by Leonardo Espitia Jordan of the LaRouche Veterans of Mexico
The July 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, exemplified the bitter confrontation between a community of sovereign nation-state republics on the one side and the British Empire on the other—resulting in a memorable victory for sovereign nations.
At the end of World War II, at the initiative of the United States and Great Britain, representatives of 44 nations met at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, with the world-historic purpose of creating a New Postwar Monetary and Financial System.
The U.S. delegation, led by Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau and Assistant Secretary Harry Dexter White, came to Bretton Woods to fulfill the sublime intention of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: To end the British Empire’s domination over world economy and finance, and establish a New Monetary and Financial System, jointly directed by the governments of rich and poor nations alike, to bring peace and universal prosperity.
The British Empire’s delegation was headed by Lord John Maynard Keynes, whose main task was to pervert the American proposal in order to renew and perpetuate that Empire. This was even admitted by Keynes’ biographer, Robert Skidelsky, who wrote: “Keynes had as his objective, to perch the British interests over the abundant financial resources of the United States.” Similarly, Lord Halifax wrote to Keynes: “They have the money, we have the brains.”
President Roosevelt had already been fighting for a decade on U.S. soil to create financial institutions, freed from the domination of Wall Street and the City of London, and able to generate abundant credit for large infrastructure projects and technological development. With them, the United States emerged from the calamities of the Great Depression, financial bankruptcy, and war, with the greatest productive capabilities of labor ever seen in human history. In 1944, the U.S. accounted for 50% of world production, 40% of international trade, and held two-thirds of the world’s gold reserves.’
What Franklin Delano Roosevelt had accomplished for the United States, was what he now set out to do—with the support of sovereign nations—on a global scale. That was the proposal of the American delegation at Bretton Woods. Earlier, during his years of preparation for this fight, President Roosevelt had forged a solid alliance with Mexico that proved to be decisive in the end.
The nature and depth of the alliance between the Mexican and American delegations at Bretton Woods can only be understood from standpoint of the historic, principled partnership that has existed between the two sovereign Republics at crucial moments.
The most remarkable precedent was the alliance of President Benito Juárez with President Abraham Lincoln to defeat the attempt of the British Empire to impose a monarch on Mexico and fragment the United States in the American Civil War. The glorious victory of the Mexican army over the French army on May 5, 1862, in the Battle of Puebla, is still widely celebrated in the U.S. as the “Cinco de Mayo.”
This inspired the relationship between Presidents Lázaro Cárdenas and Franklin Roosevelt.
When President Cárdenas nationalized Mexico’s oil and oil industry in 1938, Britain broke off diplomatic relations, but President Roosevelt supported Mexico—marking a milestone in Mexican history. Another important, but not well-known event of the same period, was President Cárdenas’ suspension of payments to JP Morgan, which also received President Roosevelt’s support.
In 1940, Lázaro Cárdenas was succeeded in the presidency by Manuel Ávila Camacho. Another historic victory over the British Empire was about to be won.
The Road To Bretton Woods
It was in June 1942, during the Inter-American Conference on Systems of Economic and Financial Control [over enemy property] held in Washington, that Harry Dexter White gave Victor Urquidi, an official of the Bank of Mexico, the draft of the basic proposal that the U.S. delegation was working on to be presented at Bretton Woods.
From that moment on, Eduardo Suárez, Secretary of Finance under Camacho (as earlier under Cárdenas), led the creation of the Mexican delegation. Eduardo Suárez was a personal friend of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and head of the U.S. delegation to the Bretton Woods conference. Another important figure in the Mexican team was Antonio Espinosa de los Monteros, director of the national development bank, Nafinsa, and personal friend of Harry Dexter White, the great organizer of the U.S. delegation. The other members were Rodrigo Gómez of the Bank of Mexico, the young Daniel Cosío Villegas, and Víctor Urquidi. In May 1943, the official proposal that the American delegation would take to Bretton Woods was made public in Atlantic City.
In intense meetings between the Mexican and American teams, it was agreed that Mexico would fight to guarantee that the institutions that emerged from Bretton Woods would be committed to the development of the developing nations.
Additionally, Mexico’s leadership in Latin America would be fundamental for building a broad consensus base for the U.S. delegation’s proposal.
From the beginning of the Conference, with the creation of its committees and the selection of their chairmen, the pre-agreements between the Mexican and American delegations began to work. It was Eduardo Suárez who proposed that Henry Morgenthau preside over the Conference. That proposal was approved, and Henry Morgenthau reciprocated by proposing Eduardo Suárez to chair the Third Committee on General Affairs, which was also approved. These two key positions guided the work of the Conference.
Eduardo Suárez was in charge of unifying the representatives of the 19 Latin American nations—not an easy task, but of the utmost importance, since the 19 Latin American countries were practically half of the 44 nations represented. He achieved that goal. This gave a broad base of support for the US proposal, and Latin America obtained two important seats on the board of the future Monetary Fund.
In the committee on the Bank for Reconstruction—chaired by Lord Keynes but also including Harry Dexter White—discussions on the priorities of the future Bank for Reconstruction were focused on the reconstruction of Europe. This contradicted President Roosevelt’s plan for an institution which would foster the development of advanced and developing nations alike. At this critical point, the young Daniel Cosío Villegas, a member of the Mexican delegation, made a motion that the promotion of development for weak nations should be as much a priority as the reconstruction of Europe in the future plans for what would become the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank).
The proposal of the young Mexican delegate provoked the wrath of the self-important Lord Keynes, who demanded that Mexico remove the insolent young man who had dared to contradict him from the committee. Yet finally, the Mexican proposal was approved, and Keynes became aware that the Mexican and American delegations were acting in coordination.
From Bretton Woods came a Monetary and Financial System under the direction of the governments of advanced and developing nations alike; Wall Street and the City of London had their hands tied. It was a monetary system based on a dollar backed by gold reserves, with the universal Development Bank that Roosevelt had envisioned.
Bretton Woods was a glorious victory for the community of sovereign republics, where the power of the U.S. presidency and the superiority of the American System of Political Economy were demonstrated. It also showed what the principled alliance of Mexico and the United States is capable of doing for the good of humanity.
The untimely death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt opened a crack in the Bretton Woods System. The establishment took back the American Presidency with Harry Truman. There was a relentless witch-hunt against Harry Dexter White, the American hero of Bretton Woods, who was accused of being a Communist and a Soviet spy. He died in 1948 at age 55, three days after denying these charges before the House Un-American Affairs Committee (HUAC).
A New Bretton Woods
We patriots are called upon to forge a community of principle among sovereign republics in a New Bretton Woods system. The global speculative financial system of Wall Street and the City of London is now in its death throes. It is a matter of life and death for the British Empire to relaunch itself and prevent a figure like Franklin Delano Roosevelt from reaching the Presidency of the United States, one capable of summoning the sovereign nations of the world to a New Bretton Woods system to build the foundations of peace and universal prosperity.
Next year, in 2024, there will be Presidential elections in the United States and Mexico, and two “anti-establishment” leaders will be on the ballot: Donald Trump and whoever becomes the candidate who represents Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s legacy.
This process must be placed in the historical context of an alliance of republican principles among sovereign nations. Recreating the community of principle that guided the creation of Bretton Woods must start now, and our patriotic inspiration is the victory of the republican forces over the British Empire in the summer of 1944.