Alternative History

The Pan-American Union (Unión Panamericana in Spanish, União Panamericana in Portuguese) is an Inter-American organization that promotes peace, trade and scientific development in the Americas. Its members are the American republics and the commonwealth states of the United States of America. Official languages are English, Spanish and Portuguese. Each member state is autonomous in the direction and management of its international affairs, except in matters related to Inter-American affairs where it will work and pursue its interest under the collective framework of the Pan-American Union in matters of commerce, trade, communications, peace and scientific and cultural development. The Pan-American Union is headed by a Director General, elected by the Conference, along the Council.

Pan American Union Bldg LOC Photograph

Pan American Building (Washington D.C.)

In one session it seemed we were in a public auction being played by poker players. So I called on the representatives of the envoys to remind them we where negotiating an international treaty, not a commercial contract ... Some of them would have sold Alaska or Tierra del Fuego just to get things done. J.P. Morgan. Quote of How we did it. Business and Diplomacy.

Uma nova era de prosperidade e bem-estar começou a hoje. (A new era of prosperity and welfares has begun today, President of Brazil closing the Pan-American Conference of 1932)

In an atmosphere of distrust, open hostility, selfishness, regional and short term interests the American nations created unconsciously an international organization that would trust them to the present path of cooperation. This would later be a model for other parts of the world. Condelezza Rice on the 2001 Alexander Bell Lectures. National Public Radio.

Main activities[]

Through a series of multilateral conventions and treaties it promotes trade, peace and scientific development. The uniform code of commerce and uniform customs services have become part of the Inter-American legal system. It also has created a continental standards office and a Inter-American patents registry. Mayor public works sponsored are the Pan-American Railroad and Pan-American Highway. It sponsors and cooperates in the organization Pan-American Exposition or ExpoPanAm held every 5 or 6 years in a city of the Americas. It also sponsors the Pan-American Games, held every 4 years.

Organization of the PanAmerican Union[]

Pan-American Union Flag

Flag of the Pan-American Union

Its organization is the one layed out in Pan-American Conference of 1932, and reforms.

  • Pan-American Conference. The supreme decision organ and forum for Inter-American affairs. Every state member and commonwealth has one vote through its official delegation. Delegates of the members state meet every four years. It elects the Council and Director General. As the power to create, dissolve or restructure the autonomous organizations.
  • Council of the Pan-American Union. Integrated by 10 representatives, elected by the Conference. There must be a representative (the so called permanent members) from the United States of America, one from it's commonwealth countries, Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The Council meets monthly to manage administrative affairs has laid out by the Conference, treaties and Conventions. Calls and prepares the table and preliminary work for the Conference.
  • Directorate General of the Pan-American Union, formed by a Secretariat and auxiliary organizations created by the Conference. Coordinates the actions of the autonomous organizations.
  • Autonomous organization that depend and report directly the Conference:
    • Pan-American Health Organization
    • Inter-American Copyrights Institute
    • Administration of the Pan-American Railroad
    • Pan-American Highway Board
    • Civil Aviation Federation of the Americas
    • Inter-American Postal and Telecommunications Union
    • American Organization for the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Advancement and Cooperation
    • American Trade Organization
    • Pan American Space Agency

Membership of the PanAmerican Union[]

Full voting members of the Pan-American Union

  • United States of America
  • Commonwealth of Mexico
  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • Commonwealth of Haiti
  • Commonwealth of Dominican Republic
  • Commonwealth of Honduras
  • Commonwealth of Nicaragua
  • Commonwealth of Cuba
  • Republic of El Salvador
  • Republic of Guatemala
  • Republic of Costa Rica
  • Republic of Panama
  • Republic of Venezuela
  • Republic of Colombia
  • Republic of Ecuador
  • Republic of Peru
  • Republic of Bolivia
  • Republic of Paraguay
  • Oriental Republic of Uruguay
  • Republic of Chile
  • Republic of Argentina
  • Federative Republic of Brazil


The long negotiations[]

In the 1928 Inter-American Conference various delegates of South America propose to establish a legal framework for the informal status of the so called inter-American system. Documents and memorandums of the meetings and exchange of diplomatic letters reveal that it was in its time a maneuver to limited the influence of the United States of America in South and Central America. Of particular concern for South American republics was the growing number of commonwealth countries that USA had made. There was even a draft of resolution to end and dissolve the commonwealth, granting them immediate independence. It never made it thru the preliminary work nor a the Conference floor. The knowledge of this draft worried the State Department and called on the need to revise the relations with South America.

