For the past 20 years, Carlos Lacerda has been one of the leading advocates of democratic government in Brazil. First as a journalist, later as publisher of his own newspaper, "Tribuna Da lmprensa" and finally as a state governor, Lacerda has continually fought to increase popular participation in government.
As a leading member of the Uniao Demoratica National Party, now banned by the military government in Brazil, Lacerda was elected governor of the State of Guanabara from 1960 to 1965. During his term as a "reform" Governor he built over 200 schools to assure a primary education to every child in the state, and launched three massive urban renewal projects to clear Rio deJaneiro's well known "favella" shanty towns.
Lacerda, speaks five languages--English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. He has published five books in the past two years, among them a Portuguese translation of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." He has also translated "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" which was staged in Rio de Janeiro.
The following is an interview conducted at Harvard last week dealing with social and political problems of Latin America. Questions appear in italic type.
A second installment dealing more specifically with Brazil will appear tomorrow.
Alliance for progress
What is your evaluation of the social and economic improvements that the Alliance for Progress is making in Latin America?
Well, I can judge mostly from Brazil, which I know better, of course. Basically, I think we missed the point of the original plan meant by President Kennedy. It seems to me that he meant a broad plan of cooperation through which we would be associated with the idea of growing, of development--growing in all senses, economically, culturally, democratically.
While in the process of going on, specially after Kennedy's death, it has shrunk. Now it is rather more a problem of how to use appropriations to finance specific projects. Some of these projects, the majority of them, are very good projects, but still shrunk from the original broad and generous idea of a complete integration through cooperation.
I have been through a very interesting experience about the Alliance for Progress. As governor of Guanabara, which means mainly the city of Riode Janeiro and its outskirts, I was very much helped by the Alliance for Progress in its beginnings. We doubled the sanitary sewage services into Rio which was partly financed with Alliance for Progress funds through the Inter-American Bank.
We built a water system which is one of the most important in the world. Rio had a terrible problem of water shortage and we more than doubled the capacity for water supply. Half of the cost, about 40 million dollars, was financed by the Inter-American Bank with Alliance for Progress funds. And also in our school program, which was I think, the core of my effort there. Now we have places in the public school for every child, which we didn't have before. And part of it was financed by the Alliance for Progress.
We built as well Villa Alliancia, Villa Esperanca (which means hope), and Villa Kennedy, for about 40 thousand individuals. This was a housing development plan on the outskirts of the city for former slum area inhabitants. So we practically cleared about 19 favellas (slums) out of this plan.
We are paying back the loans. And it was quite a success. But bit by bit I realize that in Brazil as a whole, and perhaps in some other areas of South America, the Alliance became more a question of specific projects, of being too specific about projects, rather than seeing their social significance and the political implications.
By political implications I don't mean "strings attached." But I mean a sort of identity of ideals which were basically what Kennedy had in mind. While now it seems to me that here and there they have lost the main significance of that, and just transformed it into a sort of giving-and-taking-money proposition.
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