THE traveler returning from Lima has hardly unpacked his bag before he is asked whether the eighth Pan-American Conference was a success or a failure, but the one who asks this question takes jolly good care not to define his point of view — which is one of the main reasons, I believe, for the incomprehension concerning the results obtained at Lima.
This is particularly true when one considers these results in their relation to the policy followed during the last five years by the Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, because the Declaration of Solidarity has been presented as his crowning achievement.
Roughly speaking, the Lima Conference had to face two sets of problems: the first were perennially American or Pan-American, and they have been the subject of such conferences since 1826; the others have emerged in recent years from the events which occurred in Europe and Asia. These were already approached at the Buenos Aires Conference called in 1936 by President Roosevelt ‘ to guarantee Pan-American peace.’
These two sets of problems will be considered here separately, especially since the second group has attracted worldwide attention, involving, as it does, the security of the United States. Criticisms were launched against the American delegation and more particularly against Mr. Hull for having brought back from Lima nothing more than a ‘declaration,’ while a treaty or a convention establishing collective security in this hemisphere was expected.
In fact, the need for collective security was felt by all, and the principle of it was embodied in the Lima Declaration.
Two events had an immediate bearing on the Conference: the Chaco Peace signed last summer in Buenos Aires, and the Munich Agreement. The Japanese factor can be left aside, as it can come into play only when peace is established in China. This eventuality is not in sight for the moment, and in any event Japan would play a part only when the Anti-Communist Pact binding Germany, Italy, and Japan was really functioning.
The Peace of Chaco was the foundation which enabled the twenty-one American Republics to approach without arrière-pensée the formidable agenda of the Conference, and to agree on 110 resolutions. It was a test which proved that differences between American Republics could be settled between them peacefully. It gave expression to the ‘new spirit’ of Pan-Americanism.
On the other hand, the Munich Agreement and the assurance given by Chancellor Hitler that he had no more territorial claims in Western Europe compelled the American Republics to adopt a common attitude. It was realized that Germany might be looking soon for expansion out side of Europe, either through colonial acquisition in Africa and perhaps elsewhere, or through economic expansion throughout the world. The American Republics faced at Lima a situation which, in fact, was not so different from the one they had to meet a little more than a century ago when they were confronted by the Holy Alliance backing the Spanish claims on the empire which had just been lost.
This common attitude was also registered in the Declaration of Solidarity, proclaimed on the very first day of the Conference by Dr. Cantilo, Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs, and by Mr. Hull.
What is the Lima Declaration? It is first of all an expression of the will of the twenty-one signatories to consult with one another in order to organize common resistance against any foreign intrusion. Secondly, it provides that, if one of the American Republics feels itself threatened by internal agitation backed by a non-American country or doctrine, the threatened Republic can appeal to all the others for help. For instance, in the case of Brazil, which has one million non-assimilated Germans within its borders, any attempt on the part of this minority to overthrow the national government by force or otherwise could be checked by mutual efforts of all the American Republics, if Brazil so desired.
The Lima Declaration has an ideological basis in the sense that all those who signed it agree on a certain number of principles — namely, desire for peace, respect for international law, equality of states, and respect for individual liberty without racial or religious discrimination. This is not a defensive alliance, as some states represented at Lima would have wished it to be, but the importance of the pledge taken in the face of the world situation to-day cannot be minimized. The Lima Declaration bans any form of aggression either by force or by indirect penetration.
It was noticeable at Lima that the various Republics felt differently as to the imminence or possibility of an outside aggression. Brazil, with its long, poorly protected coast line, would feel very much threatened if the Italians or the Germans should gain a foothold on the African coast, and the head of the Brazilian delegation, Mr. Mello Franco, made this very clear when he expressed the hope that the Lima Declaration would eventually develop into a stronger instrument of mutual assistance.
Argentina, on the other hand, does not feel any immediate danger. At Lima the Argentine delegation was anxious to obtain a ‘minimum declaration5 that would be acceptable to the sensitive public opinion of that country, which has always shied at any suggestion of Monroeism. Besides, Argentina does not want to bind itself to a system which excludes the relations of America with Europe or any other part of the world.
In fact, the problem of solidarity and Pan-American coöperation which was put forward at Lima is not very different from the problems which confront the members of the British Commonwealth. In each case all parties concerned are linked together by powerful interests, but at the same time they suffer from an underlying fear lest one of the partners in the system should take precedence over the others. The British Commonwealth is not a federation. Pan-Americanism is not a system of alliances. This the Lima Declaration tried to express. But it does not mean that an association formed within a flexible frame cannot be coherent when action is required.
