A New Pan American Operation
By Isaías Albertin de Moraes
In 1958, the then President of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek, sent a letter to the President of the USA, Dwight Eisenhower, to propose an urgent review of USA international relations with Latin American countries. Kubitschek proposed a Pan American Operation (PAO) which focused on two points: i) better prices for commodities sold to the USA and ii) easier and more abundant financing in support of Latin America's industrialization process.
According to the PAO, stagnation, high unemployment, low productive sophistication, and, consequently, economic underdevelopment were the real threats to security, external influence and democracy in the region. Thus, the PAO suggested that the solution should be hemispheric cooperation through real and not illusory interdependence in order to build a virtuous route to increasing security and welfare in the Americas.
At the time of Kubitschek's proposal, there was a growing sense of anti-Americanism in Latin American countries. Nowadays, this sentiment is returning with strong intensity in the region, especially after the presidency of Donald Trump and his disastrous foreign policy.
According to the recent ECLAC report “Social Panorama of Latin America 2020”, the region was the developing region most affected by the pandemic last year. Latin America concentrates 8.4% of the world population (654 million people) and registered 27.8% (507 thousand) Covid-19 deaths. The region suffered a 7.7% drop in its GDP, a contraction which caused a strong impact on companies and the labor market, with the closing of at least 2.7 million enterprises. Furthermore, the regional unemployment rate stood at 10.7%, which represents an increase of 2.6% in relation to the total registered in 2019, when it was 8.1%. The extreme poverty rate reached 12.5% of the population and the poverty rate was 33.7%.
Considering this, the new USA administration led by Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should promote Pan-American cooperation in its foreign policy. This would be important to curb anti-Americanism, to preserve human rights and to defend democratic values in the region. It is necessary to recreate the Pan American Operation, based on economic cooperation, mutual respect, the role of shared ideas and the culture of the peoples of the Americas. A New Pan American Operation would demonstrate that the USA is willing to assist Latin American countries, first in the fight against Covid-19 and, in a second phase, in their processes to overcome economic underdevelopment through the construction of a real inter-American interdependence.
For further reading:
ECLAC. Social Panorama of Latin America 2020. Available from: https://www.cepal.org/en/publicaciones/ps
LESSA, Antônio Carlos. Há cinquenta anos a Operação Pan-Americana. Rev. bras. polít. int., Brasília , v. 51, n. 2, p. 5-7, Dec. 2008 . Available from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-73292008000200001&lng=en&nrm=iso
Isaías Albertin de Moraes is Associate Researcher at the Center for Extension and Research in Solidarity, Creative Economics and Citizenship at the São Paulo State University (NEPESC - Unesp).