa Rica's government refused to 
heed the results of a 1948 vote, and called out the army to 
prevent a democratically elected party from assuming office, 
Jose Figueres, a fiery and dynamic patriot, led a makeshift 
"Caribbean Legion" in successful rebellion. One of his first 

165 



legal acts, in revenge for the army's action in a nonmilitary 
matter, was to call for its disbandment and the conversion 
of the main barracks in San Jose into a museum of fine arts. 
A guardia, or national police force of a thousand men, was 
set up to handle internal security. In conversation with me 
many years later, Figueres, possibly Central America's 
greatest statesman, said, "Why should a band of professional 
soldiers have taken upon themselves the right to annul the 
popular will as expressed at the polls?" 

In the interval, Figueres and other presidents in mod- 
erately socialist governments confirmed their belief that 
Costa Rica could manage quite well without a regular army, 
despite two invasion efforts against them. Antigovernment 
exiles in Nicaragua attempted a coup in December of 1948, 
and again in 1955, but were held back by volunteer forces. 
Prompt intervention by the Organization of American States 
also helped; representatives from the United States, Mex- 
ico, Colombia, and Brazil sorted out Costa Rican charges that 
Nicaragua was aiding in aggression, and war between the 
two states was averted. The moral, as Figueres himself men- 
tions today, is that the army no longer plays a role in Costa 
Rica's affairs; yet the nation feels secure from external 
threats, and has been spared the heavy burden of military 
expenditures : a budgetary drain afflicting other Latin- Amer- 
ican countries that could make far better use of their money 
in vital social and economic reforms. 4 

Between the two poles of Argentina and Costa Rica are 
various gradations of the armed forces' influence. At the 
beginning of this century no army in Latin America was 
more political than Mexico's, and yet, following the civilian 
uprisings of 1910, weaknesses in it began to set in. Citizen- 
generals, each leading large and revolutionary armies in 

4 Destitute and medieval Paraguay spends 50 per cent of its budget on the 
armed forces, Argentina and Brazil between 35 and 40 per cent. In most 
Latin- American republics the minimum is 25 per cent. 

166 



separate parts of the country, started assuming the func- 
tions of the older, similarly nonprof essional but regular offi- 
cers whose social positions for centuries had given them 
predatory careers in enriching themselves. By the early 
1920's the central government was ready to take action to 
curb militarism. Its first cautious move was to invite the 
revolutionary citizen-generals into the permanent army, 
with status and a generous federal payroll. Then followed 
an effort to instill professionalism through a new officers' 
training school, and afterward a ruthless but effective series 
of purges, executions, and banishments. 

There were, inevitably, counterblows by the old soldiers, 
but by the 1940's the Mexican army had already taken on 
some of the orthodox, well-disciplined forms customary in 
North America. Today, Mexico's military establishment, by 
Latin America's yardstick, is small (around 50,000 men in 
a population of 32 millions) ; it acts neither as a drag on 
the economy (using only about 12 per cent of the national 
budget) nor a dangerous influence on politics. A generation 
of time has elapsed in this evolution, but Mexico has set an 
example that could well be followed by other republics striv- 
ing to reach a balanced formula between defense needs and 
civilian authority. Indeed, Bolivia, after its 1952 revolution 
aimed at social changes, took quick measures to disband the 
armed forces and to replace them with a civilian militia, as 
a preventive against any revival of juntas, which, in former 
days, had ruled in favor of the oligarchy. 

Colombia is an example of a country midway on the road 
toward an understanding between civilian and military 
leaders. As in Chile, Colombia's military men have by tradi- 
tion and theory stayed apart from politics in Chile's case 
since the early nineteenth century, in Colombia since the 
beginning of this century. Still, in modern times each coun- 
try's army has intervened during periods it considered na- 
tional crises, though Chile, since 1932, has been able to 

167 



boast of constitutional governments elected without military 
pressure. The tacit agreement there is that the armed forces 
will not interfere in politics if the civilians, in turn, will leave 
the generals and admirals and their budgets alone. Co- 
lombia is trying to work out a similar arrangement of quid 
pro quo, but its army's last involvement in civilian affairs 
goes back only a few years. 

In 1953, with Colombia engaged in an undeclared civil 
war between Liberals and Conservatives, General Gustavo 
Rojas Pinilla seized power, largely with popular approval. 
Although he pursued some welfare policies designed to 
appeal to the masses, Rojas ruled as a dictator, relying on 
the armed forces to keep him in office and drawing his key 
administrators from military ranks. After a series of blun- 
ders, which made him more tyrannical and created public 
disfavor, Rojas was finally removed by his fellow officers. 
Since 1957 Colombia has again been governed by civilians, 
an intricate and uneasy kind of coalition between Conserva- 
tives and Liberals, who have made a point of paying open 
tribute to the military on every suitable occasion. For their 
part, the generals, having had their fingers burned in trying 
to do a civilian job, say they prefer keeping to their tradi- 
tional side of the fence. Nevertheless, within the war 
ministry a struggle still goes on between those who regard 
military service as an opportunity to serve their country and 
those who see it as a means of achieving power. 

What is the attitude of the younger officers? The ones 
with whom I spoke in Bogota gave me a distinct feeling that 
a new breed not only is emerging but is acquiring ideals that 
might provide salvation for their country. There is nothing 
novel about cleavages between the generations of Latin 
America's officer castes. Many "palace revolts" or insurrec- 
tions have been brought about by young officers who scorned 
their seniors but at the same time revealed their own arch- 
conservative backgrounds by sneering at democracy. In 

168 



former days, only scions of the propertied elite could enter 
officer ranks, but today many identify themselves with the 
urban or middle groups from which they originate. If this 
does not exactly make them "socialists" or reformers, it at 
least instills in them a healthy regard for legality. I asked 
a youthful Colombian air-force pilot for his reaction to the 
Argentine army pushing Frondizi into a break in relations 
with Cuba (shortly preceding the President's downfall). 
Without hesitating, the pilot replied: "I do not like Castro 
or anything about him. But the armed forces in Argentina 
had no business interfering in civilian matters; they acted 
contrary to the way armed forces should act." 

The Venezuela once described by Bolivar as "a barracks" 
is still very much under the influence of the military, but 
with an altered complexion. While, previously, civilian au- 
thorities were harassed by moves exclusively from extreme 
right-wing generals ready to protect the oligarchy (in a 
century and a half of independence Venezuela had only two 
honest elections), today the pressure comes equally from 
the extreme left of the young officer elite. But there are 
moderates as well. Venezuela's minister of defense, General 
Briceno Linares, echoed the views of the young Colombian 
officer by saying that Argentina's army should not have 
meddled in the functions of a civilian government. But then 
he added : "However, a president should be smart and never 
get himself into a position where the army will have to act." 
My interpretation of the Venezuelan view, therefore, is that 
the army will respect civil government, as long as civil gov- 
ernment goes along with the army. But this may be too 
cynical an estimate. Venezuela, under President Betan- 
court's guidance, showed a remarkable transition from 1958 
to 1962. At least such a man as Linares could truly distin- 
guish between the function of the armed forces and govern- 
ment: "The main role of the military is national defense, 
and then to provide full support for the constitutional gov- 

169 



eminent elected by the people. Up to now, in this govern- 
ment's life, we have been successful. This is the first time 
in Venezuela's history when a constitutional government 
has lasted three years and more, and I am optimistic." 

Linares, a handsome, straight-speaking man of forty- 
seven, impressed me as being fairly open-minded. Betan- 
court had managed to weed out most of the Old Guard 
associated with former dictator Perez Jimenez, sending some 
abroad as ambassadors. Linares received his post because 
his thoughts about democratic process for reform coincided 
with those of Betancourt. "I have a strong social sensibility," 
he told me, "but I want to see changes made lawfully. The 
only way to fight communism is to kill its roots poverty 
and everything else that goes with it. Having a strong 
government backed by force will not in itself solve the prob- 
lems. For that reason I want to succeed in our reforms, but 
there must be time. All the problems will not be solved by 
this government, or the next. There must be a chance for 
continuity." 

But this philosophy alone is not what tied him to Betan- 
court. Betancourt shrewdly gave Linares a large budget and 
a free hand in military expenditures. "Perez Jimenez, as a 
general, believed he knew more about military matters than 
his chiefs of staff," Linares recalled. "But now when the 
president calls us in for advice he accepts it, because he 
knows we are experts, and he is not. For example, during 
the Perez Jimenez regime we discussed for ten years what 
was to be the army's biggest unit, and we never arrived at 
a satisfactory answer. Last year we worked out a complete 
plan for reorganization of the army, and we spent one after- 
noon discussing it with Betancourt. The next morning he 
signed his approval." Linares led me to a map lining one 
wall of his office, and pointed out the position of air bases 
in terms of Venezuela's valuable oil fields. "Perez Jimenez," 
he said, "bought a lot of aircraft, but with an eye only to 

170 



how much he would receive immediately in graft, not with 
any regard to strategic value. Our bases were much too far 
from the oil fields, which would be prime targets in the 
event of war. Now they are being built more sensibly." 

On the face of it, it seemed like a successful cohabitation 
of military and nonmilitary, but in essence it added up to 
the major flaw that an army officer, and not a civilian, was 
still minister of defense and therefore the dominant partner. 5 
When I questioned Linares on this point, he was firm in 
saying that during "the transitional period" it was prefer- 
able to have a military man as minister. But he could not 
specify the duration of a "transitional period," nor at what 
point the armed forces would consider it necessary to move 
to prevent what he called "leftist tendencies." In other words, 
Linares was prepared, and probably quite genuinely, to sup- 
port reforms, but these would have to be as he defined them. 

In the meantime, it was clear that the curse of militarism 
was far from lifted in Venezuela. Linares admitted that 
"there is still a group of old officers who would like to rule 
the country"; but they, as representatives of the oligarchy, 
were for the moment under control. Not so predictable was 
a new factor, but still a militarist one: the group of young 
officers who intermittently in 1962 tried to overthrow the 
elected government because they believed it was not going 
far and fast enough in reforms. One particular engagement, 
the second in a month, took place at Puerto Cabello, sev- 
enty-five miles west of Caracas, when a trio of officers man- 
aged to rouse seven hundred marines at a nearby base, 
occupy the city, and release pro-Castro civilian prisoners 
from jail. The marines were joined by armed students, and 
by the time loyal government forces put down the insurrec- 
tion scores of men were dead and hundreds more injured. 

5 In South America, only Uruguay has had a long and unbroken record of 
civilian control of the armed forces. Uniquely, it reached this position through 
gradual evolution, not revolution. The defense minister is a civilian. 

171 



The possibility of civil war in Venezuela, with old soldiers 
taking a right-wing position and the younger ones a leftist 
stance, is never far from reality. 

Brazil emerged from a civil war fright in 1961, shaken by 
a military attempt to violate the constitution but relieved 
that a national sense of legality finally prevailed. The posi- 
tion of Brazil's army is in many ways unusual in Latin 
America. It has been content to pose as the upholder of the 
constitution and to be beyond partisan politics ; unlike most 
neighbors, whose armed forces have often put their own 
generals into presidencies, Brazil has been ruled almost con- 
tinually by civilians since it became a republic more than 
seventy years ago. 6 But in practice the generals act with 
autonomy, above the state, ready to issue a quiet but stern 
ultimatum that all sensible civilians respect. It was a junta 
of generals who in 1930 handed over dictatorial power to 
Getulio Vargas, an old and skilled working politician. For 
the next quarter of a century, until his suicide, Vargas dom- 
inated the political life of Brazil. 

At the start, Vargas was well received. With the zeal of 
a reformer he pushed Brazil into the industrial age, im- 
proved educational facilities, instituted labor legislation 
and, perhaps more importantly than anything else, molded 
a score of quarreling, semiautonomous states (at one point 
Sao Paulo even had a formidable army of its own) into a 
reasonably unified nation. But at the end there was a vast 
and corrupt personal machine attended by nepotism and 
followed by political instability in a country that had grown 
dependent on one-man rule. In 1954-55 Brazil went through 
five presidents in fifteen months. Today, as part of the 
Vargas legacy, there are thirteen political groups that call 
themselves parties ; but in fact, undisciplined and splintered 

e Only three of Brazil's presidents have been military men, the last in 1914 
compared with Argentina where in one period alone, between 1930 and 
1957, eight out of ten presidents were colonels or generals. 

172 



even among their own ranks, they are not parties in a North 
American sense. It is as providers of balance, stability, and 
continuity that the armed services see themselves. A colonel, 
the chief of staff of an armored division, told me : "The in- 
tellectuals the doctors, the writers, and so on are influ- 
ential but they haven't the organization. The military is the 
greatest single force in Brazil. It is popular because it is 
always striving to improve the country." 

Oddly enough, this claim to popularity is fundamentally 
true. Unlike such republics as Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, 
Nicaragua, or Haiti, whose military leaders are either feared 
or loathed, Brazil's armed services have commanded respect 
and pride; aside from the fact that Brazil's generals and 
admirals promote the teaching of reading and writing among 
conscripts, and engage in such fruitful missions as road and 
bridge-building, they alone among South Americans put a 
force into the field (Italy) on the Allied side in World War 
II. But this having been said, there was a sharp division in 
the nation over the attitude of the high command during 
the Quadros upheaval. I arrived in Rio de Janeiro several 
weeks after the crisis had been resolved, but it had left a 
wound that was still deeply sensitive and continued to be 
the main topic of conversation. "It was the most perilous 
crisis Brazil experienced in its entire history as a republic," 
said Roberto Marinho, editor of Rio's largest newspaper, 
Globo. "We still need to recover our self-confidence, be- 
cause the equally big crisis we are suffering is that we are 
afraid of tomorrow." 

Janio Quadros had been inaugurated as president of Brazil 
in January, 1961 with the largest vote in the nation's rec- 
ords. He was known as a go-getter. In the 1930's and onward 
Brazil had undergone the "new kind of democracy" of Var- 
gas. Then came President Juscelino Kubitschek with his 
"new program for national redemption: fifty years of prog- 
ress in five"; Kubitschek brought massive construction but 

173 



also staggering foreign debts and runaway inflation. And 
now Quadros flourished his "new broom" to sweep away 
corruption, intrigue, and economic chaos. 

It was a forceful, dynamic concept, but it aroused appre- 
hension in many circles. At home, industrialists objected 
when Quadros cut subsidies and tightened credit; military 
chieftains were stunned when he talked of trying to get closer 
to a balanced budget by paring their expenditures : a civil- 
ian intrusion on sacrosanct territory; Congress ignored his 
plans for land reform and higher taxes that would, of course, 
affect its members. In foreign relations, Quadros supported 
the fledgling Alliance for Progress but upset Washington by 
opposing efforts to have the hemisphere isolate Castro's 
Cuba; he declared a policy of neutralismo interesado, or 
"benevolent neutrality"; he moved toward restoring diplo- 
matic relations with the Soviet Union, which had been 
broken in 1947, and then bestowed Brazil's highest decora- 
tion, the Order of the Southern Cross, on Cuba's Ernesto 
"Che" Guevara. Some Brazilians interpreted this last ges- 
ture as merely a device to frighten the United States into 
more economic aid (blackmail is not beyond any Latin- 
American country) ; others saw in it nothing more than an 
assertion of Brazil's right to conduct external relations in its 
own interests. If conservatives, among them militarists, were 
disturbed, Quadros had the sympathy of the man in the 
street. 

Despite the reports of mounting pressures, it was an un- 
prepared and shocked nation that awoke on the morning of 
August 25 to learn that Quadros, after barely seven months 
in office, had resigned. Those who had opposed him discov- 
ered, all at once, that he was the only man who could keep 
the country together, the only one who offered hope and the 
necessary drive to build social and economic institutions. 
At least this was the way they sounded. The incredible thing 
in the following weeks and months is that the men and 

174 



women with whom I spoke the bankers, the trade union- 
ists, the intellectuals were virtually unanimous in Quadros' 
favor. Almost as incredible was the fact that the full story, 
setting out the reasons for the resignation, was unknown. 
Quadros himself said only, ambiguously, that he had been 
"smashed by the forces" working against him. The inference 
was that the United States had exerted pressure because of 
his "neutralist" policy, and that the military heads were 
equally uneasy. But none of this interpretation was borne 
out by evidence. On the contrary, the United States, fearful 
of the dangers of social and economic problems in Latin 
America's biggest and most populous country, had extended 
to Quadros hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and 
loans during his brief presidency. As for the military side, 
Quadros told a close aide the morning of his decision that 
he intended to pull out, and there was a quick meeting of 
the three defense ministers urging him to stay on. 

The most plausible explanation, I believe, is one that com- 
bines two factors: Quadros 7 temperament was undoubtedly 
erratic and unpredictable; but perhaps more compellingly 
he wanted the powers of France's Charles de Gaulle to gov- 
ern firmly without worrying about Congress vetoing his 
legislation. But, as a U.S. Embassy political officer phrased 
it, "he outfoxed himself." There was no rush by the military 
or by Congress to offer him a de Gaulle type of authoritarian 
deal, and Quadros set sail for England. There was, however, 
a shattering maneuver by the military to block the auto- 
matic succession to the presidency of vice-president Joao 
("Jango") Goulart. And this is what nearly precipitated 
civil war and destroyed much of the army's image as a 
guardian of constitutional observance, as a custodian of 
legal process. 

Goulart, aged forty-two, had served his political tutor- 
ship under Vargas. He was in disfavor at many levels. Intel- 
lectuals accused him of attempting to set up a distorted kind 

175 



of Peron welfare state when he was minister of labor. In 
more recent times he had moved to merge his Labor Party 
with the radical Peasant Leagues in the Northeast and the 
underground Communist party. Businessmen and militarists 
were terrified by words still freshly implanted in their minds 
following a visit by Goulart to Red China, where he extolled 
the Communist experiment. But, rationally, Goulart, one 
of Brazil's wealthiest landowners, could hardly be called a 
Communist. He described himself as a "pragmatic nation- 
alist/ 7 whatever that meant. In fact, he was a calculating 
and unprincipled politician, constantly in search of liaisons 
to strengthen his public career no novelty in Brazil or 
elsewhere. But many of the critics, despite their dislike for 
Goulart's personality and expediency, believed in the sanc- 
tity of the constitution, which clearly held that the vice- 
president would have to finish the remaining four years as 
president. 

The three cabinet ministers representing the armed serv- 
ices (navy, army, and air force), all military men, thought 
otherwise. They issued a joint declaration that Goulart's 
assumption of the presidency would be "inconvenient . . . for 
national security." One of these officers, Marshal Odilio 
Denys, the war minister, added a point of his own: "The 
time has come to choose between democracy and commu- 
nism. 37 The loose use of the word "communism' 7 did not 
have the expected effect, nor did the camouflaged military 
ultimatum cow people as it might have in the past. Neither 
the whole nation nor the armed forces shared this attempt 
by senior officers to violate a fundamental charter. In the 
far South, in Goulart's home state of Rio Grande do Sul, 
the Third Army (a well-equipped force of 60,000 men out 
of total armed forces of 200,000) declared its support for the 
vice-president. Civilian followers in other southern states 
ominously began to organize popular militia battalions, 
armed with their own hunting rifles and weapons handed 

176 



out surreptitiously by army units. When chiefs of staff in 
Rio de Janeiro sent signals to subordinates in Porto Alegre, 
the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, ordering them to shift their 
aircraft from the area, the local commanders instead erected 
barricades in the city, blocked the harbor against possible 
naval landings, and issued instructions on their own radio 
network to rally allegiance for Goulart. The few officers who 
tried to obey Rio headquarters found sergeants and enlisted 
men removing parts from planes so they could not fly. 

Other soldiers, sailors, and airmen were caught in the con- 
flict of whether to recognize regional or national instruc- 
tions, or their consciences. Roughly, the lines set North 
against South, but mixed emotions were everywhere. In 
Brasilia, the new capital, deputies and senators raced from 
one emergency meeting to another, with pistols jutting from 
their pockets. It was, by all accounts, a tense and dangerous 
period. Brazilians are individualists and pretend that life 
must go on despite national crises, especially a life of pleas- 
ure. It is true that the Copacabana, Rio's extensive beach, 
was crowded; prostitutes walked their usual beats along the 
sea front facing the line of fine hotels and apartments. But, 
as one carioca told me, between dips in the surf he and his 
friends were meeting under beach umbrellas to form maquis 
units ; he said he knew of at least twenty-five similar con- 
spiratorial groups in Rio, ready to act against the defense 
ministers if they should insist on imposing their will. 

Many principles were at stake, not only a sincere pride 
in the constitution and a fear of a rise in military excesses. 
Brazilians also had a determination to discourage any for- 
eign notions that theirs was just another preposterous and 
unstable "banana" republic. "Janio or Jango it doesn't 
matter who is president. We must allow nothing to stop our 
progress now." This is the way one businessman put it in 
referring to the surge of nationalistic fervor of Brazilians 
to find their roots in the industrial revolution that had its 

177 



start under Vargas but really gained speed only in the last 
decade. What was needed was international respect and 
confidence in Brazil; and it does much to explain why 
Brazilians, rather than risk bloodshed and destroy faith in 
their country, worked day and night for a week on a com- 
promise formula. 

Finally, the military chiefs bowed to the mid-course solu- 
tion worked out with Congress. Goulart took over as presi- 
dent, in a new parliamentary system, dividing his authority 
with a prime minister elected by Congress. It was a shaky 
and unwieldy arrangement, which no one could forecast 
with any certainty would work. But it at least saved the 
nation from imminent fratricide and demonstrated an 
awareness of responsibility. In January, 1963, Brazilians 
voted, by a margin of five to one, for an end to the par- 
li^mentary system and a return to a strong presidency. 
There was no doubt that military prestige was badly weak- 
ened; people took a fresh look at the supposed sentinels over 
sacred institutions. While I was in Rio de Janeiro, one 
newspaper went so far as to suggest that Brazil should have 
a civilian war minister : a proposition that as recently as five 
years ago would have brought a quiet military injunction 
forcing the paper to close down. 

Goulart proved, at least in the first several months of 
presidential office, to be far milder than the military had 
expected not really so surprising in the light of his history 
of political shuffling. The suspensef ul chapter, however, held 
a lesson not for Latin America alone, but for the United 
States as well. If Brazil's Congress does degenerate into a 
tool of the armed forces, it is almost certain that none of 
the basic social and economic reforms so desperately required 
will be carried out by officers of conservative leanings. Be- 
sides, a military dictatorship of Latin America's biggest 
country would grievously embarrass Washington in its quest 
to convince the hemisphere that democracy and improve- 

178 



ment can go hand in hand, especially since United States 
funds have heavily subsidized Brazil's military machine. 
Brazil is crucial to the success of the Alliance for Progress; 
and its pattern, rippling out in all directions, may well set 
the form for an entire continent suffering from many of 
the same conditions. What will happen then, if, as appears 
probable, the scale of power has shifted away from the tradi- 
tional military leaders? The recent crisis was over a con- 
stitutional issue; the next might easily be over something 
more fundamental, bread and butter. "Quadros was a dema- 
gogue," said Ruy Mesquita, co-editor of Estado de Sao 
Paulo, Brazil's most influential newspaper. "But he was also 
a mixture of many things. He could understand traditional 
Brazil the customs, the philosophies, the mentalities of 
the upper class and the aristocracy and yet feel the move- 
ment of masses everywhere. He was our last chance for 
democratic development." 

Quadros returned to Brazil as a private citizen, to test 
the political climate, six months after his self-imposed exile. 
But by then the social and economic pressures, especially in 
the impoverished Northeast with its rapidly spreading and 
revolutionary Peasant Leagues, had pushed closer to the 
surface. Reflecting on the unpredictable elements Quadros' 
resignation had set adrift, a senior intelligence officer said 
he estimated Communist strength at no more than 40,000. 
"Because of the social unrest/' he went on, "they could be 
tremendously significant. But the threat is not from them. 
It is from the people who are starving in the Northeast and 
elsewhere and who see no progress and no hope for progress. 
Once they start to move I am afraid that we (the armed 
forces) will not have the strength to stop them." 

The point, of course, is that if the armies were divided 
once, with at least one third refusing to heed orders from a 
central command, they could separate again, this time on 
social and economic issues rather than political or technical 

179 



ones. If Brazil's chiefs of staff are of the oligarchy, most 
officers and their men come from middle and lower groups 
and might be expected, in any showdown, to align them- 
selves with their own classes. Troops in Rio Grande do Sul 
supported Goulart partly because he came from their region. 
How would troops from Rio Grande do Norte and other 
Northeast states react to instructions to march against kin- 
folk struggling for social and economic betterment? In other 
words, it is no longer safe to assume that Brazil's armed 
forces will maintain traditions or provide a calm bulwark 
against extreme changes as they have in the past. 

It is one of the contradictions of South America that 
within the period of half a year the two most important 
countries, Argentina and Brazil, saw martial mutations: in 
the one a return to old-style militarism, in the other a lessen- 
ing of the high-command hold. This seesawing is not uncom- 
mon historically, but in recent years a new and uncertain 
factor has been added: the example of Cuba and the influ- 
ence of its social changes. I heard some officers say they 
would defend their establishment against any incursions of 
Fidelismo if for no other than the understandable reason 
of self-interest, the knowledge that existing officer castes 
would be replaced in any successful revolution. But there 
were also men in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, and other 
countries who said, as one young officer said in Bogota, "We 
must have major reforms. Up to now everything has failed 
except force." 

The same was said in the 1940 ? s and 1950's by young officers 
who pitted themselves against generals whose mentalities 
they considered rigid. Mostly, however, the incentive was 
not altruism but greed and personal gain. (Peron escaped 
from Argentina with an estimated $700 million, Perez 
Jimenez from Venezuela with $250 million, Fulgencio Ba- 
tista from Cuba with $200 million.) Whether the young 
marine officers *who attempted insurrection in Venezuela in 

180 



1962 or the troops who fought Castro-style in the hills of 
Guatemala would be content with mere financial gain was 
debatable. Their motives today are just as likely to be gen- 
uinely social and revolutionary in line with Bolivia, Cuba, 
and an earlier Mexico. 

One would think that the armed forces, commanded by 
supposed realists, would be universally concerned with so- 
cial reforms, if only to contain the obvious "enemies": 
hunger and discontent that can lead to uncontrollable explo- 
sions. But on balance, right-wing traditions of the military 
still prevail through most of the hemisphere. Army regimes 
that really promote reforms are the exceptions; mostly their 
political intervention is a conservative holding action, going 
even so far as to dissolve popular parties by the threat or 
use of force. In Peru it was the army that declared the 
winner of the presidential election in June of 1962 even 
before the final vote was tallied; not content with this move, 
it threw aside all civilian political figures, and a general, 
Ricardo Perez Godoy, was proclaimed provisional president. 
Ironically, in the process of the coup the outgoing president, 
Manuel Prado, a conservative banker, was deposed just ten 
days short of completing his term of office and exiled because 
he stood for constitutional process, which would have given 
the APRA party of Haya de la Torre a major say in gov- 
ernment. APRA and the army had been in conflict, some- 
times with a heavy cost in lives, for thirty years ; but more 
to the point, the generals regarded it as too extremist (in 
reality APRA, at one time leftist, latterly was a moderate 
party) . General Perez, on behalf of his military junta, prom- 
ised a new election for June, 1963, and said righteously: "We 
of the armed forces are middle class . . . there will be land, 
houses, work and food ... we will decrease the cost of living 
... we will do all this in twelve months, not one day more." 
The words, in South America's third largest country, had 
a familiarly hollow ring and presented a new problem to 

181 



a shocked United States administration desperately trying 
to keep alive a year-old Alliance for Progress with promises 
of strengthening democratic institutions. If militarism at one 
time could be shrugged aside by North Americans as simply 
another quaint Latin- American trait, its upsurge in the last 
year was of more serious dimensions, politically, economi- 
cally, emotionally, and the basis for review in the conclud- 
ing section of this book. 

Meanwhile, one judgment appears valid : the atmosphere 
and conditions of Latin America, political immaturity 
(caused largely by militarism itself), decadence of old in- 
stitutions, the lack of cohesive civilian alternatives, all com- 
bine to foster military rule. "If there is no agreement on 
the right to command or the duty to obey, either because 
of ethnic heterogeneity or in consequence of an internal 
schism," says one analyst of militarism generally, "naked 
force must remain the argument of last resort, and the dis- 
tribution of military might must then be the principal deter- 
minant of the social structure/' 7 The big imponderable for 
the future is whether the social structure of much of Latin 
America will be of a right- or left-wing nature, implemented, 
at least initially, by men in uniform. In view of the social 
forces operating, a middle road seems unlikely. 

7 Military Organization and Society, by Stanislaw Andrzejewski, Routledge 
and K. Paul, London, 1954. 



182 



Brasilia: Symbol in the Wilderness 



SOME INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES recruit attentive steward- 
esses who lavish on their passengers foie gras, caviar, and 
other delicacies. But Varig, the Brazilian airline, goes a 
step further. In addition to the usual crew, it carries on its 
main routes a hostess ("executive hostess 3 ' is the official 
title) whose function is to make you feel you are attending 
a private party. She introduces guests, suggests a liqueur 
after the elaborate meal, and stimulates conversation in a 
half-dozen languages. On the trip from New York to Rio de 
Janeiro, my hostess was a countess, attired in black dinner 
gown with just the right accessories, including a long strand 
of pearls. Now, on the way from Rio to Brasilia, the hostess 
was Princess Mafalda de Braganga Chanler, great-grand- 
daughter of Dom Pedro II, the last monarch of Brazil. 

The man sitting beside me, Alberto Borges, a building con- 
tractor, pointed out that there was something quite appro- 
priate about the royal touch on a jet doing nearly six hun- 
dred miles an hour. "Brasilia/' he said, almost tenderly, 
"was a dream back in the days of the emperors, and it came 
into reality only in the modern age." If Brasilia is the 
world's newest city, born only a few years ago, it is also 
the most controversial capital. 

183 



It is eight hundred miles from Rio, and you fly endlessly 
over forests, glimpsing only occasionally a freshly cut road 
through the trees. You wonder what kind of civilization can 
exist in this forbidding territory, and then, suddenly, Brasilia 
springs into view: dramatic, haughty, with its green and 
blue skyscrapers in the midst of red flatland. For miles 
around, the soil is ruddy, betraying its clay surface and 
making the city look ludicrously misplaced, as though some- 
one had dropped it casually from the sky not caring where 
it would settle. "Why," I asked Borges, "did they ever pick 
a site like this?" 

Borges methodically quoted a team of international ex- 
perts who had studied many regions and made their selection 
on the basis of an ample watershed and other technical fac- 
tors. Brasilia itself might be planted on red clay, but not 
far away there was good farm acreage to feed its people. 
"Besides," said Borges, "we had to conquer the interior." 

It was a simple statement, told with pride, and the key 
to Brasilia. For beyond the fact that Brasilia was hacked 
out of the wilderness a great tribute to man's daring, 
energy, and ingenuity it stands as a symbol. Brasilia, at 
least potentially, wrests open a continent not only for 
Brazilians but for all South Americans. 1 However, how did 
Borges find it as a place in which to live? Could any brand- 
new city have a friendly character? Borges, a hearty man 
of about fifty, gave a wry smile. "It is," he confessed, "a 
trifle arid and antiseptic." Borges, who has made a fortune 
putting up some of the buildings, also admitted that he 
spends only two days a week in Brasilia. The rest of the 
time he enjoys the beaches, the bustle, and the familiar 
luxury of Rio. 

1 It also arouses comparisons. While I was in Bogota it sometimes took ten 
minutes to cross from the main door of the Hotel Tequendama to the other 
side of the street; sidewalks were up, and traffic was snarled because an un- 
derpass was under construction. Colombians commented drily that work on 
the incompleted underpass began before Brasilia. 

184 



Before long, I understood Borges ? mixed reaction; on the 
one hand, Brasilia is a tremendous mechanical feat, on the 
other it lacks heart and soul. Driving through the main thor- 
oughfares, I felt immediately this was a city of anonymity, 
built for the future and almost contemptuous of the present, 
with huge functional blocks of glass and steel dominating 
the human beings who are supposed to inhabit them. Chil- 
dren are reared in fine new apartments, but one apartment 
is precisely the same as the next. Men go out for drinks 
after work, but each bar comes from the same mold as its 
neighbor. One road is wide, but so is another. Brasilia boasts 
that it is the only city in the world without crossroads, and 
indeed you can drive from one end of town to the other 
without pause, turning through tunnels or mounting over- 
passes. But after a while you almost wish for the nuisance 
of traffic lights so you might catch sight of a pedestrian at 
a corner. Instead, you are aware only of mammoth and 
pitiless concrete, or of such formations as the cathedral, 
which resembles a haunched and fearsome steel centipede. 

Brasilia has been described as a "Daliesque tableau," a 
conception of things to come. Certainly it is unlike any other 
capital I have seen. Paris has warmth and beauty, London 
an ingrained dignity. Peking had centuries in which to grow 
in gentle, curved lines; there you feel the tranquility of 
another age; no tower and no wall that dates back to the 
Chinese emperors is higher than ninety feet, in order to 
give devils, which fly at one hundred feet, a substantial 
clearance. St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) commands the 
stateliness and grace of a carefully plotted eighteenth-cen- 
tury European center of culture; Peter the Great built it 
from the bottom up as a gracious capital of the czars and 
a monument to himself. 

Some of Brasilia's critics say that Juscelino Kubitschek 
conceived the new capital in a mood of self -glory, at a cost 
so far of more than $600 million. There is ample evidence 

185 



that Kubitschek intended his name to be enshrined ; plaques 
on government buildings eulogize him, quoting at length 
his supposedly visionary statements. "We have turned our 
back to the sea and penetrated to the heartland of the na- 
tion/' proclaimed Kubitschek. "Now the people of Brazil 
realize their own power and strength." 

Whatever the motives of ego, the bare facts are these: 
For two centuries Brazilians mused about an inland capital 
to replace Rio de Janeiro; Kubitschek, who was president 
of Brazil from 1955 to 1960, devoted his vigor to its fulfil- 
ment. Brasilia is only one quarter finished, but its outline 
and principal structures were completed in the incredibly 
short period of forty-three months. To get the project going, 
Kubitschek had to cram legislation through Congress, bull- 
doze five thousand miles of roads to other cities, and master- 
mind an airlift that put a supply plane down in the wilder- 
ness every two minutes. 

In some ways Brasilia gives the impression of being a 
frontier town of the Old West or the present North of 
Canada. Three "satellite" districts, twelve miles from the 
city center, are intended to supply it with all its food and 
materials, so the capital will be free from any commercial 
industry and devoted exclusively to government offices and 
residences. The "satellites" at the moment are shantytowns, 
haphazardly thrown together. Unpaved roads, aswirl with 
red dust, lead to a hodgepodge of frame huts or stores with 
wooden fronts. Signs scrawled impatiently on rough planks 
point to dentists, shoe repair shops, garages, and the pioneer 
bars that at the peak catered to sixty thousand construction 
workers. There is a lusty atmosphere to these shantytowns, 
for Brasilia has bred new types of tin-hatted builders who 
proudly call themselves candangos, a term once given by 
slaves to the Portuguese. Many of these men, of African 
origin, spent a week in open, bouncing trucks to come down 

186 



from their hovels in the Northeast. They earned enough in 
six months to fly home in splendor. 

Two chief architects were entrusted with the creation of 
Brasilia. Lucio Costa drew up the master city plan; broadly 
he shaped Brasilia like a giant airplane, with the Plaza of 
the Three Powers (parliament buildings, administrative 
offices, courts) as the nosepiece. Oscar Niemeyer, one of 
the world's most renowned architects, was given an ideal 
assignment: a completely free hand to design all Brasilia's 
buildings. As Niemeyer recalls it, Kubitschek simply said: 
"I want you to build a city for 500,000 people." With this 
carte blanche Niemeyer suffered no interference of any kind. 
The only pressures were those of time. He had, for instance, 
just fifteen days in which to prepare blueprints for the opera 
house. "It was just as well," he recalled. "With more time 
I would have discovered all kinds of problems." 

Speed marked every stage of Brasilia's development. Fif- 
teen hundred hastily mobilized contractors brought in 
armies of workers by planes and buses ; ten-story ministries 
rose in a month, twenty-story office buildings in three 
months. Today, cracked plaster and chipped walls testify 
to somewhat hasty workmanship, but visiting architects 
from North America and Europe ignore these details and 
generally rate Brasilia as superb in concept and form. A 
guide book states: "Brasilia will be a city living under the 
sign of discipline, order, and logic/' This ties in with Nie- 
meyer's philosophy, which holds that intensive social plan- 
ning leaves no room for individuality. 

Whether one agrees or disagrees with this extreme belief, 
the result, as illustrated by Brasilia, can be almost coldly 
inhuman. You work all day in an ultramodern ministry that 
is uniform with a half dozen other ministries in a row; at 
night you retire to a utilitarian but hardly beautiful 
apartment block, shared with the same office workers you 
saw all day at the ministry. Your block is part of a complex 

187 



of eleven blocks, and there are several of these complexes, 
and they are identical. Each has the same shopping center, 
cinema, school, playground. I found the conformity depress- 
ing, a foretaste of a Brave New World starved of ardor or 
personality. Nevertheless, some natural spirit is creeping 
through the rectangular lumps of construction. An address 
reads: "Square 108, Block 62, Apartment 203." But instead 
of giving these automaton directions, people are apt to add 
a note: "There is a little bookstore in the middle of the 
square. We are in the second building to the right." Nie- 
meyer's intended universality has not succeeded in the ulti- 
mate. 

Yet none of this criticism alters the point that Brasilia 
is a noble experiment, conducted in unorthodox fashion, in 
haste, but with an eye to the future. If I felt uncomfortable 
or depressed standing in what struck me as a coldly gleam- 
ing commune, I also remembered that men had to carry every 
nail, every bit of wire into the uninviting backwoods to set 
up Brasilia; other men may be inspired by the example and 
tame other parts of a still largely wild continent. South 
America is huge. This is the first thing you grasp as a visitor. 
The second thing is that it is immensely rich in resources 
that have hardly been touched because people have not 
bothered or have been unable to penetrate the jungles and 
mountains. Flying from capital to capital Montevideo, 
Buenos Aires, Santiago, La Paz ; Lima, Quito, Bogota, Cara- 
cas you are constantly aware of the vast unpopulated areas 
in between. And, more strikingly, you realize the bulk of 
South America's inhabitants are clustered close to the sea. 

There is a historic reason for South America's lopsided 
distribution. The early settlers from Portugal and Spain pre- 
ferred the coastal towns, which had pleasant weather and 
few of the dangers of the unexplored hinterland or the hor- 
rors of tropical diseases. The first slaves from Africa were 
landed in these ports, and gradually, too, the Indians from 

188 



the interior began to drift down in search of employment. 
Huge areas inside Brazil are still unknown: unmapped be- 
cause scanty demand has provided a livelihood for no more 
than a half-dozen expert cartographers. At the present rate, 
it will take at least a hundred years to complete the mapping 
of the country. 

But some men have always talked of the riches that lay 
inside the continent. In recent years another and urgent 
motive has been added to exploration: the grave social un- 
rest among workers in the overcrowded centers along the 
Atlantic and Pacific. Governments are impelled to peer be- 
yond the ravines and forests for more living space. In Chile 
I met planners who predicted great population shifts to new 
oil fields on the southernmost tip of the continent. In Peru, 
which is endowed with every natural gift for a plentiful life, 
they say they will move people across the Andes and into 
the fertile subtropical lands awaiting man's touch. In most 
instances it is still talk, and not much more. Brasilia, how- 
ever, stands out as a practical translation of pioneering 
spirit. Before construction began, Kubitschek has recalled, 
"there was only solitude and a jaguar screaming in the 
night." 

Brasilia was officially inaugurated as Brazil's capital on 
April 21, 1960, Since then, work on government buildings 
has slackened (Kubitschek, in his enthusiasm, nearly drove 
the nation into bankruptcy) . There has also been resistance 
by government officials against quitting the warm comforts 
of Rio ; some senior men still make only token visits, refer- 
ring disdainfully to Brasilia as "Kubitschek's folly/' or to 
the presidential Palace of Dawn as "Niemeyer's cardio- 
gram/' because of its jutting concrete pillars. In effect, Brazil 
still possesses two capitals. Skeleton staffs inhabit the monu- 
mental ministries of Brasilia while the ministers themselves 
cling to the old colonial mansions of Rio. 

But Brasilia even in 1962 could count a population of 

189 



185,000, and there is continuing pressure for a final move 
within the next few years. Congress meets there now; 
embassies, still located in Rio, have drawn up their plans 
for inclusion in Brasilia's Embassy Row. The feeling is that 
Brasilia will indeed become the working capital. It has 
already proved itself in an unforeseen way. When Janio 
Quadros, Kubitschek's successor, quit the presidency, Rio 
was thrown into turmoil, with students roaring through the 
streets in protest against a threatened military takeover. 
But deputies and senators in Brasilia, far from the pressures 
and passions of the big coastal city, were able to meet with 
relative calmness and reach a rational solution, which saved 
the nation from civil war. 

Kubitschek proclaimed a "great leap forward" for Brazil 
even before the slogan became synonymous with Communist 
China. Not much later, borrowing a phrase once used by 
Napoleon in reference to China, he proudly declared, "I have 
awakened the sleeping giant." The comparison with China 
cannot, of course, be carried too far. Brazil still speaks of 
private enterprise as its guidepost. But in broad, sweeping 
strokes it is the China of Latin America. It is the largest 
political unit, taking in nearly half of continental South 
America's territory and population; it is also the fastest 
moving, the most dynamic of the republics. 

But if Brazil should follow the example of relatively puny 
little Cuba, would the rest of Latin America be far behind? 
The question is not academic, but a practical possibility, as 
Washington indicates in its outpouring of Alliance for Prog- 
ress funds to the country. 

"When God was making the world," Brazilians like to say, 
"He gave Brazil everything." Indeed, Brazil has almost 
everything : fertile land, which makes it the world's leading 
producer of coffee, bananas, and beans; Brazil is second in 
the world in oranges and hog production, third in corn, 

190 



fourth in cotton; it boasts of gold and silver and precious 
stones, plus the world's greatest reserves of iron ore; its steel 
plants, turning out 4 million tons a year, comprise Latin 
America's greatest single industrial complex. Brazil grows, 
economically, at the impressive rate of 6 per cent a year. 
Then why the concern? The trouble with Brazil is that, 
despite its virility, it is chronically sick, in need of massive 
transfusions of money and a nourishing diet that might 
spread a little fat more evenly over the body. Brazil is like 
an ungainly, uncoordinated animal, its head bursting with 
brainpower too small for its stomach, its spindly legs 
reaching out convulsively for firm ground. Sao Paulo is 
the head; the legs fall uncomfortably in the Northeast and 
other underdeveloped areas where most of the 70 million 
people live in misery. 

I arrived in Sao Paulo from Brasilia, filled not only with 
respect for Brazil's technical accomplishment but with ad- 
miration for the way its people often can laugh at them- 
selves and misfortune. How can you be impatient with or 
irritated at the flagrant display of undisciplined wealth along 
with heartbreaking poverty when the nation still has verve 
and daring in whatever it does? For example, a plane, carry- 
ing the governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and other 
officials, was coming into Brasilia, with a large welcoming 
committee on hand at the airport. The plane touched down, 
lurched suddenly, and burst into flames. There were no 
casualties; but the passengers were badly shaken and fright- 
ened; they also lost their belongings. Still, a reception was 
planned. The official party ran, rather hastily, from the 
burning aircraft toward the social committee at the other 
end of the field. Festivities went on as scheduled, including 
a fireworks display, which blended with the glow of the 
fuselage and the roar of fire engines. 

A highly talented British journalist, James Morris, ex- 
pressed his feelings about Brazil in The Guardian: "Per- 

191 



haps she lacks some niggling virtues of common sense, 
but she glories in the grandest of national qualities, style. 
Whatever she does is big, whatever she thinks is gener- 
ous. Great God! I will swap you a dozen prim and thrifty 
principalities for one such sprawling greatheart." I read this 
appraisal while I was in Sao Paulo, and if anything it only 
heightened my feeling of finding, on the one hand, exciting 
facts and tempo, and, on the other, gloomy contradictions. 
Morris was right when he talked about the style. It is every- 
where manifest in Sao Paulo, the incredibly vibrant city that 
counted only 25,000 inhabitants in 1875, and today, with a 
population of more than 4 million, is growing four times as 
fast as Los Angeles. But Sao Paulo, contrasted with the 
starving Northeast, only points up the grave and dangerous 
condition Brazil finds herself in, an imbalance of economy 
and values that could lead to violent upheaval. 

Sao Paulo is usually called "the Chicago of Latin Amer- 
ica." The comparison is not ill taken. It looks a bit like it, 
and if Chicago built its strength as a slaughterhouse, so, too, 
did Sao Paulo lay its foundation on one commodity: coffee. 
But coffee exporting is no longer Sao Paulo's only source of 
wealth. Today motor cars, textiles, electrical equipment, and 
virtually all kinds of manufactured products roll from its 
factories. A forest of forty- and fifty-story skyscrapers is 
added to by new homes going up at the rate of one every 
hour and new factories at the rate of one a week. The num- 
ber of factories has doubled in the last decade to nearly 
60,000, and now the booming city the biggest industrial 
beehive in Latin America sprawls over six hundred square 
miles, spilling alongside the six-lane superhighways that 
join it to the port city of Santos, thirty miles away. Santos 
itself has grown into Latin America's busiest port. 

The superlatives are everywhere. Brazilians treat air 
travel almost like bus transportation, and seventy shuttle- 
service flights a day link Sao Paulo with Rio de Janeiro. Rio 

192 



may be the soul of Brazil, but Sao Paulo is its vital artery 
and in some ways a relief from the coastal playground. If 
cariocas, attired in trunks and sandals, like to wander 
through the streets toward the beach at midday, Pa-ulistas, 
well-dressed and business-like, prefer to walk briskly in 
search of challenges. One reason for Sao Paulo's hustle and 
stir is its 3,000-foot elevation, making for a somewhat cooler 
and more invigorating climate than Rio's. But beyond this 
is the influence of what economists like to call "high-grade" 
immigrants: the million Italians, the quarter-million Ger- 
mans, the Japanese, the Lebanese, and other enterprising 
foreigners who have made Sao Paulo their home. Israel 
Klabin emigrated from Latvia, to peddle cigarettes and then 
to sell costume jewelry from a pushcart; his next step was 
the purchase of a horse and wagon ; from collecting rags for 
paper mills, he graduated to ownership of Latin America's 
biggest pulp and paper combine, worth today more than 
$600 million. Paulistas, without prodding, can match this 
theme with at least a hundred other immigrant-to-million- 
aire stories. 

Sixty per cent of Brazil's industry is concentrated in and 
around Sao Paulo. In 1955 Brazil produced almost no appli- 
ances. In 1961, the nation turned out 80,000 washing ma- 
chines, 150,000 television sets, 300,000 refrigerators, 350,000 
sewing machines. In 1957, Sao Paulo opened its first inte- 
grated auto plant, Willys-Overland do Brasil. Today, Willys 
and four other United States and European car manufac- 
turers have an investment of $500 million 2 ; inside of four 
years they created a major automotive industry, producing 
145,000 cars, trucks, and buses annually. Sao Paulo received 
its big spurt under Kubitschek, who drew in auto manu- 

2 Foreign capital investments in Brazil in 1961 totalled $3.5 billion, of 
which 37.5 per cent was from the United States. Canada, mainly through 
Brazilian Traction, was next in line with 17.7 per cent. West Germany was 
third was 9.3 per cent. Other countries included Britain, France, Italy, and 
Japan. 

193 



facturers, among others, by offering attractive tax conces- 
sions. But here the record begins to show flaws. "How eco- 
nomical is it," a banker said to me, "to produce a Simca 
for $4,000 when the same car can be brought in from France 
at half that price?" Kubitschek approached Brazil's indus- 
trialization with the frank use of inflation as an economic 
tool. He increased Brazil's supply of money simply by print- 
ing it. To keep down the cost of living, or so he claimed, he 
subsidized such items as newsprint and petroleum, allowing 
in imports at an unrealistic cruzeiro rate. Again he did this 
by printing more money, thus causing values to drop and 
prices to rise, so that the public paid for the favors he gave 
big business. 

While Kubitschek promised to achieve fifty years of prog- 
ress in five, some economists say he managed to achieve 
forty years of inflation in four. Under his administration the 
cost of living doubled in two years. Corruption and blatant 
favoritism, not unknown to Brazil in the past, also were ac- 
celerated. Congressmen even voted themselves the privilege 
of importing, duty-free, an expensive foreign car apiece, 
which they could then sell at a profit ranging from $5,000 
to $10,000. "What makes Brazil different from countries 
abroad," mused a North American businessman, "is that at 
home you can expect one official in ten to be involved in 
graft or corruption, but here it is eight out of ten." 

In the process of pushing for industrial development (and 
the construction of prestigious Brasilia), Kubitschek wan- 
tonly neglected agriculture, on which the nation is still basi- 
cally dependent. Little has been done in succeeding years to 
correct the imbalance. Less than 10 per cent of the cultivable 
soil is under crops, and the printing presses continue going 
at top speed. One hundred billion cruzeiros were churned 
out in 1961 alone, increasing the paper money in circulation 
by 50 per cent. In 1956 the cruzeiro stood at 60 to the dollar; 
five years later it was 350 to the dollar; by the end of 1962, 

194 



825. Partly the drop in value was due to a flight of capital; 
while Brazilian officials welcomed foreign investors, their 
own businessmen, fearful of the uncertain political atmos- 
phere, were shipping some of their own funds abroad, 
through illegal channels. I was told that if I had $100,000 
I could easily get 20 per cent more cruzeiros to the dollar, 
because large transactions were preferable to small ones. 

The impact on ordinary Paulistas was mixed. Despite the 
spiraling inflation, many were still able to put as little as 
fifty cents down on a $500 refrigerator. Half could afford to 
own television sets. The average Paulista worker, living on 
at least double the scale of other Brazilians, was content to 
pick up his wage packet, go home, and keep out of politics 
or arguments about reform. If anything, he was tired of 
hearing that he ought to do more to help his starving com- 
patriots in the Northeast, which, as far as he was concerned, 
could be just another backward African land. 

The State of Sao Paulo, with relatively fine roads and 
public services, stands apart from the rest of the country. 
Some 10 million people, numbering among them not only 
millionaires but a growing middle class made up of shop 
clerks and industrial workers, can be said to have passed the 
subsistence level. But they account for scarcely one seventh 
of the over-all population. A Sao Paulo newspaperman put 
it this way: "They have fought their revolution, and won. 
But it was an industrial, not a social, revolution." At the 
same time, the extravagant population increase has another 
side to it: rural workers, drawn to the big city, find that 
housing despite the pace of construction cannot keep up 
\fith their demands. Thus, many live in favelas, or shanty- 
towns. Frustrated, these unskilled migrants are able to see, 
but not necessarily to share, the wealth of their better-off 
neighbors. In the slums of Sao Paulo, as well as in other 
urban centers, the quick rise in the price of eggs by 50 per 
cent can make for an explosive situation. 

195 



The real drama, however, is to be found away from the 
boom towns. Eight out of ten of Brazil's farm workers own 
no land. At least half of all Brazilians never see money, no 
matter how fast the printing presses operate. They suffer 
from continual, gnawing hunger; they are depressed, miser- 
able, unable to read or write, or to look to the future with 
any hope. Those who are in contact with reality find it 
wearisome listening to references to Brazil as the "land of 
the future" ; they ask what is wrong with the present. The 
growth figures of Sao Paulo, cited by foreign travelers who 
do not venture beyond the cities, often conceal the grim fact 
that other major regions are stagnant. 

If the heart of Brazil beats fast in Sao Paulo, it almost 
ceases functioning a mere 1,200 miles away, in the North- 
east. The awakened giant referred to by Kubitschek has yet 
to show in which direction its steps will take it. 

"I have a General on my side Hunger." The man 
who made this statement rather bland, forty-five-year-old 
Francisco Juliao is South America's most important rev- 
olutionary, built up, oddly enough, not by his own press 
but by North American newspapers and magazines, which 
have labeled him sensationally and superficially as a "Com- 
munist" or "another Fidel Castro." Whether Juliao is a 
Communist is entirely academic as far as Brazil is concerned. 
A small-town lawyer, he gives no real impression of pro- 
fundity or power. Juliao, organizer and leader of the "Ligas 
Camponesas," or Peasant Leagues, in Brazil's Northeast, 
is significant not because he preaches violent overthrow of 
government (in fact, he doesn't even do this), but because 
he has managed to channel the passive mood of the impov- 
erished into an effective instrument: they now take over 
land simply by squatting. The fashion he has generated has 
spread beyond the Northeast into other sections of the coun- 
try, sometimes to the accompaniment of bloodshed. 

196 



"I do not exist simply as a person/' Juliao says. "I repre- 
sent an idea. The landowners may try to kill me at any 
moment and they have already tried to do so but the idea 
will remain and will create a much greater penetration 
force." Juliao has established an aura of mystique partly by 
lavish quotations from the Bible, which he calls "the most 
revolutionary book of all." 

Brazil's Northeast area, comprising nine states, is fertile 
ground for revolutionaries. It is big twice as big as France 
and Germany combined and it holds one third of Brazil's 
inhabitants. If the Northeast were a separate nation, it 
would qualify as second in population and third in area 
in South America. At any rate, it is eternally hungry. 
Its 25 million people, mostly peasant Negroes and mulattoes, 
the descendants of slaves brought over from Africa by the 
Portuguese, subsist on a median income of $84 a year. This 
is an economic level lower even than in parts of India. 

The other statistics are equally cold and frightening. 
Nearly five hundred of every thousand babies perish in their 
first year ; the rest go on to a diet of molasses and manioc-root 
flour, with no milk; as they grow older they eat black beans, 
with perhaps meat a few times a year. Meanwhile, denied 
hospital care, the adults must fight tuberculosis and gastric 
diseases brought about by malnutrition, as well as intestinal 
hookworms that afflict one out of three, and an ailment 
called schistosomiasis that is spread by snails in polluted 
waters and causes debilitating belly-swelling in every fifth 
person. 

By the age of thirty-two, the average Brazilian in the 
Northeast is dead, carried to his grave in a paper shroud 
because a wooden coffin is prohibitively costly. The survivors 
struggle on as cane-cutters in sugar plantations, for lodgings 
in mud huts and wages that usually run to sixty-five cents 
a week but can go as high as fifteen cents a day. They do 
not see the actual cash; it is doled out at plantation stores 

197 



in the form of supplies (a pound of beans is twelve cents). 
The luckier ones toil as sharecroppers for the few feudal 
landlords who own almost all the land; in lieu of rent, they 
pay back about 50 per cent of their produce, keep a bit for 
family needs, and must sell the rest to the patrdo at prices 
one third to one half below market values. 

Nature has put a curse on the Northeast, giving it little 
rainfall and covering most of its soil with cactus. But man, 
in his greed, has compounded the felony by extracting all 
he can for quick gain, without thought to adequate con- 
servation or irrigation or diversification. For this a handful 
of men are responsible. I met one of them on the flight from 
Rio de Janeiro to Recife, the Northeast's main city. He was 
the absentee owner of four plantations and sugar mills in 
Pernambuco state, and now he was making one of his three 
annual tours of inspection. 

I had in my briefcase an official report prepared for the 
government by Celso Furtado, an idealistic economist-re- 
former, who claimed that such states as Pernambuco and 
Rio Grande do Norte were forced to import food (as much 
as 60 per cent of their requirements) at inflated prices be- 
cause regional landowners preferred to grow industrial crops, 
cotton and sugar, which brought higher profits. When I 
quoted this report, my fellow passenger commented: "Ev- 
eryone knows that Furtado is a Communist." I switched 
to the question of education (the rate of illiteracy in the 
Northeast is 90 per cent). "Well," he said, "some of my 
friends and I have tried to start some sort of schooling for 
the camponeses. But do you know, they wouldn't go; and 
they wouldn't send their children? They are lazy creatures, 
more like animals than humans." He would not listen to 
any argument based again on the findings of Furtado and 
social scientists that an undernourished person is physi- 
cally unable to walk the several miles to and from a rural 
school. 

198 



Night had barely fallen when we touched down, and the 
moonlit scene on the drive from the airport into the center 
of Recife took my mind back to Calcutta. Men, women, and 
children stretched out for sleep on the bare pavement; some, 
however, were fortunate enough to enjoy sacks as mat- 
tresses. Occasionally I caught sight of legless men on carts, 
their stumps a few inches from the ground, propelling them- 
selves by hand pushes among the reclining figures. Outside 
my hotel a dozen ragged beggars stood by to jostle one 
another for the right to carry my luggage and earn a few 
cruzeiros. If such a pathetic spectacle was to be deplored 
in Asia, it was even more difficult to accept in the Western 
Hemisphere, where affluence and Fidel Castro were only 
short distances apart. 

The next morning, by prior arrangement through the air- 
line, a man from a city office knocked on iny door. He was to 
act as my guide and Portuguese interpreter, and he intro- 
duced himself as Octavio Calogeras. A slight man, of almost 
frightened visage, Calogeras said within five minutes of our 
meeting, "Things are going to have to change. People are 
hungry here, plain hungry." Calogeras, aged thirty, was 
obviously better off as a "white-collar 5 ' clerk than any peas- 
ant; he earned $45 a month. But his wife was expecting a 
baby, and previous deliveries had been difficult, and he said 
he was sick with worry about expenses. There was a doctor 
attached to his syndicate, or union; but the waiting list 
meant weeks of delay for any attention; and so he had 
decided to use a private physician and arrange admission for 
his wife to a maternity hospital. The total bill would con- 
sume two months' wages. "This is bad enough/' he said, "but 
I must pay the hospital in advance, otherwise they will not 
take my wife." 

The Calogeras family, including two children, ate meat 
twice a week; the rest of the time, using black beans as a 
staple, they were hardly more elevated than the camponeses. 

199 



"Will the Northeast ever change?" I asked Calogeras. He 
replied: "Only if there is a miracle. Only if God helps us." 
Otherwise, would nothing happen? "Yes," said Calogeras 
slowly. "We will have Fidelismo soon, unless we see a mir- 
acle." And he repeated: "The people are very hungry." 

Calogeras was far better informed than the people about 
whom he was speaking. He had read quite a bit about Cuba, 
and had heard radio discussions on Fidelismo. He said he 
was not yet ready to accept it as the ideal solution, but any 
form of revolution would be preferable to the present exist- 
ence. Juliao? "Perhaps someone like Fidel, perhaps Juliao, 
who can tell?" was the way he answered with a weary shrug 
of the shoulders. 

I could never really be sure of what Calogeras was think- 
ing; I had the feeling he might have expressed himself more 
pungently in the confines of an intimate circle. As I discov- 
ered in the next few days, there was a suspicion of strangers 
among the people here. Was I a government man, an agent? 
Walking away one afternoon from a javela, where I had 
been met by sullen hostility from the residents, Calogeras 
remarked: "They have heard stories about the government 
sending men to spy on them. They want to avoid trouble, 
so they do not speak frankly." This was an unjustified atti- 
tude on their part, he admitted, and was attributable partly 
to ignorance and illiteracy. 

Nevertheless, some men said they had heard that Juliao 
was doing a good job and perhaps they should join one of 
the urban Leagues now being established. "Juliao thinks of 
the poor people," was the way one man expressed it. He, 
along with half of Recife's 800,000 inhabitants, lives in such 
squalid javela surroundings that, by comparison, Shanghai's 
slums are almost opulent. Sea water seeps through the 
ground, making it perennially mucky and smelly. It some- 
times rises to the edge of the cardboard and tin shacks, so 
that barefoot children plunge through it ankle-deep. The 

200 



compensation is that rats have forsaken these damp habita- 
tions for higher ground. The only life sustained is that of 
the human being, who also, when driven by hunger, moves 
farther into the city to forage through sewers for edible 
crabs. Drinking water is sold by commercial vendors, and 
if money is lacking so is this essential. 

Some of the favelas are in more favorable positions, along- 
side the garbage dumps filled with refuse from the homes 
of the ninety or so sugar planters who dominate the coastal 
strip. One hundred thousand of Recife's people are totally 
unemployed and spend their time scavenging; another 300,- 

000 work a day or two a week, at the docks or the sugar 
mills, and fill in by hawking coconut milk or combs at street 
corners. In Rio de Janeiro the favelas at least show occa- 
sional television and radio antennas, and cariocas can find 
a further outlet in the pleasures of the public Copacabana 
beach. In Recife there are no television antennas over the 
favelas, there are no escapist playgrounds; there are no 
signs of hope. 

It is the same in the Northeast's countryside. Wherever 

1 went, I saw children with the marks of malnutrition 
swollen bellies, spindly legs working in the fields as cane- 
cutters at six cents a day. These were the relatively blessed 
ones, because so far they had survived to the ages of seven 
or eight. Or should they be classed as the unlucky ones who 
must struggle on for another few years? In some villages 
not a single newborn lasts to its first birthday. For the most 
part the camponeses merely stumble at dawn from palm- 
thatched huts to the fields, and back again at dusk, hacking 
away in between at the sugar cane or the parched earth, 
which yields cactus and not much else. These are the share- 
croppers who submit to the system known as cambao; in 
Portuguese the literal meaning is "yoke" ; in everyday trans- 
lation it means that the peasant, in addition to paying with 
half his produce, must also provide the landowner with his 

201 



personal services for ninety-nine days a year. For this labor 
he is rewarded with cachaga, a potent drink made from 
sugar cane and similar to harsh rum. If he is sick during the 
cambao period, he must compensate the owner with a cash 
settlement; otherwise he and his family are thrown off the 
land. 

The camponeses lead an isolated existence shorn of con- 
tact with the outside world. Castro? Juliao? To some with 
whom I spoke the names implied nothing; to a few there 
was a vague suggestion of remote individuals beyond the 
sertao, the rolling hinterland. But for others, mention of 
Juliao evoked a quick flash of recognition in dark brown 
eyes. "Yes," said one man, "he stands up for the cam- 
poneses" But, significant though it might be, that was about 
the extent of his worldly knowledge. When I asked if he knew 
of the United States, he said, "It is a place past Recife." 
Another man said he believed that Russia was a country, 
but he had no idea of its whereabouts. Communism? Fidel- 
ismo? Again, as in other parts of South America, the terms 
drew blank responses. There were venomous snakes in the 
fields, and a certain hazard to the shoeless peasants. I asked, 
"Is there serum or medicine?" They had never heard of such 
things. "What do you do if you are bitten?" "Pray," was a 
typically submissive answer, and it told a good deal about 
the resignation of the people. 

Francisco Juliao sprang up among them as an alternative 
to defeatism. For years he was just another moderately suc- 
cessful lawyer of Recife. He had achieved a small measure 
of public attention by writing a slim volume of short stories 
describing, in rugged language, the pernicious custom of 
cachaga payment and drinking. Appropriately, it was called 
CachaQa and was endorsed by the eminent sociologist Gil- 
berto Freyre, a fellow resident of Recife, who wrote the fore- 
word. For a while Juliao was content to be admitted to the 
restricted literary community of Recife; he was not expected 

202 



to go much further. But his ambition centered more on poli- 
tics than on authorship or a law practice. A member of the 
Brazilian Socialist Party, he competed unsuccessfully in 
town-council elections. On his next effort, however, he ran 
for the Pernambuco state legislature and was elected as a 
deputy. Just about the same time, an obscure sharecropper 
named Joao Firmino, on a plantation known as Galileia, was 
about to make local history, unwittingly catapult Juliao 
into prominence, and let loose a movement that may change 
the face of Brazil and with it all of South America. 

Firmino, tired of seeing friends evicted because they could 
not meet the payments and demands of the carabao system, 
decided to contest centuries of tradition; he set up the 
Sociedade Agricola e Pecudria dos Plantadores de Pernam- 
buco (Agricultural and Cattle-Breeding Society of the Per- 
nambuco Planters). As fancy as it sounded, it was nothing 
more than a meagerly endowed mutual-aid organization of 
about two hundred sharecroppers. Each contributed a small 
sum every month so that members could have an emergency 
fund to fall back on in case of desperate need. Though the 
motive was modest to the extreme, it was almost ridiculous 
to think of peasants, who had been brought up to be tract- 
able and unimaginative and resigned to fate, banding to- 
gether even in mild form. Firmino prudently invited the 
owner of the plantation, Oscar Beltrao, to become honorary 
president of the Sociedade Agricola. ("It was a humble ges- 
ture," dryly remarked the Brazilian journalist who recounted 
this part of the story. "Like that of a dog licking the hand 
of the master who beats it.") 

Surprisingly, Beltrao accepted the invitation. Possibly he 
thought he was being charitable; he even gave the Sociedade 
Agricola permission to use some of the timber on his prop- 
erty to build a small chapel. But then doubts began to set 
in, and Beltrao feared that Firmino and the others had 
really devised a "union" so they could insist on handling over 

203 



a smaller share of their crops as rent. He instructed Firmino 
to disband the Sociedade Agricola. Firmino, backed by the 
other camponeses, refused. Beltrao started to eject some of 
the sharecroppers from Galileia; their mates retaliated by 
setting fire to the plantation's cane fields. Meanwhile, Fir- 
mino looked around for someone who might help them with 
legal advice; but one lawyer after another demanded a fee 
far beyond their reach. Finally, after a sixty-kilometer ride 
by horse and cart to Recife, he came across Juliao. As 
Firmino recalled it, Juliao said: "I will defend you. I am a 
deputy. I am well paid by the state, and you do not need 
to pay me anything." Thus in 1955, when Francisco Juliao 
was aged thirty-seven, commenced a new career with far- 
reaching results. 

Juliao went to court and argued that cambdo had no legal 
basis, that every man has the right to live on the land he 
works, or at least to be treated as a human being. He lost 
the case of Galileia, but he won far more. For the first time, 
someone not only had spoken openly about the evils of 
cambao but had questioned its validity. Other camponeses 
appealed to Juliao for guidance. When laborers at a planta- 
tion petitioned their patrao for a school for their children, 
and were turned down, Juliao advised them to form a group 
similar to Galileia's Sociedade Agricola. And so was born the 
first Peasant League, a loose federation of several hundred 
men who squatted on the plantation with such tenacity 
that a frightened state government finally bought it from 
the owner and turned it over to the camponeses. Noting the 
success of this tactic, Juliao then gave counsel to other peas- 
ants to seize land simply by sitting on it. In one instance the 
camponeses were driven off, with a loss of life, by hired gun- 
men called in by the omnipotent patrao. In another, the 
state, fearing violence, repeated itself by buying the title 
in the names of the sharecroppers. Word soon traveled, and 
two or three more Leagues came into spontaneous existence. 

204 



If the peasants were beginning to understand the effect of 
collective action, they were also spurred on by the vindictive 
and unreflecting reprisals of landowners. ("What is wrong 
with these creatures?" cried a patrdo. "I have been paying 
for their funerals. Now I will stop paying.") The tragic case 
of Antonio Vincente which at one time would have been 
considered inevitable and unanswerable became a rallying 
issue in his neighborhood. Vincente had held land under the 
same owner for twenty-one years, and now was heard to say 
that perhaps a League would have some virtue. To teach 
him and other potential "rebels" a lesson, the patrdo 
doubled Vincente's rent, leaving him virtually no crops for 
sale or for family necessities. Then one of the patrdo's sons, 
a youth of nineteen, accompanied by three hunting play- 
mates, turned one of Vincente's sons into a "fox." That is, 
they gave him a head start and chased him through the 
woods, later abandoning his body riddled with bullets. 

Afterwards, a police sergeant appeared at Vincente's 
adobe, to arrest him for failure to meet the patrdo's terms. 
Another son, Manuel, intervened. Manuel was shackled to 
the rear of a police car and dragged six kilometers to jail in 
the nearest town. There, according to word reaching re- 
porters in Recife, he was subjected to a treatment consisting 
of a "bath" in Creolin, a disinfectant, and lashings three 
times a day. Released, and half -maddened, the twenty-six- 
year Manuel Vincente committed suicide by cutting his 
throat at a street corner before horrified passersby could 
stop him. The next morning two more Leagues were founded 
in the vicinity, and the patrdo's cane fields were put to the 
torch. 

In such a climate, and with the seeds already implanted, 
the Peasant Leagues had no difficulty in spreading. There 
was no central office, no masterful brain directing clutching 
tentacles. Juliao himself had little more to do than meet 
visiting camponeses informally in his home, or conduct occa- 

205 



sional open-air rallies. He advocated sit-down strikes, and, 
more forcefully, sabotage of plantations when necessary. By 
the end of 1960 there were forty-nine Leagues in the North- 
east with 40,000 members; by 1962 the numbers had risen 
to more than one hundred Leagues, with 80,000 active fol- 
lowers who had taken over 25,000 acres of land. The figures 
themselves are meaningless. What is salient is the way in 
which a message, in a backwoods area with practically no 
communications, could be passed from one person to an- 
other, from one Northeast state to the next, so that even- 
tually it filtered through one million square miles. A spark 
can flash by means other than telegraphy. 

United States newspapers and news magazines were not 
the first to note this phenomenon. A distinguished Rio jour- 
nalist, Antonio Callado, published the initial articles about 
Juliao and his disciples in Correio da Manha. But Juliao re- 
mained for the most part unknown until a few American 
reporters began to quote him. He became an international 
figure even before he was a national one. Callado, who is 
now editor of the Brazilian edition of Encyclopaedia Britan- 
nica, feels that the foreign press jumped into action with the 
wrong incentive, seeking to make Juliao out as a "Com- 
munist" or "Castroite." Elaborating on this point for me, 
Callado said: 

Juliao is a member of the Socialist Party and therefore a 
Marxist, but this is far from the same as a Communist as we 
understand it. He has been to China and to Cuba, but so 
have many non-Communists. Really, Juliao is an ambitious 
politician with ideals. You must remember that the illiterates 
in Brazil have no vote, which means that almost all the peas- 
ants in the Northeast are disenfranchised. Juliao is their 
voice. I doubt if he has read to this day a book on Lenin, or 
even Marx. He is no fool, of course. He reads papers and 
knows what is going on in Russia and Cuba. But I am sure 
it doesn't bother him if a North American newspaperman 

206 



pays a visit and rushes away labeling him a "Communist." 
The publicity only builds him up. After all, previously he 
was completely unknown. 

There is no doubt that Juliao has attained the ideal desired 
by politicians. He is a famous and controversial figure, 
spoken about, commented on, the object of considerable 
debate. Officials, landowners, congressmen, and other mem- 
bers of "The Establishment 77 despise him and loudly call 
him an agent of Fidel Castro, forgetting, of course, that he 
arrived on the open scene four years before Castro. Intel- 
lectuals and students, not to mention the peasants, support 
him. Now he is taken seriously by Brazilian newspapers and 
periodicals, most of which see in him something much more 
subtle than communism and quote his simple, straight- 
forward manner of speech : "Hunger cannot be postponed or 
transferred; either one kills hunger or dies from it." Cru- 
zeiro, Brazil 7 s largest picture magazine, has devoted increas- 
ing space to Juliao and his activities, and argued: "The 
people who are contributing in the greatest degree to the 
potential social revolutions in the Northeast are the owners 
of the lands and the governments the landowners through 
feudal and inhuman action, the governments by sins of 
omission. . . . The great landowners and the bad governments 
are today emulating the old Roman Emperor; they are 
lighting the fires of subversion and watching the fire, en- 
tranced by the music of guitars in night clubs and by the 
frivolity of so-called society life. 77 The highly respected 
Jornal do Brasil had a similar observation: "The agents of 
subversion are the big landowners who refuse to admit times 
have changed. 77 

Juliao lives in a moderately sized, eighteenth-century 
house on the outskirts of Recife. The cement walls, painted 
a faded yellow, are woefully chipped, adding to the generally 
decrepit surroundings; a couple of geese wander through 

207 



the thick brush of weeds in the yard, their honking some- 
times cutting through the murmur of voices on the balcony. 
Here, every night, are gathered from a dozen to a score of 
camponeses, waiting for a handout of food (Juliao sup- 
posedly inherited a little money from his f ather, a prosperous 
farmer), or for guidance. When you ask them, as I did, what 
the Peasant Leagues stand for, you are apt to hear this kind 
of reply: "The Leagues will give us land." Some of these 
men, in relative proximity to the city, are better informed 
than most peasants; but they profess to know little about 
land reform as it has been carried out in practice in Cuba or 
China. "Dr. Juliao tells us it is good for the camponeses" 
says one. "It is enough for us to hear Dr. Juliao say this/ 7 
Juliao, in the confines of his library filled with books on 
law and philosophy is cordial and cooperative, but he 
gives the appearance of being a rather wan and colorless 
individual. Physically, he is not terribly prepossessing; of 
medium stature, his shoulders fall forward to form a slight 
hollow; his bushy black hair, streaked only in one or two 
spots with gray, is unkempt; his wide mouth droops at the 
corners, implying almost perpetual sadness. But if his ideas 
seem only roughly sorted out, and at times he contradicts 
himself, he makes his key points with masterful simplicity. 

"The Cuban method would not be suitable for all of 
Brazil," he says. "But it would be right for the Northeast. 
I am in favor of collectivization of the land, of establishing 
cooperatives. Everybody would benefit. The peasant no 
longer would be isolated, without security. He could have 
the advantage of medical attention and send his children to 
school. And with his greater prosperity he could purchase, 
through cooperatives, equipment and help industry. There 
is no reason in my mind why such a system could not work 
in a capitalist country." 

"But do you think the Brazilian peasant can adjust, psy- 
chologically, to life in a cooperative?" 

208 



"Perhaps not immediately. But he can be educated to 
understand what cooperation means. We are already mak- 
ing the peasants aware that they have the means to protest 
against exploitation. They are individualists. We are teach- 
ing them to work together." 

"How can you see your goal being reached?" 

"I think Brazil is in a position to make reforms without 
revolution. When I chose as a slogan, 'Agrarian reform or 
revolution/ 1 put the responsibility on the government. What 
I want is to agitate the country: to arouse consciences, to 
alert public opinion, to make peasants, who are now half 
asleep, wake up and participate in politics. I demand for 
illiterates the right to vote, so there will not be a dictatorship 
by one class, the big landowners. Once there is a vote for 
everyone, the rest will follow." 

But since it is unlikely that the vote will be extended 
beyond the Northeast's 10 per cent who can read and write, 
what then? Armed revolution? 

Juliao smiles and shrugs his shoulders. "I admire," he says, 
"the method of Gandhi, but his was a period of the past. 
The Leagues are symptomatic of a phase of transition. If 
the government, the Church, the landowners do not move 
quickly to solve the most pressing problems, then the peas- 
ants themselves will make a violent revolution." 

In general, Juliao prefers to play down the possibility of 
an armed struggle, saying instead that the momentum of 
the Leagues will carry them not only through rural areas 
but the cities of the Northeast. "The movement," he says, 
"has grown in a disorderly manner. It is only now that we 
are endeavoring to set up some kind of records. We are not 
even certain of the exact number of members. There is the 
field worker who is openly and fearlessly affiliated with the 
League, and there is the other type who is afraid of joining 
but remains underground as a latent force. Potentially, 

209 



you might say, everyone in the Northeast belongs to the 
Leagues." 

And here is where arises a contradiction. Juliao rejects any 
suggestion that he is preparing peasants for guerrilla war- 
fare: "General Hunger does not train his soldiers/' But then 
he claims that, if the Quadros crisis had led to civil war, he 
would have had men ready to invade forty cities and towns : 
five hundred men for each city. "Civil war," he adds, "would 
have brought in its womb agrarian reform." But what could 
a few hundred unarmed men have done in the big centers? 
"They would have compelled the armed forces to disperse 
their normal bases, brought about confusion, and made it 
easier to find a solution by means of a struggle." If this is 
rather weird logic, Juliao, who denies that arms have been 
smuggled into the Northeast from Cuba, appends a somber 
footnote: "Weapons will never be lacking, as they have 
never been lacking in any country in a time of need. In the 
event of any civil war, the army in the Northeast would be 
divided and we should have weapons on the spot. Further- 
more, weapons would shower in from Cuba and Czecho- 
slovakia and other countries." 

"You would, then, accept help from Communists?" 

"I am ready to accept the help of anyone who will free 
my country from the big landowners." 

Is Juliao really a Communist? He has claimed Castro as 
"a close friend" and described the Cuban revolution as "a 
miracle performed through the unity of the peasants." He 
returned from Red China "immensely impressed." But I 
could quote a dozen similar phrases from other Latin Amer- 
icans who visited these countries and were no more than 
reformers out to improve, without extremism, conditions in 
their own countries. Brazilian Communists actually call 
Juliao "an opportunist," and have set out among the 
camponeses to undermine his prestige. This is no mere 
camouflage ; Juliao's style of socialism is a threat to commu- 

210 



nism since it is aimed at eliminating the set of conditions 
on which communism blossoms. My own appraisal of Juliao 
is that he stands part-way between the obstinate right and 
the other terminal. "Incredible as this may sound/' says 
O Cruzeiro, "Juliao has been a moderating influence in the 
Northeast ... a brake on armed revolution." The argument 
is that he has been using the warning of revolution as a 
device to hasten peaceful reforms. 

Whether Cruzeiro's estimate is exaggerated is incon- 
sequential. The immediate peril could spring from any one 
of several directions. What would happen, for example, if 
Juliao, failing to make headway by other means, was pushed 
into an alliance with the Communists? He is shunned by 
his own government; the only recognition he has received 
has been from such governments as the Cuban and Chinese, 
which have shown him their experiments, praised and en- 
couraged him, and sent him off with promises of help. In 
this sensitive age of personal contact, it is ironic, and pos- 
sibly tragic, that the United States at least up to the date 
of this writing has not found it appropriate to invite 
Juliao to take a firsthand look at the people ("United States 
money-grabbers who exploit us") he occasionally includes 
in his denunciatory speeches about landowners and other 
oligarchs. 

Meanwhile, despite their policy of opposing him, Brazil's 
Communists are watching and waiting while Juliao unbolts 
the hidden frustrations of the masses; he could, of course, 
be destroyed by the landowners who need only issue orders 
to hired assassins. Equally, he might be destroyed by the 
same people he has been trying to help. These are unsophis- 
ticated men, their hands calloused from wielding long knives 
in the cane fields. They have heard from Juliao the example 
of Cuba, and a few have even made the journey there to see 
for themselves how the "big owners of land" have been 
driven off* It is not inconceivable that Juliao, the sorcerer, 

211 



whose organization is loosely knit and undisciplined, will 
be unable to contain the flood he has released and will him- 
self be swept away. 

But Juliao's personal fate, as he often boasts, no longer 
counts. He has encouraged a movement, it has caught on, 
and no matter what becomes of him there are others already 
talking his language. In Juliao's hometown of Recife the 
mayor, Miguel Arraes, has formed a National Liberation 
Front along with the governors of two states. Their motive 
is to incite different factions in all political parties to push 
for radical social reform. "Brazil is marching toward some- 
thing new, consciously, with eyes open," Arraes says. "It 
happened when we abolished slavery. It happened again 
when we became a republic always bloodless, without phys- 
ical battle. Ours will be humane solutions to the present 
problems." And if bloodletting is necessary? Arraes, after a 
long, hard stare, says simply: "That would be unfortunate." 
Farther south, a scant sixty miles from the big city of Rio de 
Janeiro, a twenty-four-year-old man named Mariano Beser 
has established branches of the Northeast's Peasant Leagues 
and trained followers in military methods. When a quartet 
of land speculators attempted to drive camponeses off fields 
they claimed as their own, Beser summoned together a band 
of armed peasants. One of the speculators was shot, and 
the other three were about to be executed when police inter- 
vened. 

Other Peasant Leagues, or their counterparts, now exist in 
several states in Brazil. In a few instances, wary state gov- 
ernors have tried their own techniques to divert frustration. 
In Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, Governor Leonel Brizola 
encouraged gauchos to invade a large, privately owned 
ranch ; then he signed a state decree expropriating the ranch 
"in the social interest of the community." In Rio Grande 
do Norte, Governor Aluizio Alves expropriated 47,000 acres 
of idle land held by the federal Bank of Brazil, and distrib- 

212 



uted it among the oamponeses. But these have been isolated 
cases, on a local rather than a national level; if anything, 
they have only sharpened peasant appetites for more of the 
same. During one period alone, in May, 1962, peasants 
marched through a half-dozen Northeast towns and villages, 
crying out their hunger and looting food stores. Some were 
armed with shotguns; in an exchange of fire with police, 
one was killed and two were wounded. 

That violent revolution is more than a possibility is con- 
firmed by military authorities. In Recife, an army general, 
examining the situation for the press, said: "Juliao will be 
one of the first to go before a firing squad." The general 
betrayed his anxiety by using the phrase, "when the revolu- 
tion comes/' only later catching himself and adding, almost 
in an undertone, "if it should come." A colonel said bluntly: 
"The people have nothing to lose." Almost the same words 
were employed by the man who accidentally touched off the 
vast surge of peasant feeling, Joao Firmino of the plantation 
Galileia. Told that the army was prepared to crush any 
attempted upheaval, Firmino said : "If they kill us we shall 
lose nothing. They willlose the people who work for them." 
Some of the intellectuals of Recife say that the right man to 
lead a revolt has not yet emerged, that Juliao lacks dyna- 
mism and a conception of firm authority. But, they add, one 
day a Brazilian Castro will emerge from the hills, or a 
favela, from a valley of the Amazon or the sertao. And from 
that day the Northeast will be witness to the most bloody 
uprising in the history of underdeveloped areas. 

In the meanwhile, Juliao has his worshipers. ("Below God 
there is only Dr. Juliao," said one peasant.) He makes use 
of language and images readily understood by the people. 
"We must eliminate the feudal landlord as one would kill 
a dog with rabies," he tells them. Juliao has confounded the 
landowners who, in self-delusion, like to categorize their ten- 
ants and laborers as patient and placid, incapable of re- 

213 



spending to political incitement. The camponeses now 
attend Juliao's outdoor rallies in the thousands, and the 
small-town lawyer, who in private appears so ineffectual, 
suddenly becomes converted into an impassioned orator. 
"I believe in agrarian reform/' he declares, "as surely as 
I know the sun will rise tomorrow. In our prayer for reform 
let us use the words of the Bible. Yes, because the Bible is 
a revolutionary book." As he builds up the drama, he says : 
"We are not concerned with anyone's ideology or religion. 
We see no enemy in the soldier, the priest, the student, the 
industrialist, the Communist. Let them all come forward. 
Our only enemy is the feudal landlord. We must put an end 
to the society of the cunning/' 

At one moment he says : "Pope John was the first pope to 
come from a farm origin. The encyclical that he has issued 
is proof that the Pope supports our Leagues." The next 
instant he pours ridicule on priests who promise that the 
poor will go to heaven. At one rally, an emaciated peasant, 
dressed in sackcloth, called out: "Dr. Juliao, may I say a 
word?" And then, inspiring a kind of tragic laugh from the 
audience, the peasant said: "I have no wish to go to this 
heaven with an empty stomach." 



214 



8 



Fidelismo: The Protagonist 



THE NAME given by Chileans to the slums of Santiago is 
poblaciones callampas, "mushroom villages/' because they 
spread so quickly. These shantytowns are not much different 
from similar districts in the other principal cities of Latin 
America. The inhabitants are mostly migrants from the 
countryside who have asserted squatters' rights over unoc- 
cupied pieces of city property while they look to better 
themselves in industrial jobs. About 400,000 of Santiago's 
1,600,000 people live in the hovels and tumbledown shacks 
of a score of callampas, and one of them, Poblacion la Vic- 
toria, is particularly worth noting. It is called "Victory 
Village" in evidence of how an organized group can fight 
for and obtain minimum demands. In this instance, the 
group consisted of socialists in coalition with Communists. 
The Communists provided the main drive. 

The case history began on October 30, 1957, in San 
Miguelo, a suburb on the southern outskirts of Santiago, 
when 15,000 men, women and children, living without water, 
sewage, or electricity, decided to move closer to the sources 
of these facilities. That night they descended in a mass on 
a site, an unused field inside Santiago itself, that was to 

215 



become Pobladon la Victoria. By dawn the first huts were 
up, crudely fashioned of packed mud walls and straw roofs, 
bits of tin, and wooden cartons. Hours later the police 
arrived to push the squatters back to San Miguelo. But a 
committee, elected by all the men and led by Communist 
Party members, was ready with its strategy. It ordered the 
women and children out in front, to form a human perim- 
eter around the callampa. 

Thus confronted, the police did not open fire or use 
strong-arin methods. Instead, they cordoned off the site, 
and for twenty days there was a siege. No one went to work, 
and the only persons permitted to enter or leave were those 
on missions of mercy, carrying food and drinking water. 
Mario Pallesclo, the socialist mayor of San Miguelo, de- 
fended his former neighbors in the press and recruited sev- 
eral engineers, all leftists, to help them with rudimentary 
sewage disposal and sanitation. A couple of doctors, who 
proclaimed themselves as Communists, set up an emergency 
health clinic. Finally, the government relented; Pobladon 
la Victoria was allowed to remain. 

By the time of my visit, more than four years later, the 
population had risen to 35,000, and Pobladon la Victoria 
had its Carlos Marx Street and "Red Square," a rather dusty 
corner flanked on each side by mud huts. Most of the mem- 
bers of the local "central committee," or Soviet, as they 
preferred to term it, lived around "Red Square." Until a 
few months previously, the majority of the committee mem- 
bers were socialists; but now, after a new election, there 
were six Communists, three socialists, and one Trotskyite, 
who believed, as did some of the other "Trotskyites" with 
whom I spoke, that the Communists were not sufficiently 
revolutionary. Julio Cesar Solis, one of the Communists on 
the central committee, said: "We don't believe in revolution, 
because if we inform the people about necessary changes, 
and they get a vote, we will automatically have power." He 

216 



was, of course, referring to power beyond Pobladon la Vic- 
toria, but if in the meanwhile the example of his community 
would spread by word of mouth he would be quite content. 

Pobladon la Victoria holds some lessons and warnings not 
only for Chile but for the rest of the continent. There is no 
doubt that the Communists have shown a remarkable sense 
of dedication and organization in improving the physical 
standards of callampa dwellers. Compared with Santiago's 
other shantytowns, Pobladon la Victoria is almost a model 
town. A hygiene committee teaches women fundamentals 
of child care, so that the infant mortality rate is appreciably 
lower than elsewhere. The clinic has been expanded to 
include three volunteer doctors, a pathetic ratio of less than 
one for every 10,000 persons, but again better than neighbor- 
ing callampas, which never see a physician. Disciplined 
planning extends even to nonessential levels; a group, for 
instance, has set up an exchange shop for old magazines and 
books: in effect, what passes as a lending library, another 
rarity in a slum area. It is not by coincidence that the group 
is headed by a Communist, and Communist literature finds 
its way onto the shop table stacked with nonpolitical reading 
matter. 

The Communists also started Victoria's first school, 
erected by the residents themselves from mud bricks; this 
effort pushed the government into building another school, 
a frame building, which at least cares for eight hundred of 
the four thousand children of primary age. When the social- 
ists were in office they began a concentrated campaign, 
partly with the help of socialist newspapers, to get the gov- 
ernment to install water tanks, so that today, unlike the 
squatters of other callampas, who must purchase or carry 
water in buckets, each family in Victoria can boast its own 
tap. The Communist Soviet later used the same badgering 
techniques to have electric lines extended to their site, em- 
ploying a communal system of payment; the cost of elec- 

217 



tricity is pooled according to the number of light bulbs, on 
the average two, in each hovel. 

But the most impressive feature is not the physical side 
of P oblation la Victoria, for, despite its advantages over 
other callampas, this is still an impoverished and primitive 
collection of mud huts with mud floors and mud streets. 
What is striking is the genuine community spirit, illustrated 
in tiny ways; people water down the lanes to keep the dust 
from rising; they plant flowers, so that children, barefoot 
as in other slums, will experience a splash of color in other- 
wise drab surroundings. 'There is a sense of pride here/' 
commented my guide, Luis Ratinoff, a prominent sociolo- 
gist. "It denotes a true victory of people over a system in 
which they have no place." 

Ratinoff is not a Communist, but his words were almost 
echoed a few minutes later when I had a separate conversa- 
tion with Julio Cesar Soils. "We are nobody in the city of 
Santiago/' said Cesar Solis, "and we have no hope of ever 
becoming anybody under the present system. But here we 
belong, here we are somebody. 77 A mate of his, another Com- 
munist, added: "We really have much more dignity than 
the people outside, because we created this, and fought for 
it ourselves. The class to which the President of Chile 
belongs doesn't consider that we are human beings. But 
here we are human beings/' 

Sociologist Ratinoff analyzed this attitude: "They want 
to replace a complex outside world with something of their 
own, which they can manage by themselves. Moreover, 
Marxist ideology gives them an identity with at least part 
of the outside world." Peculiarly enough, when the govern- 
ment put up a nearby low-rental housing development, com- 
plete with modern amenities, the response from callampa 
dwellers was far from overwhelming. Most of them preferred 
to remain in Victoria, where they felt a strong, determined 
committee would protect their future interests. In other 

218 



words, comparatively fine brick buildings, which do not 
always take into account the herding instinct or need for 
broad security, are not the whole answer. 

Julio Cesar Solis is as close to being a devout Communist 
as I found in Latin America. So is the rather naive woman 
who said: "In such countries as the Soviet Union there are 
no prisons because there are no murders or crimes/ 3 But 
the majority of Victoria's people have no conception of the 
meaning of communism, nor are they particularly interested 
in finding out. They are not even concerned about the fiery 
competition between moderate socialists and extreme Com- 
munists to win their favor. Simply told, they will support 
anyone who promises, and delivers, a better break in a life 
that pays one dollar a day, if a man is lucky enough to find 
work, and demands one dollar for a kilo of meat. Sandoval 
Gonzales once had a job as a bricklayer; but, when I saw 
him, he was unemployed and trying to make enough to 
feed his wife and two children by peddling coal and wood. 
How much did he earn, how much did it cost him to live? 
He was too proud to say. Well, then, with how much would 
he be content? He quoted the equivalent of forty dollars a 
month. But he wants to gain this without socialism or com- 
munism. 

Gonzales is essentially a free enterpriser ; he opposes the 
method of paying for electricity on the basis of the number 
of light bulbs in his shack and not the quantity of electricity 
he actually uses. "This is too much like communism/' he 
says. "It would be better if we had meters, like other people 
in Santiago." Gonzales is a man of forty, and in an un- 
educated but profound way he has respect for individuality. 
However, the clue to his thinking, and the drama of com- 
munism's draw, is contained in the next statement: "The 
socialists and Communists have made Victoria. It is better 
than any other callampa I have lived in." 

As in Pobladon la Victoria, the popular socialists and 

219 



the closely knit Communists in Chile on a whole are col- 
laborating in a joint effort to gain political control of the 
nation. Chile's Communist Party is the oldest in Latin 
America, and the strongest, with the exception, of course, 
of Cuba's. 1 It claims 60,000 paid-up members, and in the 
1961 elections polled 11.5 per cent of the votes, putting a 
sizable bloc of twenty-eight senators and deputies into the 
195-seat Congress. Chilean Communists, in common with 
their comrades in a few other Latin- American republics, do 
not preach at least openly violent revolution. They work 
on the assumption that if living conditions continue to 
deteriorate they will be able to take over quite lawfully. 
Chile's urban population is bigger than its rural, and con- 
tains the larger proportion of enfranchised voters, of whom . 
10 per cent are chronically unemployed and another 10 per 
cent only partially employed. The dismay with life, or dis- 
content, is quite accurately reflected in the eyes of men such 
as Sandoval Gonzales. 

This having been said, however, the peasantry form at 
least an equal target for the Communists, if for no other 
reason than that so-called "proletarian" areas Poblacion 
la Victoria as an example are made up largely of farm 
people fresh from the countryside. "The lust for land is 
strong now/' said Orlando Millas, secretary of Chile's Com- 
munist Party. "Our biggest advances are among the peas- 
ants, and I must say that we are cautious with them. 
Peasants are conservative. They want a gradual approach, 
and it would be fatal for us to tell them they can achieve 
goals by picking up weapons." 

This brought up a couple of obvious questions. Was 
Millas, a forty- three-year-old journalist, member of Con- 

1 In Chile the Communists form a legal party; they are also recognized 
officially in Uruguay, Bolivia, and Ecuador, in addition to Cuba. Venezuela 
outlawed the Communists in 1962; but here, as in other countries where 
they are technically disqualified from holding office, they remain active. 

220 



gress, and his party's most influential spokesman, suggesting 
that this was to be a peasant movement, a break from clas- 
sical Marxism? Millas responded heatedly: "I believe this 
is a limited view on the matter. Marxism has not changed 
at all. Reforms must also be made in the industrial society." 
But in the hinterland, Communist Party men from Santiago 
are holding an increasing number of rallies and have suc- 
ceeded in organizing the Peasants' Federation, affiliated 
with the largest trade union federation in Chile, which, in 
turn, is a center of Communist activity. 

On the second question had Chile's Communists dis- 
associated themselves from any armed uprising to bring 
about social changes? Millas was quite adamant. "We do 
not need violence," he said. "We will double our seats by a 
normal vote in the next election, and we will help form the 
government." This was not simply an idle boast, nor even 
a remote possibility a point to be delved into shortly. 
Meanwhile, I believe Millas was quite honest in arguing that 
he and his party have discarded old notions of bloody up- 
heaval in order to attain communism. Chile's Communists 
follow the current philosophy of Moscow: that wars and 
violent revolutions are unnecessary because the power of 
example, of economic advances of the Soviet Union, will 
diminish support of capitalism where it still exists. This line 
is not followed by Communist parties in all Latin- American 
countries. On the contrary, some adhere to Mao Tse-tung's 
dictum: "On the debris [of war and revolution] we shall 
build a new civilization a thousand times higher than the 
old." The Ecuadorian Communist Party, having a very small 
membership and little support among the electorate, en- 
dorsed at a convention in March of 1962 the Chinese prin- 
ciple of achieving power through violence. Almost its entire 
concentration, unlike that of the Chilean Communist Party, 
is on the peasantry. 

If lack of a unified strategy (sometimes dictated by do- 

221 



mestic conditions) exists among the separate Communist 
parties in Latin America, it can also be found within na- 
tional groups themselves. In Brazil, for instance, I talked 
with Communists who clearly were of the "Chinese" variety, 
and with others who could be identified as "Russian." In 
Venezuela I heard glowing forecasts of how Khrushchev's 
policy would bear fruit; I also saw on the wall of a remote 
country restaurant the scribbling: "Viva Meo" (Long live 
Mao). In sum, the ideological clash between Russia and 
China stands revealed in this hemisphere. Communist 
parties in Latin America are far from cohesive and are gen- 
erally small in numbers. 2 Paradoxically, their indirect influ- 
ence today, and future potential, constitutes the most seri- 
ous issue in Latin America, but not because of Russia or 
China. Any maneuvers or attempts at infiltration by the 
two Communist giants have met with relatively little suc- 
cess. With the possible exception of Chile, where the Com- 
munist movement has long been strong in its own right, the 
real boost for communism has come from the Cuban revolu- 
tion. 

This is not to suggest that the Russians and Chinese are 
quiescent in Latin America. Uruguay, which prides itself in 
a Swiss approach to "neutrality," recently took the unprec- 
edented step of instructing the Russians to cut down the 
size of their embassy. In a country of only 2.5 million people 
the Soviet Union maintained a huge establishment, with 
thirty-seven members on diplomatic passports. Four thou- 
sand pounds of literature entered Uruguay each week in 
diplomatic bags, free from customs inspection. It was clear 
that Montevideo was headquarters for a propaganda net- 
work spreading into southern Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. 

In Argentina itself a North American diplomat told me 

2 Argentina has an estimated party membership of 60,000; Brazil, 40,000; 
Venezuela, 30,000; Peru, 10,000; Colombia, 5,000; Mexico, 5,000; Bolivia, 
3,000; Ecuador, 1,000. 

222 



how shocked he was, on attending a wine festival in an 
isolated area eight hundred miles from Buenos Aires, to 
witness the warmth with which local school teachers greeted 
on a personal basis envoys from Soviet-bloc countries. The 
Communist diplomats had obviously been in contact with 
the teachers on previous occasions. In the Peruvian Andes 
the few Indians who possess radios can tune into Moscow 
broadcasts in their Quechua language, while other Latin 
Americans have their regular choice of Spanish or Portu- 
guese programs from the Soviet Union. 

The Chinese, at the same time, are also beaming their 
own variety of radio propaganda: in 1961 twenty-eight 
hours a week in Spanish, ten hours a week in Portuguese, 
compared with a total of only seven hours in 1957. China's 
interest in Latin America has developed steadily since 1949, 
when Mao Tse-tung declared that he knew "the peoples of 
Latin America are not slaves obedient to United States im- 
perialism." Few tangible signs of this interest existed, how- 
ever, until the Chinese decided to hold a "Peace Conference 
of Asian and Pacific Regions" in Peking in 1952. To this 
conference came observers and Communist delegates from 
all the eleven Latin-American countries bordering on the 
Pacific ; in addition, special guests arrived from Brazil. From 
then on, the flow of visits, in both directions, increased in 
measured strides. In 1956 the Peking Opera company toured 
Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina, followed in the next 
couple of years by teams of acrobats, scientists, and cultural 
experts who set up exhibitions of Chinese paintings, photo- 
graphs, and so on. 

In some of the countries, notably Mexico and Brazil, 
newspapers made pained references to the fact that the 
visitors spent much effort in contacting local Chinese. The 
100,000 overseas Chinese scattered through Latin America 
are also the recipients of broadcasts in Cantonese and other 
dialects. Peking obviously intends that its brand of com- 

223 



munism be recognized as possessing greater application to 
Latin-American conditions than that of the Russians. "The 
Soviet Union is too advanced as a society, from our point 
of view/ 3 said a Brazilian intellectual shortly after his return 
from a visit to Russia and China. "The Chinese are closer 
to us, in that they have had to lift up masses of landless 
peasants from feudalism. Their experience is much fresher 
than the Russians'." 

If the Russians were upset by Chinese intrigues in Latin 
America, they gave no indication of this during the first 
few years of Peking's activities. By 1960 Peking was out- 
drawing Moscow as an attraction; in that year alone 168 
delegations from Latin America visited China, compared 
with slightly more than a score to the Soviet Union ; indeed, 
Latin-American groups (not all of them necessarily Com- 
munist) outnumbered the delegations from any other con- 
tinent and accounted for nearly one quarter of all the foreign 
visitors to Red China. In turn, the total of Chinese delega- 
tions visiting Latin America leaped from four in 1958 to 
twenty in 1960; one direct result was the establishment of 
bureaus of the official New China News Agency in Chile and 
Brazil, offices which not only send back reports to Peking 
but offer a free service to any Latin- American paper that 
wishes to take it. 

Since the Chinese had diplomatic representation only in 
Cuba, they relied on the Russians in other countries to make 
some of the technical arrangements for them. In 1961 only 
a few Chinese delegations went to Latin America. The inter- 
pretation may well be that the Russians, acutely jealous of 
the advances of their rivals, were withdrawing diplomatic 
facilities. But at the same time another situation developed : 
a tightening up on the part of Latin-American governments. 
Ecuador, for instance, deported after an eight-day stay in 
May of 1961 a Chinese youth delegation for "trying to inter- 
vene in the country's internal affairs." It may also be that 

224 



the Chinese were now content to allow Cuba to carry the 
ball. 

In the final analysis, both the Chinese and Soviet attempts 
to win friends by propaganda and other means were fairly 
standard practices, engaged in all over the world by other 
nations, including the United States. What made the Latin 
American situation so interesting was that the internal Com- 
munist parties themselves had few active followers, and in 
effect any inroads of a foreign ideology were fairly slight. 
Then along came the Cuban overthrow of Batista, followed 
by Fidelismo, an ideology that could be publicized as Latin 
American. The Chinese still assert that Cuba's reformation 
is based on the successful application of the Chinese pattern. 
However, they have taken great pains to ensure that this 
claim is transmitted in Cuban, not Chinese, words. For this 
reason much attention was given by New China News 
Agency to remarks made by Ernesto "Che" Guevara during 
his visit to Peking, especially when he said he "knew China 
had fought for twenty-two years and had attained libera- 
tion under the leadership of one of the greatest leaders of the 
world today, Mao Tse-tung," and that "the agreements con- 
cluded between Cuba and China reflect the best that a 
socialist country can do for a small nation which is fighting 
for its independence and have set an example for many 
countries in the Americas " 

Chinese policy today is summed up by a message from 
Chou En-lai to Fidel Castro on February 3, 1962: "The 
Cuban revolution represents the genuine interests of the 
Cuban people and the hope of all Latin-American peoples. 
. . . The heroic Cuban people and the united Latin- American 
peoples will certainly win final victory in their struggles 
against United States imperialism." Though the Russians 
may not have been quite as ready as the Chinese to accept 
the Cuban revolution at face value (a fascinatingly debat- 

225 



able mystery that will be touched on in a chapter on Cuba 
itself), they, too, saw the "priceless value" of Fidelismo. A 
highly important Soviet guidance pamphlet, from which the 
foregoing phrase is quoted, 3 confirms that present Russian 
tactics toward Latin America are built around three funda- 
mentals: first, exploitation of the Cuban revolutionary 
example; second, offers of Soviet bloc aid; third, encourage- 
ment of local Communist parties. The emphasis again, it 
will be noted, is on the image of Cuba. 

Just what is this image? "A window of hope has been 
opened with Fidelismo/ 7 said a Bolivian cabinet minister. 
"It is not that Latin- American people know what is going 
on in Cuba. It is that they are tired, and have no hope, and 
so will turn to anything that offers hope, even the unknown. 
For humble people, democracy is meaningless if it is not 
accompanied by prosperity/' This was a fair and realistic 
appraisal. Wherever I traveled I found basically the same 
story: those people who are thoughtfully aware of the 
abuses and the executions and the excesses that have taken 
place in Cuba have lost their enthusiasm for Castro as a 
person ; but their support for the Cuban revolution remains 
unabridged. For Fidelismo is an image with a variety of 
characteristics. At its most elementary, it represents for 
millions of vaguely attuned Latin Americans a sister coun- 
try that has managed to take land from the wealthy and 
give it to the poor, and at the same time put a big country, 
the United States, in its place. Cuba has the rare magic that 
belongs only to a smaller power that somehow seems to 
elevate itself to an equal political footing with a great 
power. If part of the image is uglier, the face of a ruthless 
revolution determined to export itself, it haunts only a 
minority: those government leaders and Latin Americans 

3 The Situation and Struggle of the Workers in the Countries of Latin 
America, published by the Soviet Society for the Dissemination of Political 
Knowledge, Moscow, November, 1960. 

226 



who believe that even if Fidelismo is acceptable to Cubans 
it should be confined to the Caribbean island. 

"All Latin Americans are brothers. Two hundred million 
Latin Americans look to Cuba, and Cuba looks to them." 
This was the recurrent theme I heard in Havana whenever 
I found Latin- American visitors: intellectuals, students, 
peasant or labor leaders, politicians, foregathering. The 
Cubans sang it to them, the Latin Americans at least most 
of them echoed it back. These were invitados, official 
guests, and while not all were involved in left-wing organ- 
izations the effect of what they saw and heard was generally 
deep. Not for a moment could they forget that they were 
witnesses to a Cuban phenomenon, a revolution in all forms, 
political, social, economic, brought about by fellow Latin 
Americans, instead of by academic revolutionaries with 
strangely foreign accents and ideas. This was not China or 
Russia, thousands of miles away. This was American soil, 
measured in mere hundreds of miles and in common history 
and the same language. Almost the first sign the invitados 
read on stepping off an aircraft was the Spanish for: "Wel- 
come to Cuba, Free Territory of America." 

They came from the nearby Dominican Republic and 
Haiti, from Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, 
from virtually every part of the continent. Some were 
avowed members of Communist parties ; but again, it must 
be emphasized, many were not. One young man, a trade 
unionist from Ecuador, told me: "I studied Marx, Lenin, 
Stalin, and the writings of other Communists even Chou 
En-lai and Mao Tse-tung. But I could never make much 
sense of them. A Latin revolution is much more attractive." 
Particularly, he might have added, a revolution that em- 
barrasses the mighty United States. The Ecuadorian, inci- 
dentally, had arrived in Cuba by an indirect route. To avoid 
any possible complications with his government, he pre- 
tended he was off on a holiday in Mexico, and actually flew 

227 



there. But once in Mexico City a quick transfer was made 
to a Cubana Airlines flight to Havana, where solicitous im- 
migration officers left his passport unstamped. The same 
device is employed as camouflage for other invitados, in- 
cluding occasional United States citizens. 

The invitados, of course, are taken on impressive sight- 
seeing tours, lasting from two to three weeks, with all ex- 
penses paid. They see some of the undoubtedly dramatic and 
favorable imprints of planned economy: the replacement, 
for example, of miserable bohios, or peasant huts, by clean 
and functional housing developments. They talk to campe- 
sinos and hear firsthand accounts (and there are many 
genuinely enthusiastic ones) of lives improved almost in 
fairy-tale fashion. They attend rallies and experience the 
spine-tingling sensation (terrifying to a nonsupporter, in- 
spiring to a believer) of twenty thousand voices in a fren- 
zied and rhythmic chant: "Fidel, Fidel, Fidel." And then 
they return to the air-conditioned comforts of the Havana 
Libre or the Riviera Hotel, which at one time rented rooms 
to North American tourists at $30 a day, without meals. 
If the fare is now austere (black coffee, dry toast, and noth- 
ing more, for breakfast) the invitados shrug this off as the 
result of the iniquitous yanqui embargo and say conditions 
will get better once "socialism" is really under way. If a 
delegate stands up at a youth conference as one did during 
my first visit and questions even mildly the lack of civil 
rights in Cuba, he is shouted down as a "Trotskyite." 

The majority of invitados are young, in their impression- 
able late teens or early twenties. Some break away from the 
set routine and move about by themselves, hearing another 
side of the story: the disenchantment of Cubans who ini- 
tially applauded Castro but now are awaiting only what 
they call "liberation," the everyday problems of mothers 
trying to locate enough milk for their children, the exodus 
not only of "capitalists" but of ordinary workers who find 

228 



the atmosphere oppressive, the economic chaos created by 
factors greater than a United States embargo alone. A few 
invitados return to their homes in other countries them- 
selves disenchanted, disturbed, and troubled, filled with 
doubts about whether Fidelismo is the answer after all. But 
a greater number are impressed; any qualifications that 
might arise are quickly attributed to growing pains, inevi- 
table adjuncts to any revolution. At least most of the ones 
I spoke to appeared unconcerned about the things that 
bothered me, including the enforced conformity and rule by 
gun rather than by law, the betrayal of what started out as 
liberal principles, the trading of one "master," the United 
States, for reliance on another power. 

On balance, the youngsters who flock to Havana from sis- 
ter republics go home with adulation for Fidelismo that will 
last with or without the man himself. They speak of the 
brave new anti-Yankee world, of the new homes and schools, 
and brush aside the shocked and worried liberals as malcon- 
tents. "As the Cuban revolution was born in the University 
of Havana, so the Peruvian revolution will grow out of the 
University of San Marcos," said a student from Lima. If 
this was an oversimplified historical reference, it also carried 
a perilous warning. The student, along with other invitados, 
had attended a series of lectures given by Sierra Maestra 
veterans. These experts in guerrilla warfare related personal 
experiences in their fight with Batista troops, and, after 
enamoring their young audiences, went on to broad lessons : 
first, revolution is possible without violence if enough people 
agitate at one time, but if force should become necessary 
the best strategy is to bypass the cities until the last and to 
concentrate on the countryside (leaves from a handbook 
once written by Mao Tse-tung and supplemented by Gue- 
vara on the basis of trial in the Cuban hills). 

The extent of Cuba's physical subversion in neighboring 
states is unknown. Venezuela, when it broke with Castro, 

229 



complained that arms were being smuggled into the country 
from Cuba. I asked Venezuela's minister of defense, Gen- 
eral Briceno Linares, if there was much evidence of such 
trafficking, and he answered frankly: "No, we have no 
evidence, only suspicion." Then he ran his hand over a map 
of the Caribbean and singled out the long coastline, saying 
it would be reasonably simple for any vessel to unload in 
an unpatrolled strip at night. Whether or not Cuban-based 
weapons were actually reaching Venezuela, there is little 
doubt that President Eomulo Betancourt had some justifi- 
cation for announcing on November 10, 1961, that there was 
no other possible answer to the insults from Castro than a 
severance of diplomatic relations: the first such move by 
an important Latin-American country. Venezuela had been 
a prime target of Cuba because it was both strategically 
and psychologically important, oil-rich and held up by the 
United States as a hopeful example for the rest of the hemi- 
sphere. Much Cuban radio and written propaganda was 
aimed at the oligarchy and more of it at Betancourt in 
person. 4 

Betancourt claimed that the intrusion went further, that 
a series of riots was led by left-wingers financed from Cuba. 
It may also be, as some of his domestic critics argued, that 
Betancourt, as a self-styled "socialist/' was sensitive that 
Castro was stealing headlines as the first real Caribbean 
reformer and the answer to Latin America's problems. When 
I put a question to Betancourt along these lines, he re- 
sponded with some irritation, pointing out that he was 
elected to the presidency of Venezuela while Castro was still 
isolated in the Sierra Maestra; he conveyed the impression 
that he felt that he, Betancourt, had come first, while Castro 
was an upstart. Regardless of this possibly personal aspect, 

4 A considerable part of Cuba's propaganda effort in Latin America is 
conducted through its official news agency, Prensa Latina. Funds for regional 
bureaus of Prensa Latina are transferred from Havana by way of the Royal 
Bank of Canada's headquarters in Montreal. 

230 



he was convinced that the only recourse was to be firm in 
dealing with Castro's influence, even to the extent of im- 
prisoning socialists and students, as well as Communists, 
and suspending some constitutional rights. "To be frank/' 
Betancourt told me, "I haven't my heart in some of the 
measures we have taken, but on the other hand I have done 
some of these things out of a conviction that democracy has 
to be sustained even through controls. I know all too well 
that democracies have been lost because too much reliance 
was placed on persuasion. I have just been reading Shirer's 
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and it is obvious how 
the Weimar Republic was lost because it was unable to con- 
trol the situation." 

There have also been reports, unconfirmed, that Francisco 
Juliao, in Brazil's Northeast, is furnished with propaganda 
literature and other supplies from Cuba. Even if this active 
intrusion is not so, there is no uncertainty about Castro's 
aim to spread revolution. At the height of the Brazilian 
crisis over Janio Quadros' resignation, Castro broadcast: 
"If the Brazilian people make use of Cuba's experience and 
take arms and throw themselves into the fight in the moun- 
tains, jungles, and forests, the reactionaries will never be 
able to succeed. If workers, peasants, students, and progres- 
sive people, and honest military men take up arms and 
organize not one front but a thousand fronts, never will the 
military reactionaries be able to defeat them." Provoked as 
it might have been, Brazil nevertheless did not break rela- 
tions with Cuba. San Thiago Dantas, Brazil's foreign min- 
ister at the time, explained it to me thus: "The Cuban 
phenomenon is symptomatic of the realities that exist every- 
where in Latin America. The real therapy for this disease is 
economic development and strengthening of governments." 

In blunter words the Brazilian attitude was aptly de- 
scribed by Antonio Callado, the first journalist to draw 
attention to Juliao. Callado, chatting informally, confessed 

231 



how astonished he was every time he discussed Cuba with 
Americans. "We simply don't see red the way the United 
States does with every mention of Castro's name maybe 
because Brazilians better understand the conditions that led 
to the Cuban revolution/' he said. "The other day, at lunch 
with a New York publisher, I was asked: 'But aren't you 
afraid of Castro and his infiltration?' 'What infiltration?' 
I replied. Castro hasn't the resources or the strength to in- 
filtrate us. If anything happens in Brazil it will be because 
of a Brazilian version of Castro and Brazil's own problems 
not because of Fidel's influence." 

This, I believe, is an intelligent and realistic summation 
of Fidelismo's impact on Latin America. The Communists 
are obviously determined to take full advantage of any mood 
generated by Castro to exploit flaws in the social structure 
and their appearance has been given luster and allure by 
the model of Cuba. Where the Communist parties of Latin 
America may be considered weak numerically, and histori- 
cally of little consequence, their influence today is height- 
ened, but again, only by indirection. In Brazil, the Com- 
munists scrawl slogans on walls and win prominent positions 
in trade unions; most people do not cry out in horror or 
panic. Does this mean that Brazilians are being duped? Not, 
I think, in the way that North Americans usually like to 
reckon. 

While I was in Brazil a bank strike in Rio de Janeiro tied 
up normal trade and commerce for a week, and spread to 
eight other cities. Clerks and tellers, bearing placards, 
marched up and down Rio's Avenida Rio Branco, shouting: 
"We cannot live with hunger." Earning $75 a month, they 
wanted a wage increase of nearly 70 per cent, to keep up 
with spiraling food costs that consumed a proportion, greater 




of their syndicate, even though they themselves were 

232 



strongly opposed to communism. "The Communists know 
how to fight for our interests," said one man while his mates 
nodded in agreement. What about the built-in, long-range 
danger of such leadership? "We'll worry about that another 
time. At the moment our worry is hunger." And so, stated' 
simply, the issue was not Red but Bread. 1 

Going a step further, Communist members themselves 
present what they consider a compelling argument in favor 
of communism or Fidelismo. "My great objection to capital- 
ism," said a Peruvian, Genaro Carnero, "is that it never 
really developed in most of Latin America." Carnero, the 
fifty-one-year-old editor of a weekly magazine of small cir- 
culation, went on to talk about feudalism and the fact that 
between 40 and 50 per cent of his compatriots in Peru live 
outside the monetary economy. To put over his ideas he 
does not speak officially as a Communist, since the party 
has been outlawed in Peru since 1933. Instead he belongs to 
what is known as the Frente de Liberation National, a loose 
alliance of extreme left-wingers, which he defines as "the 
new army of emancipation for Peru." I pointed out that in 
a country such as Chile the Communists talked, and seemed 
to mean it, of changes within the framework of elections. 
Carnero had a ready answer: "In Chile the Communist Party 
will be able to achieve a victory through democratic means, 
and once it has reached power it will start reforms. The 
Communist Party in Chile is legal, and so there is no reason 
why it shouldn't try democratic process. But here in Peru 
we have an oligarchy completely impervious to any sugges- 
tion of change, an oligarchy which takes measures against 
anyone who has ideas of change. Our only hope is physical 
and violent revolution." 

Carnero was obviously unperturbed by my comparison of 
Chilean and Peruvian Communist tactics. In Venezuela, 
however, I encountered marked objection to any attempt 
to lump together, deliberately or unconsciously, the Vene- 

233 



zuelan Communist Party with counterparts in other Latin- 
American countries, some of which are inspired by Moscow 
thinking, others by Peking's philosophy. "The Communist 
Party of Venezuela/' declared Gustavo Machado with some 
vehemence, "is completely guided here. Naturally we study 
other experiences, but only we in Caracas make the deci- 
sions. Our problem is to relate Marxism to everyday condi- 
tions as they exist here." He declined even to discuss the 
Chilean situation. 

Machado, the leader of Venezuela's Communist Party, is 
a big, hearty man of sixty-four, whose straight, silver-gray 
hair adds to a look of distinction. His case history is inter- 
esting and not only because of his obvious breeding, high 
culture, and good taste in clothes. (Few of the leading Com- 
munists I met in Latin America would fit the old caricature 
of unshaven and uncouth bomb- throwers.) Machado's story 
is noteworthy because he is, in his own words, "a black 
sheep," the scion of one of Venezuela's oldest and wealthiest 
families, with assets accumulated from industry and land. 
It is related that Machado, when asked once how much 
money he himself had, admitted to seven million bolivares. 
"Right," said the questioner, "if you're a Communist you 
must share your wealth." Machado agreed, pointed out that 
the population of Venezuela was seven million, and handed 
the questioner his share, one bolivar. 

In more serious vein, Machado told me he rebelled against 
a conservative background when he "decided that social 
changes were necessary." One of his brothers, Eduardo, 
joined him, and together they were banished by the govern- 
ment in 1925. They moved to Cuba, helped to organize the 
Communist Party there, and fought a namesake, Gerardo 
Machado, the Cuban dictator. On and off, Gustavo spent 
thirty-one years in exile, mostly in Mexico, with some time 
in Paris. On two returns to Caracas, in 1936 and 1942, he 
was jailed. He came back in 1958, after the downfall of 

234 



Perez Jimenez, to run in the election campaign later that 
year. Gustavo and brother Eduardo were among seven Com- 
munist deputies elected to Congress. 

The Venezuelan Communists are considered to have ex- 
cellent leadership under Machado. When I saw him, in the 
members' smoking room at the legislative buildings, he was 
concerned about his immediate future, and for practical 
reasons. Several prominent Communists had just been ar- 
rested (the main ones untouched were those with parlia- 
mentary immunity) and there was considerable talk that 
the government was about to declare the Communist Party 
illegal, part of the measures to curb violence cropping up 
with greater frequency throughout the country. Machado 
denied that his party had started trouble. "Violence is the 
order of the day/ 7 he said. "The government accuses us of 
committing it, we accuse the government. There have been 
killings on both sides." The future? Machado, who made a 
point of mentioning that his party had gone along with the 
declarations of the 22d Congress of the Communist Party in 
Moscow in 1961, calling for Khrushchev's "soft" approach 
to revolution, said: "There will be legal or revolutionary 
changes. When all legal roads are closed, then we will resort 
to full violence." 

The legal possibility of communism in Venezuela was not 
far-fetched. In 1958 the Communists despite a party mem- 
bership of scarcely 30,000 polled 160,000 votes, 70,000 of 
them in working-class districts of Caracas. They came second 
only to the socialists in the city vote and got more urban 
support than Action Democrdtica, Betancourt's party, which 
counts its principal appeal in rural areas. The Communists, 
along with other left-wing groups, including breakaways from 
Action Democrdtica and the socialists, were forming a "na- 
tional front" that could be of considerable strength in the 
coming 1963 elections. But now the forecast, if Machado's 
implicit warning holds true, is one of greater violence ; for, 

235 



on May 10, 1962, the government issued a decree outlaw- 
ing the Communists. The Machado brothers continued to 
sit in Congress, since they had been legally elected, but at 
the end of their terms any parliamentary immunity or 
political rights would expire. 

The account of communism's legality returns, therefore, 
to Chile, where, in any event, the movement has had the 
longest and now the most significant success in Latin Amer- 
ica, short of Cuba. Chilean Communists are in active coali- 
tion with the Socialist Party, whose leader, Senator Salvador 
AUende lost the last presidential election, in 1958, by 
scarcely 2 per cent of the votes. A third political group, the 
National Democrats, complete the coalition that goes by the 
initials FRAP (Frente Action Popular) . According to trends 
at this writing, there is a better than even chance that 
AUende will be the next President of Chile in 1964. The 
Communists would then have a major say in the affairs of 
one of the continent's most highly developed and influential 
nations. 

Prominently displayed in the vestibule of Allende's office 
in Congress is a poster of Fidel Castro. The poster, issued in 
Havana during the abortive invasion of 1961, is addressed 
to "pueblos de America y del Mundo" and calls on all Latin 
Americans to resist "the aggressors." AUende is an open and 
frank admirer of Castro, and has been four times to Cuba. 
He started out, however, as a physician and not a politician. 
The son of a wealthy senator and the grandson of Chile's 
highest-ranking Freemason (33d degree), AUende attained 
a good reputation as a practicing doctor, and then, at the 
age of twenty-seven, decided to run in congressional elec- 
tions. He was elected a deputy, and from that moment on 
his interest in medicine was in the public field. Appointed 
minister of health, he put through at least on paper a 
comprehensive national health service. By the time he was 
thirty-five, and chosen for the senate, Allende had achieved 

236 



wide fame as the author of some two hundred articles and 
books on Chile's deep and growing social problems. 

Now, at the age of fifty-four, he is the champion of the 
landless poor, and even in isolated villages I found his pic- 
ture hanging from the mud walls of peasant huts. Allende 
is a dedicated socialist, sincerely so, and not merely person- 
ally ambitious. His program calls not only for agrarian 
reform but for state ownership of all public utilities and 
resources, including copper mines owned by United States 
companies. He defines it as "escape from foreign capitalist 
imperialism/ 3 and he talks convincingly of his chances of 
achieving a radical and bloodless social revolution. With 
each day of added despair among the masses, hardly alle- 
viated by the conservative government of President Jorge 
Allesandri, Allende' s bid for his country's leadership grows 
firmer. "Chile, from the political point of view, is the only 
country in the world where the popular forces are united, 
to include Marxists and non-Marxists (National Demo- 
crats)," Allende said. "This fact is important, because it 
indicates a political maturity in the country. The process of 
getting together is now seven years old. FRAP's program 
is not the result of a committee decision but of a national 
convention, attended by all the parties of FRAP as well as 
by such public agencies as trade unions." 

