Mr. Chairman, I wish to take advantage of this debate to report to the house some of the observations which I made during my recent trip to South America.
It was my privilege to represent Canada as an observer at the special meeting of the inter-American economic and social council at ministerial level which opened at the resort of Punta del Este in the republic of Uruguay, on August 5.
This meeting grouped together delegates of the countries of South America, Central and North America and observers from almost all the nations of the world. This conference was probably the most important event of its kind which has taken place in the history of Latin America and what was decided there may well be the turning point in the sociological, political and economical life of all Latin American countries. At long last, the Latin American countries have realized that they must unite in spirit if they wish to be strong. They appreciate that they must direct their cultural tendencies in the proper channels if they wish to survive. They face the fact of the necessity of increasing their respective productive facilities and their trade relationships if they wish to prosper. The leaders of these countries are particularly aware of the fact that some countries are faced with the choice either of moving forward through the application of the proven methods of democracy which will mean a better way of life and a better standard of living for all citizens or yet face the inevitable upsurge of communism in their midst with all its dire circumstances.
We arrived at Punta del Este on the first day of the conference and we were surprised
Supply-External Affairs to find the considerable unrest which animated the 1,500 or so delegates who were crowding all available accommodation in this beautiful resort. We did not know, of course, and we learned much to our amazement, that many political, cultural and business leaders were worried by the influence exercised on the thinking of a great many people by the Cuban actions of the last year and by the Cuban propaganda. There are many who were truly worried that the arguments which were expected to be put forth by the leader of the Cuban delegation might promote certain tendencies which could be disastrous to the necessary unity which is sought by the sound thinking people in the southern hemisphere.
It is most difficult for us in Canada to appreciate that a small island like Cuba, populated by 4 million people, more or less could exercise such an influence on a continent populated by more than 150 million people. But it must be remembered, in order to appreciate the situation, that there are in Central and South America many small nations which have had to live for decades through a series of disastrous revolutions, people who know the horror of famine, of extreme poverty and of economic chaos and confusion.
The people who have nothing are ready as always to throw themselves at the mercy of the first person who offers what may look like benefits or an improved situation. Many have been impressed by the Castro propaganda which claims the success of the revolution and which bluntly declares in the most deceitful fashion that Castroism has brought the golden age to the Cuban island. There are some who feel that what supposedly can be accomplished in Cuba can also be accomplished elsewhere under the merits of the Castro regime. Since the Castro propaganda is based almost entirely on a violent anti-United States campaign, it is rather obvious that if such a doctrine became successful, it could, to a certain extent, isolate Latin America from the North America which we know. It was, therefore, with anticipation and a certain apprehension that the delegates greeted Mr. Clarence Dillon, the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, when he rose to make his initial address in the early stages of the conference. It was with much joy and relief that all heard the most generous offer of aid which was made to Latin America by the United States statesman. Even the most optimistic governments were stunned by the magnitude of the aid offered and greatly pleased by the attention which the United States government is giving to the Latin American area.
Will you call it six o'clock, Mr. Chairman?
Supply-External Affairs The Deputy Chairman: Before I leave the chair, may I remind members of the committee that we resume our sittings at 7.30 p.m. this evening and not 8 p.m.
At six o'clock the committee took recess.
Subtopic: INQUIRY AS TO ACTING MINISTER OF FINANCE