Group Title: Community Action on Latin America Newsleter : CA LA
Title: Community Action on Latin America Newsleter : CA LA. Vol. 2. No. 8.
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 Material Information
Title: Community Action on Latin America Newsleter : CA LA. Vol. 2. No. 8.
Series Title: Community Action on Latin America Newsleter : CA LA
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: Community Action on Latin America
Publisher: Community Action on Latin America
Publication Date: June 1973
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Caribbean
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Bibliographic ID: UF00086791
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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The legitimate demands of the women's
movement for control of our own bodies--
abortion and birth control that's legal,
safe, and available to all equally--are
being distorted by the U.S. government and
private ruling class foundations into a
means of repression of poor and Third World
people. Population control programs, which
use various forms of coercion, are increas-
ingly being implemented in Third World
countries and in U.S. ghettos, for ruling
class interests.

The question is not whether Third
World women want and need access to birth
control and family planning. It is the
right of human beings to control their
reproduction in accord with what they feel
to be their best interests. Birth control
has an obvious vital role to play in the
liberation of women. In some Latin American
countries one of every two pregnancies ends


Vol. 2, No. 8
June 1973

in abortion. In Montevideo and Buenos
Aires it is estimated that there are three
abortions for every live birth. 2/5 of
all maternal deaths are due to abortions.
It is clear that many Latin American women
are experiencing unwanted pregnancies and
that illegal and unsafe abortion is a major
means of controlling births. The question
then becomes, who will control family
planning and whose interests will it serve?
Birth control and safe abortion are desir-
able for individual freedom and family
welfare, but with demographic policy in
the hands of the imperialists, the goal is
an efficient and rapid lowering of aggregate
fertility, not the welfare of human beings.

Originally financed by elite private
organizations like Ford and Rockefeller
Foundations and the groups they fund, pop-
ulation control programs by 1968 received

55% of their funds from the U.S. Agency for
International Development (AID). AID's
1965 budget of $2.1 million for population
control has skyrocketed by 1973 to $125
million. At about the same time, AID fund-
ing for all other health programs decreased
from $126 million in 1966 to $77 million in
1969. Apparently the population explosion
in the Third World is such a serious threat
that it must attacked from both ends--in-
creased mortality as well as decreased

International agencies are also in-
creasing their involvement. In 1968 John
D. Rockefeller III took charge of the First
National Policy Panel on Population esta-
blished by the United Nations. It was
proposed that the U.N.'s Population Trust
Fund be enlarged from $1.5 million to $100
million within a three year period. Part
of the program is carried out by the World
Health Organization, which has received at
least $10 million.

Private foundations, like Ford and
Rockefeller, and organizations such as the
Population Council and Planned Parenthood-
World Population, are still active in the

What are the reasons for this growing
interest in population control? The rhe-
toric tries to convince us that it is for
purely humanitarian concerns--that popula-
tion control is necessary for economic
development in poor countries and the only
way to raise the standard of living and
provide a more abundant life for all people.
However, the real concern of the U.S. ruling
class is not humanitarian, but economic.
Growing populations put pressure on natural
resources and raw materials that U.S.
corporations want to continue to exploit
for private profit. Population pressures
may increase political instability and the
potential for revolution.

The 1952 report of the U.S. President's
Materials Policy Commission concluded that
the U.S. had the necessary resources to
sustain its high standard of living only
if we could rely on Third World supplies.
It warns that population growth in these
areas presses hard on available natural

In an effort to gain mass support for
their population control programs, the
ruling class conducts vigorous propaganda
campaigns. An the New York Times
in 1970 warns "civilized" Americans, "The
ever mounting tidal wave of humanity now
challenges us to control it, or be sub-
merged along with all our civilized values
...a world with mass starvation in under-
developed countries will be a world of
chaos, riots, and war. And a perfect
breeding ground for Communism. We cannot
afford a half dozen Vietnams or even one
more. Our won national interest demands
that we go all out to help the underdevelop-
ed countries control their populations."

Such ads are signed by ruling class
families including the Mellons, Rockefellers,
duPonts, McCormicks, Vanderbilts, Cabots,
Tafts, and others closely associated with
elite interests. They suggest that the
sole problem of the Vietnamese is too many
Vietnamese. The poor are poor because of
excessive breeding. At no time are the
realities of racism, sexism, imperialism,
and capitalism acknowledged. The fact
that with 6% of the world's population,
theU.S. consumes 60% of the non-renewable
resources, is conveniently ignored.