I asked the obvious question: Looking at the history of 
"Popular Fronts" in Europe, wasn't Allende afraid of the 
Communists simply taking over? He shook his head and 
said: "The Communists are a serious and responsible party 
and they wouldn't dare create dissension that could lead to 
civil war. Their aim, like ours, is to reform society step by 
step." But I thought I detected hesitation in this remark; 
and it was confirmed later by some of Allende's close con- 
fidantes, who said that of course he knew his history and 
was nervous of the alliance with Communists; but what was 
the alternative? 

237 



If we in North America recognize in communism a griev- 
ous challenge to individuality or liberty, Chileans see it as 
an aid to attainment of the material essentials taken for 
granted in North America. They cite just one or two facts 
to make a point: every fourth child dies in infancy; a half 
million dwelling units are needed immediately to provide 
minimal housing facilities. They argue that if they use com- 
munism, or at least some of its forms, they can later abandon 
it when a reasonable level of material welfare has been 
reached. We may look upon this as misguided optimism, but 
we fail to take into account the real desperation of Chileans. 
Ironically, many of the socialists are more demonstrative 
than the Communists themselves and call for general strikes 
and even violent overthrow of the present government. The 
Communists, on the other hand, appear supremely confident 
of reaching their goals quite by legal process. 

FRAP is joined in many key congressional issues by the 
Christian Democratic Party, the third highest vote-getter in 
1958. The Christian Democrats are anti-Communists who 
blend Christian morality and liberalism but are not, curi- 
ously enough, swayed by the emphasis of their European 
forerunners. At a recent world congress of Christian Demo- 
cratic Parties in Santiago, European delegates were mainly 
concerned with communism and its advances. But Vene- 
zuelan, Peruvian, and Chilean Christian Democrats said 
that communism was not the main problem; instead, the 
problems were poverty, social justice, and economic develop- 
ment. Between FRAP and the Christian Democrats lie 47 
per cent of Chile's votes, based on the last election; they 
are likely to do even better in the next round. 

But what about the fundamental question, the fear of 
Communist power in any coalition? Socialists, National 
Democrats, and Christian Democrats with whom I spoke 
said they were frankly terrified that through internal ma- 
neuverings the Communists might indeed run Chile's govern- 

238 



merit. But, like the bank clerks of Brazil, they said it was 
a gamble they must take in order to change conditions. 

What is the best way to offset the rise in appeal of com- 
munism or Fidelismo in Latin America? A group of busi- 
nessmen and industrialists in Bogota believe they have the 
answer. They have formed "The Society for Social and 
Economic Development of Colombia." It is, however, more 
commonly tagged by the public as mano negra "black 
hand." Intellectuals and foreign diplomats speak of it and 
its organizers with scorn and impatience; for, as the name 
implies, mano negra is thoroughly negative in its approach. 
It conducts smear campaigns by identifying any would-be 
reformer as a "Communist." It petitions its members to 
withhold advertising from any newspaper that condemns its 
methods. When such tactics fail, as they did in the case of 
La Semana, the group fall back on their economic reserves. 
La Semana was a progressive political weekly, one of the 
best in Latin America, continually calling for sensible re- 
forms and drawing attention to the frightening and short- 
sighted attitude of mano negra. Then mano negra men 
quietly bought up a controlling number of shares and con- 
verted La Semana into a fatuous, shrilly reactionary pub- 
lication. 

"I think it is true to say," commented a discouraged diplo- 
mat, "that in countries with a strong, well-developed demo- 
cratic left it is more difficult for the Communists to make 
headway. Such a force is at present lacking in Colombia. The 
Colombian ruling classes have yet to realize the unpleasant 
fact that only by offering policies designed to steal the Com- 
munists' thunder can they avoid in the long run a Castro- 
oriented government. The methods adopted by mano negra 
will merely serve to intensify the explosion when it comes." 

Colombia's mano negra has its equivalents, in one form 
or another, in every Latin-American country. In Brazil, a 

239 



self-styled "citizens' committee" took to painting in tar a 
slogan on the exterior walls of Rio de Janeiro houses and 
office buildings: "Keep the city clean by killing one Com- 
munist daily/' Fortunately, this ugly and foolish kind of 
technique did not go unchallenged. The thoughtful Jornal 
do Brasil, in an editorial on the tarpainting, said: 

It sounds brutal, but it is tragic because it reveals the 
desperate and absurd impotence of those who try to combat 
an ideology without knowing how to do it. Communism gives 
sleepless nights to many leading people in Brazil who are 
paralyzed by fear of it, as birds are fascinated by a snake. 
They consequently leave the door open to professional anti- 
Communists who propose to save Brazil on the basis of sus- 
picion. These anti-Communists lose all restraint and make 
hysterical appeals. ... In their propaganda they paint Com- 
munists as a minority of supermen responsible for all strikes, 
capable of organizing all plots and of infiltrating all sectors 
of military and civilian administration. Through attributing 
to the Communists the leadership in all moves for higher 
wages or social improvements these anti- Communists insinu- 
ate to the masses of the people that only the Communists 
defend their rights and interests. These anti-Communists 

render inestimable service to the Communists The task 

is not to preach anti-communism but to establish true de- 
mocracy. Anti-communism is negative and empty. ... It is 
essential to recall what a Brazilian leader said recently: "No 
regime survives starvation." . . . The Communist specter will 
fade if our problems are approached efficiently. 

I found some of the anti-Communist perplexity to which 
Jornal do Brasil alluded in a man named Ivan Hasslocher, 
a Rio advertising-agency owner. Hasslocher, in his early 
forties, is an intense, sensitive, and articulate patriot. In his 
spare time he publishes a monthly magazine, Acdo Demo- 
cratica, on behalf of a group of upper- and middle-income 
people who feel the way he does: that unless some major 

240 



reforms are instituted, Brazil will follow Fidelismo. It is 
difficult to place Hasslocher in a political category. He calls 
himself a "democrat," but so even do Brazilians of the ex- 
treme right. The simplest definition might be: anti-Com- 
munist reformer. 

The only trouble is that Hasslocher sees a Communist 
behind every pillar and typewriter. Anyone, in fact, who 
thinks vaguely of socialism or advancement that runs coun- 
ter to his philosophy, is "a Red." For instance, in his words, 
"a coalition between Reds and rightists has prevented agrar- 
ian reform up to now." How is that? "Blocking by the 
extreme right is obvious, since the rich, especially absentee 
landlords, would suffer from any land redistribution." But 
the Communists? "Every time an agrarian reform bill is 
introduced in Congress the Reds, through the press, say it 
is inadequate. Naturally they want to prevent advances 
since they thrive on poverty conditions." But how can this 
accusation against the press make sense when almost all the 
big papers are owned by members of the aristocracy or 
wealthy political parties? "There are fourteen dailies in Rio 
and at least nine are Red-dominated, because 70 per cent 
of the reporters and editors are of the left. The publishers 
are their unsuspecting puppets." According to Hasslocher's 
rule book, the editor who wrote Jornal do BrasiVs editorial 
was a "Red." 

In the final analysis, of course, talk of who is a Red and 
who is not a Red has no meaning. The only rebuttal to 
communism's promise is practical action. A thousand organ- 
izations of the breed of memo negro, can fire ten thousand 
slogans and reach nowhere near the required target: the 
hungry and despondent campesino or slum dweller. There 
are, however, a few individuals who have shown enlighten- 
ment, awareness, and courage, at personal financial loss. 
Jorge Lavadero, for example, belongs, by his own interpreta- 
tion, to "one of the two hundred and forty families who 

241 



control 48 per cent of Chile's wealth." His father is a right- 
wing senator; but Jorge, at the age of thirty-two, is leader 
of the National Democratic Party, the non-Marxist but 
reformist group in the FRAP coalition. The elder Lavadero 
owns 15,000 acres of rich farmland; while, according to 
Jorge, his father agrees that agrarian reform is essential, he 
has done nothing about it. Jorge, in contrast, has distributed 
free his own land holdings among seven hundred inquilinos, 
farm laborers. His family virtually disowned him for his 
antioligarchy stand; in one bitter reprisal alone, he lost 
$50,000 when he was cut out from his grandmother's will. 
Jorge has no regrets. "Chile is like a river dammed up," he 
says. "We are ready to run smoothly if only given the 
chance." 

Jorge Lavadero may be considered unreasonably altruis- 
tic, making self-sacrifices he can hardly expect other ricos 
to emulate. He is, obviously, an unusual example. More 
balanced and hard-headed is another Chilean, Manuel 
Ibanez, a forty-year-old businessman and farm owner. 
Ibanez parlayed a relatively small inheritance into a big 
enterprise; he operates a chain of supermarkets in Santiago, 
a food-processing plant and a distribution agency for a sugar 
combine, and manufactures restaurant equipment under 
licence from a United States firm. Part of his inheritance 
was the family jundo, run down and unproductive when he 
took it over but now a thriving estate with seven hundred 
acres under cultivation. Ibanez approaches farming with the 
same modern and scientific acumen as he does his business 
interests. While Chile has to spend vast sums it can ill afford 
to import food, largely because much land lies fallow or is 
otherwise neglected by owners, Ibanez gets a high yield and 
even exports some of his produce; about 25 per cent of the 
crop from his sixty thousand peach trees goes to the United 
States as fresh fruit; the rest is packed in tins in his own 
cannery. 

242 



The day-to-day affairs of the fundo are left in the hands 
of a salaried manager, a graduate of an agricultural college, 
who runs it as efficiently as any similar property I have seen 
in North America. Ibanez is an absentee landlord. He lives 
in a large and expensive home in Santiago, belongs to coun- 
try clubs, and visits his fundo perhaps once every couple of 
weeks. But here the stereotype ends. Ibanez is content to 
earn 6 per cent on his investment, while other landowners 
cry that farming does not pay because they cannot net more 
than 24 per cent. More to the point, however, he is aware 
that peasants or inquilinos are restless and that influences 
from the outer world, particularly Cuba, are catching up 
with South America's social and economic inequalities. Even 
before there was talk of the need for land reform Ibanez 
began to do something about it. He gave his fundo workers 
a chance to buy a piece of land each, on extremely easy 
terms, and to build their own homes. His philosophy is 
simple: "The sense of possession of land, of a house is 
in all of us. A man is restless unless he is satisfied.' 7 At the 
same time he admits candidly that his motivation is not 
entirely unselfish; as a shrewd businessman he wants to 
hang on to as many of his profitable holdings as possible; 
he knows that without some sharing now he may lose every- 
thing later. "The Communists," he says, "have been active 
in the valley." 

The Ibanez fundo is located in the Aconcagua Valley, 
about one hundred kilometers northwest of Santiago. The 
approach, for scores of miles, is through bleak and hilly 
semiarid countryside but the valley itself is green and beau- 
tiful. A sharply inclined stone face of a mountain dominates 
the setting and gives the fundo its Indian name, Colunquen, 
"Place of the Precipice." Ibanez says he loves taking a break 
here (his wife and four children do not share the same 
feeling), and it is quite apparent that Ibanez, a short, hand- 
some, and friendly man, does enjoy, even for brief periods, 

243 



the traditional role of patron in its fine and benevolent old 
meaning. 

During the week end I accompanied him, however, there 
was a touch of sadness. Two weeks previously, while Ibanez 
was on a business trip to Buenos Aires, one of the farm 
hands was thrown by a horse and killed. Now, as we drove 
up to the fundo, Ibanez stopped to ask a group of inquilinos 
how they felt. "All right," said one, "mas o menos . . . more 
or less." There were no smiles that day, because people were 
still upset by the tragedy. Ibanez went around to make a 
condolence call on the widow. An attractive, sturdy woman, 
she was meanwhile being supported by her parents, who 
also work on the farm. Ibanez pointed out that undoubtedly 
she would be remarried within a year, but in any case there 
was a job waiting for her in the cannery. Then, to eliminate 
the inquilinos' superstition, he deliberately mounted the 
'Toiler" horse, left untouched in the fields these past two 
weeks, and rode among them for a few hours, inspecting the 
peach orchards and thousands of rows of asparagus plants. 
In the evening he settled back in the immense living room 
of his fundo home, the walls lined with oil portraits of 
ancestors, sipped a brandy, and reminisced. 

There was paternalism here without doubt, he said, 
though not nearly so marked as he remembered from his 
father's day, when the grand patron really dominated every- 
one. His father had known personally every worker on the 
estate, while he, Manuel, knew some of the hundred odd 
men and their families, but not all; today when they had 
personal problems they leaned on his manager, a rather 
aloof sort. Still, a few years ago, when he got to thinking 
about what was wrong with the system of peonage, Ibanez 
realized that in his city companies he offered shares to older 
employees, to give them a sense of participation and security 
in retirement. Why not try the same principle on the jundol 
And so he hit upon the idea of buying an adjacent piece 

244 



of land, which he divided into lots of three or four hectares 
each; these he offered to his inguilinos at cost and with no 
interest charges, to be paid for gradually out of their average 
earnings of a dollar a day. They could farm their own land 
while they still worked for the fundo. 

Ibanez admits to two reasons for the scheme: first, to 
keep his men tantalizingly indebted so they would not desert 
the countryside in quest of higher wages in the city, and 
second to give them a measure of independence and security 
from want in old age. And he reiterated his belief: "I think 
there is no greater thrill than the possession of land. I first 
felt it when the fundo became mine to operate. I know how 
the others here must feel." 

Vestigial signs of paternalism are still evident on the 
Ibanez fundo : a mess hall and free lunch for field workers 
(chowder and a plate of beans) provided by the Ibanez 
family; a school room provided by the Ibanez family; adobe 
huts provided by the Ibanez family. These facilities dated 
back generations, and so did the inquilinos who previously 
had felt in bondage to the Ibanez family. But now I 
detected in them contentment because, unlike peasants on 
neighboring fundos, they had for the first time an oppor- 
tunity to shape their own lives. Miguel Valdez' father, 
for example, toiled for the Ibanez family and seldom saw 
more than a few cents a day. But now Miguel himself owns 
eight acres of land; he grows a bit of wheat and maize, 
some grapes, and can afford to keep a hired hand while con- 
tinuing on the fundo; I watched as Miguel and his "em- 
ployee" piled up mud bricks to build a proper house in 
replacement of the old adobe. About one quarter of the 
men so far have been able to take advantage of the Ibanez 
financial arrangement and can look forward to decent re- 
tirement. As small landowners they have also been trans- 
formed into capitalists. Miguel says he once heard some men, 
who had arrived in the valley from Santiago, promise land 

245 



to everyone. He recalls saying, rather wisely, to a friend: 
"They promise land, but where are they going to get it? 
The owners won't give it up." Still, he confesses, the appeal 
to listen to the men was great. Now Miguel owns a radio in 
addition to land, listens to broadcasts, and says: "Fidel 
Castro is a crazy man." 

How many Latin-American ricos are there like Manuel 
Ibanez, sensitive to current moods and willing to think and 
act in constructive ways? In every major city I visited 
I made an effort to ask this question, with appalling results. 
North Americans, confronted with a similar question about 
local "enlightened capitalists," would have difficulty select- 
ing arbitrarily a few names from the multitude that flash 
immediately to mind. In Latin America the few are the 
exceptions, so rare that often I left an area without hearing 
of a really positive case of a landowner or industrialist who 
would fit the Ibanez category. In Caracas several Vene- 
zuelans independently singled out for me Eugenio Mendoza; 
his was the name that kept recurring; others never arose. 

Mendoza, fifty-six and distinguished-looking, runs an 
industrial network that includes three cement plants, three 
quarries, a lumber mill, and a paper converter mill. He 
stands out among his fellows because his sense of social 
responsibility can be traced back long before there was any 
portent of Fidelismo. Since 1926 he has paid his employees 
good wages, and, more tellingly, bonuses based on profits. 
"In Venezuela," he says, "we have been working hard to 
develop industries that provide jobs for the people, but we 
have neglected the social side, the human side. In the same 
way that we give dividends to shareholders we should give 
what I like to call 'spontaneous dividends 7 in some amount 
that can make employees realize that the capitalist system 
is good, that enterprises belong not only to the people who 
own them but to the people who work in them." In 1961 

246 



Mendoza distributed among his 5,000 employees dividends 
totaling $5 million, or an average of $1,000 each. 

There are other generous features. An autonomous social 
service department, composed of thirty social workers and 
psychologists, is available to any Mendoza man or woman 
with marital, home, or health problems; free medical serv- 
ices are provided for all; for the last fifteen years a nonprofit 
subsidiary has been building houses for employees, who can 
get financing through a cooperative bank. Aside from the 
employer-employee relations, tremendously impressive by 
Latin-American standards, Mendoza's work as a public 
benefactor is unusual and notable. He devotes one third of 
his working hours to commerce, the remainder of the time to 
the three foundations he has established. One, a polio foun- 
dation, organized in 1940 and the only one of its kind in 
South America, cares for 3,000 children a year, partly in its 
own 175-bed city hospital and country convalescent home; 
it operates on an annual budget of $1,200,000. Last year 
Mendoza raised $300,000 in a public campaign ; the rest of 
the bill he paid himself. 

Another Mendoza foundation, with capitalization of close 
to $3 million, offers day nurseries for Caracas working 
mothers, playgrounds in collaboration with the Y.M.C.A., 
and free text books for school children. The most recent 
foundation, set up with $5 million of Mendoza's money, 
is the Fundacion de la Vivienda Popular, a building society 
that delivers low-priced homes at cost, for a down payment 
of 20 per cent. The first batch of three hundred homes was 
constructed in Valencia in 1961; the next year 1,500 were 
built. Now Mendoza has a pilot scheme to turn out pre- 
fabricated houses, at $1,000 each, to replace the rancho 
hovels in which 400,000 of the people of Caracas live in sub- 
human conditions. "The government," Mendoza said, "is 
attempting to provide some new homes, but in view of the 

247 



magnitude of the problem it cannot be solved by govern- 
ment action alone. I consider this as part of my duty." 

But has Mendoza made any headway in putting over his 
ideas among members of the oligarchy? "I have tried to tell 
business friends that they must be logical, that they must 
understand the social needs of the community/' he said. 
"Some react well, but most are indifferent." In any public 
demonstrations, Venezuelan Communists usually throw 
bricks through the plate glass windows of the handsome 
downtown building in which Mendoza's foundations are 
grouped. The excuse is that Mendoza is a capitalist, but 
obviously it is his kind of benefaction that is the most 
dangerous to them. I asked Mendoza: "Is there time?" 
Wearily he said, "There is time only if we work fast." When 
I drew a comparison between him, as a rarity, and North 
American industrialists as a galaxy, Mendoza said: "In the 
United States and Canada democracy is a success because 
people understand the meaning of public duty and respon- 
sibility, and, moreover, they are willing to work at it. In 
Latin America everyone criticizes the government because 
the government is expected to do everything, without any- 
one else doing his share." 

The point, of course, can be turned. Since there are not 
enough individuals of the caliber of Mendoza and Ibanez, 
then the salvation or, stated more bluntly, the prevention 
of communism must rest with governments. But here the 
record, too, is depressing. In one of Latin America's most 
vulnerable areas, the Northeast of Brazil, a government- 
appointed economist-reformer, Celso Furtado, has been 
attempting, with great frustration, to translate the construc- 
tive examples of the Ibanez jundo and the Mendoza indus- 
tries on a massive scale. His battle is against the government 
itself, insincere politicians, and blindly greedy landowners. 
Furtado is one of the most inspiring and exciting men I have 
ever met, a dedicated yet shrewd idealist who stands out 

248 



in contrast to those Latin Americans who say cynically that 
nothing can change or, worse, who do nothing to bring about 
change. At the age of forty-two he is in charge of a crucial 
program to revitalize the Northeast and give hope to 25 
million people. In a way, it is a pathetically sized army he 
has: 260 Brazilian experts, a score of United Nations per- 
sonnel, and even fewer Americans, to help all these people. 
But it is, at least, a beginning. Furtado says at times that 
he is hopeful; at other times he confesses a fear that he is 
too late. 

What makes Furtado so outstanding is that he is a fighter; 
he has outmaneuvered the politicians who thought of him 
only as "a theoretician" and thus a safe man in the job 
because he would be unable to upset the established routine 
of graft and corruption. Brazil's Northeast is in the main 
arid, marked by huge expanses of erosion and blight. Its 
depressed people often resort to cactus for food or plant 
seeds in a river bed that has dried up; they pray for just 
enough rain to water the crops but not so much that it will 
fill the river bed and destroy the crops. For more than fifty 
years the various state and federal governments had gone 
through motions of pretending to solve the key problems, 
by starting irrigation schemes or building roads to move 
peasants from the merciless interior to the more fertile 
coastal regions. Though dams and reservoirs were built, most 
of them were useless since they were not part of any co- 
ordinated program but were designed rather for local patron- 
age reasons. In a territory bigger than Texas, California, 
Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona combined, the web of 
hard-surface roads covered fewer than two thousand miles ; 
many of the roads began at remote villages and ended 
blankly in the desert, while politicians filled their pockets 
with the proceeds from contracts. More charitably, Furtado 
expressed it to me this way: " After a half century what we 

249 



had was a drought industry people living on schemes de- 
signed to get other people to live." 

In 1958 a tremendous drought, bringing with it widespread 
starvation and death, aroused the conscience of Brazil. This 
was just about the period, too, when revolutionary Francisco 
Juliao was beginning to make an impact through the Peas- 
ant Leagues. In any case, federal relief amounted to 14 
million cruzeiros; of this sum, according to Furtado, about 
65 per cent went into the bank accounts of corrupt politi- 
cians and local officials. President Juscelino Kubitschek was 
too busy trying to industrialize the southern part of the 
nation and to build his glorified capital, Brasilia, to pay 
much attention to the Northeast. But public pressure at 
least compelled him to invite a few economists to examine 
the problems there. A report by Furtado was accepted as 
the basis for the establishment of a government agency, 
known as Sudene, to undertake fundamental economic re- 
form and development of the Northeast. 

Furtado had splendid qualifications to become Sudene's 
director. He was born on a ranch in Paraiba, one of the 
Northeast's semiarid states. He studied economics in Brazil- 
ian universities and at Cambridge, took his Ph.D. at the 
Sorbonne in Paris, and served as an infantry lieutenant with 
Brazilian forces in Italy during World War II ("the army 
was a good experience; it taught me that if you want to 
get things done you must work like a machine that cannot 
wait"). For nine years he was with the United Nations 
Economic Committee for Latin America as head of the 
development division. Stationed in Santiago, he traveled 
extensively through Latin America and reported on condi- 
tions in textbooks that have become standard university 
references. His dedication and honesty were unquestioned. 

One of the prime conditions Furtado laid down when he 
took on his new post was that Sudene would be the sole 
arbiter of how and where government funds should be spent; 

250 



no politician would be in a position to grant contracts. Since 
Furtado was looked upon as an ivory-tower type anyway, 
and harmless. Congress passed the Sudene bill and even 
agreed that the agency should receive 2 per cent of the 
national budget for its work of rehabilitation : not an extrav- 
agant proportion when one remembers that one third of 
all Brazilians live in the Northeast. Furtado was satisfied. 
The only small flaw was that Congress, having gone through 
the grandstand gestures, typically failed to deliver the 
money. In effect, Furtado was bankrupt before he was even 
in business. Or so the politicians thought. 

What they did not anticipate was Furtado's resourceful- 
ness. Furtado has friends at the Brazilian Development 
Bank, another official agency. On the strength of Congress' 
promise of money, he borrowed enough to organize a staff 
and set up headquarters in Recife, the Northeast's center, 
pledging to repay when Congress would come through with 
the 2 per cent. What it meant, of course, was that the gov- 
ernment owed the government. Sudene (it stands for Super- 
intendency for the Economic Development of the North- 
east) was formally established in January, 1960. In April, 
1962, two years and three months later, Furtado was finally 
able to announce that Sudene had received its first instal- 
ment from the national treasury, the equivalent of $9.5 
million, and could now start letting contracts for electric 
power plants and other key projects. The government also 
promised to make regular monthly deposits to the agency's 
financing fund. 

The belated action did not denote a sudden change in 
political hearts. It resulted from two sharp points of pres- 
sure: one the growing unrest of peasants, the other the 
growing impatience of Washington. If Brazil expected to be 
eligible for grants under the Alliance for Progress, it would 
have to show a little faith itself. Once domestic funds began 
to appear in Sudene, the United States pitched in with $181 

251 



million specifically designated for housing, education, and 
sanitation in the Northeast. Together with other Alliance 
allocations and credits from the Inter-American Develop- 
ment Bank, Furtado could now count on close to $300 
million for his program over the next five years. 

There is nothing radical about Furtado's intended re- 
forms, but the battle is far from won. His strategy calls for 
two parallel and orthodox principles: the establishment of 
diversified industry and the creation of a vibrant agriculture. 
Between these twin pillars he hopes to see the Northeast 
rise as a reasonably self-sufficient economic unit. Even be- 
fore the existence of Sudene, the area had the nucleus of 
industry: some textile mills, a couple of cement plants, and 
a few chemical factories. In planning new industries, Fur- 
tado got the government to offer attractive credit terms, 
tax reductions, and other incentives. By mid-1962 forty- 
two fresh enterprises were in operation. They gave work to 
30,000 men, a minuscule number in an unemployed body of 
millions. But at any rate it was a start. 

A start but a terribly slow one has also been made in 
agriculture. Furtado does not believe in grabbing land and 
merely distributing it. His first aim is to move indigent 
peasants from the arid zones, where they can do little more 
than grow cotton or raise a few head of cattle, to the humid 
coast with its sugar belt and potentially rich fields. What he 
offers the big plantation owners is scientific and free Sudene 
irrigation, which he guarantees would double their present 
sugar yields. The planters could then get by with half their 
present acreage, permitting Sudene to subdivide the liberated 
land among smallholders; simultaneously these peasants 
would be free to work when required on the big plantations, 
thus providing a stable labor force. Furtado J s thinking is not 
entirely academic. This is also his defense against the mush- 
rooming Peasant Leagues. "If we don't succeed/' he cautions, 
"the solution will be much more violent. " 

252 



Furtado has managed to convince a few planters of the 
wisdom of his words. However, the majority refuse to budge. 
They call him a "Communist" (despite the fact that in one 
of his books Furtado tears to shreds the Marxist theory of 
production, arguing it makes no sense economically) and say 
that, like Francisco Juliao, he is prejudiced against the sugar 
interests. Juliao has actually defended Furtado and offered 
to form a common front against the planters. Furtado con- 
siders Juliao a reformer of the extreme left, but "certainly 
not an international agent." However, any link with Juliao, in 
Furtado's mind, would really ruin chances for a rapproche- 
ment with landowners, and so he tells the revolutionary that 
as a civil servant he is not permitted an alliance. But Juliao's 
agitation helps ; Furtado continues to bandy his name among 
planters as a warning of what will happen if they refuse to 
cooperate with Sudene. 

Is there any danger, I asked Furtado, that the politicians 
and planters might try to get rid of him? To answer, Furtado 
reached for a sheaf of newspaper clippings, a few dozen 
just from that day's culling of the national press and all 
describing glowingly the work and possibilities of Sudene. 
"Public opinion," he said confidently, "would not permit the 
politicians to do anything drastic." But what did trouble 
him was the urgent matter of time. He was not even certain 
that massive United States dollar aid would be effective 
"without a little more idealism on our part." And since 
voluntary effort by landowners was almost nonexistent, the 
only hope was a firm agrarian reform law that would oblige 
planters to use land economically or forfeit it to the govern- 
ment. 

"The peasant is drawn toward Fidelismo because he be- 
lieves that society is an enemy," Furtado said. "Our job is 
to give the peasant a positive alternative to revolution." 
The question, again, is whether this can be done in time. 

253 



The "Little" Republics 



I^jnent thirty-three .years and four months in active service as a 
mei^erj^f-^iir^^^ the Marine 

Corps. Iservea m atf" commissioned ranks from a second lieutenant 

to major general I helped make Mexico and especially Tam- 

pico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti 
and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to col- 
lect revenues in I helped purify Nicaragua for ifee interna- 
tional banking house of Drown Brothers- in 1909-1912. I brought 
light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 
1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit com- 
panies in 1903 Looking back on it, I feel I might have given 

Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his 
racket in three city districts. We Marines operated in three con- 
tinents. 

IF THE ABOVE QUOTATION had been fabricated by a writer 
from Pravda it would be put down as typically distorted 
Russian propaganda. It was, however, written by Major 
General Smedley D. Butler of the U.S. Marine Corps. Butler 
fought in every Marine Corps campaign from the Spanish- 
American War to World War I, and was twice awarded the 
Congressional Medal of Honor for his part in the capture 

254 



of Vera Cruz, Mexico (1914) and of Fort Riviere, Haiti 
(1917). After his retirement in 1931, he expounded his views 
in an autobiography, War Is a Racket. His life story mir- 
rors, in a way, the history of United States policy in the 
Caribbean and Central America, and helps to explain, as 
Paul Johnson expresses it in Britain's New Statesman, "why 
Washington now faces the most serious crisis which has ever 
confronted a United States government in its own hemi- 
sphere." 

Specifically, it is the crisis of Cuba, but in broader terms 
it can also be called the crisis of neo-colonialism. Johnson, 
as a Briton, speaks with a sharp knowledge of his own 
country's record: "We have already learned, in the Middle 
East, that the most dangerous type of colonialism is neo- 
colonialism. Britain moved into Egypt in the 1880's on a 
strictly 'temporary' basis; we finally moved out early in 
1957 in an atmosphere of shame and anger which nearly 
precipitated a world war, and which still leaves a sediment 
of rancour on both sides." 

For the average United States citizen it is shocking, even 
ludicrous, to be told that his country and Cuba are trapped 
in the same kind of emotional equation as Britain and 
Egypt. How, an American asks indignantly, can British- 
style imperialism be used even as a remote basis of com- 
parison with United States ideals and intentions? After all, 
he asks further, did not the United States liberate Cuba 
from oppressive Spanish rule? And did not Cuba, with com- 
plete ingratitude, turn about years later and slap the United 
States in the face? 

The average United States citizen has just enough knowl- 
edge of the Caribbean to feel a vague sense of pride ; to him, 
Americans have always behaved as older brothers, nobly 
and unselfishly introducing the highest principles of democ- 
racy, honest administration, and fair play for everyone. But 
this knowledge is not necessarily complete, at least from 

255 



the point of view of people living in the Caribbean islands 
or the tiny republics of Central America. To many of these 
people, United States motives and actions have not been 
as altruistic or generous as they may appear at home. "Neo- 
colonialism" is a flexible phrase in terms of time. Nicara- 
guans accuse the United States of it to the present day; 
Dominicans softened their condemnation after the fall of 
Trujillo in 1961. But the main point is that a fear of it 
lingers in every part of the Caribbean. It is essential for 
Americans to understand this sensitivity, no matter how 
unpalatable the accusations may be. Without this under- 
standing, it will be impossible to grasp the mood of Cuba 
or to realize why all Central Americans and Caribbean 
islanders do not share the United States indignation over 
Cuban "ingratitude/' 

If one can forget for a moment that Cuba has turned com- 
munist a development that will be traced a couple of 
chapters from now the larger picture, sweeping into its 
neighboring states, will become more comprehensible. In 
1898, when President McKinley sent a message to Congress, 
leading to a declaration of war against Spain, the considera- 
tion was pure in the extreme. Since the 1870's, the Cubans 
had been in almost permanent revolt against the Spanish, 
but now the reprisals were so harsh that the American pub- 
lic demanded action. The volunteers who rushed into what 
was to become known as "The Splendid Little War" were 
motivated only by the desire to rescue Cubans from the cruel 
grasp of the Spaniards. No further imputation could be 
made; but as it turned out, the United States emerged with 
three valuable territories: the Philippines, Guam, and 
Puerto Rico. If the Americans regarded themselves as the 
liberators of Cuba, disclaiming any intention to exercise 
sovereignty over the island, the Cubans in turn were only 
calmly grateful. To them, the loss of American life was 
small in comparison with their own losses against the 

256 



Spaniards in the previous twenty years. Moreover, they 
argued, eventually they would have driven the Spaniards 
out anyway. In any event, the United States was abundantly 
rewarded with the acquisition of the new territories. 

This argument as unreasonable as it must seem to 
Americans is not exclusively a part of Castro propaganda, 
although it is heard constantly in Havana today. It also 
permeated Cuban writings after the turn of the century, for 
any hopes that Cubans would be appreciative of the Rough 
Riders were minimized by subsequent United States con- 
duct. Despite early United States recognition of Cuban 
independence, American troops remained in occupation 
until 1902. Under the Platt Amendment the United States 
reserved the right to intervene "for the preservation of 
Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government 
adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual 
liberty/ 3 It also kept the right to maintain military and 
naval bases, and to create an intricate trading structure fa- 
vorable to United States businessmen, who took over espe- 
cially the sugar estates. And so, a half century later, when 
Washington canceled the Cuban sugar quota, which the 
United States public had assumed was an example of Amer- 
ican benevolence, Cubans had another version; they re- 
garded sugar as an instrument of "Yankee imperialism" 
with which the United States gouged a greater profit than 
it left in Cuba. 

In the years, too, between 1902 and Fidel Castro, there 
were other events that had an impact on Cubans different 
from that on United States citizens. Invoking the Platt 
Amendment, Washington shipped troops back to Havana 
from 1906 to 1909, virtually running the country. To Amer- 
icans, this was humanitarianism; to many Cubans it was 
neo-colonialism. Doubts about United States nobility were 
heightened later when Washington sponsored one conserva- 
tive Cuban president after another, in a series of fraudulent 

257 



elections that brought in such men as the infamous Jose 
Miguel Gomez and the corrupt and tyrannical Gerardo 
Machado. The last appearance of U.S. Marines was in 1933, 
setting at least the way Cubans view it the scene for a 
takeover by a greedy dictator, Fulgencio Batista, Batista 
boasted of United States support and approval almost until 
the eve of Castro's arrival; he operated Cuba in profitable 
collaboration with United States sugar companies, banks, 
and utilities, in addition to gambling and vice syndicates. 

There may have been strategic and economic reasons for 
Washington to encourage "reliable" presidents in Cuba, but 
these reasons were evaluated from United States needs. The 
facts of intervention have another, distinctive interpretation 
in Latin-American minds. For instance, when President 
Theodore Roosevelt enunciated his famous corollary to the 
Monroe Doctrine ("in the Western Hemisphere . . . the 
Monroe Doctrine may force the United States ... to the 
exercise of an international police power 77 ) it was hardly 
appreciated by the people of Colombia. Panama's revolt 
against Colombia was clearly promoted by Roosevelt so the 
United States could step in and ensure American sovereignty 
over the militarily important Canal Zone; and so, to Colom- 
bians, Roosevelt's "big stick" policy was selfish and unjust. 
One step led inevitably to the next. In 1913, the United 
States Secretary of State, Philander C. Knox, stated: "Our 
tremendous national interest created by the Panama Canal 
makes the safety, the peace of Central America and the 
Caribbean of paramount interest to the government of the 
United States"; therefore, the United States must "apply 
a remedy in these regions where the malady of revolution 
and financial collapse is most acute." 

By the time of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as presi- 
dent, the United States had reduced four Caribbean and 
Central American republics to the status of quasi protec- 
torates (Cuba, Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Nic- 

258 



aragua). Curiously enough, Wilson, the opponent of im- 
perialism as practiced by other powers, added Haiti to the 
list; and under his Administration, United States procon- 
suls ran the biggest empire in American history. Wilson's 
sincere desire was to ensure democracies in these areas, and 
also to protect the United States from the danger of any 
foreign military incursions. But Latin Americans could think 
only that Washington intended to create a hemispheric pro- 
tectorate to suit United States interests, mainly business 
ones. 

In his radically new "good neighbor" stand, Franklin D. 
Roosevelt abrogated many of the policies of his predecessors, 
and established, at least in theory, the principle of non- 
intervention in the Americas. But in practice, intervention 
took on other, more subtle forms, and left in the region a 
strong distaste for the United States for having installed 
unpopular and ruthless governments. It left also a grave 
suspicion of any current programs, such as the Alliance for 
Progress, which may be honorable, well-intentioned, and 
selfless. Contemporary Latin American moods, therefore, 
can only be interpreted in the perspective of history. If the 
United States citizen feels disturbed and dismayed because 
Latin Americans do not always seem to respond to an Amer- 
ican hand with complete enthusiasm, the following reports 
may help explain the reasons. 

"Oxm BOYS" THE SOMOZAS 

In Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, I sat one evening 
at a sidewalk cafe with a local newspaperman who pointed 
to the fine-looking building across the road where a neon 
sign proclaimed: General Hospital. "Do you wonder why 
there are no lights inside?" he asked. I had been struck by 
something strange about the appearance of the hospital, 
and now that my companion mentioned it, it was obvious 

259 



that, aside from the bright red neon letters, the building was 
in darkness. Were the windows deliberately shaded, or was 
the glass treated in a special way for the comfort of the 
patients? The Nicaraguan laughed at what turned out to 
be a naive question. 

"It is nothing so scientific or noble as comfort for the 
patients/ 5 he said. "The building has stood there, much as 
you see it, with its name illuminated, for the last six years. 
There is an administrator, and a staff of doctors, all drawing 
salaries but there are no patients. We paid a special wel- 
fare tax for the hospital's construction, but somehow the 
contractors and 'advisers' can never quite finish it. The hos- 
pital is really a showpiece and an annuity for some of 
Somoza's medical friends and a continual source of direct 
income to him through more taxes. Only the other day it 
was decided that before the hospital could be opened, a new 
wing would have to be added. Four thousand bricks were 
delivered, but the next morning they were gone. As far as 
we were able to make out, the bricks were transferred to the 
site of a home for one of Somoza's lieutenants." 

This was an odd bit of manipulation, since Somoza had 
a monopoly on all the brick-producing plants in Nicaragua, 
as well as other structural material companies. The bricks 
could simply have been dropped directly at the lieutenant's 
lot and saved the wear and cost of transportation. However, 
this probably did not matter too much, since Somoza owned 
the principal trucking firms. Besides, it was much better, 
from a propaganda point of view, to make delivery first at 
the hospital, so people could see where their tax money 
was going not that many Nicaraguans would be deceived 
by the blatant maneuver. In a continent of cynicism, Nica- 
ragua is outstanding for its brand of thievery, corruption, 
and extortion. 

I had my first taste of this only that morning at the 
shabby airport, where, in order to get by the four men in 

260 



passport control, I had to fill out six forms and pay $1.50. 
When I protested that I had already paid $5 for a visa to 
the Nicaraguan consul in San Jose, one of the immigration 
officers shrugged his shoulders and said he did not know 
what the additional charge was for, but it was a fresh regula- 
tion. As it developed, a new airport chief had just been ap- 
pointed, and this was his personal take, which, no doubt, 
he would share with Somoza. An American businessman, 
standing next to me, paid $50 for a permit to bring in the 
slender sample case which he carried under his arm. He 
glanced at me and said with a weary smile: "You'll get 
used to it. This is old stuff. I make the trip three times a 
year. Fifty dollars to get my samples in, fifty dollars to get 
them out." 

Driving into town, I commented to the taxi driver about 
the high fare he was charging. The taxi driver angrily shot 
back : "This is not my money. It is Somoza's money. Somoza, 
mucho malo, bandido" Then, with a flourish of one hand, 
he said, "How much do you pay for a tire for your car? 
Ten dollars, fifteen dollars? Here we pay five hundred cor- 
dobas seventy dollars. All for Somoza, bandido" 

Who was Luis A. Somoza? Aside from the fact that, in 
1962, he was one of Latin America's few remaining dictators 
and owned, along with members of his family, one third of 
Nicaragua's best land and its major industries, and ruled 
through torture and execution, he was the embodiment of 
a United States policy that has led to the particularly viru- 
lent anti-Americanism of Central America. Within forty- 
eight hours of my stay I found myself making these notes : 

This is one of the most shocking places in Latin America 

and I curse the United States for letting it happen Fully 

half the people are either unemployed or underemployed, 
selling soft drinks at street corners, shining shoes for two cents, 
or just begging. Lord knows how they live, but they can get 
rice and beans reasonably cheaply. . . . Passed at noon the 

261 



International Club, where Somoza's brother Tachito, "The 
General/' was throwing a lunch. Troops everywhere, sur- 
rounding the club ; tough-looking men with submachine guns, 
armored cars at intersections. . . . U.S. Embassy estimates that 
96 per cent of the 1,500,000 Nicaraguans are "lower class/' 3 
per cent "middle class/' 1 per cent "upper class." . . . The 
shanties are grim, and I stopped outside one to talk with a 
man, sitting on a crate, holding a baby in his arms and rock- 
ing it gently. The baby, with eyes unblinking and just staring 
ahead, seemed abnormally still, almost lifeless. I asked the 
man, the father, if the child was sick. "Not sick," he said, 
"dying." He said it with Indian fatalism, and kept on rock- 
ing the baby. A half-dozen other children scampered in the 

dust, shoeless, without a sideward glance Had drinks 

with a Nicaraguan who was forced to cut the session short, 
to catch a plane to New York. It was a business trip, and he 
said he was annoyed because a friend, a Somoza cabinet min- 
ister, wants him to drag back from New York a pair of black 
Florsheim shoes. "I know his habits," he said as he was leav- 
ing. "He's already got five hundred pairs, and he'll wear the 
new ones just once, and they'll stay in the cupboard." . . . 
Told my driver to take me past Somoza's presidential palace, 
an immense, ornate place on a hilltop, adjacent to a slightly 
smaller palace occupied by Tachito. Surroundings are beau- 
tiful tropical gardens with a private zoo; sometimes, I've 
heard, Somoza throws his political prisoners into cages next 
to the animals so his children can look at them. . . . Told the 
driver to stop the car because I wanted to take some pictures. 
He refused, saying it was dangerous. The entire area, about 
half the city center, is considered a "military zone" and pho- 
tographs are not permitted. I did not press my request. With 
armed patrols everywhere, I did not relish the prospect of 
ending in a Nicaraguan jail, even though I would surely not 
be subjected to the beatings and electric shocks which are 
standard procedures here. . . . Bordering the palace grounds, 
and included in the "military zone," are the fine homes of 
army officers, with exclusive little parks for their children; 
built largely with United States military aid funds, the men 

262 



themselves trained in United States camps in Panama and 
the States It is part of the indictment of a terrible her- 
itage left by the U.S 

These notes, I must admit, were written at white heat, 
late at night, after I had spent several evening hours speak- 
ing with a group of Nicaraguans, numbering among them 
editors, intellectuals, and would-be reformers. My observa- 
tions, and their comments, added to a gloomy record of 
American intervention at its worst, tactics sufficient to en- 
flame any genuine patriot and leave bitterness in the heart. 
In looking at the jottings in less emotional moments I would 
amend them only to this point : the present Administration 
of President Kennedy has been attempting to make some 
constructive changes in its relations with the regime, to 
push reforms in the proper direction. But one fears again 
that it is too late, that Nicaragua inevitably will swing from 
one form of extremism to the other. Here is a brief modern 
history of Nicaragua, at least as critics of the United States 
and they include most of the non-Somoza elements, both 
liberal and conservative see it: 

Private United States business interests marched through 
Nicaragua as early as 1849, when Cornelius Vanderbilt se- 
cured a contract that gave his newly organized transport 
corporation Accessory Transit Company the right to 
transfer gold-hungry East Coast "49ers" across the isthmus 
on their way to California. Soon Vanderbilt was running 
Nicaragua, and its conservative political leaders, for the 
benefit of his company; though he was supposed to pay the 
state a share of the profits each year, he piously reported 
that there were none to divide. Soon, too, shipping rivals in 
New York were financing military expeditions by the famous 
American "land pirate," William Walker, to knock out Van- 
derbilt's lucrative concession. Walker, who had been unsuc- 
cessful in earlier careers in law, medicine, and journalism, 

263 



was by now a frustrated adventurer, having failed to estab- 
lish his own republic in Lower California. His reward for 
leading three hundred mercenaries into Nicaragua was to be 
glory, wealth, and land. 

Thus began what Central Americans still refer to, with 
distaste, as the "National War." Walker and his mercenaries 
quickly gained control of southern Nicaragua, but then 
found themselves opposed by an allied army recruited partly 
by Vanderbilt but largely by Costa Rica, Guatemala, El 
Salvador, and Honduras. It was a unique moment in Central 
American history, with so many states and factions for once 
united in purpose ; but the motive was a simple one, to drive 
a Yankee invader from their soil. Walker, wounded and 
isolated, eventually gave himself up to the British in Hon- 
duras and was executed by a Honduran firing squad in 1860. 
His exploits created great debate in the United States, some 
people applauding him for what they remotely took to be 
his efforts to keep the British confined to British Honduras, 
others condemning him for a violation of existing American 
neutrality laws. President James Buchanan said that North 
Americans had the mission to "civilize" Central America, 
but perhaps the government ought to restrain the sangui- 
nary Walker types. 

Over the next few decades more and more United States 
firms, among them the United Fruit Company, moved into 
the area. The United States government itself felt impelled 
to move whenever it considered the affairs of American com- 
panies and citizens in jeopardy. A new factor was added, 
contributing to intervention on a government level. Euro- 
pean as well as New York bankers were advancing loans to 
Central American governments, which, feckless and transi- 
tory, constantly threatened to default on their debts. This, 
in turn, aroused threats of invasion by the great European 
powers to collect the money by force. Washington began its 
operations of a military nature in what it considered a 

264 



defense of the Monroe Doctrine: to keep out the European 
powers. But in the process it left itself open to the accusa- 
tion of neo-colonialism and economic imperialism, an accu- 
sation that echoes as loudly today as it did a half century 



Nicaragua was an almost classic case. At the turn of the 
century it was under the rule of a strong man, Jose Santos 
Zelaya, who not only fell behind on his payments to Euro- 
pean bankers but spoke glibly of selling exclusive canal 
rights through Nicaragua to Japan or Britain. The United 
States had just decided on a canal through Panama, and, 
with a growing strategic interest in the isthmus, could not 
tolerate Zelaya's threats. Accordingly it embarked on what 
was to become a pattern for the area; it backed, with mate- 
rial support, the opponents of Zelaya, who was overthrown 
in 1908. There followed a succession of puppet rulers, main- 
tained in office by the grace of the United States, which 
ensured its control with the mobilization of Marines. For a 
short while the implied threat of a Marine invasion was 
enough to keep any political opponents in line. But in 1912, 
when a "dependable" Conservative president was in danger 
of being overthrown by "irresponsible" Liberals, the U.S. 
Marines landed. 

From that time on, except for a few months in 1925, the 
Marines were in occupation of Nicaragua until 1933. They 
ran customs collections, doling out revenues for interest pay- 
ments to American and foreign creditors, and supervised 
sham elections that invariably returned Conservatives as 
presidents. This blatant United States military government 
rule was more refined than it sounds. The Marines were 
stationed in Nicaragua as "legation guards." In turn, they 
trained a Nicaraguan guardia, constabulary, which would 
preserve safe and subservient regimes, in preparation for an 
eventual United States withdrawal. The Marine evacuation 

265 



of Nicaragua took place under mounting and loud charges 
of imperialism from all corners of Latin America. 

If Nicaragua had once been run as a private United States 
domain, it now became what Nicaraguans bitterly call la 
finca de Somoza: Somoza's personal estate. General Anas- 
tasio Somoza, a former shopkeeper and mechanic who had 
risen under Marine tutelage to become chief of the guardia, 
simply moved in as president in 1936, establishing, with the 
help of his troops, a family dynasty unusual even for Latin 
America: in effect, the first hereditary dictatorship of mod- 
ern times. When Somoza was assassinated in 1956 by a youth- 
ful and idealistic poet, the succession fell automatically, with 
the blessing of the guardia, to his two sons, Luis and Anas- 
tasio, Jr. In the meantime, Somoza, while amassing his own 
fortune by graft or simply by seizing the properties of polit- 
ical enemies after executing or banishing them, had pre- 
served United States ties and interests, had been entertained 
at the White House, had sent his younger son (who pre- 
ferred to be known as Tachito rather than Anastasio, Jr.) to 
West Point. On Tachito's graduation, his father presented 
him with a general's uniform and command of the guardia, 
which by now, with United States financing, was Nicaragua's 
full-fledged army. 

A similar build-up was going on across the Caribbean in 
Batista's Cuba, with hardly a demur from the American 
public or press. After all, Batista kept law and order, and 
was a "friend" of the United States because he permitted 
United States companies and investors to operate without 
hindrance. The tragic and myopic attitude toward Somoza's 
Nicaragua was fashionable even in the so-called "good 
neighbor" days of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Speaking of the 
dictator, Roosevelt once said: "He's an s.o.b., but he's 
our s.o.b." 1 A latter-day American, Ambassador Thomas 
Whelan, carried forward this philosophy with unfeigned 

1 Quoted by Lester Velie in Reader's Digest, January 1962. 

266 



enthusiasm for ten full years, from 1951 to 1961, referring 
affectionately to Somoza and later to his heirs as "my boys." 
Whelan, a political appointee, had no background in diplo- 
macy, no sensitivity, and, above all, no understanding of 
the ferments and needs of the Nicaraguan people. He was 
as much hated by Nicaraguans as the Somozas themselves. 
Whelan spent his social time with the clan, even to the ex- 
tent of attending military banquets (the only foreign envoy 
to do so), and neglected to meet or talk with opponents of 
the dictatorship. 

His successor, Aaron Brown, a career State Department 
man, was far more acceptable to the articulate public : that 
is, the professional people, the intellectuals, the small mer- 
chant class who have waited, with increasing fury and dis- 
may, twenty-six years for the end of the Somoza dynasty. 
Brown, a reticent, slow-speaking individual, at least got out 
into the countryside, saw for himself the deplorable condi- 
tions under which the peasants lived, talked with anti- 
Somoza elements, and had an understanding grasp of their 
problems and aspirations. But no amount of enlightenment 
at this stage could be expected to alter a resentment against 
the United States that began several generations ago and 
found fuel even in current United States practices. Nicara- 
guans who have been attacked, beaten, arrested, and tor- 
tured by the guardia and the victims include, for example, 
one third of all the lawyers are quick to point out that 
these Somoza goon squads were prepared by American mili- 
tary men. At least 3,500 of the 5,000-man guardia have spent 
training periods at Fort Gulick in the Panama Canal Zone ; 
others have been taken to the United States itself. 

It is hardly any wonder that bitterness against the United 
States is so ingrained that even if U.S. Marines have offi- 
cially pulled out, the memory of them and of the power 
the United States handed their successors still translates 
itself in small but ugly incidents. Shortly before my arrival, 

267 



a U.S. Marine attached to the Embassy (this Marine was 
legitimately a security guard, as Marines are in all U.S. 
embassies around the world) married a Nicaraguan girl. 
Two thousand students marched through the streets of 
Managua, shouting anti-American slogans and hurling 
stones at the church in which the ceremony was taking 
place. 

With some belated recognition of the situation, and an 
awareness that Fidelismo had a made-to-order set of griev- 
ances in Nicaragua, the United States, through Brown, last 
year finally began to exert pressure on the Somoza brothers 
to amend their ways. The Somozas were reminded that since 
1956 the United States had supplied them with $70 million 
in aid, and the Alliance for Progress now called for reforms. 
The Somozas eased up on press censorship not as dramatic 
a gesture as it might appear on the surface, since 65 per cent 
of Nicaraguans cannot read (but the brothers still prohibited 
radio broadcasts of a "subversive character," adverse criti- 
cism that could reach the ears of the public). Luis, the 
president, also promised an election for early in 1963. He 
even went so far, again with United States prodding, to 
decree that no Somoza could run for the office of president. 
"I am looking forward to giving up the presidency just as 
a farmer looks forward to the rains of May/ 7 said the 
portly, forty-year-old Luis. "There is nothing I would rather 
do than go to the United States and rest." 

But there were few informed men and women who believed 
that an election could be anything but farcical. Luis Somoza 
may indeed have sniffed the wind of change. After all, not 
far away a fellow dictator, Trujillo, had recently been assas- 
sinated; and not far away, too, a dictator of the other 
extreme, Castro, was making his influence felt. But too much 
was involved in Nicaragua for any reasonable expectation 
of an honest election. The exact size of the Somoza fortune 
is unknown, but Luis once boasted openly that he and his 

268 



brother owned 20 per cent of Nicaragua's wealth, including 
the only shipping line bringing supplies to and from the 
country, the only internal airline, the only sugar mills, the 
only brewery, the only slaughter house, plus about one hun- 
dred other strategic and monopolistic concerns, and about 
five hundred plantations. 

The family fortune, however, goes beyond this, for in an 
environment of nepotism some fifty cousins and uncles oc- 
cupy key positions and control much of the remaining 
industry and agriculture. While the brothers are believed to 
have a fair amount of cash running to millions of dollars 
safely entombed in United States banks, three quarters of 
their holdings are directly tied in with Nicaragua itself. 
In addition, there are some ten thousand "government" 
families, plus the guardia, who would be uprooted in any 
genuine change of administration. In other words, the So- 
mozas and their military dictatorship are too deeply engaged 
to give up the private finca voluntarily. And so the assump- 
tion was that a Somoza-appointed aide would become figure- 
head president, duly "elected" in a ballot carefully scru- 
tinized by the guardia under the command of thirty-six- 
year-old "General" Tachito Somoza. This, in fact, is what 
happened on February 3, 1963, when a Somoza nominee, 
Rene Schick, was declared president, the cynical announce- 
ment of his "victory" being made after returns were known 
from only three of the country's 1,386 precincts. 

The parallel with Batista's Cuba is remarkable and dis- 
turbing. Like Batista, who collaborated for a while with the 
Communists by allowing them to take over the Cuban labor 
unions, the Somozas have supplied campaign funds enabling 
the Communists to run the Nicaraguan trade federation. 
This, supposedly, was a means of containing labor unrest 
while the Communists themselves were under scrutiny. And 
yet, inevitably and with some good reception, the Com- 
munists have been active in the countryside, among the 

269 



campesinos, among the unemployed. One of the foes of the 
Somozas, and the leading opposition politician, moderate 
Dr. Fernando Agiiero, told me: "I believe every month we 
lose is a loss for democracy. The situation here is exactly the 
same as in Cuba before Castro, with the United States arm- 
ing and supporting an unpopular dictatorship." 

Agiiero, an ophthalmologist who before his fortieth birth- 
day had been in and out of Nicaraguan prisons three times 
and exiled twice, risked further banishment by holding 
rallies among peasants while I was in the country. He called 
for basic agrarian reform (to divide the Somoza land hold- 
ings which run anywhere from 500,000 to one million acres), 
universal education (not a single school was built in Nicara- 
gua in 1962, even though only three out of ten children go 
beyond Grade 2), adequate public health (50 per cent of 
the children die before the age of five), housing and proper 
nutrition (many Managuans sleep on the streets, and eat 
nothing but rice and beans), and free expression (an esti- 
mated 2,000 political prisoners were still in jail last year). 

"At least 25 per cent of the people here are active Fidel- 
istas," said Agiiero. "If we did not offer an alternative the 
figure would be much higher." 

If the United States was showing delayed uneasiness 
about the Somozas and the discontent of Niearaguans, it 
had itself to blame for the state of affairs; any "interven- 
tion" in elections would not now be so easy to manage in 
a country controlled by a military machine built up with 
United States guidance. And yet Agiiero posed the dilemma 
for the United States: "Without an honest election this 
country will simply end in violent revolution, and we know 
the outcome in Cuba. Nicaragua receives Point Four tech- 
nical assistance; we receive military training from the 
United States. So why should we not get technical assistance 
supervision in an election? We must have moral support 
of the United States to give people faith." 

270 



The complexities of such a request will be examined more 
fully at another point, but in the meanwhile I still have 
before my eyes the parting scene at Managua's airport. 
Hordes of barefoot children scampered among the waiting 
passengers, while a group of festive Nicaraguans were waved 
with ease through passport formalities. Among the group 
was the editor of Novedades, the Somoza newspaper, a non- 
professional "journalist" leaving for a regional meeting in 
Puerto Rico of the Inter- American Press Association. With 
him, boarding the plane, were his wife and two young chil- 
dren, his secretary and her husband, and a personal friend 
and his wife as "advisers" : a total party of eight. "And who 
pays?" said a knowledgeable Nicaraguan standing beside 
me. "The people! Disgusting, isn't it?" 

But even more disheartening was the sight and sound of 
a rumba band, and the flow of champagne among guardia 
officers bestowing farewell celebration at the exit gate for 
a Nicaraguan major about to take off on a military course 
in the United States. 

A GEOGRAPHIC SCAB 

The issues of Panama, in a way, are rather clear cut, 
though far from simple in solution. On one hand, the United 
States has spent more than one and a half billion dollars to 
build and improve the Panama Canal: a feat involving 
finances and skills beyond the capacity of Panamanians. On 
the other hand, Panamanians complain of an infringement 
of their sovereignty, since, under the terms of a treaty, con- 
trol of the seaway remains in United States hands "in per- 
petuity." Nationalist-minded men and women say that their 
land is carved in two by an alien presence, a geographic scar 
that has done little to establish internal stability. In little 
more than fifty years, Panama has had twenty-nine presi- 
dents, only five of whom have served their full terms. 

271 



Administration by the United States of the ten-mile-wide 
Panama Canal Zone touches off, regularly, riots by Panama- 
nians who have a varied set of motives. At one extreme are 
those who insist on complete withdrawal of United States 
civilians and military personnel, and end to United States 
sovereignty over the Zone. The milder anti-American dem- 
onstrations have called for the flying of the Panamanian 
flag alongside the Stars and Stripes (ordered by President 
Eisenhower, September 17, 1960). And, in between, almost 
all critics are united in one demand : a higher rental for the 
use of the Zone (the United States pays a flat sum of 
$1,930,000 a year, which Panamanians claim is a woeful 
price for the total tolls collected in the canal). 

If these grievances are symptoms of a nationalist spirit, 
they have also taken on the tone of social unrest. This unrest 
was always present; Panamanians have long been aware of 
the contrast between the fine homes of United States resi- 
dents of the Zone and the huge slums inhabited by their own 
children. But the unrest is now channeled by Fidelistas, who 
are vocal and active, and who make a point of emphasizing 
that Panama's oligarchs, living on an even more lavish scale 
than Americans, exist largely with the support of United 
States arms. 

TROUBLE IN GUATEMALA 

In 1954, when Guatemala's president, Jacobo Arbenz, was 
overthrown in a military revolt, the United States govern- 
ment and press lauded this as a defeat for "communism." 
Up to a point there was some truth in the allegation that 
Communists were active in the Arbenz regime, but, to many 
Guatemalans and Latin Americans generally, only up to a 
point. The real truth, as they see it, involves intervention 
by Washington to protect the United Fruit Company, which 
was undergoing nationalization. Ironically, the land reform 

272 



introduced by Arbenz ten years ago was, by present stand- 
ards suggested by United States experts for Latin America, 
moderate indeed. 

Guatemala had had a long string of presidents and dicta- 
tors subservient to United States wishes. But the end of an 
era came in 1944, when an army coup brought in a junta 
determined to introduce long-needed social and economic 
reforms. Disputes between conservative and liberal factions 
held up the program until, in 1950, the defense minister, 
Colonel Arbenz, won a presidential election with a large 
majority. Arbenz was a reformer of the left, and he set 
about to alter the land tenure and farm labor situations, 
which were among the worst in Latin America. "For all the 
furor it produced, Decree 900, which had its roots in the 
constitution of 1945, (was) a remarkably mild and a fairly 
sound piece of legislation." 2 Decree 900 provided for the 
expropriation and redistribution of uncultivated or fallow 
land above a basic limit, with compensation for the large 
landowners in the form of bonds. Despite an inexperienced 
administrative machine, the program made considerable 
progress in little more than a year. One million acres (much 
of this land had been taken over by the state from Germans 
during World War II) were divided among small farmers; 
some cooperatives were established. About 100,000 campe- 
sino families felt for the first time the dignity of working 
their own soil. 

There was, of course, strenuous opposition from right- 
wing groups who saw in this "socialism," or, worse still, 
"communism." But> the most controversial move of the 
Arbenz government was the expropriation of 400,000 acres 
of uncultivated land from the United Fruit Company. The 
United States company argued that it needed this territory 
as a reserve for its banana-growing operation; the govern- 
ment contended that the remaining reserves alone totaled 

2 Thomas F. Carroll, Latin American Issues. 

273 



twenty times as much acreage as the company actually had 
under banana cultivation. In 1954 anti-Arbenz exiles invaded 
Guatemala from Honduras, with arms supplied by the 
United States. It was the end of Arbenz, and so the United 
States claimed the end of a Communist threat. It was also 
the end of land reform, for Decree 900 was promptly revoked 
and replaced by other bills that carried no effective provi- 
sions for changes in the agrarian structure. Rightly or 
wrongly, Latin Americans saw the invasion not as an inter- 
nal clash over an "ism" but as old-style United States inter- 
vention to safeguard American business investments. 

