In August 1961, Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon and Che Guevara faced off at an Interamerican conference in Punto del Este, Uruguay. Dillon, scion of the founder of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Company, outlined the Kennedy Administration’s Alliance for Progress to a meeting of Latin American finance ministers. Dillon called it a blueprint for “a decade of democratic progress.” He noted that Latin American countries would have to reform their semi-feudal agricultural policies and backward tax systems in order to participate in the Alianza para el Progreso.

Dillon, elegantly attired in a dark pinstripe suit, promised that the United States would provide $1 billion in economic aid within six months, and another $20 billion in private and public capital over the next ten years. The infusion of aid and capital would spur economic growth. Economic growth would create jobs and money for housing, education, and public health, and lift Latin America out of poverty.

The Latin American finance ministers endorsed the Alliance for Progress in the Declaration of Punta del Este, but with little enthusiasm. White House aide Richard Goodwin recalls, “There was … no outpouring of pledges to specific measures of social reform.”

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