The reevaluation centered on a dollar diplomacy, that would focus on commerce and opening of markets for American industrial goods and Central and South American natural resources and the establishment of American commercial interest in every corner of the continent. Extend the Monroe Doctrine to a collective partnership of the Americas, considering the presence of the Imperial Federation of Britain in Canada and the Caribbean. The final goal would be a policy to neutralize the possible threat of an anti-American policy against USA that could range from diplomatic hostility to a war, the former could even have the support of European nations. The basic premise was that American troubles stay in the Americas. For the ABC Alliance it came has a surprise the open letter of the Secretary of State to negotiate on the inter-American system, free trade and all other matters of concern under no previous conditions.

After months of consultations it was decide to make special committee of envoys of the USA, the Commonwealth of Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Argentina that would prepare the key treaties to be presented to a Pan-American conference for its approval. The negotiations started in New York, (April-March 1931). The easiest to negotiate was the Commerce Alliance. There would be an common American tariff upon a list of goods from non-American countries revised every 5 years. Free trade on industrial goods and abolition of trade quotas. Each nations can maintain its particular agricultural tariffs and subsidies The most favored nation clause on any trade agreement would apply only to the American nations. A common system to settle commercial disputes is setup. The public debt, up to certain limit would have a low interest rate. Each country maintains its national currency, but there is a system that pegs them to the US Dollar for purposes of international and regional trade. Advocated by the ABC Alliance, it was incorporated the promotion on the import substitution industrialization has the basic blueprint for the development of the Americas. Though it called on future negotiations for its exact definition and measures of implementation. An inter-American copyright protection system would be established and supervised by a new autonomous organization. The bilateral and multilateral trade agreements would be an intrgral part of the Commerce Alliance. This clause would latter add room for political negotiations and compensations on the talks for the Political Pact and the Pan-American Convention. Later negotiations in the 1950s would complement the Commerce Alliance with the Banking Agreements creating the Inter-American Development Bank and the Exchange Bank of the Americas. However differences and contradictory agreements annexed to the Commerce Alliance would start the agricultural and steel tariffs wars in the 1960s and 1970s, making it necessary to be completely rebuilt the Alliance in the treaties of the 1980s and the creation in the 1990s of the American Trade Organization.

In Buenos Aires (May 1931), the basics of the inter-American relations were agreed on the Political Pact. It was agreed the non interference on internal affairs of American countries. De jure the American nations are part of the Pan-American Union. The membership would be open to future members on the condition that they have a republican form of government and are independent politically of the colonial power that controls them, the so called Canadian Clause. Integrity and independence from extra-continental interference of the Americas (colloquially refereed on the negotiations, upon an observation of an USA envoy from Texas, as the don't mess with the Americas principle), validating indirectly Argentinean claim on Falkland Island. A stronger wording calling for the end of all territories occupied or part of a non-American nation was dropped upon concerns that it would equate to a war declaration on the British Empire.

In Caracas (September-October, 1931) and Bogotá (October-November, 1931) proceed the talks and negotiations on the main treaty the Pan-American Convention. Delayed and longer then usually programmed because of threats, insults, walkouts, boycotts, surprise changes on the days agenda, and suspension of the sessions. Perhaps the most difficult diplomatic negotiations of the 20th century. Finalizing the sessions in Bogotá, there where more businessmen, accountants and economics experts then official envoys and lawyers, negotiating the Convention. The commonwealth nations associated with the USA, will be full voting members. On the Philippines it was agreed it would not come part of the Pan-American Union but join has non voting associated member. There was an agreement that the USA, the Commonwealth countries and the ABC Pact would have permanent seats. The delegates, except for the so called permanent members, are independent of their government upon their election to the Council. There was agreement to keep the autonomous organizations as part of the system, but an unanimous vote of the Conference would be needed to create new or dissolve the present ones. The delegations would enjoy free access and movement to the countries that host the meetings and official business of the Pan-American Union or its autonomous organizations. The official headquarters will moved to a new city, upon agreement of the Conference, meanwhile it will stay in Washington D.C.

A special Inter-American Conference was called on 1932 to formally approve the treaties and send the instruments of ratification to member countries. These were quickly approved between 1932 and 1933.