A Latin American Speaks

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By Luis Quintanilla
MACMILLAN
MINISTER-COUNSELOR QUINTANILLA of the Mexican Embassy in Washington may be faintly surprised to have this book described as an important practical force in the development of inter-American relations. But if it is given the attention due it from readers in the United States, that is precisely what it can be and should be.
For one of the most important elements for success or failure in all the efforts at coöperation today between the Western Hemisphere’s twenty-one republics is the question of what the Americans below the Rio Grande think of those efforts: what they conceive the motives and objectives of the collaboration to be, and how they view certain not entirely reassuring historical perspectives. A skilled observer with his diplomatic gloves off, Dr. Quintanilla tells us as much as he can.
He is for the collaboration per se. He believes that only by pooling economic and political power and military force can the American nations either make their independence secure from the Axis or win a peace worth having in terms of the development of peoples in political freedom and economic democracy. He is convinced that, in spite of discords of national temperaments and self-interests, there are enough overall affinities between the republics to make collaboration work.
We have all broken the ties with the feuds and the political systems of Europe, he argues. We are republicans rather than monarchists or congenital Führer-worshipers. We cherish a common democratic purpose at least to the extent that all successful American dictators have been forced to do their dictating in the name of democracy. He even makes out a good case that, in their passion for authenticity and in their discovery of new values in human personality the American peoples have — in contrast to the Europeans — a common culture.
But to release these unifying forces for their full effectiveness, there should be, Dr. Quintanilla urges, certain concrete and specific improvements in the inter-American relationship. As between Latin America and the United States, for instance, we should drop our stereotyped concepts of each other: both the gringo’s conception of his neighbor from Mexico or South America as a romantic and lazy movie villain obsessed with sex and political disturbances; and the Latin American’s belief that the average citizen of the United states is an ideascorning materialist, ineffectual with women and abnormally obsessed with sports and business.
To know each oilier well enough to work together, Dr. Quintanilla insists, the facts should be faced that Latin Americans are passionate rather than romantic, and instead of being lazy are often too quick on the trigger, in unreflective action, for their own good. And in spite of half a dozen years in Washington t he Minister-Counselor generously credits us not merely with being good at the complex business of making women happy but with having exceptional capacities for aesthetic and intellectual enthusiasms as well.
Dr. Quintanilla pleads for the coherent recognition of a concrete common aim of inter-American cooperation. And he has no reservations about what the objective should be: the development of systems of government within the American republics in which the people will not only have their full say politically, but through which they will be able to establish themselves as full partners in the broader American economic advancement. To that end, he advocates, the diplomatic and the economic policies of the twenty-one republics and the coöperative activities of any effective inter-American movement should be directed. U. A.