|Kennedy and Colombian Pres. Albeto Lleras inaugurate housing for the poor in south Bogotá.|
Kennedy visited Colombia once, in December 1961, only the second U.S. president to do so, following Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
|JFK in Bogotá. |
(Photo: JFK library.)
Kennedy had lots going for him in Latin America: he was young, handsome, charismatic, apparently vigorous (he in fact had severe medical problems), and, most of all, Catholic.
In March '61, his administration had created the Alliance for progress, supposed to help development of Latin America.
But the United States faced widespread distrust across Latin America, as expressed by Colombian an ingratiating letter a few months before Kennedy's visit. Lleras said that Colombia had "no doubts" about the U.S.'s commitment to send development aid to Latin America, but that many other countries thought that Washington's demands weren't balanced. Washington's aid pledge to the region "lacks precision," Lleras wrote, "while at the same time the United States requires from (Latin nations) in very precise form radical transformations that they cannot undertake without external aid from the United States."
In other words, if Latin American nations were to follow Washington's economic and ideological blueprints, they expected to be paid for it.
|A cartoon shows Kennedy and Fidel |
Castro confronting each other.
On the following page, Holt quoted a clause in the OAS charter stating that "No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever in the internal or external affairs of any other State."
For its part, Lleras assured Kennedy that Bogotá was on the same page as Washington in its "desire to sek proper solutions to the serious danges which have been created for the hemisphere by the imminence of the Soviet menace..."
A few days before Kennedy visited Bogotá, Colombia broke diplomatic relations with Cuba. In January 1962, the OAS expelled Cuba, which is still not a member.
In Nov. 1963 Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Some conspiracy theories hold that Castro was behind the killing. The south Bogotá neighborhood which Kennedy visited was renamed Barrio Kennedy.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours