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Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner When an organization with a hat full of problems acquires a leader with a head full of ideas. There's no telling what might happen. By many people the Organization of American States generally shortened to OAS has been pronounced a mess by many of the same people. Gallo plaza of Ecuador has pronounced a genius thanks to his recent election as secretary general. Plaza and the OAS will come together in May. What is the prospect perhaps the best answer can be derived from quick glimpses of the recent records of both the man and the
organization. In the 20 years of its existence the only US has been a combination of things the collective security system an anti-communist alliance and an anti dictatorial alliance. It all began as World War Two receded into history. Then early in 1045 at the pole to peck in Mexico City a meeting was held of the American States intending to convert their wartime activities to a peacetime relationship. That meant a conversion from the one to the other and so to ready the hemisphere for 100 percent membership in the UN as charter members. All of the nations met at a pull to back. Two years later in 1907 at Rio de Janeiro all the nations of the hemisphere again in full meeting adopted a permanent mutual defense treaty by which all countries agreed
it to resist an attack upon any one of them from within or without the new world. This in 47 was not only a consolidation of what had been a reality in World War Two days but it was also reading the hemisphere as it were before the shaky years ahead. During the period of what becomes the Cold War the very next year one thousand forty eight at Bogota and interim American Conference authorized the transformation of the old Pan American machinery into the Organization of American States hence the OAS is this very year celebrating a 20th anniversary. The OS then is a regional grouping within the United Nations. It has its headquarters in Washington and it has elaborate machinery for dealing with disputes and other problems and elaborate machinery usually has a way of spelling out bureaucratic personnel. And it has that
as well. Years pass and during those years of course the Korean crisis came Cold War became hot and then immediately thereafter in one thousand fifty four in Caracas Venezuela at yet another American meeting of the representatives of all the American states. The United States sponsored a resolution that the OAS should act. Should any member be threatened by international communism. Some of this are desirous 1054 stemmed of course from our recent experience in the Far East but that naturally meant nothing to the rest of Latin America. But at the same time we sensed the gathering of certain storm clouds in Latin America. And so 54 at Caracas was for us a preparatory step in the terms of evolution of U.S. foreign policy. Needless to say this U.S. sponsored resolution that seemed to be looking for bogeyman was unpopular in more in what than one Latin American
country and be grudgingly accepted by them soon thereafter. The United States directly and indirectly aided the overthrow of a leftist government in Guatemala. The following year 1955 demonstrates however that all of the activities and all of the focuses of the OAS were not of our instigation and for our purposes because in that year 955 war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica was averted by the strong intervention of the OAS. Hence the body though dominated by us to a very considerable degree was also serving the purposes of other Western Hemisphere States. Again years pass 960 arrives and the Dominican Republic becomes the focus of OAS attention. That country was censored because of Rafael Trujillo the dictator of
unpleasant memory meddling in the affairs of Venezuela. Indeed Trujillo's Dominican Republic was charged with complicity in an attempt on the life of President Begum court of Venezuela. And so the Dominican Republic was censored by the OAS two years later 1962 at the instigation of the United States. Cuba was expelled from the OAS in a January meeting at pointed out yesterday. Why again. Several states major states of Latin America refused to vote for this desire of the United States. Three years later in 1065 with our intervention in the Dominican Republic again the question of intervention again the question of serving United States interests first and foremost came to the fore and several major governments of the Western Hemisphere refused to vote for the joint interim American intervention and
indeed we well know that very few Latin American states actively participated at our side in the intervention. Accordingly it's evident that in the course of 20 years of existence the OAS largely led by and largely led to take positions in reference to the United States and its foreign policy desires has known an increasing backlash of Latin American Discontent. In fact downright refusal to follow the desire of the United States. But we sense this in terms of the Caracas sponsored resolution. We sense it in terms of the expulsion of Cuba from the OAS. We sense it in terms of the most recent intervention that in the Dominican Republic. Suffice it to say then that the OAS has problems unfinished problems and a great deal of smouldering attitudes of conflicting sort.
Now to this man Galo Plaza who like the OAS represents a variety of things in his background. Governor Plaza born in 19 6 and educated both in his native Ecuador and in the United States. Here at the University of California at Berkeley and at several eastern institutions including the Georgetown School for foreign service early worked at both diplomacy and the scientific management of the family estates. He came of a wealthy family and yet with a degree of concern that was unusual about modern methods about technology applied to agriculture about improving the standard of living of the workers as well as the productivity of the soil he used the family estates much in the manner of a scientific farm for purposes of experimentation. He was also on occasion the director of a railroad. But in course he became involved in politics.
He was first a member of the municipal council in the city of Quito which I would remind you is the capital of his country. He came to the municipal council in 137 at a tender age. He became mayor of the city. The very next year and before that year nine hundred thirty eight was out. He was also a minister of national defense and so he moved rapidly from municipal government to national affairs at cabinet level. During the late stages of World War Two and the earliest period of peace nine thousand nine hundred forty six he was the Ecuadorian ambassador to the United States. During that interval while here he also served as an Ecuadorian delegate to the PL to Pec conference that was converting hemispheric outlook from wartime footing to peace time problems in 1905. He was also an Ecuadorian representative at the. Meeting in San Francisco that established the United Nations and by the very next year
46 as he ended his tour of ambassadorial duties he became a senator in his native Ecuador two years later in 1988. He was elected president of his country and served the four year term. One hundred forty eight fifty two it's a title he has the rare individual in recent times to serve a full term as an Ecuadorian president during that four year interval. He had two major emphases. One he wanted to make Ecuador a showcase of liberty and to this and he dedicated his efforts to ending political terrorism to restraining the military to encouraging freedom of expression. In addition to making a good or a showcase of Liberty Plaza also tackled his country's underlying economic and social problems. He didn't do this in a grandiose fashion. He simply
wanted to teach farmers better land use techniques. He simply wanted to introduce better breeds of cattle and introduce better types of seeds and bring new areas under cultivation by small independent land owners. He wanted to encourage reforestation and school construction. The building of rural roads and potable water supplies. Needless to say to do so much on so many fronts in four years time he not only needed his friends but in the course of upsetting the apple cart of tradition he made many enemies. 1052 he didn't attempt to influence the election. He didn't want another term himself. And lo and behold. The power passed into the hands of a man who only to a small measure continued his policies in post presidential years. He has been one to lecture in this country and produce a volume entitled problems of democracy in Latin America a very forthright
view of the problem south of the border. A second book of his in title the United Fruit Company in Latin America is a detailed analysis of an American business abroad since 1958. He has repeatedly been in the service of the United Nations first as chairman of an observatory group in Lebanon in one thousand fifty eight. And two years later he served on the UN committee in the Congo and in 58 59 he served on a committee looking for the Latin American common market idea. As best it could be brought into operation. And in 1964 he was the personal representative of the secretary general of the UN in Cyprus and then a U.N. mediator in that country. Suffice it to say then that gull Plaza has performed well but can you be neutral and forceful if he's too neutral with the OAS. He'll do nothing if he's
Latin American perspectives
Episode Number
Episode 25 of 39
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Latin American Perspectives. This prog.: Galo Plaza, new President of Ecuador, and the OAS (Organization of American States).
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-32-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:35
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives; Episode 25 of 39,” 1968-09-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “Latin American perspectives; Episode 25 of 39.” 1968-09-23. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Latin American perspectives; Episode 25 of 39. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from