Social Progress Trust Fund

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The Committee of 21 met September 5-13, 1960, in Bogotá, Colombia, and the delegates "passed the Act of Bogotá, which cited Latin America’s need for social and economic reforms. U.S. officials had begun to implement the program at the conference even though Congress had not yet given final authorization for what came to be known as the Social Progress Trust Fund (P.L. 86-735)." [1]

On March 13, 1961, "only weeks after his inaugural", President John F. Kennedy "called together the Latin American diplomatic corps. He told them that the US would work with its neighbor countries as they reformed their agrarian structures and modernized their tax, credit, administrative and education systems. To start the process, the US, would finance a Social Progress Trust Fund to be run mostly by" the Inter-American Development Bank, "expand lending through" USAID, and "foster national planning to implement the reforms." [2]


"In 1959, the United States supported Latin American efforts for the creation of the Inter-American Development Bank, and in July 1960, President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower stated as a policy of the United States that means would be sought to accelerate Latin America's economic development. In September—not least as a response to the Cuban Revolution—Eisenhower informed Latin American foreign ministers that the United States would provide $500 million to establish a Social Progress Trust Fund for development assistance to Latin America." [3]

"Personalistic Latin American politics quickly became ideological, as dictators and caudillos wrapped themselves in the cloak of anti-communism to be accepted by a Washington now more concerned with containing the Reds than promoting democracy," William Schell of Murray State University wrote in his September 1996 review of Peter H. Smith's "Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.: Latin American Relations" (ISBN 0195083032).

"Military aid to repressive authoritarian regimes proceeded apace with Dwight Eisenhower's creation of the Inter-American Development Bank and the Social Progress Trust Fund and with JFK's initiation of the Alliance for Progress to eliminate the economic misery that had always been the basis of Latin America's social revolutions. All was Containment. The theoretical underpinning of the Alliance for Progress, Walt Rostow's 'Stages of Economic Growth', was subtitled 'An Anti-Communist Manifesto'. The gospel of modernization replaced the gospel of democracy, but the practice of Washington's Latin American policies was remarkably consistent with that of the previous 'imperial regime' (1790s-1930s)—diplomatic and economic pressure (carrot and stick), covert action, and direct military intervention," Schell wrote.

The Fund in 1964

The SPTF "was established by an agreement of June 19, 1961 with the appropriation of $394,OOO,OOO; another appropriation of $131,000,000 on February 17, 1964 brought the total to $525,000,000. The repayment of loans and payments for interest and service charges are reincorporated into the fund for new operations. Countries which submit requests for projects which form a part of their national development program will receive special consideration," according to Radio Free Europe research in April 1965.

"The operations of the fund are based on the premise that '...the material development of a nation alone does not assure individual well being and social peace unless conscious efforts are made to improve social institutions and find ways to guarantee the dignity of human life.' The way to go about this, the fund feels, is to contribute financial and technical assistance to support efforts of those countries prepared to undertake or expand programs of effective institutional reforms, In line with these efforts the fund provides loans and technical assistance for projects in land settlement and improved land use, low income housing, community water supply and sanitation facilities, and supplementary financing for higher education and advanced training.

"Largely because of its preparation for reforms as of November 30, 1964, Colombia was the biggest recipient of funds."

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