In Latin America women's bodies are
actually being bought off by U.S. financed

family planning programs. In 1965, Jaime
.-.LC.in_, a correspondent of the Colombian
daily El Siglo, reported that 40,000 women
from rural areas and urban slums had been
sterilized under the Association of Colom-
bian Faculties of Medicine programs in a
two year period. The Association is heavily
funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to set
up "family planning" programs in rural areas.
Arango charged that the experimental programs
had been conducted under the guidance of
North American doctors and consultants. He
wrote that many women had been persuaded to
participate in the programs by money payments
up to $1.50, gifts of lipstick and artificial
pearls, and offers of free medical services.

The Ford Foundation recently considered
a pilot project in sterilization proposed by
a North American businessman. He suggested
that Ford invest $1 million in Housing Bonds
in the Dominican Republic. The $80,000 per
year generated in interest would be used to
pay any person $5-7 per month for the rest
of his or her life, IF THE PERSON WOULD
AGREE TO BE STERILIZED. The goal would be
to attract young people of 18 to 25 years
of age who have only a few children. For
impoverished Dominicans struggling to sur-
vive, such an offer would be difficult to
'resist. Ford considered this proposal and
rejected it, but in Costa Rica, U.S. AID
set up a similar program called "Family
Planning Insurance."

In Puerto Rico, sterilization is
already the main technique of population
control. In 1950 about one of every 5
deliveries in Puerto Rican hospitals was
followed by sterilization. Between 4 and
5 thousand sterilizations occur each year.
The U.S. financed Family Planning Associa-
tion of Puerto Rico operates clinics,
distributes free birth control pills and
has legally sterilized some 100,000 men
and women. By 1965, 34% of all the women
of child-bearing age were sterilized.

People are persuaded to be sterilized
and to participate in birth control experi-
ments through the skillful use of misleading
propaganda. In pamphlets aimed at lower
class women, the connection between poverty
and population growth is continually stressed.
A booklet distributed in Colombia by an
AID financed birth control clinic shows a
picture of a happy family with three children,
a good home, television, and car, and the

words: "This family planned its future."
The next page shows a family with eight
children living in misery in a shack, and
the words: "This family did not plan its
future." Birth control information
follows. It is a cruel hoax to imply
that affluence depends upon family
planning. The connection between -
poverty and family size does exist, but
Family planning will not eliminate misery,
hunger, illiteracy, and exploitation.

The excellent Bolivian film Blood of
the Condor dramatizes the tragedy of
Indian women being sterilized without
their knowledge or consent by foreign
doctors of the "Progress Corps". The
film is based on what are reported to be
real life experiences of Bolivians with
U.S. sponsored population control programs.

Latin American nations are being
increasingly high-pressured into establish-
ing often unwanted population control
programs as a pre-condition for receiving
other forms of economic assistance. A
portion of Food for Peace program proceeds
are to be used for voluntary programs to
control population growth in the recipient
country. It is up to the President of the
U.S. to decide to what extent these
"voluntary" programs are being carried out.
Compliance is thus an important factor in
determining further aid.

I i


A further illustration of the role
that racism, sexism and imperialism play
in the area of population control is that
experimentation with new contraceptives is
carried out exclusively among the most
exploited groups of the population--poor,
Third World women. The experimental
clinical program in Humacao, Puerto Rico
established the effectiveness of the pill.
After the initial tests on Puerto Rican
women, it was tried out in poor and work-
ing class Mexican-American neighborhoods in
San Antonio and Los Angeles. Only after-
ward was it deemed "safe enough for affluent
and middle-class white women.

The IUD was first tested in Puerto
Rico, then on black women at Harlem Hospital
in New York, and in Sunflower County,
Mississippi, and among poor black and white
women in Atlanta. Injection methods have
been tested among destitute women in

Honduras, Brazil, and Chile.

These women are not given adequate
warnings about possible side effects from
these powerful dosages, nor do they receive
sufficient follow-up care.

It is of interest to note that
socialist Cuba has accomplished what no
other Latin American country has--access to
safe abortion and birth control for all

women as part of the free comprehensive
health service. The Cuban government
provides information and education on
birth control, but makes no attempt to
persuade Cubans to have either large or
small families. That is'a personal and
individual decision.

Population control programs cannot be
viewed in isolation from other mechanisms
of U.S. imperialism. The women's movement
must make a clear distinction between the
goals of women's liberation and the aims
of the ruling class. We must insist that
abortion and birth control be put into
the context of demands such as free health
care, child care, no forced sterilization
and no more deceptive population control
programs in the Third World. Our demands
will be progressive to the extent that all
women's needs are voiced with them.

-Sara Bentley-

Note: Thanks to Bonnie Mass and NACLA
Newsletter for much of the information
used in writing this article.

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