Colonel Castillo Armas, the leader of the invasion, became 
president and virtual dictator of Guatemala. He was later 
assassinated by a member of his palace guard, to be suc- 
ceeded by an equally conservative officer, Miguel Ydigoras, 
who also enjoyed the protection and aid of Washington. 
Ydigoras has been accused by a former Mexican president 
of paranoia. Certainly he has a habit of seeing Communists 
behind every reform demand in his country. The plain fact 
is that Ydigoras ran in 1962, if not precisely a dictatorship, 
a semidictatorship with the aid of secret police and an army 
trained and built up by the United States. His main visible 
support came from just those elements: the army, the police, 
and, tragically, the U.S. government. His opponents, in the 
majority of the population, included not only left-wing ele- 
ments but professional men from the center: doctors, law- 
yers, engineers. 

When students became angry over what they considered 
fraudulent congressional elections (the Ydigoras machine 
took the bulk of the seats), and paraded through the streets 
of Guatemala City, demanding the resignation of Ydigoras, 
he called it a "Castro-Communist plot/' When, after three 
days of riots, the students were joined by adults, including 
railway workers, bank clerks, government employees, and 
the National Liberation Movement founded by the late 

274 



Colonel Castillo Armas, Ydigoras still blamed "Communists 
and Castroites," and had his troops open fire with machine 
guns. The demonstrations were a compound of many griev- 
ances: incredible corruption of the Ydigoras government, 
poverty, lack of social advances, and a continued rankling 
that Ydigoras, bowing to the United States, had permitted 
anti-Castro Cubans to train on Guatemalan soil for the 1961 
invasion attempt, thereby making Guatemala a legitimate 
target for Castro ire. At the end of a week's riots, some forty 
Guatemalans were dead, more than six hundred were 
wounded, and a thousand were in jail. 

One of the men picked up by the police after the mani- 
festations was Francisco Villagran, who was interrogated by 
Ydigoras personally and accused of inspiring the students to 
riot. Villagran, possibly the outstanding opposition politi- 
cian in Guatemala, denied any connection and was later 
released. Villagran is a socialist, with, as he defined it for 
me, the leaning of a Mendes-France. He believes in a mixed 
economy, saying: "We should not think of full nationaliza- 
tion. Perhaps basic utilities should be under state direction, 
but even here, where an enterprise is productive, we should 
not touch it." 

He cites a practical illustration: The main railway in 
Guatemala was built with United States capital and con- 
trolled by Americans. From 1944 to 1954 socialists demanded 
its takeover, and the government went so far as to build a 
competing truck route alongside the tracks. The government 
even encouraged strikes among railroaders, so the state 
would have an excuse to move in. As a result, the frightened 
railway company invested no further money and allowed 
maintenance to slip so badly that today no one wants the 
line. "We realize our mistakes now," says Villagran. "The 
railway is not helping the economy any more, and so in some 
cases nationalization can defeat itself." 

This having been said, Villagran is also against the state 

275 



managing farms. Bather, he wants the division of uncul- 
tivated estates into small holdings and cooperatives: much 
the same kind of reform attempted by Arbenz. He concedes 
that by 1954 the Communists had gained some influence 
over Arbenz, but by comparison with the Cuban revolution 
later, Guatemala's "was a social revolution in baby-pants.' 7 
He goes on: "The United States simply didn't understand 
it, and therefore overthrew Arbenz. Now the terrible contra- 
diction is that while the United States would welcome similar 
reforms today, peaceful changes will be difficult because of 
the entrenchment of the oligarchy under Ydigoras." 

All of which leads up to a rather grim conclusion: the 
likelihood of one form of extremism being replaced by an- 
other, in which reasonable men such as Villagran would have 
no say. For the past two years guerrilla bands have been 
gaining in strength in the northern hills of Guatemala. 
Ironically, these bands were being led by former army offi- 
cers who took their training in guerrilla warfare in United 
States camps in Panama. Their motives for resisting Ydi- 
goras were varied; in some cases, the grievances were per- 
sonal; in others, men defected from the army because of 
allegedly slow promotion. But still others, according to leaf- 
lets they distributed among the peasants, talked of "restor- 
ing the dignity of the nation." 

Some of the early battles between government forces and 
the guerrillas took on comic war aspects. Since, for example, 
the rebels wore regular army uniforms, government troops 
were never certain at whom they were shooting, and some- 
times, in error, fired at their own numbers. For a while there 
was talk of issuing armbands to government troops, change- 
able every day so the guerrillas could not copy them. But 
if these were lighter sidelights, no one in Guatemala dis- 
missed the guerrillas, well trained and well commanded, 
with levity. Memories were still sensitive about the origin 
of Fidel Castro and his movement in the hills of Cuba. 

276 



10 



In the Wake of Trujillo 



AT 10:30 P.M. on a moonlit Tuesday night, May 30, 1961, 
on a highway outside Ciudad Trujillo, a car carrying Gen- 
eralissimo Rafael Trujillo was ambushed and one of the 
most cruel dictators of modern times, who ruled the Domini- 
can Republic for nearly a third of a century, was assassinated. 
Four miles away a well-known public figure, Dr. Viriato 
Fiallo, was at home, preparing to retire. As usual his house, 
at the corner of El Conde and Espillat Streets, was under 
the scrutiny of three members of the secret police, the 
dreaded S.I.M. (Military Intelligence Service). For Dr. 
Fiallo, aside from being a prominent physician, was sus- 
pected of leading a clandestine political group, the Popular 
Revolutionary Union. 

Dr. Fiallo had indeed been active in the underground, 
though his group, which had vague hopes of getting rid of 
Trujillo, never organized itself effectively. But on five occa- 
sions Dr. Fiallo went to jail. The first time was in 1942, when 
he wrote a magazine article for a New York publication 
expressing his thoughts about fighting for freedom in Europe 
and depicting what life must be like under a dictatorship. 
There was, of course, no mention of the Dominican Republic 

277 



or Trujillo, but the allusion was obvious. Dr. Fiallo was 
thrown into a cell so small for his frame six feet, two 
inches that he had to remain in a half-kneeling, "natal/ 7 
position for thirty days. 

In later arrests he was never told the charge, except once, 
when an officer said: "Wherever you go, subversion flowers 
in the air." This was told him during his longest imprison- 
ment, seven months of solitary confinement. Still, a solitary 
cell was preferable to incarceration in La Cuarenta (The 
Forty), an S.I.M. torture house so-named because it was in 
the heart of Ciudad Trujillo, on 40th Street. In La Cuarenta 
Trujillo's men slowly exterminated political foes by subject- 
ing them to the pulpo (octopus), an electrical device with 
several arms that were attached to the skull by screws. The 
shocks came in gradual doses. An electrified rod was also 
used to shock the genitals, and then later came castration, 
nail extractions and other methods of inducing confession 
and slow death. The agony was known to be slow, because 
survivors could hear the victims 3 screams over an amplify- 
ing system deliberately hooked up to the cell blocks. 

Dr. Fiallo, in 1962, when the immediate danger from 
Trujilloism had subsided somewhat, visited La Cuarenta, as 
did several other aghast citizens and representatives from 
O.A.S. But on the night of May 30, 1961, he was in no mood 
to take chances. Shortly before midnight, and unaware of 
the incident on the highway, he heard his doorbell ring. As 
he recalled it for me: "I did not answer the door. All I could 
think about was the presence of the three S.I.M. men out- 
side. Either they wanted to take me in again, or if this was 
a friend, the S.I.M. might think a political meeting was 
going on." Dr. Fiallo peered through the window and saw 
that it was indeed a friend, a political ally, and his wife. 
(Such is the fear, even today, of the long arm of exiled Tru- 
jillo kin that Dr. Fiallo would not identify his friend, since 
he was in on the plot and might be the target for vengeance; 

278 



Dr. Fiallo would label him only as "E.") He heard E. cry 
out: "If we don't get another doctor, the woman will die." 
And so the hovering S.I.M. men were misled into believing 
the caller, who sensed why the door remained unopened and 
who promptly left, was not someone in search of a political 
conference. 

A half hour later the bedside phone rang. When Dr. Fiallo 
picked it up, the voice at the other end said: "The man is 
dead/' Dr. Fiallo leaped from bed, quite in a stupor, and 
said, "What? What?" E. now repeated the news in the clas- 
sical French phrase: "II est mort." Dr. Fiallo: "I knew, of 
course, to whom he was referring, but I was afraid to believe 
it. I went out on the balcony and saw the three police 
watchers and everything seemed normal. The street was 
quiet and peaceful, not filled with tanks and military cars, 
as one would expect if the dictator was dead. I couldn't 
sleep, and so I stayed up all night and discussed with my 
wife whether such an act had really happened, whether 
Trujillo was really dead, and if so what would be the 
results. . . " 

For the end of Generalissimo Trujillo would not neces- 
sarily mean the end of a reign of terror. There were still 
Trujillo's son, Rafael ("Ramfis") Trujillo, Jr., the thirty- 
two-year-old heir apparent, and other beneficiaries of the 
large Trujillo clan including the generalissimo's two broth- 
ers, Hector and Arismendi plus the military, with whom 
Dominicans would have to contend. Would the nation now 
be subjected to greater agony and reprisal than ever before? 
And what would the United States do? As a young student, 
Viriato Fiallo had spoken loudly against the kind of United 
States intervention, complete with Marine landings, that 
had set the stage for a takeover by Trujillo. But now would 
the United States know how to save the Dominican people 
and support them in their quest for freedom? And how could 
a people, after thirty-one years of one-man rule, manage to 

279 



govern themselves? From where would come the skills, the 
intimate knowledge of democratic process, the essential 
discipline and experience needed for stability? 

While Dr. Fiallo, now sixty-six years of age, was ponder- 
ing these questions, a present-day student, Armando Hoe- 
pelman, a lean intense young man, was walking down El 
Conde, Ciudad Trujillo's principal street, around nine A.M., 
when a group of other students pulled up in a car. One 
whispered : "Arreglaron al hombre . . . the man has been 
fixed." Again there was no mention of a name, but Hoepel- 
man's instinctive, hopeful reaction was to say: "Are you 
sure?" One of the students explained that troops were 
searching for Trujillo and couldn't find him, but the story 
was all over town that he had been shot and killed. Another 
added: "I hear they found his body at dawn." 

Hoepelman still was not sure whether to trust this infor- 
mation, but he did notice now an "expectant kind of excite- 
ment" in the streets; heavily armed guards stood in front 
of the cable office, a usual first sign that the authorities were 
anticipating trouble. "I began to think something serious 
had happened," he said. But he could not feel a sense of 
relief until the official news of Trujillo's death was an- 
nounced over the radio at four in the afternoon. Victor Sal- 
lent, a twenty-seven-year-old bank messenger, also listened 
for broadcasts, and later recounted: "In one way I was 
happy that hechivo (the goat) ... we never mentioned his 
name in public, and it is still hard to get used to the idea 
. . . that he was dead. But in other ways I was scared. I 
thought there would be a bloody revolution." 

Actually, no one rejoiced openly not even German Ornes, 
who at least was physically out of danger, a few hundred 
miles away, in Puerto Rico. Ornes, a burly journalist in his 
early forties, with black bushy hair and warm, troubled 
brown eyes, had gone into voluntary exile in the United 
States in 1955, there to write a book of exposure, Trujillo: 

280 



Little Caesar of the Caribbean. Ornes had been compelled 
to serve for a while as editor of Trujillo's paper, El Caribe. 
As he explained it: "I was under police surveillance. I had 
two kids, my brothers were in exile, my father had been 
kicked out of a judgeship for releasing political prisoners. 
The government jailed me four or five times for a day or 
two. 7 ' Now, if jail was far behind, memories were still bitter. 
And yet Ornes could not celebrate. He saw the news flash of 
Trujillo's assassination as cable editor of El Mundo in San 
Juan. "In my job," he said, "practically everything fell on 
my shoulders that afternoon. I even wrote an interpretive 
piece. There was no time to be emotional." Later, when the 
impact and significance of the event struck him fully, Ornes 
still could not go back, because the Trujillo image had not 
yet been erased. 

Some women in the capital wept when they heard about 
Trujillo, because to some he was El Benefactor, the man 
who occasionally gave food parcels to the poor, or even radio 
sets. Others wept because of the uncertainty of the future, 
the horrible fear that everyone would be swept up in an 
undisciplined series of purges and revenge killings. In this 
sense there was a parallel with the death of Josef Stalin, 
whose terrible figure had, in a weird way, made life orderly 
and clear-cut and secure, at least for men and women who 
were not involved in politics ; when Stalin died many trem- 
ulous Russian women, like their Dominican counterparts 
eight years later, cried too. But three Dominican women 
were beyond tears, for they had only recently been buried. 
These were the three Mirabal sisters Minerva, Patria, and 
Marie Teresa who, to judge from photographs and word 
descriptions, were exquisite creatures. The daughters of a 
wealthy landowner, they were all well educated and rev- 
olutionary. Minerva married Manuel Tavarez Justo, a law- 
yer of leftist leanings ; Patria married Leandro Guzman, an 

281 



engineer; Marie Teresa married Pedro Gonzales, a liberal 
landowner. 

Manuel Tavarez Justo is quiet spoken, with certain qual- 
ities of idealism and dedication that sound almost youthful. 
Tavarez Justo is relatively young thirty-one years old, to 
be precise. However, with graying black hair and a gaunt 
face, physical characteristics made understandable by occur- 
rences, he looks more like forty-five years of age. He even 
talks of recent history as though it were long past. For him, 
a highlight of the Dominican Republic's record was the 
attempt to overthrow Trujillo, by invasion, on June 14, 1959. 

The invasion was launched from Cuba by Dominicans 
armed and trained by Castro's army. There was no air sup- 
port, and of the 225 men who landed, half were killed in 
battle; almost all the rest were tortured to death in prison. 
An unknown number of Dominican civilians, but estimated 
in the thousands, were also rounded up and executed on 
suspicion of complicity. Still, in Tavarez Justo's words : "It 
was the spark for resistance on a national scale." Manuel, 
his wife, his in-laws, and a few friends decided it was time 
to act; and so was formed the underground 14th of June 
Movement, in memory of the ill-fated invasion, with Ta- 
varez Justo as the leader. But his role was known only to 
a few people, for the movement was built on a pyramid 
structure, each man having no more than two or three im- 
mediate contacts. 

By January of 1960 there were some eight hundred mem- 
bers, mostly students and professors, doctors and lawyers. 
Unfortunately for the movement, one of the late joiners 
turned out to be an S.I.M. informer; the pyramid structure 
collapsed. Men put to the pulpo, or to leather-thonged 
whips, nail extractors and scalpels, talked about their imme- 
diate contacts, and these men in turn talked about theirs. 
Within three weeks half of the band, four hundred persons, 
were in prison, among them Manuel and his brothers-in-law. 

282 



The trio were kept alive and tortured (Tavarez Justo's body 
bears the scars of burnings by blow-torch) on the assump- 
tion that they would betray others, including their wives. 
They kept silent. 

But Trujillo's military police were far from defeated. 
After several months, Manuel, Leandro, and Pedro were 
transferred from La Victoria, an old jail in Ciudad Trujillo, 
to Salcedo, a small village on the Atlantic coast. This, as it 
turned out, was part of a cunning S.LM. plot, because it 
was obvious that the sisters would travel to visit their men- 
folk. And so they did, the three of them together, in a car, 
on November 25. As they approached Salcedo they were 
ambushed by secret police and taken away, but not before 
they managed to scream out their names so nearby peasants 
could hear them. The Mirabel sisters were prominent in the 
Dominican Republic, and popular. Any mishap would have 
to be prudently camouflaged. 

Manuel, of course, knew nothing of the incident until, as 
he recalls it now quietly and without rancor a prison 
captain came into his cell on December 4 and said that 
though it was against the rules he was going to show him 
the morning's edition of El Caribe. He flung the paper at 
him, and Manuel read a front-page story saying that the 
well-known Mirabal girls had died "tragically in a car acci- 
dent." A half hour later the captain reappeared, laughed 
and said : "This is the story for the paper, but I want you 
to know that we tortured your wife and then killed her, and 
we did the same to her sisters and this is what we are going 
to do to you." Manuel now says: "I was on the verge of 
going crazy." Among other things, he did not know what 
was happening to his two young children. 

From Salcedo the three brothers-in-law were moved back 
to Ciudad Trujillo, this time to La Cuarenta. They were 
herded together, naked, in a cell which was six feet wide and 
six feet long. High up on the wall was a ten-inch slit, just 

283 



big enough for them to see a piece of the sky and a flag on 
the roof of a neighboring public building. "One morning, 
earlier than usual, we were awakened by the screams of 
prisoners being tortured," Manuel recounts. "Leandro said, 
'Look, the flag is not flying today/ Nobody said anything 
else for a few moments, and then Leandro said, 'Something 
might have happened.' " This "something/' to men obsessed 
with hatred for Trujillo, could have meant only one thing. 
But Manuel remembers shaking his head and saying, "If 
something has happened to him, we would all be killed by 
now." Still, the gnawing thought lingered back of his mind, 
especially since the screams from tortured prisoners were 
louder that "day than ever before. 

A week later the three men were given clothing, and 
taken, handcuffed, into the prison yard along with about 
sixty other men. For the first time Manuel saw that guards 
were wearing black arm bands, "and now I really dared hope 
that Trujillo was dead, but I could not be absolutely sure." 
The men were being shifted to more civilized quarters in 
La Victoria, because an O.A.S. commission of enquiry was 
due to arrive at any day. In his new cell in La Victoria, 
Manuel Tavarez Justo learned the confirmation he had 
sought. On the wall was a scribbling left by a previous 
inmate: "Trujillo is dead, but terror is still with us." 

"There can be no land to compare with it in richness and 
beauty," wrote Christopher Columbus after he discovered 
the mountainous but fertile green Caribbean island which 
he named La Isla Espanola. And indeed, Hispaniola, the 
island that is now divided between the Dominican Republic 
and Haiti, has the physical attributes of a paradise. Endowed 
with a soil that yields almost any tropical crop, surrounded 
by rich fishing grounds, the islanders should be the "lovable, 
tractable, peaceable people" described by Columbus in 1492. 
But the original Indians have long since gone, wiped out by 

284 



disease and slavery imported by the Spaniards. The Spanish 
legacy, as in other sections of the hemisphere, included 
tyranny, corruption, ignorance, and poverty. In this century, 
the totality of control enjoyed by Trujillo was also com- 
pounded in part by an earlier United States policy of inter- 
vention the Dollar Diplomacy so searingly written about 
by Scott Nearing and Joseph Freeman in 1928 ("a policy 
worse than a crime; it was a blunder" ). 

In 1904, in order to ensure payment of debts, President 
Theodore Roosevelt took over the customs houses of the 
Dominican Republic, practically the only source of revenue. 
This led to even greater United States financial influence, 
and in 1916 to outright occupation of the island by the U.S. 
Navy. For the next eight years the Dominican Republic 
was under direct United States military rule; in the insta- 
bility that followed United States withdrawal, Trujillo, in 
1930, was able to seize power. By now United States busi- 
ness investments were considered safe, for El Benefactor's 
tight command guaranteed against expropriation or revolu- 
tion. The investors who were entertained by the dictator 
could not hear the cries of his tormented political prisoners. 1 

Trujillo, in the meanwhile, was busy accumulating his 
own fortune and spending $4 million a year on public rela- 
tions, most of it in the United States, where he took out 
full-page newspaper advertisements reassuring investors: 
"No Time for Communism." By 1960 it was estimated that 
his personal hoard in overseas banks was $300 million; in 
addition, he and his family controlled about two thirds of 
the nation's best cattle and sugar land. But megalomania 
was also driving him into dangerous foreign directions, prin- 
cipally a vendetta against Venezuela's president, Romulo 

1 "Relatively few Americans, unless they were readers of The Nation and 
other 'radical 7 journals, knew what was going on at their back door," com- 
plained The Nation recently. "This era, however, is better known to many 
Latin Americans than the good intentions of the United States which fol- 
lowed it." 

285 



Betancourt, who openly proclaimed his distaste for the dic- 
tator. In June, 1960, Trujillo assigned four hatchetmen to 
fly to Caracas to kill Betancourt. The would-be assassins 
were foiled only because an intricate dynamite device did 
not contain enough explosive; Betancourt escaped with 
minor burns. But the evidence was clear enough for the 
Organization of American States, at a meeting in Costa 
Rica, to accuse Trujillo of "acts of aggression and interven- 
tion" against Venezuela and to impose a diplomatic boycott 
and limited economic sanctions. Trujillo lost a United States 
income of over $30 million in sugar sales alone. 

When the dictator met the fate he had once plotted for 
Betancourt, son Ramfis Trujillo flew back from Paris, where 
he had been engaged in a polo game with another Dominican 
playboy, Porfirio Rubirosa. He assumed his country's leader- 
ship along with Joaquin Balaguer, the puppet president he 
inherited from his father. Then he promptly invited a team 
of O.A.S. representatives (from Panama, Colombia, Uru- 
guay, and the United States) to prove for themselves that 
the Dominican Republic was in for a new look, a process 
of "democratization." His motive, of course, was to regain 
favor with the United States, whose relations with the Tru- 
jillos had cooled considerably even in the last days of the 
Eisenhower Administration, and to win a lifting of the 
costly O.A.S. embargo. 

By now the Kennedy Administration was evolving a new 
policy toward the Dominican Republic that might include 
"intervention," but this time to assist peaceful transition 
from dictatorship to democratic government. Six months 
would elapse before such United States action would take 
place. And in the meanwhile the embargo would remain as 
a warning to young Trujillo to mend his family's ways. 

The rest of this narrative is intended to illustrate that 
democracy does not come easily to a people who for gen- 
erations have known autocratic rule only a trial all the 

286 



more important to understand because it has yet to be 
experienced by the peoples of Nicaragua, Haiti, and else- 
where. 

In the days immediately preceding the arrival of the 
O.A.S. mission the S.I.M. secret agents were active, round- 
ing up hundreds of men and women who might have had 
anything to do with the death of El Benefactor. Actually, 
two groups of men, totaling thirty, were engaged in the 
assassination plot. In a way it resembled the old German 
plot against Hitler's life, because many of the men were 
former collaborators of the dictator, and others were gen- 
erals who had become disenchanted with the oppressive 
trends in their country and filled with a gloomy foreboding 
for the future. Through mutual contacts, the two groups 
united in January, 1961, but had to wait for an opportune 
moment in May, when Trujillo, accompanied only by his 
chauffeur, was driving out from the capital to visit his 
mistress. In the exchange of fire, when the car was attacked, 
the chauffeur wounded one of the conspirators, who was 
promptly picked up by the S.I.M. and tortured for informa- 
tion. The blood bath then was turned on in earnest. Literally 
scores of people, including distant relatives of the plotters, 
were mutilated and slaughtered, some under the sadistic and 
vengeful eye of Ramfis himself. 

"The month of June," said Dr. Viriato Fiallo, "was the 
most horrible month of our lives. 77 Even Victor Salient, the 
bank messenger who was remote from active politics, dreaded 
walking the streets, for fear of being swept up by indiscrimi- 
nate goon squads. The end of a dictator did not establish 
the beginning of freedom; the old order, made up of Ramfis, 
his kinfolk, the army, the police, was not going to relinquish 
ingrained habits and privileges. But with the landing of 
O.A.S. observers and dozens of foreign newspapermen who 
could shape world opinion, some outward relaxation was 

287 



necessary. Ramfis even said he would permit the formation 
of political parties and promised an "election" for 1962. 
But Dr. Fiallo and others experienced in Trujillo tactics 
remained wary and silent for a while. 

The students, as might be expected, were the first to hold 
a public meeting, early in July. Armando Hoepelman re- 
ceived a phone call from a classmate who passed on word 
that an informal group was going to gather on the campus 
of University of Santo Domingo at four P.M. "I didn't even 
know the purpose of the meeting/' confesses Hoepelman, 
though he assumed that it was to discuss ways of requesting 
autonomy for the university, a sacred right common in Latin 
America but denied by the late dictator. In their whole life- 
time, in fact, students had not been permitted to hold any 
open meetings, nor even to form fraternal associations which 
might be hazardous to the regime. Now about four hundred 
brave souls (of a total enrollment of four thousand) col- 
lected on the grounds, just outside the office of the rector, 
Jose Machado, a Trujillo appointee. Hoepelman felt ill at 
ease as he looked up at the huge statue of El Benefactor 
which continued to dominate the setting. No one seemed to 
know what to do or to say, and the group just stood there 
awkwardly in their first taste of public assembly, the stu- 
dents talking in whispers among themselves. 

Someone shouted: "The police are coming!" And indeed 
Hoepelman and the others could see in the distance two 
rapidly approaching police buses. The crowd began to move 
off, until someone else, a student named Rojas Fernandez, 
climbed onto the pedestal of the Trujillo statue and cried 
out: "There's nothing to fear. This isn't a political meeting/' 
Fernandez went on to say that all they wanted to do was 
regain the sanctity of the university, but before he could 
say more the police had dismounted from their buses, formed 
a ring around the crowd, and set up machine guns. 

Two officers ordered Fernandez to come down from the 

288 



statue, and when he did they led him away in custody. A 
student bellowed, "Let's defend ourselves." But Hoepelman, 
seeing the helmeted men crouch behind their machine guns, 
had the presence of mind to warn: "No one move." And so 
ended, bloodlessly, the meeting. But the students were not 
yet through. Three days later, with Fernandez still in jail, 
a quickly summoned committee chose Hoepelman as provi- 
sional president of the Dominican Students Federation, and 
another rally was called on the campus to demand the 
release of Fernandez. By now, with foreign newsmen onto 
the story, Ramfis Trujillo was prepared to show some le- 
niency. Fernandez was deported from the country. But at 
least a slight dent had been made in the Trujillo armor by 
public pressure. 

The next big move came from Dr. Fiallo and the other 
members of the onetime underground Popular Revolution- 
ary Union, now named, in the flush of political 'liberty 7 ' 
pledged by Ramfis, the National Civic Union (U.C.N.)- This 
was, rather than a mere shadowy movement, now an osten- 
sibly active and legal party, with Dr. Fiallo as its leader. 
Still, caution dominated the actions of men unfamiliar with 
and uncertain of free assembly. In proclaiming the Domini- 
can Republic's first massive public rally in thirty-one years 
(aside from those that used to be held to pay homage to 
El Benefactor), the U.C.N. placed notices in the press say- 
ing nothing about politics. Instead, tribute would be paid 
to fallen Dominicans, with the highly respected Dr. Fiallo 
as principal speaker. Thus, on July 29, 1961, there con- 
gregated in Independencia Square some eight thousand men, 
women, and children, most of whom were curiously quiet. 
The opening words from the gray-haired, dignified doctor 
were : "It has been a long time since I have wanted to speak 
to you/' 

What was his feeling? "A kind of emotion hard to de- 
scribe/' Dr. Fiallo recalls softly. "And then, after these few 

289 



words, there was tremendous cheering and applause, and 
I knew the people had the same emotion." With the Trujillo 
machine still functioning, it was dangerous to say much, 
and so Dr. Piallo confined his early remarks to a plea for 
"a halt to torture and persecution." But then, emboldened 
by the sight of O.A.S. representatives and United States 
reporters close by, he went on to say: "It is necessary to 
finish with the political power, the economic power, the 
military power of the Trujillos." There were no military 
bayonet charges, no reprisals. Victor Salient, who was in the 
audience, says, "Liberty was intoxicating." People at last 
walked down the streets uttering, "Libertad, libertad" as 
though it was a newly discovered phrase. 

This, however, is not to suggest wild exuberance; there 
was no singing or dancing in the streets, because people still 
remembered the pernicious kind of Trujillo oppression, 
probably the most methodical in history. If you applied for 
a job in a government agency or one of the Trujillo enter- 
prises and these included six out of ten in the country 
you had to list all relatives, even cousins twice removed, 
with the understanding that if you stepped out of line not 
only you but all your kinfolk might be punished, sometimes 
with torture and death. The memory of this alone was in- 
hibiting, for the lists still existed in the files of the S.LM. 
Nevertheless, libertad was a fine expression. 

For Manuel Tavarez Justo libertad was a fact. Just before 
the O.A.S. investigators arrived he was so weak from a loss 
of fifty-four pounds (he is a slight man, anyway), and last- 
minute beatings, that he could not stand; he had to lie on 
the stone floor of his cell. But his jailers shaved him, and 
propped him up so he could answer questions from the 
O.A.S. (with guards in the background, he said he had not 
been maltreated) . He was released almost the same hour the 
U.C.N. rally was taking place, after nineteen months of 
imprisonment. His home had been wrecked by Trujillo 

290 



marauders ; but at least he found his two children a daugh- 
ter, five, and a son, three safely in the care of his mother- 
in-law. Of his wife there was only a photograph shrouded 
in black. 

Four days later Tavarez Justo called a meeting of his 
14th of June friends, and again what had been an under- 
ground movement became an official party, for by now 
Ramfis Trujillo was saying there would be amnesty for all 
former political prisoners and even exiles could return in 
safety. He even as a sign of good faith shipped out of the 
country Juan Abbes Garcia, the hated chief of the secret 
police. Garcia went to Tokyo as first secretary of the Domin- 
ican Embassy; but the S.IJVL itself remained intact with 
its 10,000 agents. Some exiles risked a return, though others, 
like journalist German Ornes, who thought it more prudent 
to remain in Puerto Rico, decided to wait until it really 
looked as if Trujilloism had vanished. 

In the meanwhile, the first cracks in the fledgling parties 
were appearing. Some people, for instance, deserted the 
14th of June Movement, claiming that its leader, Tavarez 
Justo, was too far left. They joined the more moderate 
U.C.N. But at the same time some U.C.N. members were 
grumbling that Dr. Fiallo was "oligarchic," and they de- 
fected to the 14th of June Movement or to a Fidelist outfit 
whose leader was still in hiding. 

For a period, while everyone learned to catch his breath 
and sort out his political allegiance, the nation was quies- 
cent. One feature, after the cruel repression in the wake of 
the assassination, was that Ramfis himself had no real desire 
for the exacting life of a dictator. His main interest was to 
preserve his wealth (much of it, anyway, in banks abroad), 
so he could pursue his more appealing career as a playboy. 
The O.A.S. commission, after a month's investigation, de- 
cided that the regime was indeed attempting to "democra- 

291 



tize" affairs and to restrain the more bloodthirsty of El 
Benefactor's lieutenants who had, of course, everything to 
lose in any substantial relaxation. The figurehead president, 
Joaquin Balaguer, even invited Dr. Fiallo and other opposi- 
tion political leaders to join a coalition government. They 
refused, unless a set of conditions would first be met, one 
of them being the immediate banishment of the twelve 
most dangerous military leaders, including the late dictator's 
brothers, Generalissimo Hector Trujillo and General Aris- 
mendi Trujillo. Balaguer said he would discuss the terms 
with his boss, Ramfis. Ramfis vetoed them and publicly 
accused Balaguer of exceeding the limits of his office. In a 
brief statement, Ramfis said it was "clearly understood'' that 
any discussion about exile "would be contradictory and un- 
acceptable to the position of the armed forces." Ramfis, who 
happened to be chief of the armed forces, obviously, and 
despite a growing distaste for the tribulations of leadership, 
was not yet prepared to jeopardize a regime made possible 
by the support of the generals. 

But if Trujilloism could not be erased, at least the symbol 
of the man who had started it all could be wrecked. The 
next event was a major turning point. 

On October 17 as student leader Armando Hoepelman 
recounts it undergraduates at the University of Santo 
Domingo began to march, first to protest the retention of 
the Trujillo holdover, Jose Machado, as rector; then to 
destroy all images of El Benefactor. Machado, they felt, was 
simply a collaborator of the S.I.M., betraying professors who 
were trying to express what were still bold ideas. And Tru- 
jillo's own presence could still be seen in the scores of 
statues, portraits, and photographs dotting the campus 
buildings. Engineering students broke into their dean's office 
and ripped a huge framed picture of El Benefactor from the 
wall. Other students, hearing the commotion, raced from 

292 



classrooms and forgot all restraints of the past few months. 
Soon El Benefactor was exterminated in a thousand bits of 
smashed plaster busts and shredded canvases. Balaguer in- 
structed Machado to close the university. It was a foolish 
move, because now the students had nothing else to do but 
wander the streets and set off a wave of demonstrations. 

High school students joined in, and so did many adults, 
parading down El Conde Street, invading restaurants and 
public buildings, and smashing every Trujillo image in sight. 
Police attacked with rifle butts, but the crowd roared a cry 
they now tried for the first time: "Viva la revolution!" It 
was contagious, and soon thousands of people were milling 
through the streets shouting it. Some students set up barri- 
cades in the heart of Ciudad Trujillo and proclaimed it 
"territorio libre" Police, they said, could enter this "free 
territory" only at their own peril. As the police did, they 
found themselves bashed on the heads by students leaning 
from windows with heavy bats and rocks. Riot squads used 
tear gas, and the students climbed to rooftops, from there 
to hurl gasoline bombs. For a while it looked as though 
the mobs would simply take over, but then, after four days 
of disorders, the police opened up with machine guns. 

It was the end of the rioting, and, oddly enough, the end 
of Trujilloism or so it seemed. For by now Ramfis was 
becoming really tired of the game, especially under prodding 
from Washington, If the United States could be blamed for 
a lack of sensitivity in the past about the Dominican Repub- 
lic, it was now clearly determined to hasten liberalization. 
And it handled the situation skilfully, working out a plan 
of "disengagement" for Ramfis. Sanctions would be lifted, 
and Ramfis could stay on, provided he fulfilled two condi- 
tions: first, hand over genuine authority to a civilian gov- 
ernment, and second, get Uncles Hector and Arismendi 
Trujillo out of the country before their presence incited 

293 



more trouble. Otherwise, it was implied, if disturbances 
broke out again, the United States might have to step in. 

None of this, of course, was said publicly. Armed inter- 
vention, even against a loathed dictatorship, is a highly 
sensitive point among Latin Americans dedicated to the 
inter- American principle of nonintervention. But Ramfis 
managed to get his uncles out of the way; Hector took to 
sea in a private yacht, bound for Bermuda; Arismendi, 
posted to Spain as ambassador, sailed in leisurely style 
aboard a Dominican frigate, pausing to relax at Nassau. 
Ramfis even announced that he would retire once sanctions 
were eased. These were encouraging signs, although Dr. 
Fiallo and other opposition leaders feared a double-cross; 
they pointed out that Hector and Arismendi were really not 
far off and could return in a matter of two or three days 
if they so chose; moreover, they said, let Ramfis quit before 
the ending of sanctions, otherwise the OA.S. would be giv- 
ing away its strongest weapon. But the United States, as a 
measure of good faith, declared that it would recommend 
the ending of the boycott. 

The plan fell apart in the middle of November when 
Hector and Arismendi did in fact land again in the Domini- 
can Republic. Technically, Ramfis had already written his 
resignation as chief of the armed forces, though this news 
was not made public for a few days. In the meantime, the 
uncles hastily set about to line up old Trujillo generals in 
an effort to restore the firm grip of Trujilloism as it had 
existed before El Benefactor's death. The United States 
withdrew its recommendation to O.A.S.; Ramfis, thoroughly 
weary of the shuffling affairs of state, embarked for Paris, 
where part of his estimated cache of $400 million was lo- 
cated. There was no cheering with his departure, for the 
uncles, known as cruel and determined men, were far more 
dreaded than the pleasure-seeking Ramfis. Again a paralysis 
of fear swept the country. Anti-Trujillo leaders suspected 

294 



their names were on a liquidation list. Dr. Fiallo and Tavarez 
Justo fled to Puerto Rico; others went into hiding. Their 
suspicions were not exaggerated. As it turned out later, the 
Trujillo brothers, with the aid of loyal S.I.M. agents, had 
marked for execution all the opposition politicians and re- 
sistance men who had emerged into the open; it would have 
been the greatest single massacre in the nation's history. 

But there was no time for them to carry the coup to its 
completion. Two things happened almost simultaneously. 
An anti-Trujillo air force general, Pedro Rodriguez Echa- 
varria, succeeded in withdrawing most of the serviceable 
military aircraft to his own base in the North ; and at dawn 
United States warships appeared on the horizon. At first 
there were only three of them, but as they came closer, and 
then lay offshore, just beyond the three-mile limit, they 
were in plain view of the capital and their number had grown 
to fourteen. Among the vessels were two aircraft carriers 
with Marines prepared to land, if necessary, on Dominican 
soil by helicopter. Three squadrons of United States fighter 
jets roared across the waterfront, and, in the words of bank 
messenger Victor Salient, "We cheered. It was a thrilling 
sight." If any Dominican, aside from a Trujillo, had any 
views on "intervention" he was not bothering to discuss 
them that day. 

On that fateful Sunday, November 19, some of Rodriguez 
Echavarria's planes also approached the capital, to drop 
leaflets declaring air force support for the civilian govern- 
ment of Balaguer. Radio stations broadcast message after 
message, with a background of martial music, announcing 
at first the names of individuals, and then whole groups 
such as associations of doctors and lawyers who were 
pledging their lives against the attempted coup. Meanwhile, 
the Trujillo brothers were busy at the presidential National 
Palace trying to push Balaguer into their support. In a series 
of meetings, pro- and anti-Trujillo generals came and 

295 



left, and at one point the United States consul-general 
dropped by with a suggestion that the Trujillos had better 
leave. With an American fleet looming at one flank and 
Rodriguez Echavarria and his forces at the other, Hector 
and Arismendi finally packed up. They took off shortly be- 
fore midnight, along with a planeload of two dozen leading 
members of the Trujillo family. 

It was the end of the Trujillo dynasty, but this fact hardly 
sank in. For at least a day, people such as Victor Salient 
wandered the streets feeling "numb and puzzled" by the 
sudden release of tension. But by Tuesday the capital was 
wild with celebration. Dr. FiaJlo and Tavarez Justo flew 
in from San Juan (on the same flight was journalist German 
Ornes returning home for the first time in six years), to 
find tens of thousands of uninhibited Dominicans clogging 
the road from the airport to town, weeping, cheering, throw- 
ing flowers. The last of the Trujillo statues and street signs 
were torn down, and President Balaguer decreed that hence- 
forth Ciudad Trujillo would again be known by the name 
Columbus gave it, Santo Domingo. 

It would be comforting to conclude with the above and 
say that they all lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, 
this is a true story about human beings, some groping and 
trying to adjust to light after darkness, others fearful of 
losing their superior positions. Within a week of the exodus 
of the Trujillo hierarchy, the Dominican Republic discov- 
ered itself caught in a power struggle that verged on civil 
war. On the one side were the newly emancipated politicians, 
such as Dr. Fiallo, backed by a restless populace; on the 
other were President Balaguer and General Rodriguez Echa- 
varria, who had become the new chief of the armed forces. 
Balaguer and Rodriguez Echavarria, the people said, dis- 
played courage in resisting the comeback attempt of the 

296 



Trujillo brothers but now they themselves were guilty of 
two-man rule. 

Dr. Fiallo and other opposition leaders demanded that the 
president and the general resign in favor of a seven-man 
council whose task would be to prepare the nation for an 
election within a year. When this demand was rejected, the 
U.C.N. called a strike. Steel shutters banged shut on shops 
in El Conde Street, factories closed down, buses stopped 
running. The strike spread everywhere, quickly, and for 
eleven days mobs of rioters and demonstrators roamed 
through Santo Domingo shouting, "Down with Balaguer," 
and "Liberty! Liberty !" Victor Salient was among them, 
and he remembers that he marched as much to experience 
the novelty as to protest against Balaguer and Rodriguez 
Echavarria. "We had never had a strike before in the 
Dominican Republic at least in my memory and so I 
suppose we were getting rid of some of the old Trujillo frus- 
trations/' he says with some accuracy. The U.C.N. raised 
funds to help those who had no money, and grocery stores 
opened their back doors for an hour or two a day to sell 
emergency food supplies. "It was good/' says Salient, "the 
way one helped the other." 

But the atmosphere also became ominous. General Rodri- 
guez Echavarria had to call out his troops to throw tear gas 
bombs at a mass of one thousand housewives who formed 
a parade ; tanks engaged in clashes with other civilians who 
took to looting old Trujillo property. At stake, of course, 
was something fundamental. Backing President Balaguer 
and General Rodriguez Echavarria were Trujillo holdovers: 
businessmen, government officials and others who stood to 
lose money, power, and possibly their lives in any thor- 
ough purging of Trujilloism. One of the complaints against 
Balaguer was that many S.I.M. men were still in posts of 
authority. The armed forces, too, had to consider their own 

297 



interests (Balaguer, to keep them appeased, raised service- 
men's basic pay by $20 a month). 

Even as Balaguer and Dr. Fiallo looked for a compromise 
to end the strike, a stipulation laid down by Rodriguez 
Echavarria was that no military man would ever be pun- 
ished for actions committed under Trujillo. Finally, the idea 
of a seven-man council was accepted by Balaguer, but on 
terms more favorable to him than U.C.N. had wished: 
Balaguer would remain as president, to be replaced in any 
emergency by Rodriguez Echavarria. Meanwhile, in an 
ironic aside, United States warships still hovered just beyond 
the three-mile limit but were now accused by the same 
politicians who had cheered them only a week or two pre- 
viously of propping up the Balaguer regime. It was a 
delicate situation for the United States. Having helped to 
get rid of the Trujillos, Washington could hardly act against 
Balaguer and Rodriguez Echavarria without risking the 
complaint that it was violating Dominican sovereignty. But 
kept in reserve were the economic sanctions, which were not 
yet lifted, as reminders to the two men to behave themselves. 

On January 1, 1962 the Council of State took office, and 
the Dominican Republic looked, at last, as though it was 
on the proper road. The Organization of American States 
voted to remove diplomatic and trade restrictions, and 
Washington announced it would send a mission to see how 
the Alliance for Progress could help build up economic sta- 
bility (in the disruptions following events of the previous 
six months, almost half of all Dominicans were thrown out 
of work). The University of Santo Domingo, closed since 
the middle of October, was reopened on January 9 ; and now 
the much-resented Trujillo appointee, Jose Machado, was 
replaced as rector by a man elected by students and the 
faculty in a popular vote: the first election in more than 
a quarter of a century. The campus was also declared invio- 

298 



late territory ; no armed body could gain admission without 
a permit from the rector. 

There was, as Hoepelman recalls it, much rejoicing. This 
lasted precisely one week. On January 16 Hoepelman and 
other students heard machine-gun fire in the distance. The 
army was attacking a crowd of people who had gathered 
outside U.C.N. headquarters to hear over loudspeakers a 
fresh outburst of criticism against Balaguer and Rodriguez 
Echavarria. Six Dominicans lay dead, with a score wounded. 
Students promptly began a parade of protest to the Na- 
tional Palace, to demand the resignations of Balaguer and 
Rodriguez Echavarria, but, finding their way blocked by 
tanks, they returned to the campus. There, three hundred 
of them decided to go on a hunger strike. 

But at ten o'clock that night they heard some unexpected 
news: Rodriguez Echavarria and one hundred soldiers had 
descended on the Council, the general saying that the Coun- 
cil was not functioning properly and he was taking over 
personally. The students, by now six hundred strong, and 
led by Hoepelman, decided that a hunger strike was no 
longer enough; and so they set about fabricating Molotov 
cocktails, by draining gasoline from parked cars, then throw- 
ing bottles of the volatile liquid at police and army patrols. 
And so once again "democracy" in the Dominican Republic 
was short-lived. But now the general, the former champion 
of the people, was in for a shock. The United States said it 
would not recognize his junta, and, moreover, it would call 
off the Alliance aid it had planned. 

In the meantime, after a brief taste of press freedom, 
German Ornes was having his problems. Now, as editor once 
more of El Caribe, he sampled under Rodriguez Echavarria 
the same restrictions he had known under Trujillo. Censors 
moved in, and pulled out of type some of the stories that 
Ornes planned to publish; among the stories was a strong 
condemnation of the coup, and the crucial news that Wash- 

299 



ington was refusing to support the military regime. How- 
ever, instead of filling the blank spaces with innocuous 
material, as he would have done under Trujillo, Ornes defi- 
antly left them blank. The next morning El Caribe came 
out with gaping white columns, over which were printed in 
bold letters Bajo Censure, "under censorship/' 

Actually, Ornes did not have long to wait before printing 
the suppressed columns, because the general's coup collapsed 
after a brief forty-eight hours. A group of fellow officers 
marched in on him, and Rodriguez Echavarria now found 
himself under arrest. There were two main reasons for the 
turnabout: first, the threat of renewed economic pressures 
from the United States; second, the armed forces were 
beginning to feel the need, as Dr. Viallo explains it ; "to be 
on the people's side." President Balaguer, sniffing the atmos- 
phere, prudently took refuge in the residence of the papal 
nuncio. Mobs spilled out again in El Conde Street, singing 
"Libertad, libertad" 

The seven-man Council of State reconvened with a new 
president, Rafael Bonnelly, a leading figure in the U.C.N. 
The idea now was firmly implanted that the Council would 
rule as a caretaker government while the nation prepared 
for a general election. Dr. Fiallo was not eligible for the 
Council if he was to run as a presidential candidate. Even- 
tually, both Balaguer and Rodriguez Echavarria were flown 
off to exile, with visas to Puerto Rico shrewdly arranged by 
Washington to get them out of the way. Was this, finally, 
the happy end to the tale? Not at all. Now the United States 
was the object of scorn by left-wing Dominicans who said 
Balaguer and Rodriguez Echavarria should not have been 
granted visas but should have been kept in Santo Domingo 
to face punishment. Anti- Yankee rioters burned the official 
car of the newly appointed United States ambassador, and, 
as a further token, looted the offices of Pan American Air- 
ways. Hoepelman disclaimed any student participation, 

300 



saying the demonstration was organized by a new party 
known as the Dominican Popular Movement, led by a 
Castroite named Maximo Lopez Molina. It was plain, early 
on, that Castro could be expected to make life as awkward 
as possible for the Dominican Republic's fresh government ; 
it was as vital to him that a solution backed by Washington 
should fail as it was to Washington that it should succeed. 

It was also clear that the birth of democracy could be 
painful and unsettling. At least, under Trujillo, the opposi- 
tion was reasonably united; now the political parties showed 
the fragmentation characteristic of Latin America. Tavarez 
Justo explained it this way: "Previously, we were all pre- 
occupied with a consuming hatred for Trujillo, the need to 
get rid of him. In effect, it was a negative force. Now for the 
first time we all the parties are faced with the realities of 
building a program." But such was the irony in a country- 
learning to breathe politically that Tavarez Justo's 14th of 
June Movement was already weakened by internal rebel- 
lion ; even the main party, U.C.N., had its disturbing splinter 
groups, one of them led by a Marxist politician, Jimenez 
Grullon, who had just returned after twenty-six years in 
exile to accuse Dr. Fiallo of possessing a "mentality of the 
oligarchy." Dr. Fiallo, in turn, said that Jimenez Grullon 
"has been away so long he has lost touch with the people 
and their needs." Another long-time exile, Juan Bosch, was 
directing the moderately leftist Dominican Revolutionary 
Party and busily condemning his rivals for being either 
radical or reactionary. 

I arrived in Santo Domingo just as people were preparing 
to celebrate the first anniversary of El Benefactor's down- 
fall. The mood was a pathetic mixture of fear for the present 
and hope for the future. Trujilloism was far from ended, in 
the sense that few men in leading positions were completely 
free from charges of past collaboration with the dictator; 
this was almost inevitable in a state operated by one man 

301 



who controlled almost all essential services and industries. 
Even the head of the Council of State, President Bonnelly, 
had at one time been Trujillo's minister of education. If 
the others on the Council two physicians, a priest, two 
businessmen and a lawyer had a "clean" record, they also 
lacked, as a result, experience in government administra- 
tion. And so there was a vicious circle: in order to function 
with any degree of efficiency, the government still had to 
rely on men who had helped build up Trujillo's power. 

On a visit to the National Palace I passed through several 
rings of heavily armed guards: a sign, President Bonnelly 
assured me, of the Council's determination to prevent fur- 
ther attempts at a coup. This, however, was a rather lame 
explanation, because it was obvious that the Council was 
able to operate only with the approval of the still powerful 
military leftovers from Trujillo's time. Any future govern- 
ment would also have to reckon with a military grip, despite 
soldiers' pleas that they preferred to stay "on the people's 
side." A few of the main Trujillo officers had been retired, 
but there was no massive purge of the old guard. Any at- 
tempt to clean house thoroughly would lead automatically 
to armed conflict. Civilian politicians even had to tread 
warily in dealing with the loathed S.I.M. secret police; a 
year after Trujillo, only a handful were under arrest, and 
not one S.I.M. officer had yet gone on trial. Curiously 
enough, this shaky truce with the military prevented mas- 
sive bloodletting. Thousands of Dominican families were 
waiting to settle scores with the men who had oppressed 
them, but there was, by necessity, restraint. When one con- 
siders revolutions in other countries, the Dominican case 
was indeed remarkable; not more than forty persons died 
in the several riots and demonstrations that took place in 
the turbulent months following Trujillo's assassination. 

"But you really can't call it a revolution, like Mexico's 
or Cuba's," said German Ornes, sitting in a frame of dejec- 

302 



tion in his El Caribe office. "It is a transformation, not a 
revolution/' Ones' prime concern was that too little was 
being done to start basic social and economic reforms. The 
Dominican Republic, he pointed out, was in a unique posi- 
tion. Since most of the land had been owned by the Trujillos, 
and now was confiscated in the name of the state, it was a 
perfect chance to introduce land distribution without the 
obstacles that exist in other Latin- American countries that 
have strongly entrenched landowning classes. "We must set 
up cooperatives, or in some other ways let the people feel 
they are participating in national life and helping them- 
selves," Ornes said. "I thought Trujillo had destroyed the 
old oligarchy, and I even wrote this in my book. But I was 
wrong. The same men are active again, and we are drifting 
backwards/' In essence, he feared that eventually much of 
the former Trujillo property would be sold privately to in- 
dividuals "who have the same mentality as the oligarchs 
in Peru." 

Editor Ornes was not alone in this thinking. Student 
Hoepelman said, too, that he did not believe there would be 
substantial social changes "because the ones in power do not 
seem to have a clear vision of the changes necessary. If 
changes are not made if land goes back into private hands 
we will be compelled to make more Molotov cocktails." 
Dr. Fiallo told me that he would not like to see the Trujillo 
estates publicly administered ; rather, he said, they should 
be sold to private individuals or organizations "who would 
do a better job of running the land than any government." 
But to the far left of the scale, Tavarez Justo said land 
must be divided among peasants working in cooperatives, 
with larger sugar plantations remaining in state hands for 
efficient production. Dr. Fiallo calls Tavarez Justo a "Com- 
munist." If he is a Communist, he does not sound like one. 
He argues that Castro has done some good things, and many 

303 



bad things, and he defines his 14th of June Movement as 
being close in sentiment to Britain's Labor Party. 

The name-calling, the uncertain loyalties, the plain polit- 
ical shufflings, might be expected in any society reaching out 
for a new way of life. But some odd sidelights also accom- 
panied the Dominicans' plunge toward democracy. Victor 
Salient, for example, welcomed the freedom from fear and 
the chance to strike (bank messengers got a raise of ten 
pesos a month after a three-day walkout) but he disliked 
it when others went on strike and tied up services or sup- 
plies; at least under Trujillo's cold machine there was effi- 
ciency. When I last saw Salient he complained: "We haven't 
been able to get cooking oil for a week" (because of a strike 
at the bottling plant), and "milk for our children is scarce" 
(because of faulty administration of the confiscated Trujillo 
farms and dairies) . 

German Ornes was having a task trying to educate people 
to the unfamiliar luxury of a free press. He printed on the 
front page of El Caribe a letter from the ex-president, in 
which Balaguer, writing from Puerto Rico, warned that the 
Dominican Republic was in danger of falling once again 
under a one-party system. Balaguer generously offered ad- 
vice on how to avoid this peril. As soon as the letter 
appeared, Ornes received threatening phone calls from mem- 
bers of the various political parties. "It was not what 
Balaguer said that bothered them," the editor recounted, 
"but the fact that we had given him a public forum. They 
simply couldn't understand that people should have a 
chance to hear all sides of a story. Under Trujillo there was 
only one side." 

Confusion also existed regarding the United States "inter- 
vention," which had been slow to start under Trujillo but 
was effectively and intelligently applied as time went on. 
Hoepelman, in remembering the approach of the United 
States fleet to speed the exit of the two uncles, said: "At 

304 



first I didn't like it, but then I realized the pressure was 
for our good. It would have been better if it had ended there. 
But it seems to me that Washington's influence went too 
far, that the Council of State was set up as a convenience 
for the United States. The United States got rid of Balaguer 
only because it discovered he was not trustworthy.' 3 Such 
is the irrational talk one hears among a people who deplore 
intervention in principle but accept it if it conforms to what 
they consider a proper course. 

Even the acting president, Bonnelly, rationalized about 
the United States warships: "Since the action did not go 
further than the presence of vessels outside territorial 
waters, no discussion is necessary. A discussion would be 
possible if a landing of Marines had taken place." Ones, 
too, was clearly at conflict with himself over this issue. He 
said flatly : "There must be no intervention in Latin Amer- 
ica." And then he contradicted himself by adding: "The 
only good example of intervention that I know of was here 
in the Dominican Republic." This statement, in turn, was 
qualified by still another, for he condemned the United 
States for making possible Trujillo's takeover in 1930, then 
for backing him until only a year or so before his fall. "But," 
Ornes said after a bit more reflection, "I suppose we are to 
be blamed, too. After all, we put up with him for nearly 
thirty-two years." 

"What else could you have done?" I asked. 

"Well," said Ornes, "we finally killed him, didn't we?" 

Again this should be the place to write a firm "finis" to 
the story, but in many ways the story of the Dominican 
Republic is only beginning. The Trujillo clan looted the na- 
tional treasury before their flight, weakening still further the 
economic structure. To help revive the economy, Washing- 
ton pushed through large sums of Alliance for Progress aid; 
it also recruited Puerto Rico farm experts and industrial 
advisers who arrived in Santo Domingo speaking the same 

305 



language as the Dominicans and minimizing any possible 
criticism of "Yankee neo-colonialism." The United States 
was openly committed to convert the Dominican Republic 
into a showcase of democracy and prosperity for other Latin 
Americans to compare with Cuba next door. Only the pas- 
sage of time would answer the question whether the military 
and the politicians would pitch in to give their country 
stability. 

Meanwhile, there were some encouraging signs. The first 
freely conducted election in decades took place in December. 
The fact that it was carried out peacefully, without major 
violence, was in itself almost a political miracle. Dominicans 
thus demonstrated a capacity and desire for democratic 
process. The results of the election were of far more than 
domestic interest, for they reflected a mood for reform, of 
a liberal or "left" variety, that is pressing from below the 
surface throughout Latin America. Juan Bosch, the mod- 
erate leftist, defeated Dr. Fiallo for the presidency. Although 
Dr. Fiallo was highly respected, and during the campaign 
proposed substantial economic and social reform, he was 
still identified with conservatism. Dominicans obviously pre- 
ferred the "radicalism" of Bosch, who had no inner conflict 
about basic land reform for the benefit of the republic's 
predominantly rural population. 

Most of the forecasts had said Dr. Fiallo would win, 
largely because he had remained inside the Dominican Re- 
public to fight Trujilloism, while Bosch, a novelist and polit- 
ical science professor, had spent a quarter of a century in 
exile and security abroad. What the forecasts obviously 
failed to take into account was the temper of an impover- 
ished, restless people more concerned about hope for the 
future than politics of the past. Fidel Castro had no hand in 
Bosch's election. There was no evidence of foreign "infiltra- 
tion." On the contrary, O.A.S. had its observers present to 
ensure that Dominicans were neither tricked nor coerced in 

306 



their selection of a leader. They chose a man of the distinct 
left, though, happily, non-Communist. However, the extent 
to which President-elect Bosch would be able to pursue his 
objective of wholesale reform remained to be seen, for he 
was far from popular with conservative elements and pow- 
erful Trujillo military holdovers. 



307 



11 



'The Stars Are Low Tonight" 



MY FIRST VISIT TO THE CUBA OF CASTRO, in August of 1960, 

I was greeted, along with other passengers at Havana air- 
port, by a trio of guitarists who gallantly tried to compete 
with the drone of engines all around. As I stepped from the 
plane, the musicians broke into a cheerful smile, struck a 
happy tune and made me feel that perhaps Havana was 
still the gay place the old travel folders extolled. It was true 
that the waiting rooms were crowded with uneasy Cubans 
about to board the aircraft that had brought me over from 
Miami and was now going back. But these were the same 
kind of people who had begun the exodus shortly after the 
barbudos, the bearded ones, had roared triumphantly into 
Havana in January of 1959 to the ecstatic acclaim of at 
least 95 per cent of the populace. Among them were former 
Batista supporters or members of the haute bourgeoisie, 
disgruntled shopkeepers, and landowners who could hardly 
be expected to understand the mood of the revolution. 

It was equally true that a slightly discordant note was 
reached on the radio of the taxi transporting me to the cen- 
ter of town; now another trio was at work, broadcasting a 
jingle, "Fidel Castro our pa-pa, Eisenhower ha-haha." Still, 

308 



this could be put down to expected, if unsophisticated, exu- 
berance of a small nation feeling new confidence in the 
shadow of a mighty nation it had long accused of domina- 
tion. Other things were going pretty well. The "humanism" 
referred to by Castro may have smacked a little of commu- 
nism, but not more than a little. Fewer than 10 per cent of 
Cuba's homes and farms had been "intervened" that is, 
taken over by the state and most of these had belonged 
anyway to Batista men and were now suitably used by 
Batista victims. There was plenty of food, and if gambling 
casinos, once frequented by American tourists, were tem- 
porarily closed in a surge of puritanism, the restaurants and 
night clubs offered enough scintillating diversity. At least 
70 per cent of the people continued to give Castro their 
enthusiastic support. 

On my second look at the country, in February, 1961, the 
demarcation had sharpened. Cuba unquestionably had gone 
"socialist"; 80 per cent of property had now been nation- 
alized, and Castro's following had declined, though it still 
embraced better than half of the 7 million Cubans. How- 
ever, the surface changes in six months were not overly 
distressing; food shelves remained stocked if not with 
United States hams, at least with Polish hams. And the 
slogans were not much more devastating than the familiar 
Cuba si, yanqui no. It was on my third round, in March, 
1962, that I found a shocking contrast. Instead of the 
strumming of guitars, I was greeted by the blasting from 
amplifiers of the Internationale. The Cubans who now stood 
by to depart on my plane were no longer exclusively of the 
wealthy or aristocratic classes; they included artisans and 
truck drivers and other wage-earners. They were leaving 
behind them, on the other side of the glass barricades of 
Jose Marti airport, simply clad and tearful relatives. They 
were also leaving freshly introduced ration books, hunger, 
and disenchantment. 

309 



If the United States break in diplomatic relations and the 
trade embargo had had such quick effect, were not the 
Russians and other Communist-bloc nations supposed to 
be filling the gap, to be feeding the Cubans and helping to 
revitalize their industries? What had gone wrong, from 
Castro's point of view? Venceremos, the banners across 
Havana buildings proclaimed: "We will win." But the ban- 
ners had said the same only a year previously; and now, at 
least to the eye, Havana had the frightening appearance 
of a person dying of cancer. Who was really winning? The 
Americans, the Russians, or the Cubans? What did Castro 
mean by "Libre" in the huge signs that confront every vis- 
itor? Cuba: Territorio Libre de America. For Cuba was 
unmistakably a police state. 

And yet the ones who still supported him, perhaps half, 
perhaps fewer than half the population, kept repeating 
many times over the word dignidad. "We have attained 
dignity, the rest will follow," said a youthful Cuban, and 
he, possibly, in this simple language, was telling why the 
Cuban example, despite its setbacks or even horrors, was so 
meaningful to so many Latin Americans. Fidel Castro had 
a cynical but valid claim when he boasted to fellow Latin 
Americans, after the United States started a new and differ- 
ent aid program, "You have got to thank me for all that 
yanqui money." But was this the only reason why Cuba 
was so important in the Latin-American mind? If the Cuban 
revolution itself was inevitable, did the revolution inevi- 
tably have to take a Communist direction? 

