The Marshall Plan for Latin America

It was a beautiful tropical night. A cool breeze was blowing from the north. The table was beautifully set. The place chosen in the National Palace was the right place and the dinner as well as the company was great. We had just arrived from Washington and the president told us that we were able to reach an agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the US Treasury. This program will allow us to stabilize the economy and renegotiate the external debt. This was delighted by the President of the Republic, Dr. Salvador Jorge Blanco, who received as a guest of honor a famous thinker, the influential Dr. Henry Kissinger.

Kissinger was also pleased with the agreement reached with the International Monetary Fund and the assistance that Washington would give us. That night, Kissinger, a wonderful speaker, told us that he supported the United States’ drafting of the Marshall Plan for Latin America. To back this up, he noted that Latin America was being heard and that when they did it together, they got attention. What they did in the Cartagena Consensus was important for them to have some flexibility in renegotiating the external debt. Emphasizing and nodding, he told us, “But that’s not enough.” And in his deep voice he also told us that we should be more ambitious and go further in our proposals. This is because democracies in Latin America must quickly improve their standard of living, and if they do not do so, failed populism will be born in some countries and others will turn to extremism.

He emphasized his argument and concluded by saying, “Latin America should go after the Marshall Plan.” This should be the main goal of achieving a new blueprint for economic and political relations with the United States. This pleasant dinner was held on December 23, 1984.

Kissinger was right. His words encouraged me, and in subsequent conversations at the US Treasury, I drew on some of these concepts for additional resources for the country. This is how we were able to ease the recessive program of the IMF and make an adjustment with growth, but at the same time make the terms of external debt more flexible and get additional resources from the US Treasury.

In the current situation, the issue of the Marshall Plan should resurface. Thirty-eight years later, it has become imperative for the United States to create a Marshall Plan in Latin America. For military and economic reasons. For us because, as Kissinger said, we need to strengthen our democracies and achieve a region with greater economic equality. The current global situation opens up opportunities for us to seize. In Latin America, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is collapsing, and this is an opportunity for the United States to strengthen the Islamic Development Bank and the Organization of American States, which are its regional weapons at the political and economic level. At the same time, that nation is going through a phase of inflation and a recessive economy. There are supply chain problems from China and there is a conflict with Russia.

What Kissinger told us that night, 38 years ago, is true. “When the heads of the major countries of Latin America make their voices heard together, the United States does not ignore them,” but the biggest problem in the hemisphere is its lack of unity. An example of this is that a few weeks ago, Mexico rallied and said that the Summit of the Americas was for the entire Western Hemisphere. But America was disjointed as usual. Neither Brazil nor Argentina did the same thing as Mexico. I want to be hopeful and if one hemisphere succeeds in uniting around a joint project of the United States and its European allies to design and implement the Marshall Plan for the Western Hemisphere, I am sure our call will be heard. Our president can take this approach.

The United States has to do something about what it calls its own hindsight. This, being brief and concrete, leads me to recommend that the President of the Dominican Republic formulate three proposals:

– This action is taken immediately to make Haiti a protectorate, trust, coalition for reconstruction, or whatever they want to call it the same.

The North American Congress approves the “Northern Western Hemisphere Bill.”

– That the United States and Latin America begin talks on the Marshall Plan.

No time to waste.

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