By the declaration and pursuit of its policy the Third Reich performed the miracle of drawing the United States out of its traditional isolationism, and it may well be that the solidarity which was established at Lima will eventually acquire much wider meaning, far exceeding the limit s of Pan-Americanism as it is conceived to-day. It would seem, to judge by the German press, that this has been perfectly understood by the Wilhelmstrasse. After prophesying that the Lima Conference would be the tomb of Mr. Hull’s foreign policy, the German press now clamors against ‘Yankee imperialism’ and against the policy of encirclement. And in this, by the way, the policy of Hitler resembles once more the Weltpolitik of the Kaiser. Hitler, in Mein Kampf, denounces the errors of this Weltpolitik, but he seems to be on the point of repeating them himself.
From the point of view of the United States, the Declaration of Lima corresponds to a fundamental and historical national preoccupation. This preoccupation was already expressed more brutally one hundred and fifteen years ago by Monroe and directed towards Imperial Russia. The Washington Government considers it still, as it did then, of vital interest for the United States that no extra-continental power should set foot on the American Continent.
In practice this means that the United States must in any event be protected against attack from the outside; and, in case that attack occurs, it must hold the key positions and all the raw materials necessary for a successful defensive war. It means also that the Panama Canal, as the life line of American communication, must be safe against any possible attack. The Caribbean Sea is the American Mediterranean.
Bearing this in mind, the American delegates at Lima established contacts and started negotiations with all the countries in the vicinity of the Caribbean in order to conclude treaties of assistance which would enable the United States to secure in that area the necessary bases and key positions that it needs. The American military experts have not forgotten that a rather troublesome German submarine, the Deutschland, came safely to the West Indies in 1917.
In short, the principal aims of the American delegation at Lima were reached: the Buenos Aires Agreements were completed; suspicions concerning ‘the great neighbor of the North,’ his ‘dollar diplomacy,’ and his ‘big stick,’ were dispelled; the seeds of mutual confidence which were sown by President Roosevelt under the name of the goodneighbor policy as far back as 1928, in an article published in Foreign Affairs, bore fruit. Finally the security of the United States is tremendously reënforced at the very moment when President Roosevelt proclaims that the United States resolves to stand as a champion of democratic integrity against the Totalitarian International.
But what is the use, one may ask, of signing pacts and declarations of solidarity if we have ‘Sudetens’ in our midst?
This kind of remark was frequently heard at Lima.
The answer was given by two resolutions, one proposed by Brazil, and the other by Argentina, both limiting the political activities of foreign minorities. Those resolutions gave the Conference the opportunity to express an opinion on the vexed question of propaganda from abroad. Each state is left free to take any appropriate measure, according to its own legislation, toward this end. But the general consensus was that each Republic should prevent alien residents in the Americas from exercising collective political rights claimed for them by their country of origin. It must be recalled too that the Declaration expressing continental solidarity does provide for consultation to oppose any foreign intervention or activities likely to threaten the signatories’ sovereignty. Here the warning to certain countries in Europe is clear enough. This provision is taken to refer to Fascist and Communist activities or campaigns such as that carried on by the Nazis in Austria before the Anschluss. In Brazil, for example, the government is determined to deny any special group privileges to alien minorities; in Argentina, meanwhile, even the descriptive term ‘minority’ is denied to the foreign communities, whose political rights are strictly limited.
This is another important result of the Conference, and it was completed by a declaration presented by Cuba reaffirming the equality of race and religious tolerance, and recording the conviction of the Conference ‘that all persecutions from religious or racial motives, which place a number of human beings in a position where it is impossible to obtain a decent livelihood, are contrary to all its politics and juridical rules.’
These resolutions were aimed directly at the totalitarian countries and were voted unanimously. Simultaneously the Conference reaffirmed the doctrine of non-recognition of territories acquired by force, which amounts to an endorsement by Latin America of the policy followed by Mr. Hull in regard to Japan.
The resolutions show how important the question of foreign propaganda was considered at Lima. This may explain why, for the first time in a Pan-American Conference, such a large number of foreign newspaper men attended the sessions — German, French, Italian, and Japanese. At the beginning of the Conference the German and Italian newspaper men made themselves very noticeable by their lack of discretion, so much so that rumors of ‘spies’ circulated freely. This, in my belief, is giving too much importance to a few ‘observers’ whose attitude only marked the constant progress of the Conference towards an anti-totalitarian front.
