Limits to the Alliance for Progress

The Alliance for Progress did not meet many of its goals. It did, however, produce some measureable achievements that affected individual people across the hemisphere. It supported the construction of housing, schools, airports, hospitals, clinics and water-purification projects as well as the distribution of free textbooks to students.

Even those who supported Kennedy’s efforts were doubtful that the privileged and entrenched political and economic minorities in Latin America would peacefully embrace limits on their own power and wealth. In the end, escalating tensions between the U.S. and Cuba, particularly the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco and the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, undermined much of the credibility of Kennedy’s claim that the U.S. was acting without self-interest in Latin America. Despite spending more than a billion dollars in its first year, not a single Latin American nation committed itself to a comprehensive development program. Meaningful economic and political reforms remained largely illusory, and in many cases the privileged elites became even richer and more repressive. From the point of view of Latin American nationalists, the Alliance was never able to overcome its identification with “Yankee imperialism.” Presidents after Kennedy were less supportive of the program. By the early 1970s, the program was considered a failure and in 1973, the Organization of American States disbanded the permanent committee established to implement the Alliance.