Amazon Basin Development

September 27, 1969

Report Outline
Proposals to Exploit Amazon Hertland
Known Resources of the Amazon Valley
Bleak Outlook for Amazon Development

Proposals to Exploit Amazon Hertland

The amazon is “the land of the future,” a French scientist and explorer, Charles de la Condamine, wrote in 1743. Precisely the same words were uttered in 1966 by Arthur Cezar Reis, governor of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. In the intervening two centuries the great Amazon basin, covering around three million square miles, underwent little or no development aside from the rubber boom of 1890–1910. Given this record, some observers believe that the Amazon always will be a sparsely populated land of the future. Others feel that settlement and development of the Amazon Valley is not only feasible but also imperative if South America ever is to become more than an underdeveloped continent.

Lippmann “Heartland” Articles and Aftermath

A prominent supporter of the latter view is Walter Lippmann. After a journey to South America in 1965, Lippmann wrote a series of articles on the continent's “heartland” that awakened this country's interest in the Amazon region. In a syndicated newspaper column of Dec. 14, 1965, he observed that. “While on the maps South America is a continent, in fact it is not merely an underdeveloped but an undeveloped and unopened continent.”

The member countries of Latin America are a string of islands surrounded on one side by the oceans and [on] the other by an un-penetrated wilderness. It is easier and cheaper for these islands to trade with Europe or North America than to trade with one another. …The situation today is as if on this [North American] continent there were two strips of settled life, one along the Pacific West of the Rocky Mountains and the other along the Atlantic East of the Alleghenies—with the whole land between, the great river system of the Mississippi, the Missouri and the Ohio unusable, without roads, railroads, canals, electric power and telecommunication. If in the United States there were mere wilderness between the Rockies and the Alleghenies, there would be no affluent society, there would be no political union, there would be no great industrial system, there would be no base for political stability.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jun. 07, 2011  Brazil on the Rise
Apr. 12, 1972  Brazil: Awakening Giant
Sep. 27, 1969  Amazon Basin Development
Jan. 26, 1966  Brazil: Democracy or Dictatorship
Jan. 15, 1962  Brazil in Ferment
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
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