In the whirlpool of questions that occur today, and in 
the rigid bitterness of the United States toward the Cuban 
regime, what is sometimes lacking is perspective. It is con- 
venient to talk in terms of black and white, of right and 
wrong, and to forget that at no time in the early stages of 
the Cuban revolution was there evidence of a Communist- 
Castro plot. On the contrary, the Communists in Cuba ini- 

310 



tially opposed Castro; moreover, it took the Russians almost 
two years after Castro's entry into Havana to decide that 
he was worth a tangible investment. The popular miscon- 
ception today in North America is of an ordained, carefully 
calculated Communist course long before the world had 
heard of Fidel Castro. The lessons of history are important 
to relearn: essential, in fact, if we are to understand the 
atmosphere of the rest of Latin America and know how to 
accept the future Castros who are bound to arise, whether 
or not the prototype himself survives very long. 

The story of Cuba's drift toward communism breaks into 
two parts. The first part is relatively easy to sort out with 
some certainty; for it involves history and statistics, and, 
to a degree, a short-sighted United States policy: a com- 
pound of government and business practices. This first part 
need not have ended disastrously. The second part, begin- 
ning with Castro's ill-fated visit to Washington three months 
after his takeover, is more complex in its sequence ; and one 
cannot be so dogmatic about the causes and effects. Never- 
theless, there is again indication that Washington, had it 
understood the mood of Cuba, might conceivably have 
avoided what it now calls a threat to hemisphere security. 
In citing the record, I am not so much reflecting my own 
appraisal as I am the estimate of responsible Latin Amer- 
icans who, unlike North Americans, tend to regard Cuba in 
a whole frame and not merely in convenient compartments 
that portray Castro as all-villain. This broad view does 
much to explain why Latin- American intellectuals and many 
political figures sympathize with the Cuban revolution in its 
essentials, even though deploring the excesses of Castroism. 

Cuba enjoyed a higher standard of living than most Latin- 
American countries; but income was unevenly distributed, 
especially in farming, which dominated the economy. Al- 
though people in Havana benefited from proximity to the 

311 



United States, the life of campesinos was characterized by 
extremely poor utilization of land and human resources. 
Only about half of the soil was cultivated. Of this territory, 
fully 75 per cent was turned to sugar plantations, building 
up one crop that accounted for the bulk of revenues. One 
of the richest agricultural states in the world, Cuba could 
not feed herself; she imported an enormous amount of food, 
about $100 million worth annually. Meanwhile,jone_Jhircl 
of th^arable^land wa,s in American hands, and one third 
was owned by TJuTSan landlords, many of them absentees 
who disported themselves in the luxury of Havana or Miami 
and paid more allegiance to United States interests than 
they did to their own nation's needs. 

Here was a set of circumstances crying for change, espe- 
cially since American planters saw little compulsion, either, 
to involve themselves in the welfare of their employees. 
Three out of four campesinos worked as hired hands in the 
sugar plantations, usually for peak periods totaling four 
months of the year. The rest of the time they were idle and 
unpaid, reduced to subsistence living in dingy bohios, huts. 
Including city workers, almost one quarter of Cubans were 
constantly unemployed, a greater proportion even than in 
Canada or the United States at the height of the depression 
of the 1930's. Ernesto "Che" Guevara, one of the master- 
minds of the revolution, was not far off the mark when he 
outlined the old extremes of wealth and poverty. Cuba's 
cities, with the aid of United States technocracy, had five 
television channels and scores of radio stations. But when 
a group of ignorant rural children saw for the first time 
electric lights, burning in a Castro-built schoolhouse, they 
exclaimed : "The stars are low tonight." 

Castro's movement against the Batista regime started in 
the hills of the Sierra Maestra, largely with the blessing of 
the peasants. He spoke of land reform as an inducement. 
His officers were from the intellectual and middle classes, 

312 



but at least three quarters of his fighting men were of farm 
ancestry. In those early days the Communists dismissed 
Castro as an ineffectual "adventurer/ 7 in other words an 
amateur, and called him, according to their literature, "a 
romantic petit bourgeois." Basically, they disliked the fact 
that he had been able, where they had failed, to gain 
strength from the peasantry; such limited success as the 
Communists could claim was in the cities, among factory 
workers, a hangover from an old Batista deal to keep labor 
in line. But as Castro grew in stature, and when it appeared 
in mid-1958 that his revolt might succeed, the Communists 
sent an emissary, Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, into the hills to 
meet him and pledge their support. Castro may have had 
some woolly Marxist ideas; but, as he confessed years later, 
he had never been patient enough to get beyond page 370 
in Marx's three-volume Das Kapital. His was to be a Cuban 
reformation geared to Cuban conditions. 

In January, 1959 ? as Castro arrived in glory in Havana, 
his main pronouncements were pro-Cuban and not anti- 
American. He spoke of the urgency of agrarian reform, 
in a land dominated by individual United States and ab- 
sentee landowners, and sensible social changes that even 
some officers at the U.S. Embassy, with whom I later spoke, 
had considered essential and had said so in their reports to 
the State Department. This enlightened American feeling, 
however, was not shared by the ambassador at the time, 
Earl E. T. Smith, a businessman and political appointee. 
Smith, in the Cuban view, was the archdisciple of "economic 
imperialism"; his sole interest was to protect United States 
investments that had been consolidated under Batista. 
These investments, of course, would be affected in any na- 
tionalization program. A month after Batista's departure, 
Smith was replaced by Philip Bonsai, an ambassador of rare 
stature and knowledge: a career diplomat who spoke Span- 
ish and understood Cubans. When Bonsai arrived, relations 

313 



between the United States and Cuba, though becoming 
strained, were still correct and hopeful. The slogan, "Cuba 
yes, Yankee no/' had not yet been developed; instead, it 
was, "Revolution as Cuban as the palm trees." 

The real, visible turning point came in April. Castro, on 
an invitation to speak to the American Society of News- 
paper Editors, went to Washington accompanied by eco- 
nomic advisers. Publicly he announced: "We did not come 
here to get money. Many men come here to sell their souls. 
We are not that kind of people; we want only an under- 
standing of the deep Cuban revolution." However, aside 
from an obvious desire to build sympathy, the motive un- 
doubtedly was to obtain a United States loan that would 
help Cuba carry out agrarian reform (this has been reported 
by advisers who were with Castro and have since broken 
with him) . Castro was not seen by President Eisenhower. 

Technically, it was not necessary for the President of the 
United States to meet with the new leader of Cuba, since 
this was not an official state visit. But many months follow- 
ing this event, I encountered bitterness among informed 
Cubans, men who were disillusioned not only with their own 
regime but with the United States government ; sadly, they 
recalled that Eisenhower had been busy playing golf. 
Whether the golf game was exaggerated out of proportion, 
it at least pointed up the sensitivity of Cubans groping for 
some recognition of their importance status. One wonders 
how Nikita Khrushchev would have behaved under similar 
circumstances ; the Russians do not stand on protocol when 
there is a chance to win friends. 

Castro was well received by the public, and the Acting 
Secretary of State, Christian A. Herter, gave a luncheon in 
his honor. He also had a session with the Vice President, 
Richard Nixon. According to some Cuban and United States 
reporters, Nixon, instead of talking of land reform a prior- 
ity stressed by Embassy officials but not, apparently, deemed 

314 



advisable at the State Department level spent most of his 
time warning Castro not to touch United States property in 
Cuba. Cubans argue that Nixon, characterizing American 
thinking, could not visualize the necessity for drastic eco- 
nomic and social changes, since these conjured up the hor- 
rible prospect of "socialism/ 7 a word abhorrent to the United 
States. Moreover, any state move against United States 
property in Cuba could set up a chain reaction throughout 
Latin America, where the United States had substantial 
holdings. There are some people, on the other hand, who 
claim that the Administration would have welcomed a re- 
quest for a loan to get agrarian reform underway and pay 
American investors for any nationalization of the sugar 
estates. But, still according to this version, the United States 
did not want to make the first overtures lest Castro would 
accuse it of attempting bribery (the same kind of bribery- 
Cubans said had gone on during the Batista era). Castro, 
for his part, was too proud to ask directly for a loan or 
financial assistance that would have been interpreted as a 
handout. 

The foregoing part of the story is muffled in contradic- 
tions and counterclaims, and will long be debated. What- 
ever the truth, the known facts are these: the highest 
financial authorities approached by Castro aides during his 
trip to Washington were those of the World Bank and the 
International Monetary Fund; at no time were there nego- 
tiations on the level of the United States Administration. 
On reflection, some State Department officials have admitted 
to me that feelers could have been made indirectly, through 
second parties, thus saving face on both sides, a device com- 
monly used by European statesmen. But the tragic sum 
total was that Castro left the United States empty-handed 
and indignant. From New York he flew to Buenos Aires to 
attend a meeting of the "Committee of Twenty-One/' a new 
economic unit of the Organization of American States. There 

315 



he astonished everyone by proposing what later was to 
become the basis of the Alliance for Progress ; he suggested 
that the United States should advance to Latin- American 
countries fifty billion dollars over a ten-year period to fi- 
nance the economic and social development of the continent. 

The proposal got nowhere. But it enhanced Castro's rep- 
utation among at least some Latin Americans: the ones 
who even today attempt to place in focus the sequence of 
happenings so that failures and betrayals would be blamed 
not only on Cuba but on the United States as well. In 
Caracas, for example, Ignacio Luis Arcaya, who is the 
Number Two man in the Republican Democratic Union 
(U.R.D.), the second strongest party in Venezuela, spoke to 
me for a concentrated two hours on this subject. When 
U.R.D. was still in coalition with Betancourt's Accion Dem- 
ocratica Party, Arcaya served as foreign minister; he re- 
signed in 1960, refusing to follow Betancourt's instructions 
to sign a resolution at a San Jose conference of O.A.S. 
obliquely chastizing Cuba for accepting Soviet aid. 

But, returning to the Buenos Aires meeting of 1959, 
Arcaya, who was there, said : "The United States in its crazi- 
ness faced too late the problem of Castro. Castro in many 
ways has a child's mind, and in Buenos Aires he sounded as 
though he was talking to a doll. However, after he proposed 
that the United States should solve Latin America's prob- 
lems by lending a lot of money, I remember talking with 
Thomas C. Mann (Assistant Secretary of State for Eco- 
nomic Affairs) and saying that this particular idea of 
Castro's was a good one. Mann said, 'Impossible. How can 
we expect the American taxpayer to go for it?' I said, T)o 
it now, while there is still time not four or five years from 
now.' Instead, the United States delegation got Nicaragua 
and Haiti to say that Castro was insulting the dignity of 
Latin- American countries by begging for money. That was 

316 



the end of that. Now Washington says that the Alliance for 
Progress is the salvation of Latin America." 

If Arcaya was demonstrating remarkable hindsight, he 
was expressing at the same time a commonly heard (though 
nongovernmental) dilemma in Venezuela as in other repub- 
lics: "The trouble today is that there is a fight between the 
United States and Cuba: the big fish trying to swallow the 
small one. We have to be on the side of Fidel Castro because 
he is a symbol for all Latin America." 

The open, no-holds-barred fight built up swiftly, and the 
violent hate campaigns began on both sides, with Castro in 
July, 1959, accusing the United States of "interfering" in 
Cuban affairs; there is little doubt that he plunged into an 
unjust and vitriolic campaign of distortions and half-truths 
against the United States government ("imperialist, ter- 
rorist, aggressive"). Even the well-disposed Ambassador 
Bonsai received personal insults. Gradually, heartsick and 
gloomy, Bonsai felt impelled to talk to other diplomats 
about the "cynical" attitude of the Castro regime. 

There are some who say that the United States showed 
great patience and forbearance, striving to avoid counter- 
charges that would impair disastrously United States-Cuban 
relations. There are others, however, who argue that the 
United States, as a big and mighty power, should have 
shown even more restraint, should have understood as 
hard as it might have been the unpleasant truth that a 
small Latin- American state was letting off steam and was 
acting like a petulant child that had just told Big Daddy 
where to get off. The British, in their history of gunboat 
diplomacy, have heard much language of abuse, but over 
the centuries have learned to cope with it. When Ghana 
achieved independence, Kwame Nkrumah continued to 
shout about Britain's "evil colonialism." Such newspapers 
as London's conservative Daily Express urged that Ghana 
be taught a lesson and expelled from the Commonwealth- 

317 



But Prime Minister Macmillan and the British government, 
aware that in any revolution someone has to be the whipping 
boy, kept silent and ignored the jibes; Ghana and Britain 
today are on friendly terms. It was not the United States 
press alone that reacted against Castro's abusive language. 
The State Department itself joined in the battle of words, 
giving Castro a chance to goad his people into still more 
anti-Americanism and warn them to beware of "counter- 
revolutionaries/' 

There is no doubt that some of the leaders of the revolu- 
tion, Guevara among them, had at least flirted at one time 
with communism. And it may well be that they were happily 
awaiting this turn in order to introduce with greater ease a 
Communist pattern in Cuba. Whatever the reasons, the 
Communists undoubtedly came into their own rather early 
on, when two Communist trade unionists volunteered to 
go to Prague and, through channels there, got the Russians 
to offer trade on barter, an appealing prospect to Castro 
confronted by a growing shortage of cash. This was followed, 
in February, 1960, by a visit to Havana of Anastas Mikoyan 
and a trade agreement between Cuba and the Soviet Union, 
an agreement to which the United States took exception. 

The Partido Socialista Popular (Communist Party), as 
a reward for starting the ball rolling in Prague, was given 
the status of an open, legal party: the only political party, 
in fact, in Cuba, since Castro's 26th of July Movement was 
not a political entity, even in those days. Communists re- 
sumed full leadership of the trade unions, and through them 
developed a foolproof device for confiscation of Cuban prop- 
erty as well as United States holdings. Union workers had 
simply to complain that the management of a company 
was "counterrevolutionary" and the government "inter- 
vened." Action by Cuba was followed by quick reaction by 
the United States. When Castro took over American oil 
firms, claiming they had violated Cuban law by refusing to 

318 



refine Soviet oil, Washington promptly cut the quantity of 
Cuban sugar it had been buying. The Russians and Chinese 
picked up much of the slack, throwing the Cubans into 
greater economic dependency on them. 

Cubans quote the record and say they were compelled to 
deal with Communist countries in order to save their econ- 
omy. Some European and Latin-American commentators 
hold that Castro was doing nothing more than Nasser did 
during the Egyptian revolution : playing off the East against 
the West in order to attract the best of two worlds. This 
argument, of course, loses some of its force when one re- 
members that Nasser, in dealing with the Russians, had no 
truck with any internal Communist group. Nevertheless, 
the broad, big issue must still be kept in mind. Patrick 
O'Donovan, the British journalist who won major United 
States awards for his sympathetic accounts of the American 
scene over a number of years for The Observer of London, 
found himself reporting from Havana as late as February 
19, 1961 : "I do not believe that the revolution was a Com- 
munist conspiracy. ... It has been bending further and fur- 
ther in the direction of communism, because its leaders are 
jDp^porjaniists^and have got almost all they asked from the 
Soviets, because they have been utterly rejected by the 
West. Even to make the sort of revolution they planned in 
the hills . . . the breaking of the economic and political power 
of the foreign companies, the redistribution of land, the 
total destruction of the old pro-American regime, this would 
have meant the same degree of furious not-wanting-to- 
understand rejection. The American fear of communism so 
close to her shores, the intransigence of her interested busi- 
ness leaders, and of their natural representatives in Congress 
has gone far to create and plant communism in Cuba. 7 ' 

Harsh though this appraisal might seem to United States 
citizens, it does represent dispassionate foreign opinion. 
More specifically, it is an Accurate mirror on much Latin- 

319 



American thinking. "Even if Fidel had Donald Duck as his 
symbol, American business circles would still try to destroy 
him/ 5 commented a Brazilian congressman, Wilmar Orlando 
Dias. "His crime had nothing to do with doctrine : it is the 
fact that he has ended the dominance of the big United 
States corporations. We are all, in varying degrees, in the 
same cage, and even if we plan to use different methods 
from Castro's, our object is the same: to free ourselves from 
the political and economic grip of the United States." 

Thus, the main point produced by Latin Americans is 
that Castro probably would not have been considered such 
,a knave if United States business interests had not been 
aroused. Much of the public indignation in the United 
States undoubtedly came from the fact that the regime 
seized the property of United States concerns without pay- 
ing a cent as compensation. This bitter resentment only 
contributed to a breakdown in contact and a refusal even 
to attempt to fathom the nature of Cuba's revolution and 
the reasons behind it. But lost in the uproar was a barely 
publicized note. For more than twelve years the United 
States government had made available to United States 
investors going into foreign countries an inexpensive insur- 
ance policy. The policy, underwritten by the American tax- 
payer, guaranteed against outright seizure, nationalization 
of assets, sudden restrictions on the export of profits, or 
other unforeseeable developments. Ironically, not a single 
American enterprise confiscated in Cuba had ever bothered 
to take out the insurance. Here was a touch of arrogance, 
myopia, or shocking unawareness of the real mood of 
Cubans. Today, of course, in the aftermath of the Cuban 
experience, United States investors in Latin America are 
more realistic and are willing to apply for the policy. 

In this speedy world of emerging nations, of former colo- 
nies, political or economic, the story of Cuba is crucial. I 
mention "political" as distinct from "economic" colonies, 

320 



because this is a differentiation that even anti-Castro Cubans 
make in an effort to trace the background of the revolution. 
The British, at the height of their empire days, may have 
had a profit motive in establishing colonies; but they also 
had a sense of responsibility toward the people they di- 
rected. They built hospitals and schools; and generally they 
showed an obligation, even if paternalistic, toward the wel- 
fare of their subjects. The same instinct may have applied in 
the cases of individual United States firms setting up busi- 
ness in Cuba; and, in fact, it can be said that Cubans, 
under American economic paternalism, enjoyed a better 
material scale than all but one or two other Latin- American 
countries. But by the very nature of the American system 
of free enterprise there could be no control from Washington 
to ensure that all firms would take into account the interests 
and needs of the Cuban people. 

Many of these firms, in self-defense, pleaded that they 
could do business only by bribing the old regimes, latterly 
the Batista government. It is true, in turn, that Batista did 
build some schools, but again for a profit motive. Some of 
the schools, once fat construction contracts had been padded 
in a series of kickbacks, never opened their doors. In others, 
teachers were hired at relatively high salaries and permitted 
to subcontract their jobs to less qualified teachers at lesser 
salaries; they themselves lived off the profit margin. This 
kind of corruption only added fuel to the fire of nationalism 
among a people who saw much of the benefit of American 
enterprise going into a few pockets and not their own. 

I am not at all sure that the U.S. State Department was 
wrong when it assumed early on that Castro's revolution 
was turning Communist; I am not even sure that much 
could have been saved if the United States had acted in a 
different fashion. These are now academic debates because 
Cuba, as of 1962, was plainly Communist. I am merely 
throwing out a few observations most commonly heard 

321 



among Latin Americans who plead for a better understand- 
ing of the Cuban transition and who fear the same pattern 
in their own countries; if the same set of conditions continue 
to prevail. 

Much of the atmosphere of Cuba on my last visit had 
turned, from a formerly hopeful and colorful one, to grim- 
ness and grayness, even in small ways. Gone were the pic- 
turesque characters who had made Havana, when the inflow 
of tourists ceased, an intriguing Hong Kong or Tangier of 
the Americas. What, for instance, had happened to the 
counterparts of Paul Wilson, an Americano I met, as he 
sat in dejection in Sloppy Joe's bar, one hot August after- 
noon in 1960? Wilson, thirty years old, thin-faced and highly 
strung, was by his own admission a former convict. He 
claimed he had worked as a "spy 57 for the U.S. Air Force 
in Germany, and was "unjustly" accused of going AWOL 
into East Germany, when, all along he insisted he was 
over the border in pursuit of his trade, espionage. Anyway, 
one irrefutable fact was that Wilson was convicted of grand 
larceny and forging military orders, and he even grandly 
produced for my benefit papers to prove it. Wilson spent 
three years in prison and was then released on parole, on 
the condition that he remain in Miami with his mother. 

But now, as we sat drinking a daiquiri, he said that he 
had been unable to land any job short of ditch-digging, and 
so he had decided to break parole and skip to Cuba. This 
was a fairly shrewd maneuver, since Castro, in his anti- 
Washington temper, was hardly likely to honor any demands 
for Wilson's return. Wilson, on arriving at Havana airport, 
confessed all to immigration officers and said he wanted to 
work for the revolution, either in the secret police or as a 
propagandist. Cuban officials, not knowing what to do with 
him, bundled him off to the Sevilla-Biltmore Hotel and said 
the government would pick up the tab. But now, a week 

322 



later and with no word from anyone about a job, Wilson 
was afraid he would be stuck with the hotel bill and de~ 
ported. He had cabled friends in the United States, asking 
for some money so he could move on to Brazil, far from 
the reach of the F.B.I. 

He was also planning to contact William Morgan, the 
American adventurer who had fought alongside Fidel Castro 
in the Sierra Maestra and had rounded up some counter- 
insurgents making a landing from the Dominican Republic. 
Wilson hoped his fellow countryman was sufficiently well 
in with Castro to ring up and say, "Fidel, I want you to 
help my friend." Wilson was somewhat downhearted when 
I suggested that Morgan, sharing the same fate as other 
Americans who had once served a purpose, was no longer 
a man of influence; he had just been put in charge of a frog 
farm some forty miles from Havana (and subsequently, on 
March 11, 1961, was executed as a "counterrevolutionary"). 

The last I saw of Wilson was when he slipped out for the 
third time in two hours to see if any money had arrived at 
the cable office. On my next visit, six months later, there 
was no sign of Wilson, and I never did discover his fate. 
Sloppy Joe's, however, was still a hangout, though with a 
diminished number of Americans only a few reporters. 
Sloppy Joe's bar was famous long before it became a back- 
drop for the film Our Man in Havana. Dario, the chief 
bartender, remembered how the bar, sixty feet in length, 
was once so crowded with tourists that it took in $6,000 a 
day; now it averaged $30 to $40 a day. It was while sipping 
a daiquiri here that Alec Guinness was recruited by Noel 
Coward for the British Secret Service. Dario, who earned 
$20 for appearing in the brief movie scene at the bar, also 
recalled that part of the fee was eaten up, because Guinness 
and Coward neglected to pay for their drinks. 

If the fictional flavor had vanished, some real-life drama 
still remained in February, 1961, when I sat beside a Cuban 

323 



newsman, listening to his quiet but bitter denunciation of 
Castro. A man came in from the darkened streets, clutching 
a leaflet that he slipped to the Cuban newsman. The leaflet 
had just been dropped from a plane that had cut its engine 
to swoop, undetected by antiaircraft batteries, over Ha- 
vana's rooftops. The leaflet, one of thousands dropped that 
night, urged students to go out on strike "contra, la Urania" 
"What time," asked the Cuban newsman of his friend, "did 
the plane arrive ?" Ten minutes ago, he was told. The Cuban 
newsman glanced at his watch and said, softly, "It was five 
minutes late." 

Alas, on the third visit, a year later, the Cuban newsman 
had gone luckily escaping, I learned, the massive roundup 
of suspected saboteurs that took place immediately after 
the ill-fated invasion attempt of April, 1961. Sloppy Joe's 
was bereft of all "characters'' ; the only tipplers were a few 
hardy Cuban workmen who seemed uncomfortably out of 
place. Also missing were the sounds of explosions the small 
plastic bombs that had occurred with regularity every 
night in Old Havana. The only outward signs of resistance 
to Castro were scribblings on the walls of rest rooms in bars 
and restaurants (and sometimes, with more effect, the firing 
of cane fields to hamper the economy) . The crushing of the 
invasion, and the sweeping in of 50,000 suspects, among 
whom there were many innocents but also, just by the 
sheer weight of chance, key saboteurs had had its effect, 
at least at that point. 

Now the hangout was the bar of the Capri Hotel, a rather 
sad letdown, because "characters" included only a couple of 
Canadian pilots ferrying stuff back and forth between Cuba 
and Canada, one or two visiting British journalists, and a 
small assortment of Britons who posed as reporters but 
whose actual occupations were in doubt (there was still 
trade to be done). Among the legitimate fulltime corre- 

324 



spondents were one man from Reuters, 1 one from Agence 
France-Presse, and an Argentine citizen heading up the 
Associated Press bureau; United Press International was 
staffed entirely by Cubans, working for a Yankee outfit at 
some risk to themselves. 

Since the invasion, there had been active censorship of 
outgoing stories, with a member of the union of telegraphers 
sitting in judgment in every cable office. Nothing was said 
to correspondents about what was cut or killed, unlike the 
old practice of censorship days in Moscow when foreigners 
at least could see the slashings before copy was transmitted. 
In some instances words were even added to alter meaning. 
When Guevara, for example, said in a speech that in some 
sectors production had faltered, and there must be improve- 
ment, a zealous censor changed a dispatch to read that 
production had not slumped and that advances had been 
substantial. In a log kept by Reuters over a ninety-day 
period of 207 cables written, 31 failed to arrive at their 
destination, 44 lost some words, and 10 gained words. The 
hazards to life and limb were equally unpredictable. A 
British free-lance photographer, in Havana two years, had 
been arrested nineteen times, mostly in the past few months. 
Speaking of his last confinement, he said dryly, "Six days 
in, twenty-four hours out." 

The tightened security was only one manifestation of the 
marked changes that had taken place in a year. I was struck 
instantly by the incredible physical deterioration, even to 
the extent of the few cars on the roads of Havana. But the 
main changes were in attitudes, the open grumbling, brought 
about largely by the shortages of food and other essential 
materials. Cuba never had a shortage of government critics; 
these had even existed in 1960 and 1961. 1 remember hearing 

1 The Reuters man, John Bland, was expelled in September, 1962. British, 
European, and Canadian newspapermen, who up to then could enter Cuba 
freely, simply by showing their passports, were now required, as in the case 
of United States reporters, to obtain visas. 

325 



a typical example of the sarcastic humor: a double play 
on G2, the secret police organization, and a favorite Cuban 
song, "We'll Pass a Thousand Years And a Little More." 
Castro, the story went, dropped into a cafe and was promptly 
besieged by admirers. "Say, Fidel," one man finally said, 
"when are we going to have those elections you promised 
so long ago?" Castro motioned toward a jukebox and told 
his questioner to press button G2. Out came the favorite 
song. 

But this was the kind of story spread at the time largely 
by the wealthy Cubans who still remained, and by some of 
the professional groups doctors, lawyers, and journalists 
who had hoped for liberal social reforms and a stable govern- 
ment but feared that Castro was converting the revolution 
into the classical egalitarian lines of class hatred. The stories 
I heard in 1962 were of a much more embittered nature, 
and, more significantly, were told by humble folk who were 
important to the revolution. So long as the big flexible mass 
of people ate sufficiently well, there was reasonable content- 
ment; and the remarks were restrained. But now privation 
had brought about openly resentful comments. One man, a 
dock worker, tried on me what I later discovered was a 
prevalent routine. "I want some boots," he said. 

"Boots?" I said. "How many pairs? One, two?" 

"No, seventy thousand pairs." 

"Seventy thousand?" I echoed. "Don't you know you can 
be put in jail for black marketeering?" 

"Bring them back filled with Marines." 

This was not entirely facetious humor. Anti-Castro 
Cubans realized that the United States would hesitate itself 
to participate in an active invasion without at least a tech- 
nical excuse. But what would happen, they asked, if desper- 
ate housewives started rioting and looting, and a whole 
series of contagious mob scenes took place? What would 
happen if one outburst after another had to be suppressed 

326 



by gunfire and the killing of women? And then if a clandes- 
tine radio appealed, "in the name of the Cuban people," 
for active intervention? The mere fact that these hypothet- 
ical questions were thrown at me was in itself startling, 
for only a year previously I had noted (and reported in news 
dispatches) that any invasion attempt, even by Cuban exiles 
acting in the name of Cuba, would be highly hazardous, 
because the regime still could count on considerable support. 
But now there was a new factor, severe rationing, with 
women creating disturbances in market places when rations 
were not forthcoming. 

In 1961 there were some minor shortages, of foodstuffs and 
household items such as soap ; but these were nothing more 
than petty irritants. In 1962 the shortages had grown to 
ominous proportions. Women lined up outside grocery stores 
and markets at midnight, waiting for the doors to open at 
seven in the morning. When I visited shops at eight o'clock, 
entire supplies had vanished; and the women walked away 
clutching parcels of three or four onions, two or three ba- 
nanas and if they were there early enough three quarters 
of a pound of meat to last a person a week. The only remain- 
ing foodstuffs I saw were tomato puree and bottles of 
ketchup. On ration were twenty-two basic commodities, in- 
cluding milk for young children. In my hotel, the Riviera, 
I had to make do with breakfast of dry toast and black 
coffee; in eight days I had one egg. On nightly tours of the 
best restaurants I was lucky occasionally to find two or three 
bits of stewed beef in a platter; otherwise my meals con- 
sisted of macaroni or black beans, with occasional fruit 
salads as the main course. "If this is the Russian shop win- 
dow for Latin America/ 3 said a non-Communist diplomat, 
"it is a pretty empty one." 

Why had Russia and other Communist powers not done 
more for Cuba? Why had Russia not shipped over masses 
of food and goods to make Cuba in fact the shop window 

327 



for Latin America, to consolidate what would appear to be 
a heaven-sent opportunity? The glib answer was that Rus- 
sia and China, both with harvests below expectation, could 
not afford to feed extra mouths. But this theory was weak- 
ened when one considered that only six or seven million 
additional mouths would not be an overwhelming burden, 
especially since the prize was so valuable. Cuba's food short- 
age became critical only around January and February, 
1962. It is possible that the Russians were misled by earlier 
optimistic forecasts of Castro and his colleagues about the 
Cuban capacity to swing from a primarily sugar economy to 
diversified agriculture; it is likely also that the Cubans 
themselves miscalculated what the Soviet bloc could do for 
them. But more probably and this is a theory shared by 
Western and some Eastern diplomats with whom I spoke in 
Havana the Russians made a slow start in Cuba because 
they were never entirely certain of the stability of the regime 
or the direction in which it was heading. What follows has 
a bearing on this fascinating aspect of the Cuban revolution. 

In August, 1960, 1 stayed at the Havana Libre Hotel. Until 
a few months previously, though owned by the Cuban union 
of gastronomic workers, it had been managed by the Hilton 
chain. And then it was "intervened." An eighteen-year-old 
youth named Rancano was named as "inter ven tor," which 
meant that he was now the director. His qualification for the 
job was that he had once worked as a bus boy in the em- 
ployees' cafeteria (other staff people commented sourly that 
he had never been efficient enough to qualify even for the 
guests' coffee shop). Now, resplendent in militia uniform, 
an automatic and holster prominently in view, Rancano cut 
a dashing figure as he wandered through the lobby. There 
was considerable informality about the way the hotel was 
run, almost symbolic of the island's erratic economy. Six 
elevators were lined up in a double bank, but only two f une- 

328 



tioned at any given moment, usually rising or descending 
together. 

Despite the poor service I found the Havana Libre excit- 
ing, especially since I lived for five days in what amounted 
to the Soviet Embassy. This arrangement came about by 
accident, and it struck a reassuring note: Russian and Cuban 
security is far from perfect. When I checked into the hotel, 
I was given Room 1825, and I was alone on the vast floor 
for almost two weeks (tourists by now had stopped coming). 
But gradually some Russians began to appear. They were, 
I learned, the vanguard for Sergei Koudriavtzev, who was 
about to establish the first Soviet Embassy in Cuba since 
1952. Koudriavtzev, I recalled, had been a secretary in the 
Soviet Embassy in Ottawa back in the 1940's, and was named 
by a cipher clerk, Igor Gouzenko, as the organizer of the 
spy ring that shook Canada, and the West generally, shortly 
after World War II. 

I was not aware of it at the start, but the eighteenth floor 
of the hotel was to be Ambassador Koudriavtzev's new em- 
bassy until permanent quarters could be found. My room, 
at the end of the long corridor, was part of a three-room 
suite, and the next thing I knew was that Koudriavtzev him- 
self, in Rooms 1821-23, was my suite-mate. The inner doors 
were locked; but once in a while, I could hear the ambas- 
sador gargling or engaged in conversation. This small West- 
ern island in a Red Sea was obviously an oversight, and 
some poor Cuban and Russian security officers were going to 
have to do a lot of explaining. Aside from the point that 
I could easily have planted a microphone on Koudriavtzev, 
I received phone calls intended for the Embassy. Once, an 
amused hotel switchboard operator said, "What are you 
doing in that den?" 

Finally, after a few days, I decided it was time to exploit 
my luck, and I slipped a visiting card under Ambassador 
Koudriavtzev's door suggesting a neighborly drink. The next 

329 



morning I had a phone call from someone who said he was 
the ambassador's secretary, saying that while Mr. Kou- 
driavtzev would like very much to meet me especially since 
I was a Canadian and he had fond (!) memories of Canada 
he was terribly busy, and could I wait until next week? 
Ten minutes later the phone rang again. It was, not surpris- 
ingly, the chief room clerk, filled with apologies. He had not 
realized, when I was assigned my room weeks previously, 
that it had been booked by someone else, and could I con- 
veniently move down one floor? 
"When?" I asked. 

"Right away," he said firmly. Later, my switchboard 
operator consoled me by saying I was much safer in my new 
quarters. Only the night before, two small bombs were ex- 
ploded outside the Havana Libre in Ambassador Kou- 
driavtzev's honor. 

I never did get to see him. But Koudriavtzev told some 
envoys that he was bewildered by the so-called Marxism he 
found in Cuba. Old-line Communists were more orthodox 
than the Russians, while younger ones had a Cuban flam- 
boyance irritating to the dour diplomat. Possibly, Kou- 
driavtzev was saying these things to confuse westerners. But 
at that stage another analysis made sense: Koudriavtzev 
was not at all sure that Castro had the stability to stay in 
power, and he was reluctant to take a gamble that might 
prove as much a slap in the face as did the eviction of 
Soviet diplomats from the Congo only a few months pre- 
viously. Certainly there was no great rush on the part of 
the Russians to ship in huge quantities of supplies. Some 
Czech arms began to appear in the fall of 1960, but no sub- 
stantial program of assistance was arrived at until the Com- 
munist summit conference in Moscow in November-Decem- 
ber of that year. 

One theory is that the Chinese got the Russians to agree 
that activities should be stepped up in Latin America, start- 

330 



ing with the natural investment ground of Cuba. Another 
is that Guevara, who in December traveled first to Moscow, 
then to Peking, then back again to Moscow, skilfully played 
the Chinese against the Russians in extracting the greatest 
aid any country outside the Soviet bloc had ever been prom- 
ised. Between them, the Russians and Chinese were now 
committed to take most of Cuba's sugar crop in exchange 
for goods. In addition, Russia extended an initial interest- 
free credit of $200 million; China $60 million; Czechoslo- 
vakia $40 million; East Germany $10 million to be 
spread over the next few years in the construction of Cuban 
factories. 

But still the story was hazy. I had an interview with Gue- 
vara two months after his return, and he spoke glowingly 
and optimistically of the future, thanks to the barter and 
credit arrangements he had just completed. He cited the 
introduction of 180 factories to make substitutes for the 
United States equipment and supplies on which Cuba had 
been reliant. These factories were in various stages of devel- 
opment, he said. Some were merely being "studied/' but 
thirty-four had already been contracted for, and "several" 
would be completed by the end of the year 1961. Just as 
examples, he singled out a Czech-designed plant that would 
be turning out building tools in three months, and another 
Czech plant that would be manufacturing spark plugs ("for 
any kind of car, including American") in December. This 
was by way of refuting the American claim that Cuba would 
collapse without United States replacements for its existing 
machinery. 

"You say," I pointed out, "that your move has been 
against what you call American economic colonialism. Isn't 
there now the danger that you will become totally dependent 
on the Soviet Union and its allies? In other words, they will 
want a reward at Cuba's expense, and you will be back where 
you started." 

331 



Guevara replied by recounting his meeting with China's 
Premier Chou En-lai: "When we were writing the final com- 
munique, in which was mentioned China's 'disinterested' 
help to Cuba, I insisted on clarification until Chou said 
again and again, and we accepted it, that China was not 
disinterested in helping Cuba. On the contrary, China was 
offering quite selfish help, because in helping Cuba the 
Chinese were maintaining the front against United States 
imperialism. And so we were on common ground. Besides, 
it is precisely forbidden for a factory built here to be owned, 
say, by the Chinese. Personally, I do not fear the kind of 
colonialism you speak of. We are giving back as much as 
we receive." 

My interview with Guevara took place in his office at the 
National Bank, of which he was president, shortly before 
he became minister for industry. If Castro was the inspira- 
tional chief of the revolution, Guevara was its brains, the 
acknowledged strategist who applied ability, coolness, and 
competence, in contrast to Castro's bombast and instability. 
A handsome man in his early thirties, the Argentine-born 
physician exuded charm, dedication, and single purpose, to 
make, in his words, "Cuba a fully socialist state." There 
have been suggestions that Guevara was long a Moscow- 
oriented Communist, subject to orders from higher author- 
ity. This allegation has never been substantiated. The truth, 
I believe, is that he was motivated by a deep dislike for the 
United States and a genuine belief in Marxism as an answer 
to problems of impoverishment and illiteracy, but on Latin- 
American terms. Any doubts about Guevara's faith in Marx- 
ism can be dispelled even in the simplest dialogue. Midway 
through the interview, my ballpoint pen ran dry. Guevara 
reached for two fountain pens in the breast pocket of his 
olive-green battle tunic. One was American, the other Rus- 
sian. "Coexistence?" I asked. "Coexistence," he said with a 
grin. 

332 



I tried first the Russian pen, but the nib was rough and 
the ink flow erratic. Then I picked up the American pen; 
it was smooth and efficient. I pointed out how much better 
it was than the Soviet product. "Yes," admitted Guevara. 
"The Russian pen is not very good. But in China I found 
a pen even better than the American one, and it was made 
by the Chinese/' I said I had been to China just a couple 
of years before him and had not found any pen very satis- 
factory. "Two years ago?" said Guevara lightheartedly. "It 
just proves that socialist progress is very rapid." 

But the whole of the interview was not in this easy-going 
vein. At times Guevara was reflective, in admitting to short- 
ages and betraying second thoughts about attitudes toward 
the United States. "Maybe we made mistakes; maybe we 
have not guided ourselves in the best way, the way some 
people with diplomatic experience would have done," he 
confessed, and then went on: "We are honest and simple 
revolutionaries. You should remember the moment when 
actions were taken. We never really planned; we reacted. 
When someone is kicked, he tries to kick back as strongly as 
he can, without thinking whether he will be kicked again." 
But what could be done now to achieve some sort of harmony 
with the United States? "We could look," he said, "to a new 
formula." But he could not spell out further what such a 
formula might consist of, short of emphasizing the sen- 
sitivity of Cubans : "Any new formula would be arrived at 
on equal terms." He added: "If American firms whose prop- 
erty was confiscated would like to send representatives to 
Cuba to discuss ways of settling differences, they would be 
well received." But all this, it was evident, would be within 
the framework of Cuba's economy, which he defined as not 
yet "socialist" (Communist) but swiftly coming near it. 
In sum, Guevara wanted a restoration of trade and diplo- 
matic relations with the United States, but on a "coexist- 
ence" basis. 

333 



I did not detect, at that time, any sense of desperation. 
On the contrary, there was supreme confidence that the 
Cuban economy would be built up with Soviet assistance. 
Shortages? (Salt and soap were absent from the shelves.) 
"These will be remedied very soon, with supplies due in by 
ship/' Guevara said. Future shortages? "We are still not 
able to see exactly the next shortage," he said. "If we could, 
we would have the perfectly planned economy, and this has 
not yet been reached." When did he expect such an ideal 
state? "With the right effort, next year." 

But in the next year, as I saw, the economy of Cuba had 
reached the proportions of chaos and disaster. Where were 
the factories Guevara had forecast with such confidence? 
Where was the foundation of the Soviet-designed steel roll- 
ing mill, with a capacity of 1.2 million tons, which he said 
would be abuilding in 1962? Where, even, were the Czech 
factories for simple farm tools, or spark plugs, or any of the 
other thirty-four industries for which contracts had been let? 
The only establishments so far built by the Eastern partners 
were four insignificant ones: a tomato cannery (Hungarian), 
a cotton mill (Chinese), a biscuit bakery (East German), 
and a pencil factory (Czech). A few Czech and East German 
plants, for household goods, were under construction in the 
interior, but none would be in production before 1963 or 
1964. What had gone wrong? In a remarkably candid public 
speech, Guevara denounced "absurd plans, totally unreal 
dreams about targets or quotas," and heavy-handed bureauc- 
racy. 

"We find ourselves in a paradoxical situation," he said. 
"The revolution is one year older, has dealt with an enor- 
mous number of difficulties, but we are further behind than 
last year. Why? Because we put into action a series of 
bureaucratic brakes, and we have diluted responsibility and 
dynamism ... we have lost our altitude, dropped into an 
air pocket." In essence, Guevara blamed a slump in revolu- 

334 



tionary ardor ; which was true up to a point, but hardly the 
whole explanation. The story, painfully, was that neither 
the Russians, who started slowly, nor the Cubans, who over- 
estimated their own ability, ever anticipated the crisis of 
1962. 

First there was sheer inefficiency on the part of Cubans, 
who, having lost their skilled managerial people, simply 
could not cope with the practical side of planning. For a 
while, when transport broke down, they had an excuse that 
United States replacement parts were unavailable; Czech 
and Soviet trucks (aside from military vehicles) had not yet 
arrived in quantity; besides, it would be prohibitively expen- 
sive to scrap a United States truck just because of a worn-out 
generator and Canadian-made spare parts, contrary to 
United States belief, never filled the gap. Canada's trade 
with Cuba dwindled by 1962 to virtually nothing, because 
Canadian exporters, refusing Cuban barter offers, demanded 
cash payments; Cuba did not have the dollars to spend. 2 
The automotive side was illustrative of the broader picture 
involving all forms of mechanical objects. The Cubans, in 
their pride, had declared that they would be able to patch 
up and make do with old equipment until Soviet-bloc fac- 
tories were in operation. But what happened in practice was 
something else. If, for example, the telephone in your hotel 
room broke down, you were simply moved to another room. 
But the biggest fault was in the lack of coordination. Thou- 
sands of feet of aluminum irrigation pipes were landed at 
Havana docks, there to remain uselessly for months, because 
a Cuban had forgotten or neglected to order the essential 
couplings. "We've got fifty thousand East German volt- 
meters on hand/' lamented a member of the Central Board 
of Planning. "But we haven't the plants to put them in. 

2 Canadian exports to Cuba in 1962 fell to $10,875,000, compared with 
$31,100,000 in 1961. Most of the sales were in pharmaceutical products and 
livestock for breeding purposes. 

335 



What are we supposed to use them for?" Similarly, he said, 
warehouses all over the island were stocked with bits and 
pieces that ultimately would make sense, but in the mean- 
while served no purpose; he estimated that at least a year 
would be required, after factories were erected, to sort out 
the backlog of miscellaneous equipment. 

This failure of distribution was translated in small, and 
yet from a public point of view alarming ways. One night 
at La Roca, once one of Havana's finest restaurants, after 
dining on a barely edible concoction of macaroni and a few 
shreds of nondescript meat, I was confronted by an apolo- 
getic headwaiter who said some fresh lobster and shrimp 
had just arrived (it was 10:30 P.M. and the restaurant was 
about to close because it had finished even the macaroni). 
The public ran into worse problems in state markets and 
shops while waiting the arrival of essential foodstuffs. Tied 
in with sloppy distribution was the overwhelming bureauc- 
racy to which Guevara admitted. Overcentralization stifled 
initiative and slowed down the normal working process. In 
Havana, as a tiny example, I had to make two trips to a 
government office in order to obtain an exit permit; the 
formality could have been handled in five minutes, but it 
involved a loss of five hours of time. 

Such distortion of effort was matched by an imbalance in 
purchases. Castro used up, early on, at least $100 million 
of his Soviet credits to buy jet fighters, heavy tanks, anti- 
aircraft guns, automatic rifles, and other assorted arms, 
claiming the need for self-defense. Whether or not there was 
justification for the claim, Cuba, by 1962, was maintaining 
a militia force of between 200,000 and 350,000 men and 
women, and a regular army of 70,000, adding up to a mili- 
tary machine second in size in the Americas only to that of 
the "United States. Still, this heavy financial drain did not 
explain the main puzzle : Why the Russians did not saturate 
the country with food and goods, propping up the economy 

336 



and making Cuba a physically appealing lure for the rest 
of Latin America. To get at some of the answers I spoke 
with eastern Europeans East Germans, principally who 
were amazingly outspoken in their disgust at what had 
happened. The summation was this: 

The Russians, once they had overcome their initial suspi- 
cion and mistrust of the Cuban revolution, advocated a go- 
easy course. They urged the Cubans to benefit from their 
own experience after the 1917 Bolshevik upheaval, warn- 
ing them against alienating the middle and technical sectors 
of the population, the men with the skills and experience. 
But what the Russians did not reckon with as Koudriav- 
tzev learned to his dismay was the tempestuous, headstrong 
character of Castro and the revolutionaries around him. 
They had a disdainful word for the malcontents, gusanos, 
about which more will be said shortly, and simply did not 
care if they offended them. The result was an exodus reaching 
a proportion of some two thousand a week. Less than three 
years after Castro's entry into Havana, more than 200,000 
Cubans had departed, and not all were of the haute bour- 
geoisie] latterly, in fact, the bulk were of the so-called 
proletariat, or were men with technical and managerial 
knowledge. It was only when the flight of doctors, for in- 
stance, reached a critical proportion, with about half of them 
gone, that the regime began to take notice. It kept back 
the rest of the physicians by making exit permits difficult 
to obtain, and, in a more positive way, offered attractive 
bonuses, subsidized housing, and other state gifts. 

The Russians, moreover, advised the Cubans against rush- 
ing headlong into collective or state farming; instead, they 
told them, farmers must be given incentive by being per- 
mitted to produce privately; so, too, should the means of 
food distribution be left in private hands. But again these 
words went unheeded. An East German told me: "We have 
been at this business sixteen years, and we have more private 

337 



enterprise today than the Cubans have after only three years. 
They're green and ignorant." As recently as July, 1961, the 
wholesale food market in Havana was controlled by in- 
dividuals, mostly Cuban Chinese, who, because of contacts 
and insight, managed to get supplies into the city daily, 
despite transport breakdowns and other disadvantages. Then 
one day the government accused the wholesalers of inflating 
their prices, and "intervened" the market place. The next 
morning Havana had no fresh supplies. Unqualified young 
"interventors" took months to restore food distribution to 
any semblance of order. 

Some of the East Germans with whom I spoke went so far 
as to say, in the words of one engineer, "This revolution is 
a failure. It should be written off." He was an electronics 
engineer, in Havana to fit equipment to a Cuban freighter. 
Every time he required nuts or bolts, he said, he had to go 
through endless paper work with the Cubans, who thought 
they knew more about his field than he. "And," he said in dis- 
gust, "they expect us to take sugar for our efforts. There is a 
limit to the amount of sugar Germany requires. We would 
like some money, instead." The East Germans, however, 
need not have worried too much last year about oversatura- 
tion of sugar. After 1961's record sugar crop of 6.8 million 
tons, Cuba's 1962 output was not much more than 4.8 mil- 
lion tons, owing partly to drought, partly to sabotage of the 
cane fields, and largely to unscientific cutting; because of 
agricultural dislocations the campesinos had their ranks 
augmented at harvest time by amateur city volunteers who 
often did more harm than good. 

If the Russians were distressed by Cuban blunders, they 
trod warily at the start. Koudriavtzev's policy was to avoid 
irritating Castro and his colleagues with rigid demands, 
knowing they were independent-minded and, since their 
break from the United States, more sensitive than ever 
about possible "overlords." Like the East Germans, the 

338 



Russians sampled the Cubans' fanatic insistence to stumble 
through by themselves. The first Soviet technicians, more- 
over, were astounded when they caught sight of Havana, a 
city with far greater comforts and a higher standard of living 
than most Russians had experienced at home. A Yugoslav 
told me that initial Russian reaction was to inform the 
Cubans : "You'll have to learn you don't build socialism by 
shouting slogans. You must work for it." The Russians, in 
other words, were not going to throw everything in, without 
extracting a little sweat in advance. Another point raised 
by Yugoslavs, whose criticism, incidentally, was directed at 
Castro because he did not strike a "neutralist" stance, was 
this : The Russians at any time could have shipped in mas- 
sive food supplies with relative ease, but they were waiting 
for the precise psychological moment, when hunger was 
really acute, to win gratitude from those Cubans who were 
hostile. More to the point, one Eastern envoy said flatly: 
"This place is near collapse, and I am not talking about food 
alone. Food could be brought in overnight, if necessary. The 
industrial picture is more serious, because factories have 
used up all their raw materials (remnants from pre-Castro 
days), and there are no replacements/' The same man esti- 
mated that Castro had put his country back, materially, by 
twenty years. 

On this basis, the United States strategy of an economic 
embargo appeared an unqualified success. How long could 
any nation carry on in the fashion of Cuba without total 
disintegration? But now the picture must be viewed through 
Russian eyes. The Cubans were wholly dependent on the 
Soviet bloc. Once having committed themselves, the Rus- 
sians believed in their approach to Cuban affairs as much as 
did the Americans in theirs. By March, 1962, Koudriavtzev 
succeeded in getting Cuban leaders to swallow their pride 
and to accept increased Soviet direction. Guevara announced 
that all previous plans for an industrialization program were 

339 



scrapped, and now Soviet experts would set up work norms 
for Cubans based on Russian experiences. Plainly, the Rus- 
sians were not going to let Cuba slip away by default. 

In talking of the island's shortages, ordinary Cubans 
especially the youth did not put the blame on their own 
leaders 3 faulty planning or on Soviet slowness to pitch in. 
The United States embargo, they said, was responsible for 
Cuba's distress, but they would disappoint the Americans 
and muddle through. More analytical Cubans, however, 
understood that this glib reaction was far from realistic. 
Among them were men who showed a desire to renew rela- 
tions with the United States, and behind this feeling was 
much soul-searching. Roberto Retamar, a young, well-known 
poet, and secretary of the Cuban Writers and Artists Union, 
argued that Cuba had not deliberately provoked its big 
neighbor. "This," he said, "would have been silly. But, since 
the economic position of Cuba was so dependent on the 
United States, it was inevitable that the revolution would 
turn against it, just as the American revolution was against 
the British." And then, rather sadly, he talked about the in- 
vasion attempt of 1961 and the food crisis which followed 
in 1962: "Cuba won the first round. The United States has 
won the second round." 

Was there a possibility of Cuba and the United States 
coming together? Even more sadly, he said: "It is the only 
hope." What would be the first step? Retamar pondered for 
a moment, and then, his voice trailing into uncertainty, he 

said, "the United States would have to be the weaker " 

The inference, of course, was that Castro would require a 
face-saving device in order to climb down from his anti- 
United States stand, and that the United States could pro- 
vide it, if it wanted to make the overtures. Retamar did not 
pursue this point; instead, he shrugged his shoulders, as 
though conceding that the present mood of the United 

340 



States ruled out such a possibility. Neither did he blame the 
Soviet Union for Cuba's deficiencies. "The real fault was in 
Cuban planning itself, and the mistake we made in assum- 
ing that everything would be handed to us/' he said. "We 
have never really learned to work for ourselves. Cuba today, 
in its austerity, is not, say, like Britain during the war. 
British patriotism never wavered, but here we have upper 
and middle class Cubans divided in their loyalties between 
their own country and the United States. This can never 
do." He went on to claim that the only true patriots were 
those who understood the revolution and accepted it, not 
necessarily blindly because even Castro had doubts about 
some of its aspects but at the same time not deserting Cuba 
by running away. When I pointed out that many fine and 
idealistic Cubans, aside from obvious Batista types, were in 
Miami and regarded themselves as patriots in trying to 
overthrow Castro, Retamar nodded, again sadly. He said: 
"Perhaps it comes down to semantics. But basically I do not 
believe you can call a man a patriot when he plots against 
- his country/' 

But had not Castro plotted against Batista? Retamar's 
answer was that Castro's movement was a popular one 
against a man who thought more of the United States than 
he did his own country. Well, since we were going in circles, 
I returned to my main question : What was the solution, how 
could the impasse between Washington and Havana be 
ended? Retamar made an obvious reference to Yugoslavia, 
saying that Cuba had not signed the Warsaw Pact and was 
not officially a part of the Soviet bloc, that on this basis the 
United States did business with Tito. But then, in the next 
moment, he admitted that even this kind of proposition 
would hardly be acceptable to Washington, because Yugo- 
slavia had not seized American sugar plantations or other 
property; he also recognized that any effort to establish a 
modus vivendi would be accompanied by a United States 

341 



demand for free elections in Cuba, and "so I suppose it is 
all rather hopeless." Retamar's final words were a reitera- 
tion of the belief that Cuba had been pushed into its dan- 
gerous position, had not intended to go so far into Marxism, 
that Castro had no choice but to hand over the revolution 
on a platter to the P.S.P. (Communist Party). "This was 
different from other revolutions, such as the Chinese or 
Russian," said Retamar aptly. "It did not start as a Com- 
munist revolution. But it became one, stumbling on its own 
mistakes." 

Retamar's views were not confined to sensitive and intelli- 
gent Cubans. I heard somewhat the same reasoning from 
Western diplomats in Havana (among the countries with 
continuing relations were Britain, Canada, Israel, France, 
and several other European states). The commonly held 
opinion was that Castro had to turn more and more to Cuban 
Communists, just as he had to lean on the Soviet bloc for 
economic aid when he was rejected by the United States, 
because many of his original July 26th Movement people 
were deserting him, and only the P.S.P. had the organization 
and determination to administer the country. It was, trag- 
ically, a vicious circle. Cubans were quitting because of a 
betrayal of liberal principles; Castro was getting deeper and 
deeper in the mesh of the men who were violating those 
principles. But before long, Castro made it plain that the 
Marxism he would wear would be Marxism with a difference. 

His first major move, however, was alarming. In the sum- 
mer of 1961 Castro announced the formation of the Inte- 
grated Revolutionary Organization (O.R.I.), melding the 
P.S.P. and the 26th of July Movement in a monolithic 
Marxist-Leninist party. Thus were mixed together the "Old 
Communists," who had faithfully followed Moscow's line 
during the old early Batista days and then jumped on the 
victorious Castro bandwagon at the last minute, and the 
"New Communists" who had done the fighting in the Sierra 

342 



Maestra. The "Old Communists" possessed the trained and 
disciplined minds Castro needed to push the revolution. But 
what he had failed to take into account was the standard 
method of skilled and cunning Communist practitioners; 
while pushing the revolution, they also pushed loyal 26th of 
July men out of strategic positions in order to increase their 
own strength. 

The veterans of the hills were understandably and openly 
resentful, and Castro himself finally showed misgivings 
about the liaison. For, in March, 1962, less than a year after 
setting up O.R.I., he made a series of announcements cal- 
culated to demonstrate that he was still the master. In a 
particularly fiery public speech of denunciation, he ostra- 
cized an "Old Communist" stalwart, Anibal Escalante, for 
the crime of "sectarianism." Escalante, according to Castro, 
had employed his important position in O.R.I, to wiggle 
into key administrative posts more P.S.R proteges than 
had ever been intended. Men such as Escalante, Castro went 
on, had vilified the 26th of July heroes who had faced death 
in the battle against Batista while they, the Communists, 
were hiding "under the bed." 

The words, obviously, were not intended for Escalante's 
ears alone. Castro hit out at all "Old Communists" for think- 
ing they had "won the revolution in a raffle," and he set up 
a new six-man secretariat to lead the O.R.I. Only one of 
the six, Bias Roca, was an old-line Communist; the others, 
including brother Raul Castro and "Che" Guevara, were 
trusted devotees of Fidel. Moreover, said Castro, the role 
of a Marxist party should be to "orient" and not to dominate 
the affairs of state. And he added that militant Communists 
had been guilty of "criminal errors" and "idiocies" in at- 
tempting to impose their control while ignoring the "masses" 
who had a right to representation in any revolutionary 
development. He restored many of his 26th of July followers 
to their former posts, reviving their faith in him. In the 

343 



essential analysis, it was Castro striving to recapture popular 
support, which was fast dwindling, and to set the course 
again in the direction of what he believed to be a Cuban 
type of Marxism. 3 

Thus, more than three years after the fall of Batista, 
Castro was still the prime figure of Cuba, ruling through 
personality and sheer magnetism. The "Old Communists" 
at no time in their history, even when given latitude by 
Batista, had been able to claim more than 150,000 followers. 
But in 1962 Castro's disciples whether or not they called 
themselves Marxists numbered in the millions. Forced to 
comply with this reality were such artful hands as Bias 
Roca, by now the editor of the Communist newspaper Hoy, 
and Carlos Rodriguez, the Communist who had first con- 
tacted Castro in the Sierra Maestra and was now president 
of the highly important National Agrarian Reform Institute 
(INRA), the main instrument for Cuba's economic reforma- 
tion. 

It was obvious that a major split between the P.S.P. and 
the 26th of July Movement was avoided because such men 
as Bias Roca and Rodriguez realized they needed Castro as 
much as he needed them. If they were proceeding with cau- 
tion, it was because Castro warned that there were at least 
"five hundred other Escalantes" on the island, and implied 
that other purges would take place unless the Old Guard 
behaved itself. Roca and Rodriguez must have known of 
Escalante's activities, and indeed probably gave him his 
instructions, but they joined in the general condemnation, 
Roca saying: "He used his position in a thrust for personal 

3 When Castro gave a now famous speech on December 1, 1961, he did not 
declare that he had "always been a Marxist-Leninist." This was widely mis- 
quoted in the North American press, which relied on a garbled news agency 
account. He made the fine distinction of saying that he now believed in 
Marxism-Leninism. I was in Lima at the time, and editors there interpreted 
Castro's motive as twofold: first, to irritate the "United States; second, to 
make himself more presentable to the Russians so he could obtain greater 
aid. 

344 



power." Escalante found himself alone in his defense against 
Castro's wrath, and left for Moscow to contemplate how he 
had been used as a scapegoat by old comrades. 

The Russians appear to have accepted Escalante's dis- 
missal calmly, realizing, too, that it was better to lose one 
Escalante than to alienate Castro. It worked both ways: 
Castro had to avoid a complete break with the "Old Commu- 
nists" on whom he continued to rely for administrative 
skills, and he had to avoid offending the Russians on whom 
he now relied for economic survival. For their part, the Rus- 
sians, with money and prestige invested in Cuba, were con- 
tent to think of Castro as an image for the rest of Latin 
America. From what diplomats could gather, Ebudriavtzev 
even urged Roca, Rodriguez, and other lieutenants to "wel- 
come" the new O.R.I, secretariat that gave fresh authority 
to the 26th of July men at Old Guard expense. After all, 
what did it really mean? The ship might have erratic helms- 
men, but it was heading for the proper port. 

From my 1962 notebook: 

A word that was not in the revolutionary lexicon last year 
is now widely used. It is gusano (worm), and it is tossed with 
contempt by Fidelistas at any malcontent. It came into 
prominence immediately after a speech made by Castro 
when he was cleaning up bands of insurgents in the Escam- 
bray in 1961. "We will shake the rotten trees/ 5 said Castro, 
"and the gusanos will drop out. 77 The gusanos exist in a 
variety of shades and complexions, some more outspoken 
than others, and while in theory they do not frighten the 
regime they have caused some second thinking. Castro, when 
he announced the start of food rationing, conceded a point 
the Russians had long been stressing : the flight of techni- 
cians and other craftsmen could be extremely damaging to 
the nation's economy. "We made mistakes/' Castro con- 
fessed. "There was a lack of intelligent treatment here, 

345 



which meant that some people, instead of being conquered 
by the revolution, were frightened into leaving." But even 
after this remarkable admission, an official with whom I spoke 
said: "Sure we need them, but I am sick and tired of hearing 
people in my own department complaining and talking 
about the 'old days, the good old days.' If they don't like 
it here, let them get out. They are all gusanos." 

Talkative "worms" are seldom arrested or maltreated. The 
regime seems to make a practice of letting them blow off 
steam, as though this will provide adequate therapy. They 
can be found in most bars, especially on Saturday nights 
out, advancing themselves upon the rare foreign visitors 
and speaking with great and sometimes alarming frankness. 
For instance, one night at the bar of the Embers, I was 
engaged in conversation by a young man, an engineer, and 
his wife. There was a little caution at the start, while we 
traded in generalities, but soon the young man was recount- 
ing a fairly typical story of disenchantment. As recently as 
six months ago, he said, he still supported Castro, even 
though there were clear indications that the revolution had 
turned completely toward the Soviet bloc. "I didn't think 
it would matter," he said. "At least we could feel we were 
free of the Americans." But now the food shortage disgusted 
and upset him: "It was all lies we heard the promises that 
the Russians would help." Now he was intensely opposed to 
the regime, and awaiting only a chance to get out of Cuba. 
He was, by his own definition, a gusano. 

