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President Kennedy Proposes an Alliance for Progress

Kennedy had first spoken of an "Alliance for Progress" between the United States and Latin America in his inaugural address. Citing a shared heritage, Kennedy outlined his vision for a "large-scale Inter-American effort... to attack the social barriers which block economic progress" at a 1961 White House reception for Latin American diplomats.

….We meet together as firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization. For this New World of ours is not a mere accident of geography. Our continents are bound together by a common history, the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle, the revolt from colonial rule. And our people share a common heritage, the quest for the dignity and the freedom of man….

As a citizen of the United States let me be the first to admit that we North Americans have not always grasped the significance of this common mission, just as it is also true that many in your own countries have not fully understood the urgency of the need to lift people from poverty and ignorance and despair. But we must turn from these mistakes from the failures and the misunderstandings of the past to a future full of peril, but bright with hope….

I have this evening signed a request to the Congress for $500 million….This is the first large-scale Inter-American effort, instituted by my predecessor President Eisenhower, to attack the social barriers which block economic progress. The money will be used to combat illiteracy, improve the productivity and use of their land, wipe out disease, attack archaic tax and land tenure structures, provide educational opportunities, and offer a broad range of projects designed to make the benefits of increasing abundance available to all….

To achieve this goal political freedom must accompany material progress. Our Alliance for Progress is an alliance of free governments, and it must work to eliminate tyranny from a hemisphere in which it has no rightful place. Therefore let us express our special friendship to the people of Cuba…and the hope they will soon rejoin the society of free men, uniting with us in common effort.

….And so I say to the men and women of the Americas--to the campesino in the fields, to the obrero in the cities, to the estudiante in the schools--prepare your mind and heart for the task ahead--call forth your strength and let each devote his energies to the betterment of all, so that your children and our children in this hemisphere can find an ever richer and a freer life.

Source | John F. Kennedy, "An Address at a White House Reception for Members of Congress and for the Diplomatic Corps of the Latin American Republics," Public Papers of the Presidents from the United States (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1962): 170-175; from John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project,
Creator | John F. Kennedy
Item Type | Speech
Cite This document | John F. Kennedy, “President Kennedy Proposes an Alliance for Progress,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 18, 2024,

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