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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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STROUDSBURG, Pa.—The United Nations' Division of Economic Research has just reported that the underdeveloped nations of the world, despite their efforts to eliminate mass poverty, still face an acute shortage of money for sound development. This conclusion is part of a report made under the direction of Mr. Jacob L. Mosak of the United States, head of the U.N. agency which includes more than a dozen economists of all political persuasions.

The report will be the main background document of the Economic and Social Council's annual discussion of world economic trends and underdeveloped nations at Geneva on July 4. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson will head the U.S. delegation to this meeting.

The Division of Economic Research people in their survey maintained that the nations of Asia, Africa and Latin America needed much more capital both from abroad and from within their own economies. They also made the observation that the money these nations have been getting has not been fairly distributed, and that they were still too dependent on private capital from abroad and their rather uncertain earnings from exports. For instance, the recession we experienced in our country last year, it was found, led to hardship in many of the exporting countries which had counted on selling goods to us.

A very interesting statement in the survey is that the Western industrial nations could sustain much higher rates of growth without sacrificing stability. We are constantly being held back in this country for fear that we will have overdevelopment and inflation, but the economists in this report feel that this is an unnecessary fear.

In view of this report, Premier Khrushchev's recent statement that the Soviet Union will reach the same level of economy as the U.S. by 1970 comes to mind. And in the light of the report Mr. Khrushchev will certainly have to develop very rapidly the amount of consumer goods he is now producing and, it would seem, cut down sharply on the type of heavy industry that has been the first consideration in Russia for a long time.

Rumors are coming in from various parts of the Soviet Union, as well as from China, that point to the fact that their people are being denied certain things that are being shipped to foreign countries. And at times, the reports say, the people are making very forceable protests.

One item I read said that London had had the report that dockers in Odessa were refusing to load butter bound for Cuba because they could not buy it in their own stores. It seems to me that it may be longer than Mr. Khrushchev hopes before the flow of foodstuffs and consumer goods is as steady and liberal for the people of the Soviet Union as it is for the people in the U.S.

It has been a surprise to me to hear that Mr. John Hooker Jr. has been having long sessions with the Cuban prisoners Premier Castro sent over here again after the Cuban leader knew that all work with the Tractors for Freedom Committee had come to an end. It is quite evident that Mr. Castro sent these prisoners without telling them that the committee had ceased to exist, for when they arrived in this country they were upset to find that this was the case.

Quite naturally, they desperately want their freedom, as do the more than 1,000 still in Cuba, which is entirely understandable. But it is apparently impossible for them to realize that private citizens in the United States took up only Castro's original offer, as the documents will show. When he changed his wordage to calling the monetary value of the tractors "indemnification," he ruled out the possibility of any private individual or individuals in the U.S. being able to negotiate, since this is a matter between governments and not something private individuals could decide.

Up to that time his offer was to exchange some 1,200 prisoners for 500 tractors which he said he needed for agricultural production so as to provide food for the people of Cuba to raise their standard of living. When talking to the prisoners—at which session no document was written—we were given to understand that Mr. Castro had specified a certain type of tractor.

Then, in the opinion of the committee, since these tractors were unsuitable for the purposes he said he wanted to achieve with them, our committee offered to send agricultural and machinery experts to negotiate on the specific type needed for agricultural purposes. In the conversation during the prisoners' first visit, some mention was made of what might be done if Premier Castro refused our offer, but great care was taken to make no commitments as to specifications on tractors when the message was sent to Havana.

Now, Castro's return of the prisoners here when he knew the committee was out of existence was a trick that must be deeply resented. We would certainly liked to have freed the prisoners, but, as U.S. citizens, we cannot negotiate matters that are beyond our mandate.

E. R.

(Copyright, 1961, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Stroudsburg (Pa, United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, June 28, 1961

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.