I made a point of visiting a doctor I had met on my 
previous trips. His transformation is interesting. Like other 
intellectuals, he originally supported Castro because he be- 
lieved Fidel would restore the civil liberties absent under 
Batista, and would introduce social and economic reforms. 
The second time I saw him, six months later, he had the 
beginning of doubt; the reforms were taking shape, but 
civil liberties were farther away than ever; still, he was not 

346 



prepared to concede fully that Castro had distorted the 
revolution. Now there is no hesitation, no doubt in his mind. 
With tremendous vehemence, he said: "I am staying because 
I don't want to miss the last act." In his inflamed vision 
the last act will consist of the body of Castro being dragged 
through the streets. 

The doctor is a relatively violent gusano. Most of the 
critics do not hate Castro personally; they rather pity him, 
almost with the feeling that he is a sick man. They talk 
simply of "something" going wrong when onetime devout 
Fidelistas quit the country, to be replaced by Czech and 
Russian technicians. In their view, this is no longer a 
"Cuban" revolution, no matter how strongly Castro might 
make such a claim. A shop clerk told me : "Now we are being 
taught that Lenin, not Columbus, discovered the islands." 
Another man said: "When the Spaniards ran Cuba it was 
fashionable to name our daughters Juanita or Maria. Then 
the Americans came along and we picked such names as 
Alice and Mary. Soon we will be calling them Nadja and 
Olga." An older resident of Havana made the cynical but 
representative observation: "If we must be a colony of 
either the United States or the U.S.S.R., we might as well 
pick the one that gives us the comforts and luxuries." 

In defiance, some of the gusanos have taken to singing in 
the bars a ditty, to the tune of the "patriotic" hymn, We 
Are Socialists: "We are little grws<2?ios/Tomorrow, butter- 
flies./Watch out, milicianos. /Things will materialize." Chil- 
dren at street corners try to annoy marching militia men 
and women by wiggling their fingers at them the way a 
worm wiggles. But the opposition, at the present stage, is 
not much more open than that. Canefields are sometimes set 
afire by saboteurs, yet the organized and active under- 
ground, which flourished before the invasion roundup, ap- 
pears to have disintegrated. Instead, a passive kind of 
resistance has developed. A Havana physician recounted 

347 



how he had agreed to give physical examinations to a group 
of young farm girls brought in from the countryside for a 
course in motor mechanics. "When they show up in the 
morning/' he told his nurse, "I will not be here. Their leader 
will fume and rant, and say I am a gusano. Simply tell the 
girls that I could not come to the office because I had to 
go to the market to line up for my family's meat ration." 

This technique adapts itself to various forms of under- 
mining the regime. As soon as rationing began, anonymous 
callers telephoned Havana homes at random to say: "My 
children are hungry, they need food. . . . Pass on this mes- 
sage." Recipients of the call multiplied its impact by quickly 
picking up the cry. Also making the rounds was a joke about 
the yellow envelopes in which ration books were issued: 
"Don't throw away the envelope. You'll need it to carry 
home your rations." 

Such verbal effort, of course, is sporadic and unscientific: 
a poor match for the vast propaganda and indoctrination 
machine that has been built up by the regime. Here the 
Communists have proved their worth to Castro, drawing 
from a background of long experimentation in the field, even 
from the street committees developed in China. The Chinese 
committees are pervasive, and serve three main purposes: 
to carry out such practical tasks as seeing that children are 
inoculated when required, to spread the gospel of commu- 
nism through pep rallies, and to act as extra eyes and ears 
for security police. The combination, from the regime's point 
of view, is extremely effective, for every Chinese hutung or 
alley has its own committee with an intimate knowledge of 
all residents in the immediate area. 

Almost every street in Havana also has its "Committee 
for the Defense of the Revolution," fulfilling an assignment 
useful to the government. In February, for instance, women 
made a house-to-house canvas to ask neighbors how much 
milk their families consumed daily; this was an obvious 

348 



prelude to rationing which started shortly afterward. The 
committee women, in fact, distributed the ration books, 
making sure to collect first the rent of tenants who had 
fallen in arrears to the state landlord. On the less tangible 
but equally vital point of security, the organizers automati- 
cally include in their committees the janitors of every apart- 
ment block. The janitors are supposed to scrutinize callers 
and make a note of mail that appears suspicious, informing, 
if necessary, the G2 secret police. In China, where the system 
has had more than a decade to dig its roots, the routine 
is more or less blindly followed. But Cubans are not Chinese ; 
they are not as submissive or pliable, partly because of Latin 
temperament, partly because of remaining influences from 
next-door United States. Therefore, many of the janitors 
ignore the dictum to be vigilant and diligent. But there are 
some who do work with zeal, for it must be remembered that 
the Cuban revolution is geared to the wants and suscepti- 
bilities of the former "have-nots/ 7 among whom janitors 
would be included, and the present-day youth. The empha- 
sis, in the style of China and Russia of a former day, is on 
the young people. If older generations are beyond remolding, 
who can tell what can be done with young minds? 

The bigger question, of course, is whether repression and 
Marxist-Leninist orientation will prove sufficiently thor- 
ough to offset the unrest created by disenchantment and 
economic depression. In the meanwhile, the indoctrination 
is pushed in subtle as well as blatant ways. Even the annual 
carnival I witnessed had its political flavor. There was the 
usual dancing in the streets until two or three o'clock in 
the morning; and there were the usual parades of samba 
bands in colorful costumes, and amusing floats of a non- 
political nature. But interspersed among them were other 
floats with a message: for example, the Sanitation Depart- 
ment's coffin-on-wheels and the huge sign, "O.A.S. Rub- 
bish." Teen-agers, in militia uniforms, wandered through 

349 



the crowd, displaying their rifles and submachine guns with 
great glee, for guns have become as much a part of the set- 
ting as the gay costumes. 

The power reflected in the eyes of the youth is quite 
frightening and disturbing, for although there is the ra- 
tionale that weapons are essential today for defense, there 
is also the danger that a distorted philosophy will set in: 
the belief that only might can serve the purpose of Cubans. 
In the coffee shop of the Havana Libre Hotel, the day after 
the carnival, I sat at the counter next to an attractive young 
woman and her three-year-old girl. It might have been an 
idyllic mother-daughter scene, except that the young woman 
was dressed in the blue shirt and khaki skirt of the militia, 
and wore on her hip a holster and pearl-handled pistol. In- 
stead of a purse she carried a Czech automatic rifle. Briskly 
she removed the ammunition clip and laid it on the counter. 
The child reached for the clip and fondled it like a toy. The 
mother then rested the rifle across her knees, causing a man 
who sat in direct line nearby, but had not seen the unload- 
ing, to gulp his coffee and move hastily away. The depress- 
ing image of the three-year-old playing with ammunition 
stayed with me for several days. 

The militant attitude is attended by hero worship. I re- 
member in my first visit talking with a sixteen-year-old girl 
who said: "We have waited a long time for Fidel. He is our 
father. To get at him, they will have to cut our throats 
mine included." 

"Who?" I asked, "are they?" 

The answer was sharp: "The counterrevolutionaries and 
the Americans." On my next tour, before Castro had offi- 
cially declared himself a Marxist, though the direction in 
which he was moving was apparent, another youth told me : 
"If Fidel is a Communist, then sign me up, too." This was 
said in defiance of the United States allegations of a Com- 
munist plot to control Cuba, but also with the righteous 

350 



feeling that Cuba was not Marxist, But now, in 1962, the 
definition was more precise, and so was the outspoken sup- 
port of the youngsters. 

The youth are undoubtedly the mainstay of the revolu- 
tion. One day while I was in Havana there arrived a train- 
load of a thousand country girls, brought to the big city to 
learn nursing. They had left behind them shacks and oil 
lanterns, and now were esconced in the Havana Libre and 
other glamorous hotels, complete with dining rooms and 
swimming pools. For them Fidel, naturally, was the idol, 
the great emancipator. For them there would be no problem 
or conflict in echoing the new school primer that was a 
feature of 1961's "Year of Education." Instead of "A for 
Apple" the book preached "A for Agrarian Reform." "A" 
also stood for the Associated Press, "the counterrevolution- 
ary mouthpiece of the imperialist United States." 

A Western diplomat, predicting the imminent collapse 
of Castro, agreed with me that Cubans are not like the 
Chinese ; they do not respond to discipline, they have always 
preferred a disorganized, carefree life. "They are not ants," 
said the diplomat. "They are grasshoppers." But again one 
is forced to wonder. While there is no doubt that many 
adults are dissatisfied and resentful, the youth show an in- 
clination not only toward hero worship but toward accept- 
ance of the regime's diet of propaganda and indoctrination. 
In this sense there is a similarity with the youth of China, 
and for some of the same reasons : a sudden awareness that 
the rest of the world is taking their nation seriously, a spirit 
of nationalism and what passes for patriotism, as distinct 
from, or in addition to, Marxism. The operative word is 
dignidad with its elusive but essential ingredients of self- 
respect and pride. 

In one of Havana's finer residential districts I dropped 
around, unannounced, to a home with the freshly painted 
letters "AJ.C." on the walk. Until a few days previously, 

351 



the letters had been "A.J.R.," standing for Asociacion Jo- 
venes Rebeldes, the original 26th of July youth movement. 
But Fidel had just delivered a speech at the university, in 
which he said that while Cuba was still building commu- 
nism, and could only be called at the moment a "socialist" 
state, the youth should think of themselves in phrases of 
the future. Therefore, the name should be Asociacion J6- 
venes Comunistas. The youngsters quickly repainted the 
letters. If it was not exactly a command from Fidel, it was 
a suggestion, and good enough for the disciples. 

There were forty-two young men in the house I visited. 
It had once been the home of a wealthy merchant, and it 
was big and spacious and ornate. The present occupants 
slept in double-deckers in the eight bedrooms that had been 
converted into dormitories; two house-mothers did the 
cleaning and cooking for them. They were from all parts of 
the island, and now were enrolled in nearby technical 
schools, in welding, carpentry, plumbing, and a variety of 
other crafts. A group of a dozen or so, from teen-age to 
mid-twenties, gathered around me in the reading-room. 
I asked how it was that only a few days ago they had not 
thought in terms of communism, but now, as indicated by 
the fresh paint outside, they proclaimed themselves "Com- 
munist Youth." "Before, we did not understand the mean- 
ing/' said one. "Now we do." The others nodded. They were 
friendly, cheerful, and extremely eager to explain their posi- 
tion. 

To help them understand the nuance of change in Cuba, 
Fernando Escot was available. Escot, aged twenty-three, 
said he was in charge of "political education." Every eve- 
ning, for an hour or two, they all reclined in the comfort- 
able living room, listening to Escot discourse on Marxism. 
Escot had been a printer's apprentice. Where had he learned 
his Marxism? "From books," he said. The chances are, how- 
ever, that Escot had gone to one of the sixty branches of the 

352 



National School for Revolutionary Instruction, the highest 
institute for the training of cadres, with texts provided by 
the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. If he had not been 
considered important enough for a National School, he at 
least must have gone to one of the 330 lower-level schools 
for basic revolutionary instruction. In any event, he was 
now commissioned to pass the message on to others, of 
the type of Melquiades Iznagas, a mulatto farm boy who 
could claim a little schooling but intended to move even- 
tually into civil engineering, "the way young people in the 
Soviet Union have a chance for engineering." 

"Why haven't the Russians sent you more food?" I asked. 
Iznagas replied with seeming conviction : "There is a differ- 
ence between the food habits of the Russians and the 
Cubans. What could they send us?" Was there a possibility, 
I asked, of Cuba and the United States becoming friends 
again? Iznagas shook his head, while his mates made a 
similar motion, and said: "The Americans work only for 
dollars. We are a socialist country. Our friends are in other 
socialist countries." 

Lest it be considered that Iznagas was an atypical sample, 
I found basically the same talk among many other young 
people with whom I spoke. At the time, there were some 
60,000 becados scholarship winners in Havana, under- 
going similar courses of instruction and indoctrination. They 
had aided in the Alphabetization Program, by spending 
months with children in remote villages or by teaching basic 
reading and writing to elder campesinos who had never 
before met any kind of instruction. If they were hardly 
qualified to act as teachers, they were now themselves pupils 
in higher education, the prizes for their work of the previous 
"Year of Education." Aside from the Havana Libre and 
other hotels, the becados were established in confiscated 
homes in the Miramar and Country Club districts, with all 
expenses paid, and, to crown the glory, a spending allow- 

353 



ance of fifteen pesos a month : more luxury and money than 
any had ever dreamed of seeing. The becados formed only 
a core, and if you multiplied their number by youth groups 
throughout the nation you could sense the cumulative effect 
that will be felt in a few years. 

I saw a massive display of youth enthusiasm at the Chap- 
lin Theatre in Havana, where Castro received his Lenin 
Peace Prize. There was a difference from the rallies I had 
attended in past visits, when audiences consisted of middle- 
aged people as well as youths; now the older ones were con- 
spicuously absent, bored or tired with the constant idolatry. 
But the youngsters still chanted, "Fidel, Fidel/ 7 singing and 
roaring in chilling adoration. Castro just stood there, once 
or twice running his hand inside the open neck of his army 
shirt, looking humble and ethereal. It was no accident that 
while others of the original barbudos had long since shaved 
their beards, Castro retained his, trimming it slightly to 
present a saintly appearance. Nor was it a coincidence that 
one of the rallying slogans was: "He who is for the revolu- 
l tion is for Christ, and he who is for Christ is for Fidel 
Castro." Undoubtedly, the intention was to create a linger- 
ing image of the Messiah of Latin America. 

If there was near-hysteria while young men and women 
cried "Fidel" and "Venceremos," the mood was also telling 
in calmer, more fundamental fashion. An elderly Cuban, 
whose hatred for Castro and the regime was mirrored in his 
eyes, told me disconcertedly how he had just come from a 
grocery store where he stood in line waiting for his ration 
of butter. Ahead of him was a woman with her young daugh- 
ter, perhaps twelve years old. When the grocer, obviously an 
old friend, tried to slip the woman an extra lump of butter, 
the girl called out for all to hear: "No it will hurt the 
revolution. We must have the same as everyone else." The 
touch of the mystique is not confined to youth. It exists also 
among some of the older men and women. Printed proc- 

354 



lamations in bars say that no liquor may be served to 
uniformed men, and the edict is taken seriously, and not 
necessarily because of fear of punishment. In one of my 
visits to a rural area, a campesino offered me a tot of rum, 
and said with some pride that twice a week he never drinks 
even at home the days he goes on militia drill. 

As I write this, in 1962, it is impossible to know for certain 
the support Castro could command at any moment. Instead 
of guessing in percentages, it is more practical to think of 
three broad groups: first, the very hard nucleus of dedicated 
youth and Communists who see the regime, right or wrong, 
as the salvation of Cuba; second, at the other end, the con- 
vinced antiregime Cubans, the "gusanos" the liberals, the 
men and women who intellectually feel and know that ex- 
posure to the Soviet bloc is not the answer to Cuba's prob- 
lems. And, in between, are the huge, flexible middle group 
who really want only a good life, are not interested in ide- 
ology in any form, yet nevertheless approved of Castro, 
became disturbed when he allowed the P.S.P. to monopolize 
important administrative posts, were a little relieved when 
he reacted against the Old Guard Communists, but whose 
hunger pains still created dissension. In this group I met 
women who literally changed feelings from day to day, 
depending on how successful or unsuccessful they were in 
collecting rations. 

No account of life in Castro's Cuba could possibly be 
complete without this aspect of the story: the ones who, on 
balance, do support him, the women who do queue up with 
patience and without grumbling, the ones who do hang 
Castro's picture in their houses alongside cards saying, 
"Thank you, Fidel," or "This is your house, Fidel." For there 
is no question that many, especially workers and campesinos, 
have benefited from material advances. If there is mediocrity 
for many Cubans, a decline in their standards, the same 
mediocrity implies for others a move upward. A factory 

355 



hand, speaking ecstatically of the New Order, told me: "My 
rent used to cost sixty pesos a month. Fidel cut it in half. 
There were never any public beaches in Havana; all the 
beaches were private and owned by the rich. Now there are 
six beaches I can take my family to. It is a good life." If 
Castro alienated some by confiscating the luxury resorts and 
clubs, he pleased others by converting them into working 
men's paradises. If he copied the hideous security techniques 
of totalitarian states, he also proved that such things as 
illiteracy and primitive housing, fatalistically taken for 
granted in most parts of Latin America, could be changed. 

In 1961 I passed through a village with an unpaved road. 
Children without shoes played in a cloud of dust. A derelict 
tram car served as the lone, improvised schoolhouse. A year 
later the main road was paved, and the children had foot- 
wear. The tram car lay on its side, the windows smashed by 
villagers when they celebrated the opening of the first brick 
school building. Seemingly content, the adults, 40 per cent 
of whom had been illiterate, were themselves taking night 
courses, a continuation of 1961's "Year of Education/' and 
learning the new A.B.C.'s as defined by the regime. It was 
awfully difficult to expect these campesinos to see any evil 
in a cunningly plotted primer, where, before, there had been 
no primer. 

If they now worked in cooperative or state farms, it was 
at least work for the year round, instead of work for only 
one third of the time. If city dwellers were complaining 
about the meagerness of their diet, and the lack of Kleenex 
or other familiar United States items, the campesinos had 
no such complaints. Kleenex was always unknown, and, 
despite the chaos of distribution and production, some food 
was available. Once there had been automatic rationing by 
poverty; now there was rationing by the state, and, for most 
campesinos, it was more equitable than in the past. In many 
areas I saw advances in general living conditions, with the 

356 



bohios, the pathetic shacks made of palm tree scraps, no 
longer the essential habitations. In the province of Pinar del 
Rio I was proudly shown new and neatly landscaped four- 
room dwellings. "Two months ago/' said a local peasant, 
"we had nothing here. Fidel gave us the material, and we 
built everything ourselves." This was not merely a show- 
place for visitors; it represented similar developments 
throughout the island. 

Castro and other Cuban leaders have understood a point 
that other Latin- American leaders have failed to grasp: 
widespread slum clearance and housing programs are not 
only humane but are politically rewarding. The appeal, how- 
ever, is not solely on economic grounds; it is also based in 
that word dignidad, and this involves Americans; for, to 
young Cubans especially, dignity and self-respect were lost 
in direct proportion to United States investments in their 
country. The debate ended long ago about whether Cuba has 
gone Communist; plainly it has. Nor is there any doubt 
about Castro's objective to export the revolution to the rest 
of Latin America. He boasts openly of the creation in Latin 
America of a "single, great nation, free and independent." 
Castro's Cuba is the only Communist state outside of Europe 
and Asia, but North Americans have yet to accept that it 
is "communism with a difference." An astute Western diplo- 
mat gave me his own definition, which is as good as any 
I have heard: "Communism in Cuba is Martism plus Marx- 
ism." Jose Marti, the great Cuban patriot and the out- 
standing figure in the emancipation movement against the 
Spaniards in the late nineteenth century, spent many years 
in the United States. He wrote with clarity and sympathy 
and beauty about American institutions. But he also de- 
clared: "The nations of South America are free to the degree 
in which they are isolated from the United States/' This 
belief, validly or illogically, still persists in many parts of 
the continent. 

357 



Fidelistas genuinely believe that they are blazing a trail, 
that others will eventually take Cuba's direction. This does 
not imply, despite the Soviet attempt last autumn to estab- 
lish missile bases in Cuba, that Castro intends to start a 
military crusade of "liberation." Even before the United 
States retaliated with a blockade, and there was the danger 
of a nuclear showdown, it could be assumed that both Castro 
and the Russians were aware that President Kennedy meant 
it when he warned that any armed intervention in the rest 
of the hemisphere would be met by United States might. 
What they were counting on was the power of example, the 
kind of subversion that comes from internal forces encour- 
aged, obviously, by propaganda and guidance from Cuba, 
but using Cuba as a model rather than a formidable ma- 
chine. I was reminded time and again in Latin-American 
republics that any "threat" is from within each country: the 
set of conditions that arouses a revolutionary cry. 

Precisely why Nikita Khrushchev embarked on his missile 
adventure will long be a matter for debate. One theory is 
that he was anxious to redress his inferiority in inter- 
continental striking power by confronting the United States 
with a fait accompli of emplaced intermediate-range missiles 
within easy range of three quarters of the United States. 
Another theory is that the Cubans, fearing a United States 
invasion, appealed to Khrushchev for the missiles, as visible 
and conspicuous tokens of Soviet readiness to deter such 
American action. In making this appraisal, Isaac Deutscher, 
one of the world's foremost authorities on communism, 
believes that Khrushchev accepted Castro's request and de- 
liberately decided that sites should not be camouflaged, but 
on the contrary, should be constructed openly so as to catch 
the American eye, and to catch it as soon as possible. The 
Soviet estimate was that Washington would react with an 
outburst of indignation, leading to temporary strain in 
relations but nothing worse; and that in the process the 

358 



United States would have to accept the fact that nuclear 
arms existed in Cuba. "This," Deutscher says in attempting 
to represent Soviet mentality, "would free Castro from the 
threat of invasion, give the U.S.S.R. an enormous gain in 
prestige and propaganda, and weaken Washington's influ- 
ence, and so stimulate the 'anti-imperialist revolution/ 
throughout Latin America." 4 

The miscalculation was as "incredibly and monumentally" 
simple as this: Neither Khrushchev nor Castro foresaw that 
the missile sites, instead of deterring an American invasion, 
would make the likelihood of an invasion real and imminent. 
In the face of obvious United States determination to 
eliminate the bases, Russia quickly retreated from its grossly 
clumsy military move. Khrushchev agreed with President 
Kennedy over the dismantling of the sites and inspection in 
return for a lifting of the United States blockade and a 
pledge not to invade Cuba. Castro was not consulted over 
the terms, which could only be a blow to his pride. Soviet 
Deputy Premier Mikoyan went to Havana, ostensibly to get 
him in line. During the first couple of days of Mikoyan's 
visit, Havana radio beamed eulogistic broadcasts about the 
undying friendship of the Soviet Union, and then there was 
silence. Hardly a reference was made to the presence of the 
Soviet Union's leading troubleshooter. 

This in a way was surprising, for Mikoyan, to judge from 
previous experiences, had a habit of getting things done in 
a hurry. But in another sense there should have been no 
surprise over the silence, for Mikoyan was not dealing with 
Hungarian or Czech puppets under his thumb. He was con- 
fronted by the distinctive personality of a Castro with the 
flamboyance of a Latin American. When finally he did speak 
publicly, in a meeting with a group of Havana students, 
Mikoyan recalled that he had devoted forty-five years to 
revolutionary studies, and added: "I am glad that my last 

* The Montreal Star, Nov. 20, 1962. 

359 



ten days of studies have been in Cuba." One can imagine 
the sheer bewilderment that underlay that statement. 5 

If Castro was striving to redesign his relationship with 
Moscow, after being so blatantly overlooked in the Ken- 
nedy-Khrushchev exchanges, he was forced to bear in mind 
two key points : Economic life depended entirely on the good 
graces of the Soviet camp, but this did not mean that he 
had to accept with docility any dictates on the political 
front. Mr. Khrushchev may have made substantial agree- 
ments with Mr. Kennedy involving Cuba, but Dr. Castro 
had made no commitments and, in fact, had not even 
been consulted. Castro could not afford to be regarded as 
the forgotten man, and this was one reason for the long 
negotiations between him and Mikoyan. Mikoyan left Ha- 
vana only after a three-week stay, with some of the main 
issues still unresolved. 

There was obviously some feeling among partisans of the 
Cuban revolution that they had been let down by the Rus- 
sians. Correspondent Jan Carew, reporting in The Observer 
from Havana, quoted a neutralist diplomat as summing up 
the underlying realities: The Cubans, obsessed with their 
quarrel with the United States, had put themselves in a 
position where they had no room to maneuver ; they wanted 
an absolute commitment from the Russians on their terms, 
and this the wily Khrushchev would not give them. 

There was, too, a cautious glance on the part of neighbor- 
ing Latin Americans at the fate that can befall a small state 
that becomes too closely identified with the Soviet Union: 
ignored and tossed aside in the major contest. Nevertheless, 
articulate Latin Americans continued to make a distinction 
between Cuba and such countries as Poland, Hungary, and 
Czechoslovakia, which had communism thrust on them by 

5 Herblock, the political cartoonist of The Washington Post, caught the 
mood superbly. He depicted Mikoyan, on his return to Moscow, reporting 
to Khrushchev: "Well, to start with, of course you know he's a nut." 

360 



Soviet armies. If the Russians showed early hesitation to 
go along with Castro, and if in the 1962 crisis they ignored 
him temporarily, they were now, nonetheless, committed to 
the revolution. As technicians were withdrawn from missile 
sites, technicians in other fields agriculture and industry 
continued to arrive in the island. 

Just as Washington had confidence in its strategy the 
economic isolation of Cuba so the Russians were convinced 
that the United States approach was doomed to failure. They 
looked back on recent history and recalled that so far, in a 
forty-five-year span, no Communist regime had ever been 
brought down by economic devices. In 1921, when one gold 
ruble was worth 27,000 paper rubles, Russia was near col- 
lapse. Factory output dropped by more than two thirds, and 
there was widespread discontent; Lenin retreated and intro- 
troduced what was called "state capitalism 77 in place of "so- 
cialism. 7 ' The point, of course, is that the Soviet Union 
survived, no matter what the system was called and despite 
the fact that it stood alone in the world, without any allies. 
It survived initially through massive repression and terror. 
A strong police apparatus is available to Castro. But, more 
tellingly, Cuba is not isolated as Communist Russia was dur- 
ing its formative years. It now has "socialist" friends. 

Cuba is neither a satellite of the Soviet Union, like East 
Germany, nor an uncommitted country, like Yugoslavia. 
The basic questions, short of invasion or internal uprising, 
are whether the regime will blend its dogma with more 
liberal ideas adopted from the West and whether, interna- 
tionally, some sort of neutralism can be achieved. Under 
present circumstances, Cuba certainly cannot be looked on 
as a "victory" for the Soviet Union. Nor, conversely, can 
the Soviet recoil in the confrontation with American firm- 
ness, a "triumph 77 for the United States, be regarded as 
solving the Cuban question. In purely Cuban terms, the 
revolution assumed its present form because of neglect, mis- 

361 



understanding, connivance, intrigue. One can argue the fine 
points indefinitely. But basically the revolution came from 
within. 

Cuba's potential impact on the rest of Latin America can 
be confined to the island's shores, provided Latin- American 
governments themselves are prepared to accept the lesson. 
The present United States administration, in proposing the 
Alliance for Progress, has demonstrated its wisdom and 
awareness of the real problems that transcend Castro him- 
self. That the United States will also have to reexamine 
its loyalties and values is indicated in the next chapter. 



362 



12 



Alliance for Progress? 



MARCH 13, 1961, President Kennedy proposed the for- 
mation of the Alliance for Progress in which he invited 
Latin-American nations to join in a crusade "to build a 
hemisphere where all men can hope for the same high stand- 
ard of living and all men can live out their lives in dignity 
and freedom." The president's objective was "to transform 
the American continent into a vast crucible of revolution- 
ary ideas and efforts ... an example to all the world that 
liberty and progress walk hand in hand." Five months later, 
on August 17, representatives of all Latin- American repub- 
lics, except Cuba, gathered at Punta del Este, Uruguay, to 
make formal this lofty doctrine and to subscribe to the 
Alliance. 

It was a solemn occasion, marked by Latin-American 
pledges to introduce an ambitious program of betterment 
for their peoples. Delegates signed an 8,000-word document 
in which the key sections committed their governments to 
two basic structural changes. One was agrarian reform, 
altering the system of large landholdings that were in the 
hands of a tiny minority; the other was tax reform, "re- 
distributing the national income in order to benefit those 

363 



who are most in need." In return, the United States prom- 
ised the most generous rewards ever known in Latin Amer- 
ica: enormous sums to eradicate illiteracy among children 
of school age, establish farms and homes on a wide scale, 
cut disease, raise life expectancy by at least six years, and 
generally translate Alianza para el Progreso into human 
terms. All these things would be accomplished by 1970. 

Considerable publicity was given to the official introduc- 
tion of the Alliance; it was to be the dramatic answer to 
threats from Fidelismo, and, more positively, to offer en- 
couragement, along with dignidad, to scores of millions of 
Latin Americans paying the penalty for their own leaders' 
past selfishness and, to a degree, former United States in- 
difference to Latin-American sensitivities. A year after 
Punta del Este, the coordinator of the Alliance, idealistic 
Teodoro Moscoso, wrote a memorandum to his staff: "On 
August 17 we mark the first anniversary of the Alliance. 
We 'mark' it. We do not celebrate it. There will be time 
enough to celebrate it when we have achieved a working 
alliance and an extensive progress. As yet I am not satis- 
fied that we have either." 

These were honest words, and, in many a view, words of 
understatement. To some Latin Americans, the Alliance was 
doomed to failure from the start; for it neglected to take 
into account the diehard attitude of oligarchs and politi- 
cians, who simply would not support legislation designed 
to cut their personal profit margins ; to others, its measures, 
involving both private enterprise and state planning, were 
inadequate: on one hand, it was argued, because more so- 
cialism was required, on the other because socialism was 
implied. To some North Americans, talking anyway of cur- 
tailment of foreign aid, it was too costly a venture ; to others, 
the Alliance betrayed the principles of capitalism, or, con- 
versely, it played too much into the hands of capitalists. 
To some foreigners, the Alliance was, in the words of Sir 

364 



John Lomax, former British ambassador to Bolivia, an "old 
remedy in a new wrapper." To Jose Figueres, former presi- 
dent of Costa Rica and one of Latin America's most astute 
statesmen, the Alliance was too late because it "is already 
one minute to midnight in Latin America." To Dr. Salvador 
Allende, a physician by training and leader of Chile's So- 
cialist Party by conviction, it was "like putting on a mustard 
plaster to cure pneumonia in this era of antibiotics." 

From the point of view of a perceptive United States au- 
thority on Latin America, Peter R. Nehemkis, Jr., Washing- 
ton counsel for Whirlpool Corporation, the problem was 
expressed thus: "I have disturbing doubts as to whether 
we [Americans] possess sufficient understanding of what 
makes a social revolution tick. I have a gnawing anxiety as 
to whether we have really made a commitment of the heart 
to rescue Latin America from a peril, which, as in the Greek 
tragedy, is proceeding inexorably towards its inevitable 
doom." Seen from the other direction, from a Latin-Amer- 
ican viewpoint, the responsibility rested on Latin-American 
shoulders. "The basic defect," said Dr. Raul Saez, a dis- 
tinguished Chilean economist, "is that national opinion has 
not been won over to the Alliance for Progress, and this 
is a phenomenon in practically all Latin America. Excepting 
perhaps Colombia, where the president-elect made the Alli- 
ance for Progress the banner of his campaign, there is no 
country in Latin America where the Alliance has been con- 
sidered an internal responsibility and been given all the 
importance it deserves." 

Which of these two comments, in an apparent vortex of 
contradictions, was true? The irony is that both were true. 
By the first anniversary, only three nations, Bolivia, Chile, 
and Colombia, had submitted ten-year master plans de- 
manded under Alliance terms. Only a few had enacted 
agrarian reform laws, and of these Colombia's was the only 
fresh one; Bolivia and Mexico, and to lesser degree Vene- 

365 



zuela, had gone through the motions of agrarian reform 
before the Alliance was even formulated. On the question 
of financing, the figures were far from heartening. Boiled 
down to essentials, United States loans and aid to Latin 
America, under the Alliance, totaled hardly more than in 
previous years of other schemes. 

But the Alliance, despite the carping of critics, did wear 
a new cloak. It was based on the principle of self-help ; that 
is, for every United States dollar going in, Latin Americans, 
governments and businessmen, would have to show sincerity 
by putting in at least four of their own dollars, much the 
same way that the Marshall Plan after World War II called 
for massive European participation. In other words, the 
Alliance was not to be construed as a "handout" program; 
its value would come from the degree of Latin-American 
participation. Yet, by the end of 1962, the flight of Latin- 
American capital, headed for the safety of bank vaults 
abroad, was greater than the inflow; for each United States 
dollar that arrived in Latin America, approximately $1.50 
was sent out by Latin Americans. 

"For too long, my country, the wealthiest nation on a 
poor continent," said President Kennedy, "failed to carry 
out its full responsibilities to its sister republics. . . . We have 
now accepted the responsibility." 

In the final analysis the question is whether Latin Amer- 
ica has accepted its responsibility. 

Income-tax dodging, next to making money, is the most 
popular pastime of Latin America's ricos. The wealthy look 
upon tax requirements, such as they are, with cynical con- 
tempt. In Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador, among other countries 
in 1962, fewer than half of the eligible taxpayers filed re- 
turns. This kind of situation, of course, results in serious 
and resented inequalities. Wage and salary earners suffer 
from deductions at the source. But industrialists and prof es- 

366 



sionals find it easy to maneuver through loopholes deliber- 
ately designed for their benefit, or to bribe assessors. In no 
country in all Latin America is a jail sentence a threat; 
the only punishment for evasion is a mild fine; and this, too, 
exists mainly on paper; when a court case does occur, as 
we shall see, it creates a sensation. 

"Self-help ! That is the key to much of our common con- 
cern/ 7 Adlai Stevenson has said. "If it were lacking, no 
amount of money in outside aid would do much good." 
Stevenson was addressing a meeting of the Inter- American 
Press Association, a group made up largely of influential 
Latin-American publishers. He indicated that, aside from 
redistribution of land, no reform is more urgently needed 
than in taxation: "reforming tax systems to relieve the low- 
and middle-income groups, ending the tax evasion that costs 
Latin- American governments billions of dollars every year." 
According to United Nations tax experts with whom I spoke, 
if all Latin Americans started to pay up as they should, 
their governments would take in an additional two to three 
billion dollars a year : a sum that would go far toward elim- 
inating poverty and social unrest, and more than the amount 
the United States has planned to funnel annually from its 
own coffers into the Alliance for Progress. 

On an official level all Latin-American nations say the 
Alliance is a splendid idea. "If the United States held back 
its money, the results would be disastrous," Alex Zarak, 
Peru's minister of finance, told me. "We could not think of 
developing the country, and we would fall into chaos/ 5 

"What is Peru doing about the Alliance's prime stipula- 
tions, such as tax reform?" 

"We are installing electronic computers," Zarak said. 

"What good is electronic machinery," I asked, "if there 
isn't legal machinery to make evasion a criminal offense?" 

"We have sent two bills to Congress to impose criminal 
sanctions if taxes are not paid." 

367 



"The government has sent the bills?" 

"Yes." 

"And what has happened to them?" 

"They have not yet been passed," said Zarak. 

"How long has Congress had the bills?" 

"For some time," said Zarak. 

In fact, Congress had been sitting on these bills since 
November, 1959. 

A key question is : Does the will exist on the part of the 
governments, most of which are oligarchic, to make changes 
and set the foundation for the Alliance? A leading opposi- 
tion senator in Chile commented: 'Tutting a landowner in 
charge of agrarian reform is like putting a fox in charge of 
a poultry farm." A businessman in Peru, astute enough to 
understand not only the impatience of Washington but also 
the attitude of his own class, said: "It is unreasonable to 
count on miracles in tax reform. You really can't expect us 
to enact laws that would go against us." 

Most Latin- American ricos simply are not accustomed to 
paying income taxes. Guatemala and Paraguay, both badly 
in need of development funds, have never known income 
taxes of any kind; in Nicaragua, only 7 per cent of govern- 
ment revenue has come from personal income tax; Mexico, 
until it put into force new regulations in 1962, collected 
only one third of its total revenue from direct taxation 
(compared with the United States figure of 70 per cent). 
In lieu of effective tax receipts, most governments have been 
forced to finance themselves through heavy export-import 
duties and levies on manufactured goods, a pernicious ritual 
that often deflates the industrialization the Alliance is try- 
ing to encourage and keeps down living standards. 

In response to Alliance demands, governments send rep- 
resentatives to international meetings, guided by United 
Nations and United States tax authorities, with the avowed 
purpose of studying ways and means of improving their col- 

368 



lection systems. Some claim, as a result of this prodding, 
that they have instituted reform measures. But in most in- 
stances the steps are not much more significant than the 
Peruvian gesture of installing computers to verify returns 
and, in theory, to prowl electronically for errant taxpayers. 
In Mexico, for instance, the old lists contained the names 
of only 700,000 taxpayers; with modern devices introduced 
last year, it was said, the new registry would reach several 
millions. But what will happen in reality? 

Brazilian tax experts reckon that merchants in Rio de 
Janeiro alone cheat the government out of more than one 
billion dollars a year. "Do you really expect them or the 
Mexicans, or anyone else in Latin America brought up to 
honor greed to mend their ways?" said a Brazilian jour- 
nalist rhetorically. The common practice on the continent 
is to keep two sets of books. When an assessor drops around, 
to say that returns are out of order, an industrialist is likely 
to look at his inquisitor, who earns under $200 a month, 
and say that a good position is open at double that salary. 
"You might as well take it," the industrialist tells the civil 
servant, "because the government is likely to change soon 
and you will be out of a job in the usual reshuffle." The other 
principal device calls for a flat settlement of 10 per cent of 
the assessed taxation, with the collector pocketing a portion 
and handing over the rest to higher officials. 

Many doctors, lawyers, and other professional men do 
not bother with records of any kind. An Ecuadorian, pres- 
ently assigned to the United Nations, told me what hap- 
pened when he worked for his country's finance department. 
He would call on a doctor, living on a scale of $50,000 a 
year and paying only a couple of hundred dollars in tax, 
and say: "Your declared income is very low, considering the 
size of your home and the two cars you operate." The doctor 
would reply: "Ah, my practice does not pay very well, but I 
have other income from my jundo. The harvest this year 

369 



was very good." In Ecuador there was, at that point, no tax 
whatever on farm income; in most countries it is still so 
small as to be negligible. In Colombia, which recently passed 
a new tax law, I asked a professor for his forecast. He said: 
"It looks good on paper, but, like agrarian reform, it has 
yet to be put to the test. When you are wealthy, and have 
connections, yon can get away with what you want. What 
is the use of laws when they are not observed?' 7 In Chile 
last year a businessman was brought before the courts for 
income-tax evasion. The story made headlines throughout 
the continent, because it was the first case of its kind ever 
to occur in Latin America! 

Teodoro Moscoso cites the Chilean example as an encour- 
aging sign that Latin-American governments at least are 
trying to alter the old pattern. But he does not delude him- 
self into thinking that the battle is won; he knows that the 
real test is not in formal legislation but in Latin- American 
mentality. "I remember a few weeks ago talking with a 
group of rich planters in one unnamed country to the south," 
he relates. "After the formal speeches, they began crowding 
around me and complaining that the newly increased taxes 
their government was forcing them to pay were wrecking 
their business. One of my principal aides from Washington 
was standing beside me. Finally, I turned to him. 'What is 
your salary?' I asked him. 

"The aide, somewhat embarrassed, replied: Fifteen thou- 
sand, two hundred dollars." 

Moscoso addressed the group: "If anybody here makes 
less than that, my next question doesn't interest him." Then, 
he asked his aide: "How much do you pay in taxes?" 

"Approximately four thousand dollars on my last return," 
he said. "My Federal return." 

"That is more than one quarter of his earnings," Moscoso 
pointed out to his audience. "And that's only income tax 

370 



Federal income tax. We also have state income taxes and 
indirect taxes*" 

Moscoso sums up: "I'm not sure I changed the way of life 
of those planters or made them line up outside their revenue 
bureaus the next day to pay their taxes. But I do know that 
the amount of the tax staggered them." 

If North Americans find much about Latin Americans to 
irritate them, the reciprocal feeling is also important to 
note. Latin Americans in general condemn the United States 
for what they consider foolhardy years of neglect and mis- 
understanding that Washington hopes will be forgotten in 
a short time. Liberal Latin Americans, in particular, casti- 
gate the United States for such policies as supporting mili- 
tary machines with heavy financial aid, while overlooking 
until now social reforms, and for being more concerned 
with preserving the established order than in facing the 
realities of change. Both points relate directly to the Alli- 
ance for Progress and form part of the suspicion, and in 
some instances outright hostility, toward the current United 
States policy of enlightenment. 

"We are completely aware," said Salvador Allende in 
Santiago, "that the United States has this new policy be- 
cause of Cuba. It is pitiful that the United States has dis- 
covered Latin America after its failure in Cuba," 

Perez Salinas, a trade-union leader in Caracas, said: "The 
economic development of countries should go together with 
democracy. In the case of the Alianza, it aims to help coun- 
tries which have dictatorships Paraguay and Nicaragua, 
for example. Dictatorships should not be included. Instead 
of being an Alliance for Progress, it is an alliance for regress." 

I heard opposite opinions from businessmen such as 
Alvaro C. Alsogaray, Argentina's former trade minister, who 
said: "The thing to do is to work with governments which 
are responsible governments. You cannot work with social- 

371 



istic or nationalistic countries. You must proceed as bankers, 
not as benefactors." 

But far more typical were the first two views, summed 
up by a student in Guatemala: "Progress for whom? We 
are a bit tired of slogans. At one time, 'good neighbor' meant 
something, but Eisenhower changed all that. We have faith 
in President Kennedy, and the plan itself, but we doubt if 
it will be applied by our present government." 

Underlying the pessimism is a knowledge of history, 
which, no matter how deep the sincerity of the current 
United States administration, no matter how hard Washing- 
ton tries to bury the past, induces Latin Americans to remain 
wary and unconvinced. "Exhortations from Washington 
lustily call upon the Latin-American leaders to root up 
their social disorders," observes The Economist. "But only 
a few years ago, the same men, or their predecessors, were 
being admonished from the same quarter to lay no hand 
on the ownership of land, and to put their trust in the 
seminal virtue of private enterprise." Scarcely a year before 
the Alliance was enunciated, two sociologists from Notre 
Dame University, Fredrick B. Pike and Donald W. Bray, 
in Chile on Pulbright scholarships, described with consider- 
able bitterness the "false optimism" fostered by leading 
North Americans. Writing in The Review of Politics, they 
noted how President Eisenhower, on a visit to a Chilean 
housing project, decided "by looking into the eyes of the 
occupants that he was viewing a happy people (these happy- 
eyed people gave the majority of their votes in the last 
presidential elections to the Marxist ticket)." 

And then, almost overnight, came this statement from 
Douglas Dillon, United States Secretary of the Treasury: 
"Since World War II, we have been preoccupied with the 
problems of other areas first Europe, then Asia, then 
Africa. We were deaf to Latin Americans when they asked 

for help We were accused of neglecting Latin America 

372 



because we were concentrating on problems in other parts 
of the world. This accusation, unfortunately, was justified. 
The urgent need to help reconstruct Europe after the war 
could not have been ignored. Neither could the needs of 
the newly emerging nations of Africa and Asia. Neverthe- 
less, until recent years, our response to the crying needs of 
our two hundred million Latin-American neighbors was 
clearly inadequate." 

If words alone could alter history, then surely these words 
by a man of responsibility, reiterating similar utterances by 
the President of the United States, would set out a fresh 
slate. If deeds unselfish ones such as visualized by the 
Alliance could be trusted, then would not all be made 
right? United States taxpayers are understandably resentful 
when their motives are questioned, for are not they, the 
taxpayers, making sacrifices to help their neighbors? And 
after all, what right have Latin Americans to complain if, 
between 1945 and 1960, they received scarcely 2 per cent 
of the billions of dollars the United States divided among 
nations of the world? Who else provided even a fraction as 
much? 

Unfortunately, Latin Americans do not see matters in 
quite the same way. They suffer largely from the psycho- 
logical disability of any recipient; at one moment demand- 
ing a bigger slice of the pie, at the next resenting the person 
powerful enough to bake a big pie. But, the psychology 
aside, a more cogent question they ask concerns the use of 
the money. To many Latin Americans, United States aid 
has meant only one thing: weapons and armaments in the 
grasp of governments determined to preserve the status quo. 
Though United States military assistance to Latin America 
has been relatively small (an average of $65 million a year 
since 1952), it points up, in the Latin-American mind, a 
negative aspect of past United States foreign policy toward 
the hemisphere. 

373 



This military aid is, ostensibly, for hemisphere defense; 
but, taken in its essentials, it is regarded as a political ex- 
pediency a means of keeping Latin-American regimes 
friendly and cooperative. During World War II, when 
Lend-Lease equipment was shipped southward, the inten- 
tion not only was to arm states against possible enemy at- 
tack from the outside, but to enable them to maintain 
internal order and stability against any possible A^ds at- 
tempts at subversion. The same reasoning held after the 
war, when Soviet aggression became the concern. From what 
I could gather, however, this military aspect of United 
States policy has been appreciated and supported by^ few 
Latin Americans, aside from those in the armed forcesjThe 
more common attitude is that United States assistance has 
encouraged militarism and coddled dictatorships, since the 
mere provision of such aid by the hemisphere's leading 
power gives a propaganda lift that sustains a regime. The 
price for the United States, if not high in finances, has been 
arduous on nerves.^ For reasons of prestige or fear, if one 
republic is given or buys a certain type of jet aircraft, its 
neighbor demands one precisely like it, and the United 
States has to comply to keep friends! Obviously ,| even with- 
out United States aid or training programs, Latin- American 
armies would not wither away; national pride and innate 
suspicion of one state for the other would ensure their sur- 
vival by one means or another. Butjthe point raised by 
Latin Americans is that in cases of civilian and military 
elements competing for power, United States aid has un- 
wittingly tipped the balance in favor of the militarists.! 

The question, therefore, is this: Has the United States, 
in the effort to gain cooperation of the armed forces, been 
losing the support of the rest of the population? The answer, 
broadly, is: Yes. Another question is this: Does the military 
or political return make such alienation worthwhile? Edwin 
Lieuwen, Chairman of the Department of History at the 

374 



University of New Mexico, provides one answer in his re- 
markably informative, well-documented book, Arms and 
Politics in Latin America. 1 "Judged by United States stand- 
ards/' writes Lieuwen, "Latin-American armies are ill 
equipped and badly trained, despite the work of military mis- 
sions and the aid programs. No Latin- American state has a 
significant air force; only [a few] have even marginal 
navies. United States military strategists are well aware of 
these facts; consequently they do not count on Latin- Amer- 
ican forces to provide any significant assistance in operations 
outside the hemisphere, either in a general or in a limited 
war." (Only Brazil put a force in the European field during 
World War II; Mexico had a token air squadron in the 
Philippines. Of the twenty republics, only Colombia con- 
tributed troops to the United Nations fighting in Korea.) 
Lieuwen goes on: "Even for military tasks closely related 
to hemisphere defense, such as keeping the Atlantic, Pacific, 
and Caribbean sea lanes open and defending the Panama 
Canal, all but the most peripheral must be assumed by the 
United States. . . . Since in fact neither the United States 
nor the Latin- American countries are convinced that the 
latter have any real role to play in meeting the external 
Communist threat, the only practical military justification 
for providing them with military training and aid is to 
enable them to combat the internal Communist menace. 
... It seems that if the United States military planners are 
primarily concerned about the internal Communist threat, 
they should channel aid to the police rather than to the 
armies." Lieuwen's conclusion is that the thwarting of Com- 
munist subversion depends far more on the attitudes of the 
Latin- American governments than on the level of their 
armaments, and "insofar as the military aid programs have 

i Published for the Council on Foreign Relations by Frederick A. Praeger, 
New York, 1961. 

375 



increased the political influence of the armed forces, the 
prospects for democracy have suffered." 

Both points have been echoed time and again by promi- 
nent Latin- American civilians. Opposition to United States 
military aid existed even before World War II. In 1937, 
when Washington proposed lending warships to some hemi- 
sphere republics, Eduardo Santos, leader of the Liberal 
Party in Colombia, pleaded: "Don't do this evil to us. The 
use of armaments is like the vice of morphine. Once begun, 
the cure is almost impossible. You will ruin us with cruisers 
and create for us new problems, because there is always 
someone with the desire to try out the armaments and obtain 
from them some advantage." Santos accurately forecast 
what would happen in his own country when military men 
took to leading suicidal war parties among Colombians. The 
next time he spoke for United States ears it was as a tragic 
figure in exile in 1955: "If in Latin America, the dictators 
prevail, if they continue to discredit freedom and law, a 
fertile field for Communist harvest will be provided. Why? 
Because our resistance will be gone. We are poor nations who 
have no investments or great fortunes to defend. What we 
would defend against communism would be our freedoms; 
but if we have already been stripped of them, we have 
nothing left to defend. It is thus that the gateway for the 
Communist invasion is thrown open by the anti-Commu- 
nists." 

More recently, in August, 1962, another Colombian re- 
peated the worries of liberal politicians. In the midst of a 
fresh military crisis at home, German Arciniegas, Colombia's 
ambassador to Italy, said: "It is an unpardonable error 
for the United States to stimulate the growth of Latin- 
American armies It threatens to turn Latin- American 

nations into countries occupied by their own armies." 
The admonition received a more thoughtful response than 
it might have in previous years, when the concept of an 

376 



Alliance for Progress, with its underlying philosophy of 
democratic social transformation, was unknown. Speaking in 
United States congressional debate, several senators and 
representatives questioned the wisdom of military assistance 
for Latin America. Representative Thomas M. Pelly of 
Washington virtually followed line by line the argument 
of Arciniegas: "It [military assistance] strengthens dictators 
and would-be dictators. It sometimes forces a population to 
live under its own military occupation." Senator Ernest 
Gruening of Alaska called for "an end to this unsuitable 
and fruitless" program. Several others demanded a re- 
appraisal of the whole policy of military aid. 

The immediate stimulus was the ominous trend of just 
the past few months, beginning with the overthrow in 
Argentina of Frondizi's civilian government by an armed 
forces junta, which then threatened civil war because of 
a personal fight for power among the generals, and coming 
to a climax in a military take-over in Peru. The latter event 
was particularly disturbing to the United States; the symbol 
of militarism was a United States Sherman tank that Peru- 
vian soldiers used to ram down the gates of the presidential 
palace. Though the bitter reaction from Washington was 
quick and clear, the end result, as we shall examine shortly, 
was that the United States still had to conduct business with 
a distasteful military regime. 

There is a widely held belief in Latin America that the 
United States has two policies for Latin America: the State 
Department's, which favors civilian rule, and the Penta- 
gon's, which encourages military rule. This is not so. There 
may be contradictions between the tactics of the two agen- 
cies, but both have been struggling for the same objective: 
to attain political cohesion in the hemisphere. The dilemma 
is not one of hemisphere defense; no one placed much faith 
in the few gunboats that Peru or Venezuela or Guatemala 
offered to provide during the Cuban blockade. The dilemma 

377 



is that, in making the offer, Peru, Venezuela, and Guatemala 
were demonstrating a solidarity that was a prime objective 
of United States policy. 

Nevertheless, an opinion written two years ago by Edwin 
Lieuwen may have more application today than ever before. 
"The time has now come," said Lieuwen, "for the United 
States government to promote vigorously [the] suggestion 
that Latin America curtail its military expenditures. A pro- 
gram of arms limitation in Latin America, sponsored by the 
United States and by some Latin-American governments, 
would provide a simple method by which some of the incon- 
sistencies in our current foreign policy could be removed. 
It would be welcomed by the Latin-American public, relieve 
the United States of much of the onus of supporting unpop- 
ular governments, and allow the savings on arms to be 
plowed into economically productive endeavors." 

"I am astonished by the lack of common emotional lan- 
guage between Latin America and the United States." The 
man who made this remark to me, Jose Figueres, has an 
appropriate reputation for being peppery and incisive.} He 
led a revolution that brought democracy to Costa Rica, and, 
as president for five years, introduced middle-of-the-road 
measures that helped to make the tiny republic an oasis 
of hope in an otherwise restive Central America! Figueres 
studied and worked in the United States as an economist, 
and has a deep grasp of the realities of United States moods 
and political necessities. He stands as a keen interpreter 
midway, physically and spiritually, between North and 
South America. "The advanced business community of the 
United States and many congressmen," he says, "have an 
unavoidable tendency to consider the oligarchs as their 
counterparts. When they visit Latin America they talk to 
businessmen and senators only, and fail to understand the 

378 



real forces at work here. To them, communism is a thing 
that starts and ends with Fidel Castro." 

Interestingly enough, Figueres, as leader of Costa Rica's 
big National Liberation Party, denounced Castro for foster- 
ing tyranny in Cuba long before his nation made an official 
break with the Cuban regime. This, however, does not alter 
his belief in nonintervention. He states a philosophy that, 
to many North Americans, may appear contradictory, but 
to Latin Americans is perfectly logical: "From the Cuban 
people's point of view, the present dictatorship is a catas- 
trophe, but I do not share the view that the presence of 
Castro makes our position more difficult. There is a great 
vacuum in Latin America and a great urge to fill it. If the 
Cuban government were overthrown tonight, our internal 
situation would not improve one bit. Poverty and agitation 
would continue." 

And so, here is the dilemma of a Latin American who 
went along with his government's decision to sever links 
with Cuba but questions the meaning in terms of essential 
problems. Two thousand miles away, in La Paz, Victor Paz 
Estenssoro, the president of Bolivia, sat quietly puffing a 
pipe while he explained why he would not support sanc- 
tions against Cuba: "We are attached to the principle of 
self-determination and nonintervention." Bolivia, as a land- 
locked country, could feel relatively secure from direct 
Cuban influence, in contrast to Costa Rica, which was sep- 
arated from Castro by a few hundred miles of open Carib- 
bean waters. But was this the whole reason for Bolivia's 
stand? Bolivia's social revolution, barely ten years old, was 
faltering, partly because of chronic economic ailments, 
partly because of a government inability to set priorities that 
would satisfy all factions. Paz Estenssoro's desk in the presi- 
dential palace was but a few feet from the same window 
through which a recent predecessor was flung into the hands 

of an irate mob, to be strung up to die on a lamppost. 

379 



Bolivians, putting it as an understatement, combine passion 
with politics. "The greatest danger/' Paz Estenssoro said, 
"is still from the left." Thus, he was saying implicity, he 
could make no move that would alienate the disciples of 
Fidelismo. 

But the quandary was not even that simple. Bolivia had 
been offered substantial credits from the Soviet Union to 
build a tin-smelting plant and other required industrial proj- 
ects. Paz Estenssoro would dearly like to accept the Soviet 
offer, but then what would happen to United States funds 
promised under the Alliance for Progress? Bolivia could 
hardly complain about previous United States assistance, 
which happened to be particularly lavish in her case; but 
there was an attitude, shared by other republics, that it was 
the responsibility, even the duty, of the United States to 
pay the major cost of any development program. At the 
same time, Bolivia felt its economy would be boosted if it 
could accept Russian loans or grants and expand trade with 
the Soviet bloc. Any move in that direction, however, would 
have to be waived to cater to United States susceptibilities 
about external communism, the United States fear of en- 
croachment that could begin with major trade or aid. 

I said to President Paz : "But this is an independent coun- 
try, is it not?" My intended inference, of course, was that 
Bolivia could make any arrangements it saw fit. The effect 
of the question was as I had expected. 

"Which country today," said Paz slowly, "is truly inde- 
pendent?" There was sadness, weariness in his voice. It 
told a good deal about the struggle of conscience within 
realistic Latin- American leaders, on one side trying to main- 
tain what they believe to be an independent posture, on the 
other understanding the facts of international life : that the 
United States, from the point of view of its own beliefs and 
security, would reject outright any Latin-American country 
that allied itself with the Soviet Union, whether through 

380 



economic or other means. And so, to Bolivia, as in the case 
of other republics, Alliance funds would have to be more 
important than Soviet funds. 

This is part of the handicap under which the Alliance 
functions, one of the reasons why it is regarded, justly or 
unjustly, with doubts by many Latin Americans. Scarcely 
five months after the Charter for the Alliance was signed, 
another meeting was held at Punta del Este, this time to 
consider action that might be taken against Castro's Cuba. 
Woven darkly together in Latin- American minds were two 
points that many considered should have been unrelated: 
the need to develop the Alliance as a cooperative plan for 
the social and economic growth of the hemisphere, but also 
the need to pay the price of United States bitterness and 
fears over Cuba. On the main issue, the expulsion of Cuba 
from the Organization of American States, Latin Americans 
observed that Haiti, which languished under its own oppres- 
sive dictatorship, cast the deciding vote necessary for a 
two-thirds majority and was promptly granted more Alli- 
ance support. A waggish Brazilian journalist itemized Secre- 
tary of State Dean Rusk's expense account as follows: 
Breakfast, $2.85; taxis, $6.70; lunch with Haitians, $30,- 
000,000. 

That old-fashioned "dollar diplomacy" is prevalent today 
is, I believe, an unjust accusation. But this is not the point; 
the fact is that the belief persists in many quarters, espe- 
cially among Latin America's students and intellectuals, 
with their wide influence. I do not think it is fair to assume 
that the outspoken Castro opponents, who voted for Cuban 
banishment from hemisphere affairs, did so consciously to 
endear themselves to the United States. From my conversa- 
tions with such men as Venezuela's Betan court and Colom- 
bia's Lleras Camargo, and with lesser personalities, it was 
clear that many countries took a "hard" line out of genuine 
conviction that Fidelismo was an external as well as internal 

381 



menace. It is noteworthy that of those countries that allied 
themselves at Punta del Este, the majority were Caribbean 
neighbors (Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El 
Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, 
Venezuela, Peru, Uruguay, and Paraguay). It is equally 
noteworthy that the number of states in itself was not 
terribly significant. The three major proponents of a "soft" 
line, Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, accounted for two thirds 
of Latin America's area and three fifths of its population. 
Along with Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile, they argued that 
most Latin- American republics had already broken diplo- 
matic relations with Cuba anyway, and that removal of 
Cuba from O.A.S. agencies would simply intensify its de- 
pendence on the Soviet bloc. 

The refusal of these six nations to evict Cuba from O.A.S. 
indicated again a deeply ingrained repugnance for any 
hemisphere intervention, no matter how mild its form. 
Partly there was a fear that such intervention might be 
applied one day against their own governments. But there 
was also the practical consideration, as in Bolivia's case, 
of facing home audiences sympathetic to Castro. Brazil, with 
a weak and divided government, strong movements in the 
Northeast, and leftist sentiments everywhere, could think 
only of "peaceful coexistence" with Cuba. Other "soft" 
countries were motivated by other internal considerations. 
Argentina was menaced more by Peronistas than by Fidel- 
istas, and this stemmed directly from a cutback in a rela- 
tively high standard of living. Arturo Frondizi, the president 
at the time, made plain his feeling that the United States 
was too preoccupied with Central America and the Carib- 
bean, and was not paying enough heed to the economic woes 
of Argentina. This, then, was his way of drawing attention 
to Argentina and trying to extract more cash from Wash- 
ington. "Blackmail," some Americans said. Frondizi's tactics, 
however, did not please his own militarists; shortly after 

382 



Punta del Este, they forced him to break relations with 
Cuba, making Argentina the thirteenth Latin-American 
state to do so. 

In Ecuador, I discussed the Argentine development with 
President Carlos Julio Arosemena. Since Ecuadorians, as 
well as others, were citing the "coincidence" that as soon as 
Argentina broke with Cuba it received a substantial "United 
States loan, was Ecuador likely to be penalized for not doing 
the same? Arosemena, a huge, clear-speaking man of forty- 
two who impressed the visitor with his candor, said: "I have 
no fear that Ecuador will be left out of the Alliance. The 
United States needs Latin America more than we need the 
United States." If those, to United States readers, are gall- 
ing words, they express a fairly typical sentiment even if it 
isn't always put so bluntly by chiefs of state. It explains 
in part the lack of haste of countries such as Brazil and 
Mexico to submit to United States pressures over Cuba. 

Shortly after my talk with Arosemena, and following the 
example of the Argentine army, Ecuador's generals forced 
a reluctant president to end relations with Castro. 2 But 
Washington could take little comfort from the Ecuadorian 
gesture. Promptly, a pro-Castro revolt erupted in the hills 
around Quito. Even in October, 1962, after the arms buildup 
and the much publicized arrival of Soviet "technicians" in 
Cuba, there was no substantial shifting in the position of 
Mexico and Brazil, which between them embrace more than 
half the peoples of Latin America. At a Washington meeting 
of foreign ministers, called in a further effort to get the 
big powers to isolate the island, the response was hardly 
more united than at Punta del Este. WMle a general com- 
munique expressed unanimous condemnation of trends in 
Cuba, and a determination to prevent the spread of com- 
munism, in simple facts these were mild resolutions. Political 

2 Leaving only Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Uruguay with missions 
in Havana. 

383 



or geographic factors still determined the actions of each 
country. 

