I am attaching hereto a few comments on the Organization of American States which have been prompted by my visit to Latin America. I know that Canada's attitude towards the Organization raises difficult and complex problems; I am not in a position to give an answer to many of them. The attached notes, however, might serve as a basis for discussion and it is in that spirit that they are submitted to you.
Other chapters of my "magnum opus" on Latin America will be forthcoming in the near future.3
Commentaire du sous-secrétaire d'État adjoint aux Affaires extérieures
Comments by Assistant Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
The problem of Canada's association with the Organization of American States has not been raised officially during the visit of the goodwill Mission to Latin America. A few newspapermen here and there asked the odd question about the attitude of Canada on this matter but no real interest was shown either by the press, Government officials or private individuals we happened to meet. There was much more interest shown in Canada's role at the United Nations, centering particularly on Mr. Pearson's Presidency and on our participation in the Korean conflict than there was on the Pan-American issue.
Our Heads of Missions on the other hand, at least those that were willing to be drawn out of the usual clichés, held varying opinions. General LaFlèche told me that he feels that Canada should join the Organization to help combat Communism and the influence of General Perón4 throughout Latin America as well as to give a helping hand to the United States within the Organization. Mr. Hébert on the other hand pointed out that in his view it would be useless to join the Organization until we had made up our minds that Latin America should become a major field in Canadian policy and economy.
This situation coupled with the interest shown in Washington about our eventual role in the Organization should prompt us to review our position on that question.
At present our policy, in summary, is that we are quite happy to remain outside the Organization, that we should do nothing to encourage an invitation but that if an invitation were unanimously addressed to Canada by Member States we could not very well turn it down. The reasons advanced for this lukewarmness towards the OAS have not varied much over the years. They are those that were advanced ten years ago. The situation, however, has changed in some respects.
The main change is probably related to our trade with Latin America. We have now passed the $500,000,000 a year mark and look forward to increasing that trade as rapidly as possible. The general line taken up till now is that the fact that we do not belong to the OAS has not prevented the growth of our commercial relations with Latin America. There is a more positive way to envisage the situation: would our being associated with the Organization actually help further our commercial interests in that part of the world? Competition is getting more and more keen, particularly from European countries, and there is little doubt in my mind that we would be helping at least indirectly Canadian trade if we were more forthcoming in our position about the OAS. There is a psychological factor here which cannot be weighed in dollars and cents but which nevertheless has some importance.
A second reason why Canada's attitude vis-à-vis the OAS should be reviewed is found in the opening of the three new missions we have recently established in Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay. The more missions we have in Latin America the more interest will be shown in our joining the Association. The initiative of one Latin American country would be sufficient at any Organization meeting to create an atmosphere leading to a unanimous invitation. It would be odd indeed if while opening new missions on the one hand we were less forthcoming about our joining the Union on the other. We are more exposed today to a unanimous invitation than we were before opening the three new missions.
The third consideration relates to the advantages of working as closely as possible with Latin American countries in order better to bring their policies in line with our own at the United Nations. The Latin American countries are becoming more and more aggressive and more and more independent of United States leadership at the United Nations. This trend will probably continue to develop and the only way it can be checked is to create an understanding in as many spheres as possible between their interests and ours. While there might not be much direct discussion of United Nations problems during meetings of the OAS, there are nevertheless certain issues which are closely related and those issues are discussed often by men, particularly government officials, who also represent their country at the United Nations. Never before have we had so close contacts with Latin American representatives as we are maintaining in New York. These contacts should even be more intimate than they are now. They would become easier if they were intensified by our association with the work of the OAS.
Fourthly, we often use the argument that it is better for us not to join the OAS because, were we to join, the Latin Americans would then realize that our connections with the United States are of such a nature that we could never take a different line from that adopted by Washington. This theory is not particularly applicable to the OAS and there is no more danger of such a situation developing there than there is in NATO or in the United Nations. Our relations with the United States are of such an intimate nature that they will always influence profoundly our relations with any other country or alliance.
It may be that because of the reasons mentioned above there should be a change of emphasis, if not of policy, in the way we envisage our relations with the OAS. I suggest that we might be more forthcoming than before in our approach to that problem. I see, for example, that in the last Circular Despatch sent to our Missions in Latin America on this subject, it is said that "you will appreciate that discussion of the question at this stage with officials of the OAS or any governments that are members of the Organization would not be desirable since it might well lead to additional pressure for us to send observers to the 1953 Conference before the Canadian Government has had an opportunity to formulate views on the matter". As a result our Heads of Missions make it a point not to mention the problem. This is rather unhealthy since it could very well convey the impression generally that we are ignoring the OAS altogether. Either the Latin American countries take the OAS seriously and then they feel slighted by such an attitude or they don't and then there would be no discomfort to discuss it.
From what I have heard, the issue is not very much alive; this is a further reason why we might be more forthcoming than before if and when it is raised. We need not give the impression that we are begging for an invitation but we could give the impression that were it to come it would be seriously considered bearing in mind our other commitments and interests.
This is suggested mainly because there is always a danger that too negative an approach is harmful to the sort of cooperation we want to develop with Latin American countries individually. We might have reached the stage where we could allow our Heads of Missions and the Department more freely to discuss the matter and listen to the reasons advanced by those parties interested in our joining the Association.
I have not commented on the specific problem of whether or not we should discuss the matter of advising the State Department that we would accept to be represented as an observer at the OAS Conference to be held this fall since I gather that the American Division will be looking into the matter in the near future. It could be inferred, however, from the remarks made above that I would be in favour of accepting the role of observer for the Conference. If we could maintain our status of observer for the next ten years, without being pressed into actual membership, I would have little hesitation in recommending that it be accepted. Whatever way we look at our relations with Latin America during the next ten years, I feel that it is in Canada's interest that they become more intimate. The argument in favour of an increase of our trade need not be repeated although it cannot be too strongly emphasized. We must maintain and even increase our exports if we are to keep a healthy economy and there are few if any markets in the world so rich as those found in Latin America. Come an intensification in the cold war and even actual global war we would need all the support we could muster from that part of the world; come a more happy period we will still need the markets. In my opinion, we cannot lose if we play the Latin American card and it is not too difficult a card to play. If a more forthcoming attitude towards the OAS helps us at all in this respect I submit that we should adopt it.
Non retrouvés./Not located.
Général Juan Domingo Perón, président de l'Argentine. General Juan Domingo Perón, President of Argentina.