Latin American Universities and the IIE

September 25, 2007

Another aspect of the IIE is CHEAR, the Council on Higher Education in the American Republics, a small organization the IIE oversees. CHEAR's basic income comes from the Carnegie Corporation and the Ford Foundation. This is supplemented by money from other agencies and foundations including the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the State Department. CHEAR refuses to make public the actual amount of its budget, however. hen asked by phone if CHEAR filed its
990-A form with the Internal Revenue Service (whose non-profit organization files are public) a representative relied that CHEAR had not. He stated that CHEAR's income is reported with that of its "parent organization", the IIE. Since CHEAR's inception in 1959 the IIE has provided "administrative support" consisting of the hidden budgetary arrangement, office space in IIE's gleaming building, and IIE-supplied staff. The president of IIE is Secretary General of CHEAR.

CHEAR's activities are twofold: 1) it holds conferences and publishes resulting reports. and 2) in its words, "administers a few carefully chosen projects that relate to strengthening inter-American university relationships." While it is difficult To track down specific CHEAR projects documentation of U.S. involvement in Latin American higher education is provided by CHEAR's recent series of reports: National Development and the University" (50 p.) taken from tapes made of discussions during
a CHEER conference in Lima, Peru, on February 28, 1964; "Agriculture and the University (236 pp.) put together from presentations at seminars in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Terrytown, New York; a third, 'The Arts and the University" (48 pp.) also
taken from tapes of a Lima conference (February 27, 1964).

In the foreword to these reports, William C. Spence , Assistant Secretary General of the IIE, clarifies the framework in which the contents are meant to be viewed:

Ideas and opinions expressed by participants are personal ones; no one is expected to represent his country, his institution (and) no attempt is made in these meetings to draft resolutions or prepare statements of general policy...

Participants do not represent their country or institution -- they represent their class, the American (North or South) power elite. The foreword to the '64 Lima report, "National Development and the University" continues:

Led by Clark Kerr, President of the University of California, and supported by both Latin American and North American university executives who exercise direct influence in the education and national affairs of their countries, this dialogue raises issues and explores solutions of current vital interest to all concerned with hemispherical cooperation and unity as well as national and educational developments. (p. 4)

The prototypical university executive is Clark Kerr of Berkeley, who opened and closed the '64 Lima conference on National Development and the University. He began with his views (which are best put forth in his book, published in 1963, The Uses of the University) that the university is an instrument of national
purpose". Kerr sees around him the obvious: a society carefully organized and geared to acquisition and consumption. He observes "this machine we have created goes faster and faster" (Nat'l Devel. & the Univ.", p. 19) Kerr realizes that the insatiable passion for more demands that the university not shirk its duties as an institution commanding many resources.

The university's resources, symbolized by the slogan "Knowledge", are absolutely essential for the U.S. to continue to grow at its present breakneck pace. As Kerr recognizes, "The university as producer, wholesaler and retailer of knowledge cannot escape service" (Uses p. 114). With its emphasis on research, the knowledge factory has become "the focal point for national growth" (Uses, p. 88). The most important product of the knowledge assembly line is socialized people -- standardized
and repressed; the university as a prime value -- transmitting agency functions quite efficiently in molding conformers.

One question about U.S. motives first: Isn't some U.S. material assistance beneficial as the humanitarian rhetoric claims? Some programs obviously embody less manipulation than others, but ultimately, I suppose, the degree to which we condemn a particular U.S. program depends on our personal rage. U.S. grain shipments to India certainly benefit the people and are not directly imperialist, but without U.S. material support, the Indian government would probably collapse. Too, the United States is not particularly sneaky about its motives concerning
"foreign aid" grain. It sends grain to maintain political stability so that India will remain an East-West buffer zone and to help relieve internal economic strains which cause political upheavals. But the U.S. interest in Latin American higher
education isn't so innocuous as the interest in India's ability to feed herself. Political stability is again the key concept, but one of the things the United States is doing to insure stability is bending Latin American universities to a specific mold.

Why is U.S. interest in Latin American higher education intensifying, as evidenced by increased consulting, exchange programs and financing of Latin American educational reforms? Counterinsurgency, as a national U.S. response to Latin American revolutionary aspirations and activity, demands that this country do something about the universities in Central and South America because it is on the campus that the demand for social and economic change is most vocal. The students relate their demands for change with the need to stop U.S. imperialism in their countries. Students who oppose the U.S.-influenced reforms or Latin American universities are not, per se, against increased specialization and the acquisition of more technical skills. Basically, they are in opposition for two reasons; the first is that the reforms must be initiated and controlled by Latin Americans, not by the United States; the second reason is that the use of technology will not benefit the society until the political system is rebuilt. In some countries, the universities have become the center of urban guerilla activity and of recruitment for its counterpart in the rural areas; thus rendering them a major threat to the U.S. goal of a stable Latin America.

All of this remains possible for several reasons. First, the Latin American universities, at present, do have relative autonomy from their governments and other political forces. Second, students hold power to control a great deal of the operations of the university. The administrator in Latin America has not ascended into the position of power that his U.S. counterpart has. The decentralized structure of higher education in Latin America makes it easier for the students to maintain their strength. In addition, many o the leadership positions within student organizations are held by radical leftists who militantly oppose the U.S. presence in their countries and who consider the university as a staging area from which to attack their own corrupt governments. For them, the University should
serve as an active agent for change in their society.

The university in Latin America must be de-politicized if the U.S. counterinsurgency plan is to be effective. Those students must be pacified; if they cannot be persuaded to shift their concern from politics to purely academic questions, then their
power must be undercut. Latin American students will lose power if the United States is successful in its attempt to integrate and centralize the structure of their universities. Once education is centralized, the administrator necessarily gains more power. And obviously, it is easier to manipulate a few administrators, than the thousands of students they control.