When the Conference opened, these German and Italian journalists were never seen in the hall of the Bolivar Hotel, which was the headquarters of the delegations. But every time the Conference encountered some difficulty in drafting the Declaration of Solidarity, — and when German broadcasters were already announcing complete failure, — these observers would appear.
Indeed the German and Italian press were interested in the results of the Lima Conference, but it is an error of judgment to think that any of the American Republics could have been influenced by ‘spies’ or agents provocateurs. At Lima, as at Geneva or in any international conference, one meets these more or less official agents who go from one group to another trying to ‘get the low-down.’ But the delegates have long known how to behave in such circumstances. The attitude of the German and Italian press and of their representatives in Lima was very much resented, as shown clearly by the fact that President Benavides of Peru, receiving the foreign press, simply ‘forgot’ to invite the German and Italian correspondents.
It can therefore be said that, coming after the situation created by Munich, Pan-American solidarity is a positive success. As Mr. Hull promised, a new formula for the Monroe Doctrine has been found. It is no longer a one-way policy of the United States, but the expression of all the American Republics seeking Pan-American security. This result was obtained by the efforts of President Roosevelt and by the patient and clever diplomacy of Mr. Hull, but credit must also go to Mr. Alfred Landon, who gave the sanction of American national unity to the attitude of the United States delegation at Lima.
In the field of American commercial and economic interests, Mexico, supported by Chile and Argentina, took the view that a foreigner is not entitled to treatment and protection which is not enjoyed by a national of the country in which he is residing. In other words, they wanted a reaffirmation of the Drago Doctrine formulated in 1902, whereby contractual debts owed to other countries cannot be collected by force, and of the Calvo Clause which opposes interference in national affairs by alien investors and declares that they must abandon the protection of their government when they enter into business in a foreign country.
The United States was opposed to this conception, along with Venezuela and Colombia, these two Republics wishing to encourage foreign investments, both American and European, which are at the present moment seeking large outlets in Latin America. On the other hand, Secretary Hull maintained that Americans ought to be protected, whatever the particular policy followed by a given country towards its nationals. The efforts of Mexico, Chile, and Argentina to get the Conference formally to adopt the principle that foreign investors or property holders in the Americas should not be entitled to diplomatic protection or intervention by their own countries were nullified. No final agreement was reached, however, between the conflicting theses.
Whether other South American countries will follow Mexico in her campaign of state expropriation both of Mexican and of foreign private property still remains open to question. Here we have to face another set of problems which involve the whole future of the LatinAmerican Continent, with its peculiar labor conditions, and eventually its will and power to oppose outside influences. But it is noteworthy that this very delicate subject was discussed in an atmosphere of mutual comprehension.
How long will Pan-American coöperation last? Can it resist the efforts of disintegration from within, initiated by totalitarian propaganda, which the victory of Franco in Spain could only stimulate under the slogan of ‘a common destiny and a common future for all Spanish-speaking people’? In brief, what is Pan-Americanism confronted with?
There is no doubt that German immigration into Brazil is a serious problem for that country. The predominance of Italians in Peru and in Argentina is another. The presence of the Japanese in increasing numbers on the shores of the Pacific, and the problems they raise, particularly in the question of fishing concessions in Central America; the ideological Nazi propaganda by radio and by news agencies; the German transatlantic air service; the competition between German and American air services inside the Latin-American continent — all these are pressing problems.
But, however pressing, they are in no way exceptional in young and undeveloped countries, which are naturally open to the greed of other nations more advanced economically. Also, it must not be forgotten that Spain and France, in spite of the fact that they are closely related to the Latin-American countries through their language and their culture, have never succeeded in winning over the political sympathy of the American Republics since these have obtained their independence. This is a guarantee that Mein Kampf will never become the ‘Bible’ of Latin America, in spite of the fact that most of the countries of the Southern Hemisphere have an antidemocratic form of government.
It should not be forgotten, either, that the trade of the United States with Latin America is equal to that of all other nonAmerican countries put together, and that, as long as the United States remains the greatest creditor, American friendship will always be able to prevail against European ambitions. The dictators of Latin America will not accept totalitarian doctrines and methods as long as the United States does not adopt them.