Roosevelt's Call for Parley of American Republics
When President Roosevelt addressed Congress on the night of January 3, 1936, he declared that the policy of the good neighbor, which he had enunciated in his inaugural address three years ago, was among the Americas “no longer a hope—no longer an objective remaining to be accomplished—it is a fact, active, present, pertinent, and effective.”
Five weeks later, the President in a personal letter addressed to the heads of the 20 Latin American states expressed the conviction that preliminary agreement by Bolivia and Paraguay on arrangements for settlement of the Chaco controversy had afforded “an altogether favorable opportunity” for the American republics “to consider their joint responsibility and their common need of rendering less likely in the future the outbreak or the continuation of hostilities between them and, by so doing, serve in an eminently practical manner the cause of permanent peace on this western continent.” He thereupon suggested that an extraordinary inter-American conference be summoned to assemble at an early date at Buenos Aires or some other American capital.
At no time in the four and a half centuries of modern civilization in the Americas [he said] has there existed—in any year, any decade, or any generation in all that time—a greater spirit of mutual understanding, of common helpfulness, and of devotion to the ideals of self-government than exists today in the 21 American republics and their neighbor, the Dominion of Canada. … There is neither war, nor rumor of war, nor desire for war. The inhabitants of this vast area, 250,000,000 strong, spreading more than 8,000 miles from the Arctic to the Antarctic, believe in, and propose to follow, the policy of the good neighbor.
Proposed Strengthening of Inter-American Peace Pacts
The proposed conference would devote itself to the task of determining “how the maintenance of peace among the American republics may best be safeguarded—whether, perhaps, through the prompt ratification of all of the inter-American peace instruments already negotiated; whether through the amendment of existing peace instruments in such manner as experience has demonstrated to be most necessary; or perhaps through the creation by common accord of new instruments of peace additional to those already formulated.” The President held that these steps “would advance the cause of world peace, inasmuch as the agreements which might be reached would supplement and reinforce the efforts of the League of Nations and of all other existing or future peace agencies in seeking to prevent war.”