The CHEAR liberals state they want to see the whole Latin American educational system tightened u, rushing people through faster under heavier work loads, training and socializing better. The aid programs documented below must be seen in this context; the following attempts to clarify the "stability" ideology of Kerr and the other university executives. Their unshakable perspective, the basis from which they act and think, is one which sees Latin America, and all other countries the United States now: has access to, as a frontier to be Americanized, thus guaranteeing future access -- access to raw materials, labor pools, and markets.

Recognizing the educational system as a powerful tool, Kerr stated at the Lima National Development Conference that one of the keys to the United States present vast productive capacity is that the United States "got started very early using education largely, or at least philosophically, for political reasons.... : ("Nat'l.D. and the U.", p. 10) But because of the contradiction between their equalitarian facade and their actual position of corporate power, U.S. ruling liberals veil their political goals with humanitarian language. Using the rhetoric of national development and hemispheric cooperation, liberals try to isolate the technical development of a country from its political system and conflicts. This view is perfectly compatible with the university as a service station, a neutral vendor of techniques, and as not relevant to the political conflicts in society.

According to Kerr, Every industrial society has been organized and run by one type of elite or another..." (Nat'l.D. & the U., p. 16) But the 1960's the United States is an exception. Instead of a ruling elite, Kerr sees as the rationale behind this society a tendency toward national development. Trying to make this into a coherent view, he suggests that society is developing "its own logic, not serving class interests, not serving ideology." (p. 19) Being more concrete about what he means, Kerr tells it like it is: "The market pretty well determines how education will develop." (p. 17)

Documentation of how the United States is molding Latin American higher education is plentiful in the CHEAR report on the "Agriculture and the University" conference.

MEXICO: "The Rockefeller Foundation has been privileged to play a role in building a Mexican technician sector since 1943, when it entered into a cooperative program of research and training with the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture" according to Lewis Roberts, Associate Director, Agricultural Sciences, Rockefeller Foundation. That is, the Rockefeller Foundation helped pay for Mexicans to study in the United States. It was not until two years ago that "the responsibility for its (the program's) direction and administration" was transferred to Mexicans at the National Institute of Agricultural Research.

Another facility being developed is the National Center of Agricultural Education, Research and Extension at Chapingo near Mexico City. It is sponsored by: the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the World Bank, AID, and the Special Fund of the U.N. Two other U.S.-supported Mexican agricultural schools are not on what Rafael Samper (a Colombian attending the conference) called the "grand scale" of the Chapingo school, but they are still significant. They are The School of Agronomy and Animal
Husbandry of the Institute of Technology at Monterey, another Rockefeller Foundation project, and The School at Hermosilla, Sonora, which maintains "a close relationship" with the University of Arizona. ("Ag. & the Univ."', pp. 34, 35)

COLOMBIA: Rockefeller Foundation involvement in Colombia dates back to 1950 when it supported a cooperative research program to train agronomists and provide scholarships for study "abroad". Michigan State entered Colombia a few years ago with a program financed by an AID contract and the Kellogg Foundation designed
to strengthen Colombia's three higher schools of agriculture. The Kellogg Foundation helped Colombian education in a more direct manner in 1960 by partly financing "a joint American-Colombian committee headed by Dr. Paul Miller (formerly Provost of Michigan State and now President of West Virginia University) to "study higher education in Colombia and to suggest an improved framework for teaching, extension and research." On the basis of the Miller report, a national Agricultural Institute was established in 1963, and another school, Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) is now being launched. Comments the Rockefeller Foundation's Roberts on the
ICA, "The Ford, Kellogg, and Rockefeller Foundations have already indicated interest in continuing to cooperate in this tremendously exciting new venture. , (p.36)

During the discussion Director Fernando Penaranda of the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario, Bogota', described the ambitiousness of the U.S.-supported projects. The ICA is to gradually mold the entire higher agriculture school system of
Colombia along the following lines:

ICA will have close contact with secondary and intermediate (junior college education. We have thirteen rural normal schools...which are relatively well endowed as to buildings and grounds (and) are a magnificent base for constructing a sort of junior college...We are also in discussion with some departmental units...the means of orienting and unifying the curriculum of intermediate education and attaining uniformity....

As far as agricultural education goes, students would pass from primary schools into vocational schools. These are only four-year institutions at the present time, but the Ministry of Education is considering extending them to six years in order to make available a more complete vocational education. (p. 36)

PERU: Roberts (of Rockefeller Foundation) offered the following comments about Peruvian education. Two key institutions" are involved in transforming Peruvian education: the autonomous" Agrarian University at La Molina and a dependency of the Ministry of Agriculture called the Service of Investigations and Promotion of Agriculture -- SIPA, which has "the primary responsibility for national programs of research and extension". SIPA is directly linked to: North Carolina State College under a US AID contract; the UN Special Fund, which made a substantial
grant to assist in the development of the new Faculty of Agricultural Engineering; the Rockefeller Foundation, which has also given to the "autonomous" university; and the Ford Foundation, which is considering, with the Rockefeller Foundation, a grant to SIPA's Faculty of Social Sciences. The University has applied for a long-term loan of $6 million from the Alliance for Progress. (p. 37)

Although we're not able to exactly measure the impact these projects are having on Latin Americans, it is clear from the examples that the United States is significantly molding Latin American higher education to the factory model. And by breaking down the benevolent-sounding rhetoric, we see that the corporate liberals who put up money for these various overseas helping-hand programs are operating in a very sharp logical fashion to Americanize the countries in whose economies they now participate.

Tags: educational exchange, university activism, US role


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