I was in Washington during that meeting, and a Chilean 
journalist summed up the attitude: "I suppose you can't 
expect Brazil or Chile or other countries that are remote 
physically from Cuba to feel as strongly about a 'threat 7 
from Castro as, say, Costa Rica or Venezuela. You might 
say that we fear as much 'big-stick' diplomacy from Wash- 
ington as we do so-called 'Moscow aggression' from Cuba." 
It took, just a couple of weeks later, a startling revelation 
by President Kennedy about the scope of Soviet missile 
sites under construction in Cuba and their capacity to deliver 
rockets to far parts of the continent to jolt Chile and 
other "soft" liners into unified action. The Council of the 
Organization of American States voted as a bloc in support 
of the President's "quarantine" measures against Cuba to 
halt the inflow of offensive weapons from the Soviet Union. 
This was an impressive and swift display of hemisphere 
solidarity in the face of a crisis: the greatest such display 
since World War II. It was rightly hailed as such by the 
United States press and public, caught up in the quick- 
changing and tense drama of United States naval vessels 
preparing to sink if necessary Soviet vessels, at the risk of 
nuclear war, in a determination to protect the continent. 

But the unity was not quite as complete as it appeared 
initially on the surface. Three nations, Mexico, Brazil, and 
Bolivia, made it clear that they would not go as far as the 
others were prepared to go : to invade Cuba. Though, along 
with sister republics, they agreed to that part of the United 
States resolution that called for the searching of ships and 
the dismantling of the Cuban missile sites, they halted at 
a significant section. This section would have given the 
United States a blank check to attack Cuba whenever she 
decided that Cuba had become "an active threat." There 
was a subtle difference, but a vital one, in the views of 

384 



Bolivia, Mexico, and Brazil between blockading arms ship- 
ments and landing in a country to seize those arms. It was 
the same kind of distinction made previously in the case 
of the Dominican Republic, when United States warships 
hovered off the coast to compel the withdrawal of the Tru- 
jillos; because U.S. Marines had not actually landed, accord- 
ing to this logic, "intervention" had not taken place. 

The Cuban crisis also pointed up the sharp divisions in- 
side countries that had long taken a firm stand against 
Castro. In Venezuela saboteurs, identified as Fidelistas, 
dynamited power stations, halting temporarily one sixth of 
the nation's oil production. Even in Chile, one of the few 
countries that had refused to go along with the majority in 
the vote to exclude Cuba from the Organization of American 
States, students reacted violently when the government, 
shocked by the missile disclosures, reversed itself and em- 
barked on an anti-Castro policy. 

However, aside from the genuine desire to maintain the 
principle of nonintervention, many Latin Americans con- 
tinued last year to draw a distinction between the "offen- 
sive" and "defensive" character of weapons possessed by 
Cuba. Thus, even in states nearest the island there were 
men and women who agreed with Castro that he had every 
reason to arm himself as best he could to protect his revolu- 
tion, especially after the abortive landing in 1961 at Co- 
chinos Bay. Not only, according to some interpretations, did 
the United States-inspired invasion violate the many pledges 
of nonintervention, reviving fears that past policies were 
merely dormant and not dead, but it had a curious side, 
effect. The invasion's failure made the Russians, who up to < 
then were unconvinced about the stability of the Castro ' 
regime, examine the allegiance he still commanded and, as 
a result, go all out in his support. 

If this, from a United States view, appears as distorted 
reasoning, it nevertheless ties in with other Latin- American 

385 



versions of events. When Castro announced that the Soviet 
Union was financing and helping to build a port for a "fish- 
ing" fleet, which the Russians would be able to draw upon, 
not all Latin Americans uttered the cry that here was more 
evidence of a "military threat 3 ' against the hemisphere. A 
Mexican editor, who can be described as a moderate, said: 
"For the last fifty years the United States has held on to 
its naval base at Guantanamo Bay, admittedly by legal 
treaty. But in that half century no effort was made by the 
United States to give Cubans a sense of participation. In- 
stead, Guantanamo is regarded as sovereign United States 
property, isolated from the rest of Cuba by a fence and a 
foreign mentality. Now the Russians come along and say: 
'Here is a new base. We will build it for you, and maybe use 
it, but it will belong to you! This was more than a strategic 
victory for the Russians; it was a psychological victory." 

Mexico's stand is one of the most interesting, for Mexico 
shares the sea in proximity to Cuba, and, at the same time, 
lives closest of all Latin- American nations to the United 
States. Mexico has not regarded political action against 
Cuba as pressing. It is better, in her opinion, to leave Cuba 
alone; for the Cuban people will not long tolerate the im- 
position of an alien system, if this, in fact, is what Fidelismo 
is. Underlying the Mexican argument is an instinctive oppo- 
sition to "intervention" as it is commonly understood in 
Mexico : that is, any form of pressure by the United States 
to protect its interests in Latin America. It is not primarily 
the influence of Fidelismo, substantial though it may be, 
that dictates such a caution; more, it is the ever-present 
memory of United States influence and policy toward 
Mexico as it was exercised until recent times. 

"To understand Mexico, ask about Cuba," commented a 
writer in The Nation a while ago. It was an apt way of 
putting it, for Mexico is still fired by its own old revolution- 
ary spirit that demands sympathy for the revolution of 

386 



others. But simultaneously Mexico's revolution is called 
"The Unfinished Revolution" or "The Three-Quarters Revo- 
lution." There has been substantial progress in land distribu- 
tion and education, but there has also been frustration 
among millions who feel slow progress. Mexico City boasts 
its skyscrapers; it also has vast slums, and, not far away, 
campesinos whose material lot is not much greater than it 
was a generation ago. The restive ones have witnessed a 
new middle class grow in prosperity and conservatism, and, 
with a change in administration every six years, a new 
group of politicians riding to glory in Cadillacs. 

"Our progress has been uneven," said Senator Manuel 
Moreno Sanchez, one of Mexico's most powerful political 
figures and a member of the government. "We see that great 
advantages have been concentrated in one part of our people 
in only a few geographic zones and in privileged activities. 
This is only serving to accentuate the contrast between those 
who have too much and those who lack everything and are 
living prostrate in misery." Moreno Sanchez could not vis- 
ualize any threat from Castro, but warned instead that 
Mexico must step up the rhythm of its own social revolution 
or encounter forces "pressing up from below." His views are 
disputed by men who, at the other end, accuse the govern- 
ment of introducing too much "socialism" in economic 
matters. 

Mexico has indeed moved sharply to "Mexicanize" for- 
eign-backed enterprises by insisting on local participation; 
it has also nationalized such varied fields as motion-picture 
distribution and electric power and light. But these moves 
are part of a trend established long ago by such leaders as 
Lazaro Cardenas, who, as president, was the expropriator of 
oil and other properties, and, to millions of Mexicans, the 
great emancipator. Cardenas emerged from retirement last 
year to speak out loudly on the Cuban issue. "To defend the 

387 



sovereignty of Cuba/' he said in an obvious reference to the 
United States, "is to defend the sovereignty of Mexico. 7 ' 

And so, to many Mexicans, Cuba is placed in the context 
of Mexico's own history, which implies a constant struggle 
to prove to itself, and to the United States, that it is free 
of external domination; accompanying this is an intense 
desire to carry on the revolution without being subjected to 
extremes of right or left. All the while, Mexico bears in 
mind that it cannot afford to alienate the United States, 
which buys well over half its exports besides providing most 
of its imports and supporting the peso with special funds. 
Thus, the current president, Adolfo Lopez Mateos, walked 
an intricate course in 1962 involving neither outright sup- 
port for Castro nor subservience to the United States. 

But this policy has not always been understood by North 
Americans, especially investors, who believed that Mexico's 
"soft" approach to Cuba was an open invitation to Fidelismo 
to take over. In 1961 the rate of industrial growth fell from 
5 or 6 per cent a year to 3.5 per cent, barely enough to cope 
with the normal population increase. The drop was caused 
largely by curtailment of United States investments and an 
exodus of Mexican capital itself. However, a marked change 
took place after Punta del Este. If Mexico did not support 
the eviction of Cuba from O.A.S., it at least juggled adroitly 
to agree that "Marxism-Leninism" was "incompatible" with 
hemisphere conceptions of freedom. "Those few words," 
recounted Don Augustin Legorreta, managing director of 
the largest private bank in the country, "did the trick. 
Money began to return. Our worry was not whether we were 
going to have a Castro regime but how to restore the con- 
fidence of investors. There was nothing wrong with Mexican 
policy regarding Cuba. The only thing wrong was United 
States interpretation of it." Putting it another way, a for- 
eign-office man told me : "Cuba may be the black sheep, but 
we consider she is still in the family." 

388 



Augustin Legorreta said he was optimistic about the fu- 
ture, that Mexico should be able to return to a healthy 
industrial expansion. Certainly by Latin-American stand- 
ards, and despite some faltering aspects of the revolution, 
Mexico's record is impressive ; as one example, steel produc- 
tion is expected to grow from the present 1.7 million tons 
a year to 4 million tons by 1965. And yet the government 
is cautious about predicting the effects of the Alliance for 
Progress. Official statements emphasize that Mexico boasts 
her own plans and programs for economic and social devel- 
opment, that she must rely chiefly on her own resources to 
carry out improvements, that when she requires outside 
assistance she prefers to borrow directly from banks, thus 
encountering a minimum of unsolicited advice. 

What this amounts to, of course, is pride and chronic mis- 
trust of the "giant" to the North. There was no inconsistency 
in the fact that President Kennedy received an enthusiastic 
personal welcome when he visited Mexico in 1962 at a time 
when press commentators were recalling past United States 
incursions in Mexico and warning that the Alliance for 
Progress might be a political weapon. Anti-gringoism dies 
hard in a country where every literate school child can recite 
the dates of a score of occasions when the United States 
forcibly imposed itself on Mexico or on one of the other 
Caribbean and Central American republics. "We Mexicans/' 
said Dr. Mario de la Cueva, one of the nation's most noted 
educators, "don't think the Alliance for Progress, or any 
other kind of aid program, will solve our problems; what 
we need is a better balance in trade and better prices for 
Mexican raw materials. For instance, the United States pays 
low prices for our cotton, and in turn dumps its own cotton 
products on world markets at prices we cannot possibly 
match." 

If I have gone, at some length, into the foregoing com- 
ments, it is merely to emphasize that the United States in 

389 



stretching out a hand in an honorable and imaginative proj- 
ect, which is what I believe the Alliance to be, has not over- 
come any fundamental hurdles. It is erroneous, as some 
Latin Americans insist, that the price of Alliance member- 
ship is conformity over Cuba. President Kennedy, in his 
trip to Mexico, announced that Mexico, which could hardly 
be considered to share fully Washington's attitude over 
Cuba, was the recipient of a new $20 million agricultural 
loan. Brazil, another of the "soft" republics, received one 
third of all United States disbursements in the first year of 
the Alliance's existence. 

But this did not stop Brazilians from complaining that the 
Alliance was a political device, or, conversely, that funds 
were slow in arriving. From virtually every leader with 
whom I spoke men such as Paz Estenssoro and Arosemena 
and Betancourt I heard the same lament: Washington is 
falling ,down on the job; United States "bureaucracy" is 
holding up delivery of promised aid. Harshly, in United 
States ears, this is ingratitude; to Latin Americans it is a 
just complaint based on the notion that the United States 
has wronged its neighbors in the past and must make 
amends. 

If there is one lesson to be remembered, it is this : Regard- 
less of what the United States does, regardless of how it tries 
to wipe out the image Latin Americans have of North Amer- 
icans, it will be condemned. Whether it gives with "strings" 
in this case, reasonable ones which call for reforms or 
whether in desperation it overlooks theoretical stipulations 
in order to prime a country's economy, it will be accused of 
insensitivity by one faction or another. The dilemma is 
clearly expressed by the Alliance's Moscoso : "Thjis attitude 
of criticizing us whatever we do reflects the ambivalence of 
Latin America's relationship with the United States. It is 
an ambivalence born out of a complex mixture of feelings 
reliance on us, resentment of that very reliance, and the 

390 



tendency to exaggerate the faults and minimize the achieve- 
ments of the strong and powerful brother." 

The reader will note the constant repetition in this chap- 
ter of the word "dilemma." It enters into both Latin- Amer- 
ican and United States language. The dilemmas revolving 
around the Alliance are multifold, and are caused in part by 
confusion over some basic definitions. The President of the 
United States has called for "revolutionary ideas/' but just 
how far are these revolutionary ideas supposed to go in the 
field of economics? For many years, the United Nations 
Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA) has been 
trying to sell a key principle: Intensive planning by the 
state is necessary if priorities are to be established for the 
investment of domestic resources and foreign contributions. 
ECLA's executive director, Dr. Raul Prebisch, has contin- 
ually stressed that state planning must come first, as "the 
only way to utilize fully the enormous potentialities of 
private initiative." More conservative economists disagree 
with this approach, some going so far as to label Prebisch's 
thinking as "Marxist," and warning of the "dire" risks of 
government "interference." 

In a sense, the Alliance stresses central planning and gov- 
ernment-to-government assistance ; but it also relies heavily 
on private investment, without resolving what, if any, con- 
flict exists between the two sectors. The Economist states 
the problems squarely: 

The requests for government-to-government aid that Latin 
Americans regularly advanced at the inter-American eco- 
nomic conferences were as regularly brushed aside with the 
brisk rejoinder that an economic project worth its salt should 
be able to find a private backer. But the perplexity in Latin 
America, as indeed in all under-developed regions, is that the 
projects that are eminently desirable from a social and politi- 
cal point of view are not always those that are likely to be 

391 



profitable to a private investor. Washington's torpidity to- 
wards its southern neighbours has been whipped into life by 
the anxieties that Fidelismo has aroused. But it is still not 
at all clear what encroachments upon private enterprise the 
United States government is prepared to accept with equa- 
nimity, and even less whether North American and European 
business men in Latin America are prepared to accept gov- 
ernment officials as their active partners. Moreover, it would 
be utterly misleading to suggest that the Latin Americans 
themselves are automatically responsive to the ideas that 
the state should play a more important part in planning and 
controlling their economies. 

The problem, as I learned, is compounded by semantics. 
To many North Americans "socialism" is a bad word, imply- 
ing an ideology that exists in Russia or Cuba, or, at the 
very least, a first step toward that kind of ideology. To many 
Latin Americans, however, it describes not only an accept- 
able but a desirable way of life; the Latin- American mean- 
ing of "socialism" is akin to that understood by Danes and 
Swedes and Britons and Australians under "socialist" gov- 
ernments. "We fear that Latin America is turning socialist 
and that communism may be around the corner/ 7 says Mos- 
coso. "It may be of some consolation that, since the New 
Deal and even before, we have viewed with alarm what 
many of us thought was the_s.ame dangfiEQiia.. trend in our 
own country. Latin Americans look to their governments 
today for a variety of reasons. The kind of 'free enterprise' 
they have known has by and large been of the kind that 
we in the United States outlived many decades ago. In Latin 
America there are too many instances where private enter- 
prise is synonymous with landholding oligarchies who keep 
their farm workers living at a bare subsistence level and 
who live in luxury. So people look to governments for solu- 
tions. They do not see the threat of 'creeping socialism/ 
They see the reality of hunger, disease, and hopelessness/* 

392 



Moscoso concludes : "We would be ill-advised to get involved 
in acrimonious debates with our Latin-American neighbors 
on the details of where private enterprise ends and where 
government enterprise begins." 

United States business practice in Latin America, with the 
notable exceptions of such areas as Cuba and to a degree 
Central America and the Caribbean, has been good, at least 
in comparison with Latin- American practice; many United 
States businessmen, even before President Kennedy's formal 
program was enunciated, were carrying out their own pri- 
vate little alliances for progress. In Brazil and Argentina, for 
instance, Kaiser Industries, after opening automobile plants, 
encouraged local manufacturers to produce more than 90 
per cent of the components ; equally telling, Kaiser has estab- 
lished multimillion-dollar educational programs to train 
technicians and to send promising young men abroad for 
further learning. Sears, Roebuck reinvest at least 50 per 
cent of their Latin-American profits in the countries in 
which their stores operate; this is a positive contribution to 
national interests that many a Latin- American industrialist, 
with an eye to Swiss banks, cannot claim. Even the archetype 
of "Yankee imperialism," the United Fruit Company, has 
embarked on a far-sighted scheme of selling or leasing much 
of its banana land in Central America to local farmers whom 
it calls "associate producers." There is a double purpose: to 
economize on operations but also, after the Cuban experi- 
ence of take-overs, to satisfy the natural lust of Latin Amer- 
icans striving to be masters of their own land. 

Jose Figueres, who as president of Costa Rica negotiated 
a new contract with United Fruit, leading to the present 
trend, still talks, however, of "a large economy exploiting a 
small economy." He says: "It is not a deliberate or con- 
scious effort, but it still goes on. For instance, we transport 
our coffee in a truck made in Detroit where a worker gets 
twenty dollars a day. In exchange, we send coffee, for which 

393 



producers pay only $1.50 per day. This sort of situation used 
to happen internally, in the United States or Western 
Europe, at the birth of the industrial era, but gradually it 
equalized itself. Now, innocently but dangerously, it is hap- 
pening internationally. It is not deliberate colonialism; it 
is an ignorance of the times. The civilized industrial world 
is indebted to Costa Rica at the rate of $30 million a year 
in what would be reasonable prices for coffee, cocoa, and 
bananas. No Alliance for Progress can compensate for this 
amount/' 

This murmur, repeated in every country that depends 
on one or two basic export commodities for survival, is an 
adjunct to the main debate of private versus state develop- 
mentjLatin Americans look with bitterness and frustration 
iSETtEe continuing decline in the prices of the raw products 
they sell to the United States and the rise in the prices of 
manufactured goods they buy in return. The result is that 
losses incurred by Latin- American countries in their trade 
with the United States have, in some cases, exceeded the 
amount of aid they have received. Coffee, the most impor- 
tant export of Latin America, has suffered a steady price 
decline since 1955; it dropped 8 per cent in 1961 and 1962 
alone. Stated another way, the lowering of only one cent in 
a pound of coffee may amount to a loss of from forty to 
fifty million dollars to the chief producing countries. Colom- 
bia claimed last year that it lost nearly three times more 
foreign income through the slump in coffee prices than it 
gained in Alliance-credits^^ 

"Some governments, as a consequence, argue that the 
United States should give priority to trade stabilization 
rather than outright aid. Colombia's finance minister, for 
example, warned that Alliance grants, "however generous/' 
will fail unless prices for Latin-American commodities^jare 
imt-aa^JoLi^Q^ The 

United States would have preferred Wat~Latin-American 

394 



nations help themselves by controlling commodity produc- 
tion, diversifying products, and expanding trade with one 
another through their newly formed common market. In a 
move of major significance, however, the United States con- 
sented to subscribe to a "workable" world coffee agreement 
and to impose domestic import controls in order to carry 
it out. The agreement, which eventually may help resolve 
the problem of coffee, still has a long way to go to prove 
itself. Serious problems in other key exports of Latin Amer- 
ica also remain. 

But the most serious issue of all is still the central one, 
at least for Latin- American nationalists : how to escape what 
they regard as the complementary dominance by foreign 
commercial interests and internal feudal^ oligarchiesj In 
other words, how to reach a "socialist" system that would 
distribute the wealth with greater equality and achieve the 
type of reforms that even Washington demands. There are 
pungent reasons, of course, for the widespread bias against 
private enterprise, both national and foreign. Ownership of 
domestic companies in Latin America is most ^ften_c<m^ 
<;ei^atej^^n_the Jbands of a wealthy^ fev^ In Chile, for 
example, eleven banking and^iHHu^trial groups, with inter- 
locking directorships, liberally sprinkled with senators, 
control companies representing 71 per cent of domestic 
corporate investments, 3 Owners, working on profit margins 
of around 35 per cent on net investment in manufacturing, 
are reluctant to plow back funds in expansion to provide 
goods and jobs for more people. At the same time, Chile's 
main industry, copper mining, which accounts for three 
quarters of its exports, is almost wholly controlled by two , 
United States companies, Anaconda and Kennecott. Chil- 
eans charge that these North American companies are "tak- 
ing away our resources." 

Chileans ignore the argument that without United States 

3 Business Week, Sept. 22, 1962. 

395 



capital and engineering the copper resources would never 
have been developed to their present extent. Much of the 
mistrust for American businessmen, throughout the hemi- 
sphere, comes from the mistrust of most Latin Americans 
for their own ricos. Guilt by association, therefore, mars the 
image of many United States concerns. Nevertheless, the 
Chileans have a strong point when they show that Ana- 
conda and Kennecott have neglected to invite any local 
participation and are staffed on a senior level entirely by 
Americans, in contrast with United States companies in 
other parts of Latin America that tend today to recruit some 
key officers from among Latin Americans and to invite 
domestic stock communion. Parties of all complexions in 
Chile demand nationalization of the copper companies. 
Some offer considerable compensation. Others, such as the 
socialists, would make token payment only, or no payment 
at all. Salvador Allende says that the two companies have 
sent back to the United States more than three billion dol- 
lars in profits in the last decade (a figure disputed by the 
companies) and therefore initial investments are more than 
adequately covered. He told me that in any government he 
might head there would be immediate nationalization of 
the copper industry; he was not sure whether there would 
be compensation, but in any event it would be a fraction 
of the valuation set by the companies and in the form of 
long-term bonds. "The bonds/' Allende added with a telling 
shrug, "would not be redeemable until long after my death." 
Latin America needs heavy infusions of state planning of 
the European variety, democratic and socialist, to achieve 
social and economic change. Only by "radical" measures will 
greater excess, communism or Fidelismo, be avoided. It is 
debatable whether there is even time left to implement the 
calculated changes that social democracy entails. But, leav- 
ing this feature aside for the moment, three other major 
questions require answers : First, how much can be expected 

396 



of Latin America's regimes, represented for the most part 
by short-sighted industrialists, landowners, and other oli- 
garchs, to accept any argument in favor of socialism? Sec- 
ond, does Washington realize that, once unleashed, a reform 
mood of the type called for by the Alliance may not be con- 
tained at the desired level? And how far would Washington ; 
itself be prepared to accept socialism that would include 
the nationalization of United States property and invest- 
ments, currently worth more than eight billion dollars? 

The first question is relatively easy to answer. I have at- 
tempted to point out throughout this book the simple fact 
that most Latin-American governments have proved unwill- 
ing or incapable of making the required changes in mean- 
ingful proportions. This part of the story is reemphasized, 
frankly, by a Brazilian businessman who said: "Don't ask 
us to cut our own throats." The second and third questions 
cannot be answered quite as dogmatically, for they involve 
major rethinking not only on a United States government 
level but on the part of the United States business com- 
munity and general public. A group of visiting Brazilian 
students asked President Kennedy what the reaction of the 
United States would be "in the event we were to socialize 
the means of production in our country as a way to wage 
more effectively the battle against underdevelopment." 

President Kennedy (as quoted by Newsweek, Aug. 20, 
1962) replied: "The decision of your country as to the means 
of providing progress is your decision, and if by socialization 
you mean ownership of the means of production or of the 
basic industries, that is a judgment which you must take. 
. . . We prefer the competitive market economy here. We 
believe that by free competition we can satisfy the needs of 
our people best. Every country must make its own choice." 
There was obviously heartening indication that the United 
States administration, under Kennedy, had attained a clear- 
sighted vision of the currents and demands in Latin Amer- 

397 



ica. But would the President be free to act, or to carry out 
sympathetic wishes, in the face of a hostile Congress or 
press or public? 

In the same issue of Newsweek, Henry Hazlitt, the com- 
mentator, delivered a stern lecture on the Presidential reply 
to the Brazilian students; he argued that the President 
would have done a greater service by extolling the virtues 
of private enterprise and citing life in the United States as 
an example of beneficial capitalism. Such an argument, with 
images of workers' cars parked in massive parking lots out- 
side United States factories, with happy and prosperous 
middle-class families planning a day's outing at the beach, 
sounds ludicrous to Latin Americans, whose immediate con- 
cern is to get rid of hunger pains. Capitalism never devel- 
oped in Latin America on rational lines as it did in the 
United States. Latin America, for the most part, still lives 
in the age of feudalism. Is there time for it to graduate to 
the phase of capitalism? In its next step, many Latin- Amer- 
ican reformers believe, it must leapfrog to socialism, or else 
the jump will be utterly devastating. 

Hazlitt, in his sermon to Kennedy, said the President 
should also have pointed to the example of Canada, whose 
economic growth "has been greatly accelerated by the in- 
vestment of private United States capital." Again a distor- 
tion occurs. Canada has indeed benefited from United States 
investments, but its stages of development have always kept 
fairly good pace with the times. Canada escaped feudalism; 
its people live and think with basically the same values as 
those in the United States. Even so, many Canadians 
though Hazlitt chooses to ignore them f ear what they con- 
sider United States economic "domination." Elections have 
been fought, and won, on the issue of curtailing such influ- 
ence. How much greater is the mood of "nationalization" in a 
Latin- American country that feels that capitalism has let 
it down? Hazlitt suggests that the President should have 

398 



told the Brazilians: "If you want to go in for socialism, it's ' 
your funeral. But don't expect us to subsidize it." 

One wonders whose funeral it will be. "We will bury you," 
warned Nikita Khrushchev, and he was talking about burial 
with economic tools. Can the United States reasonably ex- 
pect to maintain its present standards, determined by its 
capacity to trade with a friendly world, if that world shrinks 
in size? Has the United States or rather its opinion-makers 
and businessmen truly begun to understand that social 
democracy is probably the only hope against communism? 
There is profound doubt about this question among expo- 
nents of socialism in Latin America. Salvador Allende almost 
won the 1958 presidential election in Chile; now, in coalition 
with the Communist Party, he stands a good chance of win- 
ning in 1964. He is taking a calculated risk by linking himself 
with the Communists, but he believes that he can control 
them. He is less certain about his possible influence over the 
United States. Would Washington support a Chilean gov- 
ernment such as Allende's if United States business interests 
were affected? "We are dubious," Allende told me, "because 
we see that all the so-called American principles of self-de- 
termination were broken when it came to the case of Cuba." 
Allende's formula calls for government-to-government as- 
sistance only, to minimize what he considers a threat from 
private capital and its powerful lobbying in Washington. 
What it amounts to is a fundamental worry that, despite 
the philosophic approach of President Kennedy and the 
objectives of social and economic reforms, United States 
pressures mitigate against a Latin-American country going 
too deeply into socialism. 

One recent example of United States excitability occurred 
when a Brazilian state governor, Leonel Brizola of Rio 
Grande do Sul, expropriated the telephone subsidiary of 
International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, offer- 
ing as compensation 5 per cent of the value of the invest- 

399 



ment claimed by the company. United States congressmen 
promptly demanded a halt to all aid for Brazil; businessmen 
talked of investing elsewhere. It took the President of the 
United States to warn that nothing would be "more unwise" 
than to get into disagreement "with the whole Brazilian 
nation" because of the action of one governor. Kennedy 
urged vehement critics to "look at the map (and) keep a 
sense of proportion." This was a cool and realistic approach. 
But the problem is bound to recur with greater frequency 
than in the past. The big question, therefore, is whether the 
will and understanding of the President will prevail over 
United States pressures that are also bound to arise. 

Mexico has a "mixed" economy, with government owner- 
ship or control of several basic industries. Agriculture, which 
permits private farming, also features a system previously 
repugnant to the North American mind : collective farming. 
Yet, because of the stability compared with other Latin- 
American republics, private United States capital continues 
to arrive in Mexico, content to go into partnership with 
the state or conform to government regulations that require 
Mexican majority stockholders. Some Mexicans preach that 
their brand of "revolution" is the answer for all Latin Amer- 
ica; they add that this kind of "mixed" economy, together 
with an independent foreign policy, is about the best deal 
the United States can hope for in the hemisphere. But other 
Mexicans possibly more realistic ones point out that they 
have had fifty years in which to reach their present position, 
while time has been held back in other countries and does 
not allow such gradual evolution. 

And so the swing of the pendulum presents perplexing 
issues : Would the United States be willing to deal with an 
Allende type of government that includes Communists? 
Would it consent to Chile, or any other country, receiving 
assistance deals from the Soviet Union? Would even assur- 
ances of "neutrality" be acceptable? This aspect of the 

400 



broad picture is problematic and could easily lead to a rup- 
ture between Santiago and Washington, with the inherent 
danger of the same insidious spiral in which Cuba was 
caught : a push into dependency on the Soviet Union. 

One question in the circle of intricacy, the role of private 
capital in Latin America, is perhaps academic at this point. 
With the exception of Mexico, the flow of United States 
investment in Latin America came to a virtual halt last 
year. There is a tragically ironic touch here, since the Alli- 
ance for Progress is based largely on financing from private 
sources. To make the plan work, one billion dollars annually 
(aside from United States government assistance) is counted 
on from private foreign sources, largely North American. 
But in the first quarter of 1962, only $5 million was invested 
by United States industry, in the second quarter almost 
nothing compared with an average of $300 million an- 
nually in past years and one and a half billion dollars in 
the peak year of 1957. The general excuse of United States 
industry was that a higher yield was obtainable in Western 
Europe with its flourishing Common Market. But the more 
telling reason was the vision of Fidelismo and property 
seizures. North American businessmen were hardly reassured 
by the lack of faith of Latin-American businessmen who 
betrayed their own insecurity by hoarding money abroad. 

In round figures the Alliance contemplates, over a ten- 
year period, a total of one hundred billion dollars in public 
and private investments in Latin America. Of this amount, 
80 per cent is expected to come from Latin America itself, 
for, as Douglas Dillon has expressed it, "the heart of the 
Alliance is the concept of help for self-help." But private 
Latin- American money, as we have seen, has left the con- 
tinent rather than remained there (anywhere from eight 
to eleven billion dollars is estimated to have taken flight in 
the last few years), and United States private investment 

401 



last year was unimpressive. In the public sector, Latin- 
American governments have merely made token gestures 
of spending on basic developments. Only the United States 
government came through with its pledge of one billion 
dollars in the first year. This, incidentally, was not "hand- 
out" money; 87 per cent was in the form of loans, the 
remainder in grants. Nor was it "new money/' for even 
before Punta del Este the commitment of public funds, 
through the Export-Import Bank, Food for Peace Program, 
Development Loan Fund, and other agencies, totaled $950 
million a year. Thus a net increase of only $50 million was 
noted in 1962. 

Was the billion dollars doing what it was supposed to be 
doing? More than half was used not for development but 
to pay off Latin-American debts and trade deficits. For in- 
stance Brazil, which is regarded as the pivot of South Amer- 
ica, received 35 per cent of the first billion; but most of 
this was absorbed in balancing Brazil's international ac- 
counts instead of improving living conditions. The Brazilian 
government then asked for a further substantial contribu- 
tion to get it out of difficulties that, in the words of The 
Economist, "are due largely to its own incompetence." No 
one in Washington at least in the administration liked 
the idea of employing Alliance funds to support internal 
budgets of inept Latin-American governments, but it is an 
accepted economic fact of life that development projects 
cannot be contemplated in the midst of economic chaos. 
And so, in its first year of operation, the Alliance made 
hardly any dent in getting through to 200 million men, 
women, and children. 

In only one area was there anything resembling a dramatic 
move; the Alliance pledged $181 million to help Sudene 
revitalize Brazil's Northeast. But even here the money did 
not gush in volume; only a few millions were delivered im- 
mediately; the rest was held back until Alliance experts 

402 



could evaluate Sudene's progress. "It is going to show 
results," an Alliance man told me in Washington. "It hasn't 
yet, but it will." He spoke, I sensed, with a furtive eye on 
the clock. Alliance people quote Jose Figueres' classic re- 
mark, "It is one minute to midnight," but add, "We intend 
to make it a long minute." In that minute the Alliance must 
weigh urgency with practical considerations. 

Moscoso has warned the privileged classes of Latin Amer- 
ica that they have a choice of supporting the Alliance's 
reform goals "or risking a Castro-type destructive revolu- 
tion." But simultaneously Moscoso, aware that the U.S. 
Congress and public demand that their money be spent 
wisely, asks : What is the sense of pouring funds into, say, 
Bolivia when the state doesn't even possess plans on paper 
for such fundamental items as water supply and housing? 
And so, last year, Bolivia was given eight million dollars to 
produce plans, with the understanding that, on acceptance, 
more generous sums would be available. The underlying 
policy in these opening years of the Alliance is to use small 
amounts of cash to provide leverage to get long-range 
schemes rolling. And because of this utilitarian approach, 
Latin Americans sometimes condemn it as the Alianza sin 
mucho Progreso (Alliance Without Much Progress). 

The United States has some outstanding ambassadors in 
Latin America today, in contrast with previous periods 
when they were not renowned for ability or perception. The 
New Frontiersmen I met were almost uniformly understand- 
ing and well informed. But so acute is the problem of know- 
ing how or when to recommend Alliance aid, so grave the 
preoccupation with forestalling violent upheavals, that I 
heard two diametrically opposite points of view about solu- 
tions : one calling for absolute toughness and control in the 
allocation of funds, the other for wild but necessary venture. 
An ambassador, who confessed that he felt near desperation, 
told me : "If there is no immediate land reform there will be 

403 



communism. So it is better to risk dictating to these govern- 
ments and saying that unless they do something about land 
reform they won't get a penny from us. With this dictation, 
there's a slight chance; without it, there's no chance." 

Another diplomat said: "We haven't the time to insist 
on prior stipulations to see how our money will be spent. 
We've got to pour in money without strings, and hope that 
some of it will be put to good use. The gamble, of course, 
is that much of the money will get into the wrong pockets. 
But the other gamble is greater. We have lost unless we 
show the people that we intend to help." 

This arouses another major quandary for Washington. How 
much supervision by the United States will individual gov- 
ernments permit? Will the United States have the right to 
ensure that its billions of dollars are not squandered or 
thrust into the private bank accounts of Latin-American 
politicians? A Peruvian banker said: "As a banker I lend 
money only when I know the use for which it is intended. 
I also have the privilege of examining books to check up in 
fact whether the investment is sound and the money is 
being used properly. It should be the same procedure for the 
Alliance for Progress." But the banker admitted that his 
view is not shared by many Peruvians. 

There is a natural reluctance on the part of Latin Amer- 
icans to allow any control by the United States. A typical 
comment was made by Brazil's foreign minister, San Thiago 
Dantas : "We think the United States can know the destina- 
tion of the money. But to know the destination is one thing. 
To supervise it is another." Another foreign minister, Chile's 
Carlos Martinez Sotomayor, also expressed a characteristic 
opinion. He said there was some justification for the United 
States to keep its eye on its expenditures "in certain in- 
stances," depending on the governments, especially in Cen- 
tral America with its long history of blatant corruption. 
"But this/' he also declared, "would not apply to Chile. We 

404 



have- shown responsibility. We have never defaulted on 
loans." Much the same was said to me by Argentines in 
relation to Brazil, by Brazilians in relation to other repub- 
lics. In each instance it was the other country that required 
a watchful eye never the country under immediate ques- 
tioning. 

Apart from insular sneering, a broader consideration en- 
ters Latin-American thinking. Suspicion of United States 
motives is so deeply rooted, the concept of dignidad is so 
sensitive, that even reformers who oppose their own social 
systems are allied to their governments on the issue of 
United States accountants. Enrique Zileri, a young Lima 
author, said : "The United States should be tough and should 
lay down the law: no reforms, no money." Should the United 
States oversee the money? Zileri answered with a flat: "No, 
We don't want those kinds of strings." 

On the surface the Alliance for Progress makes sense. But 
its application presents almost insoluble problems. Wash- 
ington has learned not to be rigid in insisting in advance 
on reforms; otherwise some programs would never get off 
the ground. Last year, for example, Chile, despite the 
absence of a working agrarian reform scheme, was allocated 
$40 million toward road-building and other capital im- 
provement; more, it was said, would be made available 
when reforms were underway. "In most cases," says Mos- 
coso, "we have been insisting on reform, but we cannot wait 
for complete reform; the march of events is much too swift 
for this. We can, and must, look for evidence of good faith 
on the part of a particular government, but to some extent 
we still have to play it by ear." 

Dozens of reasons have been advanced for the Alliance's 
less than impressive record. Among them is the criticism, 
expressed by The Reporter, that what the Alliance is seeking 
is to buy revolutionary change without paying the price of 
revolution; it wants, in a hurry, contradictory objectives: 

405 



reform, efficiency, planning, and democracy; and it wants to 
achieve all this while a score of nations move abreast. An- 
other criticism is that, at least for the first year, Washington 
was so busy with internal bureaucracy and organization that 
it gave little attention to the political and psychological 
aspects of "selling" the Alliance to the Latin- American pub- 
lic, which, for the most part, remains in ignorance of its 
objectives. Allied with this is the belief that the Alliance, 
concentrating on economics, has lacked ideological content 
to engender the kind of mystical dedication that was awak- 
ened among Cubans in their 1959 revolution. 

Latin Americans offer a variety of "solutions." Jorge 
Lavadero, leader of Chile's National Democratic Party, 
insists that what the United States should do, to prevent 
local corruption, is to buy up land and designate it for 
schools or homes, regardless of any government complaints 
of "interference." Jose Figueres says that what Costa Rica 
needs is a return to the system of Lend-Lease, "when Lon- 
don would cable Washington to say it had to have material 
in a hurry, and Washington would cable back, 'On the 
way/ " Now, Figueres argues, "there is a mentality in Wash- 
ington of 'projectitis.' That is, every request has to be exam- 
ined by committees and experts. Time is wasted in red tape 
and paper work. I feel desperate, the way Britain felt when 
France fell." 

As many people as you speak to, as many different ideas 
on how the Alliance should be conducted do you hear. But 
fundamentally its success or failure revolves around what 
Moscoso calls "good faith" on the part of Latin-American 
governments and leaders. Tragically, the Latin- American 
oligarchy is unable to resolve the crisis of Latin America 
because it is incapable of adjusting itself to a revolutionary 
situation. In Washington there is a mood of urgency. In his 
first anniversary memo to his staff, Moscoso said: 

406 



Honest miscalculation is better than letting the forces of 

inertia rot our program Taking chances on the scale in 

which we have to work inevitably means making mistakes. 
. . . Let's face it. We are not going to please everybody 
either in the United States or in Latin America. Let's just 
please those great underprivileged masses of Latin America. 
That is our real job; not to placate governments or kill 
Castro or satisfy every last member of Congress (nobody 

ever did that) 1 am expendable. The Alliance and much 

less Latin America is not. 

Prominently displayed on a wall in Moscoso's office is a 
sign for visitors and staff: "Please be brief. We are 25 years 
late." 

A Brazilian army colonel said : "During the last world war 
we had tremendous respect for the United States. We had 
grown up with Roosevelt's 'good-neighbor' policy, and we 
felt an affinity with it. When the United States went to war, 
we followed suit. In fact, I did my training in the States. 
Of a thousand Brazilian officers at that time you would not 
have found one who was anti- American. Today it is just the 
reverse; nine hundred and ninety-nine are anti- American." 

"Why?" I asked. 

"In 1945 our economy was in a critical state," the colonel 
went on, "but the United States did nothing to help. It spent 
billions of dollars in Europe because it was afraid of commu- 
nism there. Perhaps it was aware that the third world war 
had already begun in Berlin. Anyway, we were neglected 
and overlooked. But now, when the third world war looks 
closer, and the United States knows it must have allies, it 
turns to us and offers all kinds of money. I think the Alli- 
ance for Progress is too late. The disenchantment, not only 
in Brazil, but in all Latin America, has grown in these fif- 
teen, sixteen years." 

407 



"Isn't it conceivable that the United States could regain 
its popularity?" 

The colonel, a man of about fifty, pondered a moment, 
and then said: "Is an old love affair the same when an 
attempt is made to revive it? Suspicions, mistrust have 
grown, and both parties are a little older, a little more 
cautious/' 

In Brazil's Northeast, the mayor of Recife, Miguel Arraes, 
cynically told me: "Even the much-publicized 'Food for 
Peace Program' was designed to solve the problems of 
American overproduction rather than our problems." It is 
of considerable significance that Arraes last October was 
elected governor of Pernambuco State, the locale of one of 
the Alliance's most urgent and ambitious undertakings. 
Arraes can hardly be classed as sympathetic to United States 
goals and intentions. 

In Lima, I met with a group of university professors in a 
discussion about Latin America's image of the United States. 
One of the men, by agreement with his colleagues, said: 
"President Kennedy has good intentions, and he is sur- 
rounded by some people of high caliber. They may have 
a genuine desire to help Latin America. The trouble is that 
the majority of us feel the United States will follow the 
same pattern as in the past." 

What is this pattern, as Latin Americans see it? It is a 
quilt-work of political and economic imperialism. Men on 
the left accuse the United States of supporting undemocratic 
regimes that return favors at their own countries' expense. 
Men on the right say the same thing in reverse. Mario 
Gutierrez, leader of the semifascist Falange Party that op- 
poses Bolivia's reform government, said to me: "When we 
were being exiled or sent into concentration camps by the 
revolutionaries, diplomats in the U.S. Embassy looked the 
other way and gave money to the government. Is this their 
notion of helping a country?" 

408 



The question, of course, should be put the other way: 
How far are Latin-American countries prepared to help 
themselves and one another? How much willingness are 
they showing in translating the principle of "self-help" in 
a tangible way? I asked Arturo Frondizi, while he was still 
president of Argentina, whether Latin America might emu- 
late the European example under the Marshall Fund. a We 
cannot do the same thing," he replied, "because in Europe 
it was a question of working on an established economy that 
had to be further advanced. On the other hand, in Latin 
America it is a question of propelling undeveloped econ- 
omies. It is up to each country to intensify its own efforts, 
through sacrifices of our own people and through credit from 
abroad." No mention, it will be noted, was made of faith 
or credit from the domestic business community. I heard 
Frondizi's remarks, in one form or another, echoed by leaders 
in almost every republic. 

Not all Americans accept the view that Latin America is 
incapable, financially, of helping itself; some say that the 
continent has a greater capacity to pick itself up by the 
bootstraps than it is willing to admit. In Santiago, I sat in 
on a lunch meeting called by a group of Chilean editors. The 
guest of honor was United States Senator Hubert Hum- 
phrey, who was on a tour of South America. When I related 
Frondizi's statement, Senator Humphrey remarked with a 
trace of anger : "I suspect these people can afford more than 
they say," Then he confronted his hosts and said: "Amer- 
icans are tired of being told they're making a mess in Latin 
America. Some are beginning to say, 'Let the Russians pick 
up the bills/ " Specifically, he pointed out, United States 
taxpayers are fed up contributing through heavy taxation 
toward projects in countries whose own people refuse to 
pitch in. "It doesn't go over too well," he added, "when 
men who vote for me say they need a new bridge in their 
town, and I tell them they can't have a bridge in their town 

409 



because we've got to build a bridge in Santiago. Half the 
time they've never even heard of Santiago. But they have 
heard the accusation that we are slow in spending, that we 
deal with the wrong people, that we're insensitive to the 
needs of Latin America." 

After the luncheon, Senator Humphrey was asked by 
Luis Ruben Azocar, editor of the influential satirical weekly 
Topaze, how the Alliance was supposed to work. Hum- 
phrey said the way to think of the Alliance was in terms of 
an airplane : the main fuel tanks to be filled by Latin Amer- 
ica, with the reserve tanks filled by the United States. Later, 
Azocar observed, wryly: "It is a typical North American 
analogy. What Mr. Humphrey does not realize is that Latin 
America has always gone on its reserve tanks." 

The senator's reference to the Russians was, of course, a 
biting one, because the Alliance is expressly designed to 
elevate the standards of Latin Americans and thus discour- 
age any possible alignment with the Soviet bloc. And yet 
my impression in talking with Humphrey, one of the more 
liberal and enlightened of United States senators, was of 
pessimism on his part. "We're at the end of the road," he 
said. "If the Alliance doesn't work, the United States public 
won't waste any more time." And so, in the vicious spiral 
of cause and effect, the twist is first in the direction of Latin 
America and then back again to the United States. A vital 
question, therefore, is this: What will happen if the U.S. 
Congress, mirroring the frustrations of the public, holds 
back in voting funds for aid? The suicidal attitude of Latin- 
American oligarchies, which refuse to face facts and to intro- 
duce reforms, would then have become contagious, infecting 
the United States with equally suicidal isolationism. 

At the height of last year's congressional debate over the 
foreign aid program, The New York Times observed that 
"neither nuclear weapons nor space ships affect the poverty 
which is the chief source of world instability and the chief 

410 



breeding ground of communism. It is incomprehensible that 
this nation can afford what it is spending for arms and space 
research purposes and cannot afford the modest foreign aid 
request." Despite such pleas, the administration had to ac- 
cept a drastic 20 per cent cut in the amount it considered 
minimum for foreign assistance programs ; $75 million was 
cut from the Alliance for Progress. In an unwittingly ironic 
touch, President Kennedy signed the foreign aid bill during 
the Cuban blockade crisis: a crisis attributable, at least in 
part, to previous myopia over the needs for social revolution. 

What can the United States now do? In the face of inac- 
tion by Latin- American regimes, how can the United States 
counter the rise in nationalism, cut down on anti- American- 
ism, and gain enough time so the Alliance can dig its roots 
and prevent Fidelismo from developing at its present dis- 
turbing rate? Several steps can be taken. Former Senator 
William Benton, in his book, The Voice of Latin America, 
suggests that tensions between Latin America and the 
United States would be diminished if the headquarters of 
the Organization of American States were shifted from 
Washington to a Latin-American republic. Latin Americans 
feel that O.A.S., in its present location, is a captive of Wash- 
ington ; psychologically, then, it would be sound to remove 
it by geography. Senator Benton recommends Panama as 
the ideal site; also on the subject of Panama he urges that 
the United States should consider a plan to internationalize 
the Canal Zone. He points out: "This scar . . . that bisects 
Panama rankles in the hearts of Panamanians and provides 
tinder for their political wars." 

Another recent author, D. H. Radler, believes that United 
States business enterprises in Latin America would win more 
favor if they took on Spanish names; in addition, he pre- 
scribes that United States personnel, who tend to remain 
aloof from Latin Americans, should become more integrated 
in their local communities. Edward M. Kennedy, in a series 

411 



for North American Newspaper Alliance, regrets that the 
United States Information Agency spends only a tiny frac- 
tion of the huge sum the Communists devote to the distribu- 
tion of inexpensive books and manuals in Latin America. 
"It is not surprising/' he notes, "that so many of Latin 
America's students have an intellectual list to port." The 
obvious answer is more money for more books to raise "the 
voices of freedom and democracy in the Latin-American 
battleground." 

These are sensible and positive recommendations, and 
they do not pretend to be panaceas. They offer only partial 
solutions to enormously complex problems. Latin Americans 
have others to offer. In Brazil it is pointed out that Francisco 
Juliao, the leader of the Peasant Leagues, is courted by 
Russian and Chinese Communists, but has yet to be invited 
to visit the "United States. Juliao's impression of the United 
States, as reflected in his talks with rebellious peasants, is 
far from friendly. In Guatemala, Francisco Villagran, who 
studied at the University of Iowa and has a genuine under- 
standing of the United States, speaks with mixed feelings of 
affection and frustration. Villagran, a socialist, is one of 
Guatemala's outstanding young politicians. In 1961, along 
with another socialist congressman and a half-dozen intel- 
lectuals, he accepted an invitation to tour Communist China 
and the Soviet Union. He approached the U.S. Embassy 
suggesting a similar invitation to the United States, so that 
Guatemalan intellectuals, whose influence is considerable, 
would have a chance to absorb at first hand another point 
of view. But, as Villagran related it to me, his suggestion 
was rejected, on the grounds that the State Department 
does not encourage dealings with men who are in opposition 
to the local government; otherwise, Washington would be 
accused of meddling in internal affairs. "But Washington 
has always meddled in Guatemala's affairs," Villagran com- 
mented unhappily. 

412 



Ever since the Russia-China trip his position has been 
peculiar. He has been ostracized from official U.S. Embassy 
receptions, but he is accepted on a personal basis in the 
homes of members of the embassy. The tragedy, in simple 
terms, is that Guatemala's socialists, who early on went on 
record condemning Castro for his methods in Cuba, offer 
Guatemala a reasonable and democratic alternative to 
Fidelismo. 

In the foregoing pages I have attempted to describe the 
problems as I have seen them, as objectively as I know how. 
There is, obviously, a grave situation : a kind of helplessness 
dictated on the one side by the feeling that Latin-American 
rulers are unprepared for major changes, on the other by 
a United States reluctance to act too drastically for fear of 
arousing antagonistic accusations of "intervention." But it 
is precisely because of the gravity of the situation that a 
desperate, almost ruthless, gamble on the part of the United 
States is required to alter a course that, if it continues un- 
checked, will lead inevitably to extremism. I am saying, in 
other words, that radical surgery, with all its obvious risks, 
is essential. This surgery involves United States intervention 
in every form; hidden if possible, overt or active if neces- 
sary. 

The objections of Latin Americans to intervention are 
well known; but what makes for special irritation is that, 
in almost all instances in the past, the United States has 
moved in favor of right-wing or oligarchic or military ele- 
ments. This is a record, and reputation, that is difficult to 
overcome. The task of the United States, therefore, is com- 
plicated partly by history, partly by the ingrained Latin- 
American fear of a manipulation that might not know where 
to stop. This was illustrated in the case of the Dominican 
Republic, where there was acceptance of the United States 
decision to employ a fleet to end the Trujillo dynasty, but 

413 



acceptance only because the fleet was anchored outside terri- 
torial waters and, technically, did not violate Dominican 
sovereignty. Here was a clear example of "good" interven- 
tion removing an evil dictatorship. 

It can be argued that the intervention would still have 
been considered "good" even if U.S. Marines had stepped 
ashore temporarily, so long as progress was the result. It 
can also be considered as something of an ironic fact that 
it took the country of this former dictatorship, in its first 
free expression of opinion in more than three decades, to 
point up dramatically the urgent need to make changes in 
the social structure of nearly every one of the republics. The 
man the Dominicans chose as president, Juan Bosch, de- 
feated his opponents not only because he stood for major 
reform, beginning with agrarian reform, but because he of- 
fered hope in a philosophy that discarded conservatism. 
Bosch was of the left, of the moderate left. It was encourag- 
ing that the fledgling democracy chose him as a leader, be- 
cause it now stood a chance of staving off Fidelismo. 

At the height of the Cuban blockade crisis last year, and 
in the reappraisals that followed it, attention was paid 
mainly to the firmness with which the United States dealt 
with Soviet encroachment in the hemisphere and the re- 
moval of missile bases. Lost sight of was the fact that 
Fidelismo itself had not altered. Fidelismo begins more as 
a symptom, a reaction against adverse conditions, than as 
a conscious ideology. As soon as the immediate missile ten- 
sion disappeared, the hemisphere was reminded that chronic 
social and economic problems, pushed momentarily into the 
background, had not vanished; Andean Indians lived as 
primitively as ever; Brazil's wildly spiraling inflation testi- 
fied to government mismanagement and indifference. The 
withdrawal of rockets and Soviet military technicians from 
Cuba was matched by a United States guarantee, with some 
provisos, against invasion of the island. (Nonetheless re- 

414 



ports persisted that armed Russian formations were still 
present in Cuba.) But Cuba itself was now relatively unim- 
portant. No matter how the Cuban question was ultimately 
resolved, no matter what happened to Castro as an individ- 
ual, the key demands remained in almost all the other 
republics. 

What I am getting at is this : the Alliance for Progress is 
severely handicapped and unable to push firmly for radical 
changes. The clock truly indicates "one minute to midnight," 
and only decisiveness and firmness can form the basis for a 
policy of stimulating change in the hemisphere. "If I were 
President of the United States," said Julio Vivas, a leading 
Nicaraguan commentator, "I would say, 'to hell with the 
oligarchies. I am going with the people, to create the kind 
of revolutions that are necessary for social democracy.' " 

Is there any alternative that offers a chance, any alterna- 
tive to social democracy? My estimate, broadly, is that there 
is no alternative, that if nations continue to be directed, as 
many of them are at present, by faltering leaders, the certain 
outcome will be chaos. Fidelismo as such may not flash up 
imnaediately, even with the connivance of outside forces. 
But hunger and discontent carry the germs of political jn z 
. stability and unpredictability: There is a Juan Bosch in 
every country, ready to work on the side of moderation and 
optimism. Unfortunately, either through the tight command 
of the oligarchy, or dishonesty in election practice, or per- 
version of militarism, the Bosches are not being given a 
chance in the countries that stand close to the explosion 
point. Almost all the "revolutions" that have taken place 
up to now are meaningless, because the majority of the 
people have received no benefit from them. 

The principle of moderate socialism, once it is understood 
by the United States as the only hope for Latin America, 
involves acceptance also of another fundamental credo: 
the need to help liberal forces, truly reformist movements 

415 



that would hasten land distribution and offer the people a 
promise that democracy is possible and, simultaneously, 
beneficial. As a first step there should be no hesitation such 
as marked the debate between the two ambassadors, one 
saying that countries might receive Alliance grants even 
without prior assurance of reform, the other contending that 
Washington must hold back its money unless there is a 
guarantee it will be used properly. My own feeling is that 
the United States should be dogmatic in following the rigid 
rule: No reform, no money. I would go further and say: 
No dealings with militarists. 

An attempt to combine both these rules was made in Peru 
last year. During the presidential election there, the United 
States ambassador, James Loeb, openly supported candidate 
Haya de la Torre, the old leader of the APRA party. At one 
time, a generation ago, APRA was considered leftist and 
reformist ; latterly hardly more than moderate. But by com- 
parison with other candidates, Haya de la Torre was a 
"liberal," untainted by corruption and worth supporting 
because he offered hope, instead of gloom, to millions of 
Peruvians. However, because of a long-standing feud be- 
tween APRA and the army, military men plainly were not 
going to let him take office. Loeb threw a victory party for 
Haya de la Torre when it seemed he was winning, but before 
the count was confirmed. The army promptly warned Loeb 
that it was not satisfied with the way voting had been con- 
ducted and was going to declare the election invalid. Loeb 
in turn threatened that in such an event the United States 
would cut off aid. When a junta did assume power, the 
United States suspended diplomatic relations and stopped 
Alliance and military assistance. 

It was a forthright move by Washington. There had been 
criticism, just four months previously, that the United 
States had stood by and done nothing when an Argentine 
military group evicted the Frondizi civilian government. 

416 



Now the stand in Peru was hailed both in Latin America 
and in the rest of the world as a courageous Kennedy act. 
However, old exigencies or what were supposed to be 
practical considerations prevailed. Peru was a supporter of 
United States policy on Cuba and therefore had to be 
catered to; Peru, with its social structure frozen for four 
centuries, could snap wide open in an incalculable revolt if 
economic conditions were allowed to deteriorate without 
United States aid. And so Washington retreated. Within a 
month it recognized the junta, and before much longer 
Alliance and military aid were back to normal. 

Here was a sad example of constructive "intervention" 
that failed, because of the timidity, the uncertainty, the un- 
familiarity surrounding a theoretically bold stand. One can 
only wonder how much longer now will be delayed the very 
revolt that United States aid is supposed to forestall. One 
can also wonder if resumption of support for an oligarchic 
regime was due to the same mentality that chronically has 
led the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Depart- 
ment toward right-wing forces in what they believe is the 
proper course in fighting communism. One of the troubles is 
that the State Department still prefers a government that is 
friendly to it, regardless of what this means internally to the 
country in question. Even the existence of Castro has not 
yet fully opened State Department eyes; the United States, 
as late as 1963, backed tyrants, such as Somoza in Nicaragua, 
telling them it is true to behave better than in the past, 
but, in the fundamentals, changing nothing. The longer a 
Somoza is allowed to function and to drain his land of wealth 
and dignity, the shorter will be the road for a Castro. 

The United States is frankly committed to a policy dedi- 
cated to the overthrow of Castro. This policy, since the 
Khrushchev-Kennedy exchanges that resolved the missile 
crisis, is more concerned with subverting and strangling the 
Cuban regime through economic, psychological, and political 

417 



methods than by physical attack. It is quite obvious that the 
C.I.A. has had a hand in planning and directing maneuvers 
against Castro. Oddly, C.I.A. appears able to function when 
its target is "communism." There is no evidence of its ever 
having gone into action against a regime labeled as "mili- 
tarist" or "oligarchic." 

The United States is accused of meddling or muddling, no 
matter what it does. In former days, the cry, almost exclu- 
sively, was that Washington gave its support only to venal 
dictatorships representing United States business and stra- 
tegic interests. Today the cry just as often is uttered by 
right-wing Latin Americans wealthy defenders of an old 
society who say that Alliance demands for reforms are 
crude invasions of established customs and practices. It is 
clear that regardless of the fashion in which Washington con- 
ducts itself, it will be condemned heatedly by one faction 
or another. It is equally clear that even the lack of "inter- 
vention" that is, indifference to a state's problems can be 
interpreted as influencing the directions of that country, 
since the United States then can be accused of insensitivity, 
cruelty, or other evils. And Russia? It would not possess 
these evils, some men would say. 

There is, then, no simple formula. In one instance, "inter- 
vention" is considered "good," in another it is "bad." But as 
a general directive, intervention has to be on the side of the 
liberal forces, the liberal democrats, the social democrats, 
the men who are willing to stimulate Alliance objectives. 
These men are not always available with large followings; 
but where they are, as in Chile, they should be encouraged 
as the counterforce against outright Fidelistas. Where they 
lack physical strength but have sentiment behind them, 
they should be assisted by other Latin Americans trained in 
the science and dedication of revolution. The Communists 
are constantly accused of sending provocateurs to foreign 
lands. Democratic revolutionaries, missionaries of the Alli- 

418 



ance for Progress, could emulate this example by setting up 
their own school, based, say, in Mexico, which has the 
longest and most successful example of revolution in Latin 
America, and training men in skills needed to overthrow 
undesirable regimes. 

The emphasis, of course, should be on bloodless revolu- 
tions; but, where these are not possible, the United States 
must be prepared to foment physical upheaval in order to 
install governments with reformist lines. These suggestions, 
it must be repeated, are made only in a sense of desperation 
and because all other measures are failing in Latin America. 
A school for revolutionaries is not entirely far-fetched; its 
graduates would be acceptable if they were Latin Americans, 
known to be working in the best interests of fellow Latin 
Americans. The United States would be doing the financing 
and encouraging from behind the scenes, just as in the past 
when it manipulated events to ensure the establishment 
in Central America of regimes sympathetic to its interests. 
Again one could only wish that the C J.A. might participate 
with a more progressive instinct than it has shown in the 
past. 

The principle of nonintervention is a myth; the United 
States has always intervened in Latin America when it 
thought it necessary; it has, in fact, a duty to its own 
people to do so when it feels threatened. It has intervened 
when there was doubt as to the justice of such action; it 
would be much more honest to intervene on the side of honor 
and decency. 



419 



Index 



Acao Democratica, 240 
Accessory Transit Company, Nica- 
ragua, 263-264 
Acci6n Democratica, Betancourt's 

party, 98, 235, 316 
Aconcagua Valley, 243 
adobes 3 houses, Vicos, 120 
"aggression," U.S., at Vera Cruz, 40 
aggression, economic, may be too 
much investment or not enough, 
41 
agriculture, complex and efficient, of 

Incas, 21, 22 

Agricultural and Cattle-Breeding So- 
ciety of the Pernambuco Plant- 
ers, see Sociedade Agricola 
Agiiero, Fernando, 270 
Algeria, 105 

Allende, Salvador, 236-237, 365, 371, 
396; possible next president of 
Chile, 399 _ 
won first independent inquilino 

vote, 85 

Allesandri, Jorge, 237 
Alliance for Progress; see also Latin 

America 
in Argentina, grant preceded Fron- 

disi d9wnfall, 163, 164-165 
in Bolivia, 43 

grant to make plans, 403 
plans ready end of first year, 365 
in Brazil, crucial to success, 179, 

190 

received a third U.S. first year 

disbursement, used balancing 

international payments,390,402 

to Sudene, Northeast Brazil, $181 

million, 251-253 
in Chile 

disorders, Fidelistas, 385 
master plan end first year, 365 
in Colombia, master plan end first 

year, fresh ideas in, 365 
disbursements U.S. public funds 
first year $1 billion; $950 million 
in previous year, 402 
intervention, suspicion of, 259 
land and tax reforms, basic prob- 
lems, 16, 88-89, 363-364 



421 



Mexico, borrow from banks, get no 

unsolicited advice, 389 
in Nicaragua, 268 
in Peru, 181-182 
land reform, 14-15 
laws not passed, 367-368 
preceded by Castro proposal, 316 
Quadros, Juan, and, 174 
reasons, suggested, for unimpres- 
sive beginning, 405-407 
in Santo Domingo, 298, 299, 305 
in Venezuela 

sabotage by Fidelistas, 385 
land reform, 95 
Alsogaray, Alvaro C., 371 
Alves, Aluizio, 212 
Gbmarelinho, Brazil, high yellow, 19 
Amazon River, 113 

ambassadors, U.S., to Latin America, 
advise tough control Alliance 
funds, advise pouring in without 
strings, 403-404 

American Popular Revolutionary Al- 
liance (APRA), 61-63 
American Society of Newspaper Edi- 
tors, 314 
Anaconda, proposed nationalization 

of, 395 

"anarchists," Brazilian labor organi- 
zation, 103 

Andrzejewski, Stanislaw, 182 
anti-Americanism, only area of unity 

in Latin America, 41 
Antofagasta (Chile), 110 
APRA, 32, 181, 416 
Arantes, Aldo, 51-54 
Arbenz, Jacobo, 272-273, 276; see also 

Guatemala 

Arcaya, Ignacio Luis, 316 
Arciniegas, German, 376 
Argentina 

and Alliance for Progress 163, 164- 

165 

Church and State united, 152 
Communist party in, 222 
cultural exchange, China, 223 
free trade association, 111 
government employees in, 36 
handouts and graft, 37 



Argentina (cont.) 

military, forced Cuba break, 383 

military and Frondisi, 158-159 

military presidents, 172 

Peron and Peronism, 109, 160-165 

Peron's take, 180 

railroad to Chile, 110 

religion in, 146 

religion and morals in schools, 147 

slums in, 7 

social security in, 102, 103-104 

soft Cuba line, 382 

support of armed forces, 166 

third of population in Buenos 
Aires, 45 

U.S. industrialists in, 393 

U.S. military aid, 377 
Armas, Castillo, 274, 275 
Arms and Politics in Latin America, 

375 
army, Latin America 

dissolved in Costa Rica for inter- 
ference in government, 165 

function, to protect oligarchy, 29 

only agency with continuity, 36 
Arosemena, Carlos Julio, 383, 390 
Arraes, Miguel, 212 
Asheshov, Nicholas, 117 
audencia, despotic rule of, 22 
"Avenger, The," 106 
Aymara (language), 121 

Balaguer, Joaquin, 286, 292-293, 295, 

296-298, 299, 300, 304 
landidos, 105, 106, 107 
la violencia, 300,000 deaths in 15 

years, 105-108 
Barbosa, Ruy, 101 
~barlmdos, 308 
Barraclough, Solon, on land reform, 

87 

fiarriada,, Peruvian slum, 7, 139 
Basagoitia, Senor, 125 
Batista, Fulgencio, 180, 258, 266, 321 

number of followers, 344 
"becados (scholarship winners), 353 
Beltrao, Oscar, 203-204 
Benton, William, 411 
Bernales, Enrique, Federation of Stu- 
dents of Peru 
on Cuban Revolution, 64 
on his expulsion, 63-64 
on illiteracy, 64 
on land reform, 64 
not a Communist, 63-64 
Beser, Mariano, 212 
Betancourt, R6mulo, 57, 58, 99, 169, 
170, 171, 230, 235, 286, 316, 381, 
390; see also Venezuela 
land reform program, 95, 96-98 
to reach 400,000 families by 1970, 

99 

black market, in U.S. gifts of food, 17 
Wancos, 121, 122, 134, 137 



422 



Bland, John, 325 

Bochica, god of the Chibchas, 1, 3 

Red, 3-4 

Bogota, 1, 4, 24, 104, 105, 107, 150 
151, 168, 180; see also Colombia 
~bohila f Colombian slum, 7 
bohios, 228, 312 
Bolivar, Nicolas, cornuquero. changed 

life of, 96-98 
Bolivar, Simon, 152, 169 
Bolivia 27, 43, 101, 181, 226 

agricultural reform, limited, 365 

army disbanded, 167 

for blockade of Cuba, 384 

Church attendance in, 156 

Church and State united, 152 

civil service, 36 

coffee prices, falling, 44 

Communists in, 156-157, 220 

credits offered by U.S.S.R. 380 

farm land holdings in, 89 

highland Indians, 120 

hope of better life for peasants, 94 

no coordination in hiring govern- 
ment workers, 35 

no eviction of Cuba from O.A.S., 382 

no military control, 158 

no plans for fundamentals, Alliance 
gave, 403 

quarrels with neighbors, 28 

no sanctions against Cuba, 379 

one-item economy, 108 

represented in Havana, 383 

social change, 34, 121-122 

tin miners, and liberal Canadian 
Oblate Order of Mary Immacu- 
late, 156 

Bolo, Father Salomon, 148, 149 
Bonnelly, Rafael, 300, 302, 305 
Bonsai, Philip, 313, 317 
Borges, Alberto, 183-185 
Bosch, 301, 306-307 

dropped his conservatism, 414 
Brasilia; see also Niemeyer 

comparison with other capitals, 185 

concept, 187 

conformity, 187-188 

emphasizes unpopulated areas, 188 

frontier town, 186 

helped avert civil war, 190 

life in, 177 

practical pioneering, 189 

reasons for location, 183-185 

satellite districts, 186 

workmanship, 187 
Bray, Donald W., 372 
Brazil 

agriculture neglected, 194 

and Alliance for Progress, 390, 402, 
404, 405 

anti-Americanism, 404 

anti-Communist activity, 240-241 

army does not dominate, 158 

bank workers' strike, 232 



coffee production increased, 44 

Communists in, 33, 222, 223 

constitution, payment in cash for 
land, 91 

corruption, 194 

cost of living, doubled in two years, 
194 

disenfranchisement in, 34 

farm land holding in, 86 

flight of capital, 195 

force in field, World War II, 375 

foreign investments in, 193 

Free Trade Association, 111 

helped avert Costa Rica-Nicaragua 
conflict, 166 

Kennedy to students on socialism, 
397-400 

land reform bills, all killed in Con- 
gress, 26 

quarantine of Cuba, 384 

recent politics in, 172-180 

religious and moral education in 
schools, 147 

resources, 190-191 

Sao Paulo, 192-194 

slums, favelas, 7 

social security in, 101, 102-103 

soft line with Cuba, 382-383 

Student Federation, 51, 52 

tax evasion in, 369 

tax returns, less than half file, 366 

U.S. industry in, 393 
Brazilian Development Bank, 251 
bribes, 36-37 

twenty per cent of budget allowed 

for, 37 

Bridge of San Luis Rey, 22 
bridges, Inca, 21-22 
Britain, 101 

investment capital in Brazil, 193 
British Guiana, 33 
Brizola, Leonel, 212, 399 
Brown, Aaron, 267-268 
Buchanan, James, 264 
Buenos Aires, 13, 45, 110, 162 
Buenos Aires, University of, 152 
Burbano, Milton, Ecuador, 66 
Business Week, 395 
Butler, Smedley D., Major General, 
quoted, 254 

Calocho, Brazil, white-Indian, 19 
Cabo (Brazil), 144 
cachaqa^ 202 

cafuso, Brazil, coffee-brown, 19 
Caja de Colonizacidn, 100 
Callado, Antonio, 206-207, 231-232 
Callej6n de Huaylas, 120, 139 
Calogeras, Octavio, 199-200 
Camara, Cardinal Dom Jaime, 153 
Camargo, Alberto Lleras, 44 

land reform bill, 93-94 
Cambao system 

cacha^a as payment, 202 



423 



conditions of, for camponeses, 201- 
202 

Firmino, Joao, and Sociedade Agrl- 

cola, 203-204, 213 

campesino, 99, 106, 122, 126, 131, 201- 
202, 204, 208 

Cuba, 228, 312, 355, 356 

Cuban, used to win vote in Chile, 
85 

earnings of, Colombia, 150 

instruction of, 353 

rate of pay, 2-3 

slum dweller, Chile, 241 

support for Castro, 88 

Venezuela, misery of, 95 
Canada 

exports to Cuba, 335 

investment capital in Brazil, 193 

railways, 163 
candangos, 186 
Canal Zone, 258, 272, 411 
capital, private 

counted on heavily in Alliance for 
Progress, 401 

exodus of, greater than inflow, 18 

first quarter 1962, U.S. in Latin 
America, $5 million, 401 

ricos send abroad, 401 

slowdown result of Fidelismo, 401 

U.S. average $300 million, 401 
capitalism 

exploitation and, 33 

never fully developed in Latin 

America, 233 

Capri Hotel (Havana), 324 
"Captain Poison," 106 
"Captain Trigger," 106 
Caracas, 99, 171, 247 

bombing of U.S. embassy, 39 
Cardenas, Lazaro, 387 
Carew, Jan, 360 
Carhuas, 115, 125, 129, 131, 136 
Caribe, EL 281, 299-300, 303 
Carnegie Corporation, 126 
Carnero, Genaro, 233 
Carrion, Manuel Benjamin, director 
Ecuador House of Culture, on 
Castro, 70 
carritos,, 162 
Carroll, Thomas F., 100, 101, 273 

quoted, 99-100 
Gasa Rosada, 158 

Castro, Fidel, 40, 42, 53, 55, 57, 59, 
62, 64, 107, 202, 236, 268; see also 
Cuba 

Colombian reaction to, 169 

considered dangerous by Venezue- 
lan cornuquero, 97 

known in Vieti, 6 

no longer important, 65 
Castro, Raul, 343 

Castro, Rieardo, editor La Nation^ 39 
Castroism, in Argentina, 164 
Catholic University, 63-64 



caudillo, 159, 160 
Cerro de Pasco, Peru, 141 
chacas, Inca bridges, 21-22 
Chaplin Theatre, 354 
chasquij couriers, 21 
Chiang Kai-shek, 18 
Chibchas, Indians of Colombia, 1 
chicha, 83, 111, 141 

children of agricultural workers, edu- 
cation evaded, 91 
Chile 27, 41, 113 
against removing Cuba from O.A.S., 

382 
attempt to establish Antofagasta 

market, 110 
Church in, 150-151 
Church and State separated, 152 
disenfranchisement, 34 
1960 earthquake, 17-18 
first tax evasion case in South 

America, 370 
$40 million for roads, 405 
fourteen per cent arable land cul- 
tivated, 84 

Free Trade Movement, 111 
land reform attempted, 1962, 92 
land settlement plan, slow-moving, 

100 

less able annually to feed itself, 82 
military does not control, 158, 167- 

168 
minifundioSj destruction of soil by, 

84 

missiles in Cuba, effect of, 385 
mission in Havana, 383 
nationalization suggested, U.S. cop- 
per mines, 396 
not known in Vieta, 6 
possibility of oil fields to draw sur- 
plus workers, 189 
profit margin 35%, 11 groups own 

71% of investments, 395 
"quarter of population in Santiago, 

45 

rich agricultural area, 81 
social security in, 102 
socialist government possible, 399 
speculation in land, 84 
students in, 55 
trade unionism, 109 
U.S. copper mines, complaints of, 

395-396 

wage of copper miner, 100 
wage of industrial worker, 100 
Chile, University of, 65 
China, People's Republic of 
comparison with Brazil, 190 
comparison of conditions, 28 
credit to Cuba, 331 
Goulart's visit to, 176 
Juliao courted by, 412 
parallels with, 25 
propaganda, 223 
Chou En-lai, 225-226, 332 



424 



Christian Democrat Party, Chile, 238 
Church 

ambivalence of, 144 

in Argentina, 146, 152 

attempted to control state, 147 

in Bolivia, 152, 156 

in Brazil, 144-145, 148, 152, 153 

in Chile, 150-151, 152 

in Colombia, 150-153, 155 

in Cuba, 154-155 

in Ecuador, 150, 151 

fatalism of ignorant fostered by. 

149-150 
has own schools, except in Cuba 

147 

indifference to people, 146, 150 
instrument of exploitation, 146-147 
Jesuits, defended and taught In- 
dians, 146 
Mdter et Magistra,, few reprints, 

digests edited, 148-149 
in Mexico, 153-154 
nineteenth century, owned third to 
half of all private property, 146- 
147 

oligarchs took state-seized proper- 
ties, still immune to taxation, 
147 

Padre Costa, puts land reform and 
education before industrializa- 
tion, 144-145 

in Peru, 145-146, 148-152, 154, 156 
priests, extreme right or center, 

148 
priests, individual crusading, 144. 

148 

in rural areas, 155 
sale of religion, 146, 150, 151 
six republics have religious instruc- 
tion in schools, 147 
in Uruguay, 152 
in Venezuela, 152 
Ciudad Trujillo, 55 
civil service, stability of, France, 35 
civilization, Inca, destroyed, 20, 21 
claustrunij restored by Larraz&bal, 

57 

Coca-Cola, identified with Yankee im- 
perialism, 41 
Cochinos Bay, 385 
coffee 
culture and harvesting, prices for, 

44 

colectivO; a trip by, 113-120 
Coleman, Father William J., 146 
color line 
lack of, 18-19 
separation of, 19 
Colombia 

agrarian reform laws, 365 
tandidos, 15, 105-108 
bohildj slum, 7 

children, half of, illegitimate, wed- 
dings too expensive, 150 



Church in, 150, 151 

Church interferes in secular affairs, 

153 

Church and State united, 152 
coffee economy, 44, 108, 394 
Communists in, 33, 222 
farm land holdings in, 86 
farm land use in, 93 
Free Trade Association, 111 
government staff half as produc- 
tive as in North America, 35 
hard line on Cuba, 382 
helped avert war, Costa Rica-Nica- 
ragua, 166 

importation of food by, 93 
military of, 158, 167-169, 180 
only Latin American country with 

troops in Korea, 375 
opposition to military aid, 376 
and Panama independence, 40, 258 
religious and moral teaching in 

schools, 147 

right-wing organizations, 239 
Rojas Pinilla deposed, 31 
shrinkage of Church authority, 156 
tax law passed, not yet enforced, 

370 
Venezuelan students smuggle arms 

from, 59 
Colunquen, 243 
colono, 83 

Columbus, Christopher, 284 
"Committee of Twenty-One," 315 
"Committee for the Defense of the 

Revolution," 348 
common market, attempts at, 109 
jealousies preventing, 109-110 
treaty, escape clauses in, 111 
communications, of Incas, better than 

today, 21 

communications, importance of, 46 
Communists 
Argentina, 222 

envoys far inland, 223 
Bolivia, 222 
Brazil, 210-211, 222, 240 

in bank workers' union, 232-233 
both violent and nonviolent fac- 
tions, 222 
infiltration, 232 
question of supplies to Juliao, 

231 
responsibility, social, as efficient 

opposition, 249-253 
rightist opposition, 239-240 
Cantonese broadcasts, 223 
Chile, 215, 220-221 

Allende, Socialist leader, admires 

Castro, 236 
coalition with Socialist Party, 

236 
liberal elements hope to avoid 

takeover, 237-239 
longest and most significant sue- 



425 



cess in Latin America, except 
Cuba, 236 
organized Peasants' Federation, 

221 

responsibility, social, 242-246 
trade union dominated by, 221 
violence not needed, 221 
Chinese broadcasts, great increase 

in, 223 
Colombia, 5, 222 

mano negro,, to oppose, 239 
Cuba 

appeal of Fidelismo, took land 
from wealthy, opposed U.S., 
226 
determination to export resented, 

226-227 

invitados, 227-229 
Prensa, Latino,, regional bureaus, 

230 

revolution and, 222 
variety in Fidelismo, 226 
cultural exchanges with Chinese, 

223 
Ecuador, 221, 222 

approves violence, 221 
deported Chinese youth organiza- 
tion, 224-225 

entire concentration on peas- 
ants, 221 

infiltration by, little success, 222 
Mexico, 222 

New China News Agency, 224 
Nicaragua, 269-270 
oppose reform movements, 241, 248 
parties in Latin America, 15 
Peru, 222 

hope of violent revolution, in, 233 
U.S.S.R., broadcasts to, in Que- 

chua, 223 

strong democratic left best opposi- 
tion to, 239 
students and, 48-67 
Uruguay 

cut size of Soviet embassy, prop- 
aganda headquarters, 222 
Venezuela 

claims no foreign guidance, 234 
diplomatic relations broken, 230 
many more votes than party 

membership, 235 
responsibility, social, 246-249 
riots, 230-231 

smuggling of arms suspected, 230 
violence only if legal way closed, 

235 

"Communist," name for opponent or 
reformer, 33, 49, 145, 148, 152, 
153, 196 

comunidades, 123 
Concepci6n, 82 
Congo, 105 
conquistadores 

bypassed Costa Rica, 39 



conquistadores (cont.) 
Church followed, 146 
pattern of life of, persisting, 39 
philosophy of, 18, 19-20 
rewarded with land, 88 
conservatism, discarded by Bosch, 414 
Conservatives (Colombia), 105-107, 

153, 168 

contour farming, Inca, 21 
conuquero, Venezuela, 83 
Copacabana, 177, 201 
Cordillera Oriental, 1 
C6rdoba, Cardinal Luis Concha, 153 
Cornell University, 114, 126-140 
Correio da Manha, 206 
cost of living, increases in, 30 
Costa, Lucio, 187 
Costa, Padre Antonio, 144-145, 147- 

148 
Costa Rica 

army dissolved becaiise of interfer- 
ence in government, 165-166 
conquistadores bypassed, 39 
Figueres, brought democracy, 378 
hard line on Cuba 382 
honesty and self-discipline in, 38-39 
lend-lease better and quicker than 

Alliance for Progress, 406 
military not in control, 158 
nonintervention in Cuba, 379 
religion and morals taught in 

schools, 147 
President Figueres says underpaid 

for products, 394 
Cuarenta,, La, 278, 283-284 
cruzeiro^ 103, 150 
Cuba 
advice and comment of European 

Communists, 337-339 
airport guitarists and uneasy de- 

partees, 308 

Americans in, 1961, 322-323 
attitude toward Spanish- American 

War, 256-257 
Batista and his take, 180, 258, 266, 

321, 344 
Bay of Pigs failure, led to U.S.S.R. 

support, 385 
blockade of, 358 

Bonsai, Philip, ambassador, 313-314 
Castro campaigns against U.S., 317 
Castro a Marxist-Leninist, 344 
Castro not consulted, U.S. -U.S.S.R. 
removal of missiles arrangement, 
359 

Castro proposal, O.A.S. at Buenos 
Aires, $50 billion from U.S., 315- 
317 

Castro visit to U.S., 314 : 315 
censorship and rewriting of dis- 
patches, 325 

child and ammunition, 350 
Communist-Castro relationship, 310- 

426 



Communist, only party in, 318 

Communist regions resist economic 
pressure, 361 

Communist support pledged to Cas- 
tro, 313 

corruption in, 321 

credits from Communist countries 
331 

differences, August 1960 and Feb- 
ruary 1961, 308, 309 

dignidad, 310, 357 

elections, fraudulent, 257-258 

Escalante, Anibal, 343-345 

first dealings with U.S.S.R. and 
Red China, 318-319 

Guevara on China's disinterested- 
ness, 332-333 

Guevara on relations with U.S., 
333 

gusanos, 345-347, 355 

Havana Libre Hotel, 18-year-old 
ex-busboy manager, 328 

hunger, 309 

indoctrination, 349 

inefficiency, 335-336 

janitors, ignore instructions to 
check mail, 349 

Khrushchev, 358, 359 

land reform, inducement and prop- 
aganda, 14, 15, 312 

Latin American attitude toward 
ignoring of Castro, 360-361 

March 1962, wage earners depart- 
ing, 309 

Marti, Jose", on relations with U.S., 
337 

Mikoyan, visit to placate Castro, 
359-360 

military establishment,, 336 

missiles, possible U.S.S.R. idea on, 
357-358 

new school reader, 351 

no Church schools, 147 

not known in Viet a, 6 

"Old Communist" takeover, Cas- 
tro's reaction to, 342-344 

oldest Communist Party, 220 

Our Man in Havana., 323 

physical deterioration in, 325 

Platt Amendment, 257 

police state, 310 

political education, 352-353 

poor use of land and human re- 
sources, 312 

propaganda, 348 

quasi protectorate, 258-259 

redistribution of income consid- 
ered, 108 

religion superficial, 155 

Retamar, Roberto, attempt at in- 
terpretation and explanation of 
U.S.-Cuban relations, 340-342 

Russian work norms set up for 
Cubans, 340 



shortages, grumbling and humor 
at, 325-327, 334 

Smith, Earl E. T., ambassador, 
views of, 313 

social change, 34 

some Latin American support for 
calling Bay of Pigs violation of 
nonaggression, 38 

Soviet delegation, 329-330 

Spanish- American War, 256 

standard of living, 311 

street committees, 348-349 

supporters of Castro, 356 

suspected weapons to Venezuela 
from 59 

sugar, 257 

sugar workers, long stretches un- 
employment, 312 

technicians, flight of, 345-346 

teenagers, women, and guns, 350 

U.S. blamed usually, not Cuban in- 
efficiency, 340 

U.S. failure, 42 

U.S. insurance against seizure and 
the like, little used in Cuba, 320 

U.S. warning to U.S.S.R., 358 

youth, response to propaganda, 

351-352, 353, 354-355 
Cuban Writers and Artists Union, 

340 

Cuzco, a city of gold, 21, 143, 148 
Czechoslovakia, credit to Cuba, 331 

Daily Express, London, on Ghana, 317 

Dantas, San Thiago, 231, 404 

Dario, 323 

Das Kapital, 313 

"debt" of U.S. to South America. 43- 

44 

"Deep Broken Place," 125-126 
de Gaulle, Charles, 175 
de la Cueva, Dr. Mario, 389 
democracia, interpretations of, 34 
"democrats," 103 
denominators, common, 28-30 
Denys, Odilio, 176 
descamisados, 160, 161 
Deutscher, Isaac, 358-359 
Development Loan Fund, 402 
Dias, Wilmar Orlando, 320 
Diaz, Hernan, 151 
dignidad, need for, 104, 364, 405 
Dillon, Douglas, 372-373, 401 
discontent, growth of, 45 
disfranchisement, Chile, Brazil, 34 
distrust, Latin American, of U.S., 40 
Divinsky, Daniel J., Argentina, 67 
Dobyns, Dr. Henry, 114, 119 
Dollar Diplomacy,, 285 
Dom Pedro II, 183 
Dominican Popular Movement, 301 
Dominican Republic 

Balaguer, 286, 292, 293, 295, 296, 

297, 298, 299, 300, 304 



427 



Benefactor, El, 281 

Betancourt, attempted assassina- 
tion of, 285-286 

Bosch, Juan, 301; elected presi- 
dent, 306, 307 

boycott, 286 

Castroite rioting, anti-U.S., 300-301 

El Varibe, 281, 283, 299, 300, 304 

farm and industry advisors from 
Puerto Rico, 305 

Fiallo, Dr., 277-280, 287, 288-292, 
296, 297, 298, 300, 303 

hard line on Cuba, 382 

Hoepelman, Armando, student, 280, 
292, 299, 303 

Justo (Gonzales, Guzman), 281- 
284, 290, 296, 301, 303 

land reform, possible by confisca- 
tion of Trujillo holdings, 303 

Mirabel sisters, 281-284 

O.A.S., 284, 286, 287, 289, 290, 291, 
294, 298, 306 

Ornes, German, 280, 281, 296, 299, 
300, 303, 304, 305 

people softer tpward U.S. after 
Trujillo assassination, 256 

quasi protectorate, 258 

Ramfis, 279, 286, 287, 289, 291, 
292, 293, 294 

Rubirosa, 286 

S.I.M., 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 287, 
290, 291, 292, 295, 298, 302 

students, at overthrow of Trujillo, 
56 

torture, 278, 290 

Trujillo, assassination of, 277 

Trujillo clan, 279, 292, 293 

U.S. occupation of, 285 

U.S. warships, 295, 304, 305, 385, 

413-414 

Dominican Revolutionary Party, 301 
Dominican Students Federation, 289 



East Germany, 361 
credit to Cuba, 331 

Echavarria, Pedro Rodriguez, 295- 
296, 297-298, 299 

Echeverrfa, Esteban, quoted, 68 

ECLA, 111, 391 

Economic Committee for Latin Amer- 
ica (UN), 250 

Economist, The, 45, 108-109, 111-112, 
372, 391-392, 402 

economy, planned, 53, 66 

Ecuador 

accuses U.S. of domination, 41 
and Alliance for Progress, 383 
Church and State, 151-152 
Communists in, 220, 221, 222 
deported Chinese youth delegation, 

224 

farm land holding in, 86 
Free Trade Association, 111 



Ecuador (cent.) 

Indians cannot speak official lan- 
guage, 27 

Latin revolution preferable to com- 
munism, 227 

life of Andean Indians, 120 
possible improvement in life of In- 
dians, 123 
presidents, thirty, in twenty-five 

years, 34 

religion for sale, 150 
soft line toward Cuba, 382 
student riots.55-.. 
taF^oHgmg^e, 370 
education, Church offers religious and 
moral, in Argentina, Brazil, Co- 
lombia, Haiti, Peru, 147 
Edwards, Jorge, Chilean writer, on 

the old aristocracy, 73-74 
Egypt, 255 

Eisenhower, Dwight D., 286, 314, 372 
El Dorado, Indian chieftain, 20-21 
El Mont6n, barriada in Lima, 11, 13 

life in, 7-8 
El Salvador, 382 
El Topo, state agricultural scheme, 

96-99 

elections, army interference in, 
in Argentina, 164, 165 
in Peru, 181 

elections, Church interference in, 153 
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 206 
Escalente, Anfbal, 343, 344-345 
Escot, Fernando, 352 
Espinoza, Fermin, 141-142 
"Establishment, The," 207 
Europe, 108, 111 

evasion of change, government, in 
land handling, Brazil, Chile, Peru, 
90-92 

Everest, Mount, 113 
Export-Import Bank, 402 



F A.O., 100, 101 

favela, Brazilian slum, 6, 50, 195, 200, 

201 

Fernandez, Rojas, 288-289 
Fiallo, Viriato, 277-280, 287-291, 292, 

294, 295, 296, 297-298, 300, 301, 

303, 306 
Fidelismo, 101-102, 104, 154, 180, 200, 

215-253, 268 
Fidelistas, 107 
Figueres, Jose, 165-166, 365, 378, 379, 

393-394, 403, 406 
Filho, Oswaldo, 32-33 
finca, 2, 106 

campesinos began to take over, 3-4 
Fine, Norman, Huapra eyewitness, 

140-141 

Firmino, Joao, 203-204, 213 
fiagelados, live on cactus during 

drought, 26 



428 



fleet, U.S., off Santo Domingo ac- 
cepted, 413-414 
Food for Peace Program, 402 
14th of June Movement, 282-283 291 
301, 304 ' ' 

France, investment capital in Brazil 
193 ' 

FRAP (Frente Acci6n Popular} 236 
237,238,242 ' 

Freeman, Joseph, 285 
Frente de Liberation National, 233 
Freyre, Gilberto, Brazilian social sci- 
entist, 202 

on crisis of leadership, 72 
on social legislation, 73 
Frondisi, Arturo, 152, 169, 382 
and Alliance for Progress, 163 
attempt to balance army against 

labor, 161-162 

denationalization of oil industry, 67 
ousted by the military, 158-159, 164 
railroad purge, 163 
reform program became austerity, 

162 

Frondizi, Dr. Risieri, 152 
Fuentes, Carlos, Mexican Marxist 

writer on Cuba, 78 
on Mexico, 78-79 
Rodrigo Polo and Ixca Cunfuegos, 

78-79 

Where the Air Is Clear, 79-80 
Fundacidn de la Vivienda Popular 

247 
fundo, 82, 242-243 

owner, may retain federal family 

allowance from inquilinos, 84 
owners, speculate in land, 84 
Funes, Julio, Argentina, 66 
Furtado, Celso, vii, 198, 248-253 

Galileia, 203-204, 213 

Gallegos, Sonia, Chile, 66 

gamins, 24 

Garcia, driver of colectivo, 114-119 

Garcia, Armando, an. inquilino, 82, 
84,85 

Garcia, Juan Abbes, 291 

gardens, hanging, Inca, 22 

General Confederation of Labor (Ar- 
gentina), 161 

Germans in Sao Paulo, 193 

Ghana, 317-318 

"God is a Brazilian," 46 

Godoy, Ricardo P6rez, 181 

G6mez, Jos6 Miguel, 258 

Gonzales, Pedro, 282-284 

Gonzales, Sandoval, 219, 220 

Goulart, Joao, 50, 54, 153, 175-180 

Gouvenour. Livia, 59 

Gouzenko, Igor, 329 

Grand Canyon, 113 

gross national product, 44 

Gruening, Ernest, 377 

Grullon, Jimenez, 301 



Guam, 256 

Guantanamo Bay, 386 
guardia, 166, 265-266, 267, 269 
Guardian, The, 191-192 
Guatemala 

and Alliance for Progress, 372 
Arbenz overthrow and United Fruit 

Company, 272 

demonstrations against dictator- 
ship of Ydigoras, 273-274 
destruction of railroad under State 

ownership, 275 
farm land holding in, 86 
guerrillas, 276 
hard line toward Cuba, 382 
land reform, division of formerly 

German-owned, 273 
no income tax, 368 
offered to help blockade of Cuba, 

378 

student thinking, 55 
Villagran, condemned Castro, not 

invited to U.S., 412-413 
Guevara, Ernesto "Che," 174, 225, 

229, 312, 318, 325, 331-335, 343 
Guido, Jose Maria, 164 
Gulick, Port, 267 
Gumucio, Alfonso, 42-43 
gusanos, 337, 345-347, 355 
Gutierrez, Mario, 31 
Guzman, Leandro, 281-284 

hacendado, 124, 125, 126, 127, 139- 

140, 141 
haciendas, 100, 120, 122, 124, 125, 

126, 142 

wages paid by, 10 
Haedo, Eduardo Victor, 104 
Haiti, 147, 173, 259, 381, 382, 

illiteracy in, 29 
Hasslocher, Ivan, 240-241 
Havana Libre Hotel, 328-329 
Haya de la Torre, Victor Raul, 61-62, 

181, 416 

Hazlitt, Henry, 398 
health mission, Canadian, in Pampa 

de Comas, 11 

Helsinki, on sign in Vietd, 5 
Herblock, cartoonist, 360 
Herter, Christian A., 314 
Hindus, Maurice, quoted, 81 
Hispaniola, 284-285 
Hoepelman, Armando, student, 280, 

288-289, 292, 299, 300-301, 303, 

304-305 
Holmberg, Allan R., Dr., 126-140 

on Vicos, 132-133 
Honduras, 382 
housing, buildings unimportant in 

comparison with satisfaction of 

herding instinct and security, 

218-219 
Hoy, 344 
Hsushui, Hopei Province, 133 



429 



Huapaya, Roberto, stonemason 
family of, 12, 13 
home of, 12-13 
wages, 10 
Huapra 

contradictions, eyewitness and offi- 
cial accounts, 140-141 
haciendado, intervention of, 140 
leased to Church, 139 
only documented massacre of In- 
dians, 141 

photographs, booklet of, led to 

resignation of district prefect, 141 

wish of people to copy Vicos, priest 

approves, 139-140 
Huascaran, 120 
huasipungo, Ecuador, 83, 123 
huaycos, 117 

Ibanez Manuel, 242-246 
Icaza, Jorge, 123 
ichu grass, 130 
identity cards, 3 

torn up in 1930, 3 
ideologies, confusion of, 32-33 
Incas, 113, 123 
income, per capita 
Brazil, 30 
Peru, 15 

inconsistencies in attitudes, 24-25 
Indians, Andean, of Peru; see also 
Bolivia; Ecuador; Huapra; 
Vicos 
attempts at imitation of Vicos, 

138-141 
exploitation of movement, leftist 

reformers, 141-142 
Indigenous Institute of Peru, 126 
infant mortality, northeast Brazil, 

197 

inquilinos, 242 
diet of, 82, 83 

drunkenness, reasons for, 83 
federal family allowance, withheld 

by owner, 84 
land for, 243-245 
malnutrition, 83 
rate of pay, 82 
rent, 82 

services demanded of, 82 
Integrated Revolutionary Organiza- 
tion (O.R.I.), 342 
intelligentsia, see pensadores 
Inter- American Development Bank, 

252 
Inter-American Press Association, 

367 
International Monetary Fund, 162- 

163 

approached by Castro, 315 
intervention, U.S., in Latin America, 
necessary but must be hidden if 
possible, 413 
investments, private U.S., 42 



invitados y official guests, Cuba, 227- 

228 229 

Italians in Sao Paulo, 193 
Italy 3 investment capital in Brazil, 

193 
Iznagas, Melquiades, 353 

Japan, investment capital in Brazil, 

193 

Japanese in Sao Paulo, 193 
jealousies, preventing common market 
or intercountry trading, 109- 
110 

Jesuits, 146 
Jimenez, Marcos P&rez, 56-57, 59, 170, 

180, 235 

Johnson, Paul, 255 
Jornal do Brasil, 207, 240, 241 
Juliao, Francisco, 144, 148, 196, 197, 

200, 231, 250, 253, 412 
author, cachaga, 202 
career, 202-203 
fringe movements, 212-213 
philosophy of, 207-210, 214 
reputation, international, 206, 207 
Sociedade A.ffrlcola, 203-204 
junta, 167, 172 

Justo, Manuel Tavarez, 281-284, 290- 
291, 295, 296, 301, 303 

Kaiser Industries, 393 

Kennecott, 395 

Kennedy, Edward M., 134, 412 

Kennedy, John F., 164, 358, 359, 360, 

363, 366, 372, 389, 390, 391, 397- 

398, 400, 411 
Kennedy Administration and Ramfis 

Trujillo, 286 
Khrushchev, Nikita, 358, 359, 360, 

399 

Klabin, Israel, 193 
Klein, Ralph, Huapra eyewitness, 

140-141 

Knox, Philander C., 258 
Koudriavtzev, Sergei, 329-330, 337, 

338-339, 345 
Kubitschek, Juscelino, 173, 185-186, 

189, 190, 193-194, 250 

labor, manual, disdain for, 17 
Labor Party (Brazil), 176 
La Nacidn, 39 
Lanceros, 107 

Lancet,, The, report on Shanghai in- 
fant mortality, 9 
land hunger, 45 
land, farm 

education of children evaded, 91 

much wasted, 90 

taxes low and evaded, 90 
landowner, absentee, prefers cash in- 
dustrial crops, cotton, sugar, 198 
land reform, 4, 14, 15, 16, 50, 53, 83, 
84, 86 

requirements for, 89-90 



language, official, not known to large 

part of population, 27 
languages, Indian, Aymara and Oue- 

chua, 121 

La Paz, 24, 31, 36, 43 
Larrazabal, Wolfgang, 56-57, 59 
Lastarria, Jose Victorino, 151 
latifundios, 20, 122 
latifundistCL, 123 

Latin American-United States fric- 
tions 

aggression, U.S. economic, seen 
whether too much investment or 
not enough, 41 

anti-Trujillo fleet accepted because 
offshore and did nothing, 412-413 

Alliance for Progress variously too 
large, top small, too late, 364-365 

capital, private, role of, 401 

Chile copper mines, nationalization 
demanded, 396 

CIA acts against Communism, not 
against militarist or oligarchic 
wrongs, 418 

complaints of slow arrival of 
money, 390 

dilemma of U.S., 390-391 

flight of capital greater than U.S. 
inflow, 366, 367 

U.S. intervention necessary, must 
be concealed, 412, 418-419 

lack of unity in O.A.S. on Cuba, 
382-384 

Latin America feels U.S. bureauc- 
racy holds up money, 390 

Latin American complaints and 
siispicions, 371-373, 378-382 

Latin American inaction, 408-410 

Latin American ownership by 
wealthy few; high profit margin, 
395 

Latin American problems remain 
after blockade ceases, 414 

Latin America raw materials prices 
drop, manufactured goods prices 
rise; loss more than aid, 393-394 

Latin America still in age of feu- 
dalism; capitalism never de- 
veloped, 398 

Latin America wants no supervi- 
sion of spending; each says other 
countries not trustworthy, 404- 
405 

military aid objected to, 376-378 

needs of Latin America, 415-416 

no reform, no money, U.S., 416 

planning or not planning, 391-392 

socialist or part Communist regime, 
question of U.S. support for, 397- 
401 

Soviet missiles in Cuba, effect of, 
384 

suggestions for wooing Latin Amer- 
ica, move O.A.S. to South Amer- 



430 



ica, internationalize Canal Zone. 

send books, 410-411 
support for Cuba policy, 384-388 
taxation of rieos, 364, 366-371 
U.S. backdown on Peru election, 

417 
U.S. businesses build up countries 

where they operate; ricos send to 

Swiss banks, 393 

Latin America, A Modern History, 20 
Latin-American Catholicism, 146 
Latin American Free Trade Associa- 
tion, 111 

Latin American Issues, 273 
Latvians in Sao Paulo, 193 
Lavadero, Jorge, 241-242, 406 
Lavalle, Hernando de, on agrarian 

reform, 83-84 
leaders, without experience in public 

administration, 23 
Lebanese in Sao Paulo, 193 
Legarreta, Augustin, 388, 389 
Lenin Peace Prize, 354 
Leningrad, 185 
lex talionis, 106 

Liberals, Colombia, 105-107, 153, 168 
Libano (Colombia), 105 
Lieuwen, Edwin, 374-375, 378 
life expectancy, 11 
life, disregard for, 25 
Ligas Camponesas, 196 
Lima, 63, 114, 131, 133, 138, 139, 142, 

Io4 
Linares, Briceno, Gen., 169-170, 171, 

230 

Lleras Camargo, 107, 381 
Lobat6n, Eladio, 141 
Loeb, James, 416 
Lomax, John, Sir, 365 
London, 185 
Lostonoa, Manuel, 125 



McConnell, John G., ac 

McKinley, William, 256 

Macchu Picchu, 22 

Machado, Eduardo, 234-235 

Machado, Gerardo, 234, 258 

Machado, Gustavo, 234-235 

Machado, Jos6, 288, 292-293, 298 

Macmillan, Harold, 318 

Malaya, 107 

Mallory, Lester D., on land reform, 

86-87 

malnutrition, 28 
Managua, 13, 259, 268 
Mann, Thomas C., 316 
mano negra, 239, 241 
Mao Tse-tung, 221, 223, 225, 229 

land to the peasants, 88 
Marinho, Roberto, 173 
Marshall Plan, 366 
Marti, Jose, 68, 357 
Mateo, Fernando, Argentina, 65 



431 



Mateos, Adolfo Lopez, 388 

Mater et Magistra, 148-149 

mayoral, 125 

mayorales (foremen), 130-131 

mazamorra, 130 

Melo, Padre Antonio, 148 

Mendoza, Eugenio, 246-248 

Mercurio, El, 151 

Mesquita, Ruy, 179 

mestizos, 10, 121, 135, 137 

physical labor undignified, 137 
Mexico 

agrarian reform, 365-366 

altered social structure, 122 

Church and State, 153-155 

Communists in, 222, 223 

exodus of capital, 388, 389 

gross national product, 388 

Free Trade Association, 111 

industrial growth dropped, 388 

"lost territories," 40 

military, 158, 166-167 

mixed economy, 400 

social change in, 34, 181 

mixed line on Cuba, 382, 383, 384, 
386 

taxes not collected in past, 368, 369 

token air squadron Philippines, 

World War II, 375 
Mexico City, 154 
Michelsen, Alfonso Lopez, 33 
Mi j ares, Lillian, Panama, 66 
Mikoyan, Anastas, 318, 359-360 
military, the 

in Argentina, 158-159, 165, 180 

cost of, Argentina, Brazil, Para- 
guay, 166 

curbed in Bolivia, 167, 181 

in Brazil, 172, 180 

in Chile, 167-168 

in Colombia, 167-169, 180 

curbed in Costa Rica, 165-166 

in Cuba, 181 

dominates much of continent, 157- 
158 

and Frondisi, 158-159, 164 

curbed in Mexico, 166-167, 181 

exceptions to military dominance, 
seven countries, 158 

greed as motive, 180 

and Peronismo, 160 

in Peru, 181 

in Uruguay, 171 

in Venezuela, 169-172, 180 
Military Organisation and Society, 

182 

Millas, Orlando, 220-221 
mmifundios, 89, 122, 130 

destruction of soil by, 84 
Mirabal sisters, 281-283 
Molina, Gerardo, anti-Communist 
Marxist, rector Universidad 
Libre, Bogota, 151 

on Cuba, 74-75 



Molina (cont.) 

on U.S. -Latin American relations, 75 

on U.S. political thinking, 75 
Molina, Maximo Lopez, 301 
Monroe Doctrine, a design for inter- 
vention, 41, 258 
Monteiro, Sergio, 49-50 
Montevideo, 222 
Montreal Star, The, 359 
Moraes, Vinicius de 

Black Orpheus, 69 

on Brazil, 69-70 

on Janio Quadros, 69 
Moreno, Sanchez, Manuel, 387 
Morgan, William, 323 
Morris, James, 191-192 
mortality, infant, in Lima slums, 9 
Moscoso, Teodoro, 364, 370-371, 390- 

391, 392-393, 403, 405, 407 
Mundo, El, 281 

Muiioz, Frederick, vice-president Stu- 
dents' Federation, Venezuela, 58- 
60 

Napoleon, 190 
Nasser, 319 
Nation, The, 285, 386 
National Agrarian Institute, 99 
National Agrarian Reform Institute 

(INRA), 344 
National Civic Union (U.C.N.), 289, 

291, 297 
National Democrat Party (Chile), 

236, 237, 242 

National Liberation Front, 212 
National Liberation Movement, 274 
"National War/' 264 
nationalist, Brazil, meaning of, 33-34 
nationalization 

meaning of, 33 

Venezuelan oil industry, students 

demand, 60 
Nearing, Scott, 285 
"Negro" (U.S.), 121 
Nehemkis, Peter R v Jr., 365 
nepotism, 35 

neutralismo interesado, 174 
New China Neios Agency, 224, 225 
New York Times, The, 165 
New Statesman, 255 
Newsweek, 397-398 
Nicaragua 

accuses U.S. of neocolonialism, 256 

Communists control labor unions, 
269 

control by imprisonment, and tor- 
ture, 267 

Costa Rica exiles in, 166 

direct payment to Somoza family 
on every undertaking, 38 

ffuardia, U.S. trained, 265 

hard line on Cuba, 382 

hospital in Managua, incomplete 
after six years, 260 



labor leader on omitting dictator- 
ship from Alliance for Progress 
271 ' 

line on Cuba, 382 

literacy in, 268, 270 

military control, 173 

quasi protectorate, 258-259 

seven per cent government revenue 
from personal income tax, 368 

Somoza family dictatorship, 266 
268-269 

taxes and fees, Somoza cut of, 261 

U.S. Marines in, 265 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, in, 263 

Walker, William, in, 263-264 
Niemeyer, Oscar, Communist, archi- 
tect, 187 

on communism, 76 

on Brazil's Northeast, 75 

on Kubitschek, 75 
Nixon, Richard, 314-315 
Nkrumah, Kwame, 317 
Northeast, the, of Brazil 

cambao system, 201 

diet, 197 

Fidelismo, 200 

health, 197 

infant mortality, 197, 201 

illiteracy, 198 

Juliao, Francisco, and Peasant 
Leagues, 196, 197 

Juliao not invited to U.S., 412 

landlessness of farm woi-kers, 196 

landowners' views, 198 

life of plantation workers, 86 

life span, 197 

Padre Costa, 144-145 

Peasant Leagues, 179, 196, 197 

priests assist, 148 

responsibility, social, Carlos Fur- 
tado and Sudene, 248-253 

rumored Castro supplying propa- 
ganda, 231 

sleeping in streets, Recife, 199 

Sociedade Agricola, 203 

Sudene, 145, 248-253 

suspicion of strangers, 200 

wages, 15-16, 197, 199, 201 
Nova, Milciades, 6-7 
Novedades, 270 
Nueva Prensa, La, 76 

Oblate Order of Mary Immaculate, 
156-157 

Observer The, 319, 360 

Ochon, Victor Jos, treasurer Stu- 
dents' Federation, Venezuela, 58- 
60 

Cruzeiro, 207, 211 

O'Donovan, Patrick, 319 

Odria, Manuel, 32, 134 

Hstado de Sao Paulo, 179 

Glo~bo, 173 

"Old Communists" (Cuba), 343-344 



432 



Order of the Southern Cross, 174 
Organization of American States, 166, 

286, 291-292, 298, 315-316, 381- 

382, 384, 410 
Ornes, German, 280, 291, 296, 299-300, 

302, 303-305 

Osorio, Hector, Father, 5, 155-156 
"Our Boys," the Somozas, 259-270 
Our Man in Havana., 323 
output, per capita, declining, 45 
ownership, land, in hands of two per 
cent, 28-29 

Perez Jimenez, 



Peking Opera Company, 223 
pelafustanillos, 24 
Pelly, Thomas M., 377 
peonage, 2-3 
pensadores 

and the Church, 151 

most on left, some Communists, 68 

views of certain, 69-80 
peon, peones, 122, 124, 127, 129, 135 
Pepsi-Cola, 41 

Perez, Pedro, cornuquero, changed 
life of, 96-98 



Palace of Dawn, 189 
Pallesclo, Mario, 216 
Pampa de Comas 

health mission in, 11 

largest barrida, 9-13 

wages in, 10 
Panama 

claims infringement of sovereignty, 
271 

grievances, 271-272 

hard line on Cuba, 382 

quasi protectorate, 258 

revolt against Colombia, 258 

revolution in, 40 

suggested internationalizing of 

Canal Zone, 411 
Pan-American Highway, 114 
Paraguay 

member Free Trade Association, 
111 

half of budget to armaments, 166 

hard line on Cuba, 382 

Latin Americans feel should not be 
helped by Alliance for Progress, 
because dictatorship, 371 

military dominates, 173 

no income tax, 368 

not a democracy, 34 

upheaval feared in, 33 
Paraiba, 250 
Paris, 185 

Partido Socialista Popular (Com- 
munist Party), 318, 342, 344, 355 
patrdn, 124, 125, 130, 135 
patrao, Northeast Brazil, brutality 

of, 204-205 
Paulista, 103 
Paz Estenssoro, Victor, 31, 122-123, 

379-380, 390 

"Peace Conference of Asian and Pa- 
cific Regions," 223 
Peace Corps, U.S., 114, 138 
Peasants' Federation (Chile), 221 
Peasant Leagues, 144, 176, 179, 250, 
252 

conditions leading to, 201-205 

fringe movements, 212-213 

growth of, 206 

Juliao, Francisco, 148, 196-197 

Sociedade Agrfcole, 203-204 
Peking, 185 



fraudulence of, 98-99 

land of, confiscated for campesinos, 

96 

Pernambuco, 198 
Peron, Evita, 161 
Per6n and Peronism, 36, 103, 109, 

152, 159-160, 161, 163, 180 
Peronismo 

descaminados and, 160, 161 
functioning of, 160-161 
legacy of, 160, 161 
plan of, 159-160 
profit for Peron in, 180 
votes for Peronistas, 1962, 163-164 
Peronistas, allowed again to run for 

office, 163, 164, 165 
Peru 

APRA outlawed, 32 
APRA and army in continuing con- 
flict, 181 

Church in, 147-150 
Church and State united, 152 
Communism in, 222, 233 
Ecuador ceded land to, 41 
election 1962 managed by military; 

U.S. accepted, 416-417 
El Mont6n, 7-8, 11, 13 
farm land holdings in, 86 
Free Trade Association, 111 
hard line on Cuba, 382 
integration of Indians' programs, 

138-139 

land reform, 90, 91 
laws, tax reform, not passed, 366- 

367 

military control, 173 
no central police records, 35 
not heard of by Peruvian Andes 

Indians, 15 
not known in Vietd, 6 
offered gunboats, Cuban blockade, 

377 
official language not known in many 

areas, 27 

priests, half not Peruvian, 156 
reform, plans for, 189 
San Marcos, University, 22$ 
student strength in, 55 
tax avoidance, 366-369 
Vicos, 113-143 
Philip, Prince, 17 

433 



Philippines, 256 

Pike, Fredrick B., 372 

Pinar del Rio, 357 

Pinilla, see Rojas Pinilla 

Pinto, Luiz Oscar Dubeux, 49-50 

Pio Doce (radio station), 157 

Pirenne, Henri, 86 

"Place of the Precipice," 243 

Platt Amendment, 257 

Plaza of the Three Powers, 187 

Pliny the Elder, on land reform, 87- 

88 

Pollacion la Victoria, 215-219 
pofilaciones callampas, Argentine 

slum, 7, 215-217 
Point Four assistance to Nicaragua, 

270 
Pontificia Universidade Cat61iea do 

Rio de Janeiro, 48 
Pope John, 149 
population, growth of, 44-45 
Popular Revolutionary Union, 277, 

289 

Porto A.legre, 177 
Prado, Juan, Bolivia, 66 
Prado, Manuel, 134, 151, 181 

APRA support for, 62 
Prebisch, Dr. Raul, 391 
Prensa Latino,, 230 
pressure groups against unions, army, 

Church, foreign companies, prop- 
erty owners, 109 
preto, Brazil, black, 19 
Princess Mafalda de Braganqa Chan- 

ler, 183 
Public Benevolent Society of Huaras, 

125, 134 

Puebla (Mexico), 153 
Puerto Cabello (Venezuela), 171 
Puerto Rico, 256 
pulpo (octopus), 278, 282 
Punta del Este, riots, 57 

Quadros, Janio, 33, 48, 54, 173-175, 

179, 190, 231 

Quea, Humberto, Gen., 141 
Quelrada Honda, 125-126, 127 
Quechua (language), 115, 121 
Quemoy and Matsu, 42 
quenas, 141 
Quito, 21 

cemeteries in, 16 

Radler, D. H., 411 

railroads, Brazil, 29 

ranchos, Venezuelan slums, 7 

Ratinoff, Luis, 218 

reactionary, imperialist, a name for 

an opponent, 33 
Reader's Digest, 266 
Recife, 8-9, 198, 199-200, 213 
favelas, horrors of, 200-201 
records, criminal, no central agency 
for, 35-36 



reform, agrarian, 52-53 
Reporter, The, 109-110, 405 
Republican Democratic Union 

(U.R.D.) (Venezuela), 316 
responsibility, social, lacking in Latin 

America, 18 

Retamar, Roberto, 340-342 
Review of Politics, The, 372 
revolution, a change in personnel, 34 
"revolution of rising expectations," 46 
ricos 

life of, 8, 13, 14, 30-31 

mistrust of, leads to mistrust of 

U.S., 395-396 

send $10-$11 billion abroad, 401 
Rio Grande do Norte, 180, 198, 212 
Rio Grande do Sul, 176, 177, 180, 212 
Rio de Janeiro, 13, 36, 38, 47, 177, 

192, 201 

riots, student, 55-58 
Hippy, J. Fred, 20, 147 
Rise and Fall of the Third Reich 

The, 231 

Roca, Bias, 343, 344, 345 
Rodriguez, Carlos Rafael, 313, 344, 

345 
Rojas Pinilla, Gustavo, dictator, 31- 

32, 105-106, 168 
Room of Martyrs, 59 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 259, 266 
Roosevelt, Theodore, and Canal Zone, 

40, 258, 285 
Rubirosa, Porfirio, 286 
Rusk, Dean, 381 



Saez, Raul, Dr., 365 

St. Petersburg (Leningrad) , 185 

Salazar, 49, 51 

Salcedo, 283 

Salinas, Perez, 371 

Salient, Victor, 280, 287, 290, 295, 

296, _297, 304 

Salles, Bishop Eugenio, 148 
Salta (Argentina) , 110 
Sanchez, Luis Alberto, 32, 37 
San Isidro, 13 
San Jos6, 166 

San Marcos, University of, 12, 37, 55 
Communists substituted Fidelismo 

for APRA, 63 
Haya de la Torre, 61 
sounding board for new ideas, 61 
students from middle class, 61 
students, office holders, APRA 

members, 62 
San Miguelo, 215-216 
Santiago, Chile, 18, 45, 82, 110, 151, 

215 
Santo Domingo, 13; see Dominican 

Republic 
Santo Domingo, University of, 288- 

289, 292-293, 298-299 
Santos, Eduardo, 376 



434 



Santos (Brazil) ,192 

Sao Paulo, 103, 172, 191, 192-193, 105, 
196 

sara, corn, grown by Incas, 22 

Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino, quoted, 
68, 135 

Schereiber, Senor, 125 

Schick, Rene, 269 

school for democratic revolutionaries 
suggested, 418-419 

Sears, Roebuck, 393 

Secular Order of Brazil, 145 

Semana, La, 239 

serUo, 202 

Sevilla (Colombia), 107 

Shanghai, 9 

Sharpeville, 3, 140, 141 

Shirer, William L., 231 

Sierra Maestra, 107, 229, 312 

Sifflo Veinte (mine), 157 

S.I.M. (Military Intelligence Serv- 
ice) Dominican Republic, 277, 
278, 282, 287, 290, 291, 302 

slaves, Indian, 21 

Sloppy Joe's bar, 322, 323, 324 

Smith, Adam, Wealth of Nations, 87 

Smith, Earl E. T v 313 

smuggling, 37-38 

Social Changes in Latin America To- 
day, 133 

socialism or part communism, ques- 
tion of U.S. support for, 397-401 

Socialist Party (in Chile), 236 

socialists, student, 60-61 

Sociedade Agrlcola e Pecudria dos 
Plantadores de Pernamouco, 203- 
204 

"Society for Social and Economic De- 
velopment of Colombia," 239 

Solis, Julio Cesar, 216, 218, 219 

Solon of Athens, and land reform, 87 

Somoza, Anastasio, 266 

Somoza, Luis A., 261, 266-268 

Somoza, Tachito, 262, 266, 269 

Sotomayor, Carlos Martinez, 404 

Soviet Society for the Dissemination 
of Political Knowledge, 226 

Spain, 155 

squeeze, 38 

Stalin, Josef, death of, 281 

State and Church united, Argentina, 
Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Vene- 
zuela, 152 

Stelso, Leon, 125, 129 

Stevenson, Adlai, 46, 367 

strike, of students, 50, 51 

Students, Central University, Vene- 
zuela, most violent in Latin 
America, 56 

students, ideas of, 48-67 

subsistence, level crossed in Sao 
Paulo, 26 

Sudene, 145, 250, 251, 252, 402-403 

Sweden, 101 



taxation, 30 

taxes, evasion of income, not crim- 
inal, 18 

Tequendama Falls, 1 

Tequendama, Republic of, 4, 5, 15 

Third Army (Brazil), 176 

Tiempo, El, 6 

Time (Lat.-Am. ed.), 141-142 

Topo, El, 99 

Tolentino, Carlos, Huapra, 140 

"Trotskyites," 103 

Tr-ujillo, Arismende, Gen., 279, 292, 
293, 294 

Trujillo, Hector, Gen., 279, 292, 293, 
294 

Trujillo, Rafael, Gen., 268, 277, 281, 

285-286 

El Benefactor, 281, 285, 287 
Little Caesar of the Caribbean, 281 

Trujillo, Rafael, Jr. (Rama's), 279, 
286, 287-289, 292-294 

26th of July Movement, 318, 342, 344, 
352 



United Fruit Company, 264, 272, 273, 

393 
United Nations, tax authorities, 368- 

369 
United States, 101, 109, 166, 175, 193, 

255-257 

Universidad Central de Venezuela, 56 
Universidad Libre (Colombia), 151 
Uriburu, Jose, 159 
Uruguay 
civilian control of the military long 

established, 171 
Communists in, 220, 222 
Free Trade Association, 111 
hard line on Cuba, 382 
military not in control, 158 
mission in Havana, 383 
separation of Church and State, 

152 

social security in, 102 
stable, and pensions are paid, 104 
neighboring states fear upheaval, 

33 

uprising, Indian, in Bolivia, 122 
U.S.S.R., 14, 15 

offer to Bolivia, 380 
and Brazil, 174 
credit to Cuba, 331 



vaccination, certificate of for air 

travel, 24-25 
Valdez, Miguel, 245 
Valenca, Ana Carolina, 48-49 
Valencia, Guillermo Leon, 107 
Valencia, manufacturing in, 95, 247 
Vanderbilt, Cornelius, 263-264 
Vargas, Getulio, 49, 103, 172, 173, 

175, 178 



435 



variations, climate and geography, 
human temperament and energy, 
26-27, 28 

Varig airline, 183 

Vasquez, Mario, Dr., 126, 131, 138-139 
Velasco, Jos6 Maria, 55 
Velie, Lester, 266 

Veliz, Claudio, anti-Communist Chil- 
ean economist 

on private enterprise, U.S. and 
Latin America, 70-71 

Ultima Hora, writings in, 71 
Venezuela 

agrarian reform, 366 

attempted land reform, 99-100 

Church and State united, 152 

Communists in, 220, 222 

developing industries, 246 

farm land holding in, 86 

hard line on Cuba, 382 

increase budget 20% to cover hand- 
outs, foreign businesses, 36 

left wingers, 230, 233 

military strong in, 169-172 

offered gunboats for Cuba block- 
ade, 378 

oil royalties, 42 

Pfrrez Jimenez take, 180 

sabotage by Fidelistas, 385 

slums, ranchos, 17 

students, 55 

trouble over Cuba, 316 
Vera Cruz, occupation of, 40 
Vescelius, Gary, 117 
Vicos, 114, 117, 119, 120, 146 

anthropologists, North American 
and Peruvian, study of Vicos, 
124, 126 

auction of lease of, 124-125 

children to high schools, 136 

community council, 131 

education, 135-136 

fear of strangers, diminishing, 137 

girls, education of, 136 

government attitude toward, 133- 
134, 138-139 

hacienda bought by Indians, 130 

hygiene, instruction in, for mothers, 
136-137 

indigenous peoples, 126 

infant mortality, 137 

life remains primitive, 130 

patrones, good and evil, 125 

Peace Corps, request for, 138 

Public Benevolent Society of Hua- 
ras, 125 

results of learning to control po- 
tato blight, 128-129 

school lunches, 136 

scientific agriculture, elementary, 
129 

spreading of program, 139 

technicians, agronomy, health, edu- 
cation, social organization, 126 



436 



Victoria, La (prison) , 284 

"Victory Village" (Santiago), 215, 

219 

Villagran, Francisco, 275-276, 412-413 
Villegas, Miguel Antonio, 106 
Vincente, Antonio, 205 
Vincente, Manuel, 205 
violencia, la, 105 
Viotd (Colombia), 2, 6, 155 
Vivas, Julio, 415 

vivo, sharp practice, admired, 25-26 
Voice of Latin America, The, 411 

wages 

bank workers, Rio, 232 

discrepancies in, Chilean copper 
and industrial workers, 108 

inquilinos, 82 

Northeast Brazil, 197, 199 

Pampa de Comas, 10 

Santiago, 219 
waifs, miseries of, 23-25 
Walker, William, 263-264 
War Is a Racket, 255 
Washington Post, The, 360 
water 

in El Mont6n, 11 

in Pampa de Comas, 9, 11 

in Recife, 9 

in Shanghai, 9 

weapons, in hands of students, 56 
We Are Socialists, 347 
West Germany, investment capital in 

Brazil, 193 

Whelan, Thomas, 266-267 
Whirlpool Corporation, 365 
White Cordillera, 120 
Willys-Overland do Brasil, 193 
Wilson, Paul, 322-323 
Wilson, Woodrow, 258, 259 
work, poor quality of, 35 
workers, industrial, social security for 

plans not put into practice, in- 
efficiency and corruption, 101-102 

retirement plan, 102 

strikes, arranged between owners 

and union bosses, 103 
World Bank, 315 
World War II, Brazil in, 173 

yanacona, Peru, 83 
Yanahuanca (Peru), 141, 142 
Ydfgoras, Miguel, 274-275, 276 
"Year of Education," 351, 353, 356 
Yugoslavia, 361 

Zalamea, Alberto, Colombian editor 
on Alliance for Progress, 77 
on Cuba, 77-78 
on Latin America, 76-77, 78 

Zarak, Alex, 367-368 

Zelaya, Jos6 Santoe, 265 

Zileri, Enrique, 405