United States Objectives and Courses of Action With Respect
to Latin America
1. There is a trend in Latin America toward nationalistic regimes
maintained in large part by appeals to the masses of the population.
Concurrently, there is an increasing popular demand for immediate
improvement in the low living standards of the masses, with the result
that most Latin American governments are under intense domestic
political pressures to increase production and to diversify their
2. A realistic and constructive approach to this need which recognizes
the importance of bettering conditions for the general population, is
essential to arrest the drift in the area toward radical and
nationalistic regimes. The growth of nationalism is facilitated by
historic anti-U.S. prejudices and exploited by Communists.
3. The limited purpose of this paper is to define our objectives and
courses of action concerning this and other important problems common to
the area; policies toward particular country situations, such as those
in Argentina and Guatemala, are left for subsequent papers.
4. The objectives of the United States with respect to Latin America
a. Hemisphere solidarity in support of our
world policies, particularly in the UN and other international organizations.
b. An orderly political and economic
development in Latin America so that the states in the area will be
more effective members of the hemisphere system and increasingly
important participants in the economic and political affairs of the
c. The safeguarding of the hemisphere,
including sea and air approaches, by individual and collective
defense measures against external aggression through the development
of indigenous military forces and local bases necessary for
d. The reduction and elimination of the
menace of internal Communist or other anti-U.S. subversion.
e. Adequate production in Latin America of,
and access by the United States to, raw materials essential to U.S.
f. Support by Latin America of collective
action in defense of other areas of the free world.
g. The ultimate standardization of Latin
American military organization, training, doctrine and equipment
along U.S. lines.
Courses of Action
5. The United States should achieve a greater degree of hemisphere
a. A greater utilization of the
Organization of American States as a means of achieving our
objectives, which will avoid the appearance of unilateral action and
identify our interests with those of the other American
b. Consulting with the Latin American
states, whenever possible, before taking actions which will affect
them or for which we wish their support, explaining, as fully as
security permits the reasons for our decisions and actions.
c. Evidencing greater consideration of
Latin American problems at the highest levels of government by
according sympathetic attention to representatives of Latin America,
by exercising care in public statements relating to the area, and
through such methods as visits by high government officials and
distinguished private citizens to Latin American states.
d. Refraining from overt unilateral
intervention in the internal political affairs of the other American
states, in accordance with existing treaty obligations. This does
not preclude multilateral action through the inter-American system.
. . .
e. In determining the extent of U.S.
assistance and support to particular American states, taking into
consideration their willingness and ability to cooperate with the
United States in achieving common objectives.
f. Assisting through the Organization of
American States, or by such other means as may be available, those
American states which are resisting pressures from their neighbors,
whenever such pressures are inimical to U.S. interests and the
g. Encouraging the incorporation of Canada
into the Organization of American States.
6. The United States should also:
a. Encourage through consultation,
assistance and other available means individual and collective
action against internal subversive activities by communists and
other anti-U.S. elements.
b. Encourage the development of the
regional Inter-American Organization of Workers (ORIT) and the development of
responsible, democratic labor leadership in Latin America capable of
taking the initiative away from communists and other anti-U.S.
inter-American labor movements.
c. Encourage Latin American governments to
continue to prevent direct shipments of strategic materials to the
Soviet bloc and to adopt an import certificate and delivery
verification system to facilitate the prevention of indirect
7. The United States should seek to assist in the economic development of
Latin America by:
a. Encouraging Latin American governments
to recognize that the bulk of the capital required for their
economic development can best be supplied by private enterprise and
that their own self-interest requires the creation of a climate
which will attract private investment.
b. Continuing the present level of
International Bank loans and Export–Import Bank loans and, where
appropriate, accelerating and increasing them, as a necessary
supplement to foreign private investment.
c. Continuing a limited economic grant
program in Latin America, including such projects as the
Inter-American Highway and the Rama Road.
d. Making it easy for Latin American
countries to sell their products to us, through simplification of
customs procedures and reduction of trade barriers under the
Reciprocal Trade Agreements program.
e. Continuing the program of technical
assistance to the area, but designing individual projects within the
capability of the particular country concerned.
f. Undertaking a thorough study of the
means by which we can assist Latin American capital to play a more
vigorous and responsible role in economic development of the
8. The United States should encourage the institution of necessary Latin
American government fiscal, budgetary and other measures which are
indispensable to economic progress in the area through utilization of the International Monetary Fund,
the International Bank, the Export–Import Bank, and other appropriate
Information and Related Activities
9. The U.S. Information and Cultural Programs for Latin American states
should be specifically directed to the problems and psychology of
specific states in the area, with the objective of alerting them to the
dangers of Soviet imperialism and communist and other anti-U.S.
subversion, and convincing them that their own self-interest requires an
orientation of Latin American policies to our objectives.
10. . . .
11. The United States should encourage acceptance of the concept that
each of the Latin American states is responsible for maximizing its
a. The internal security of its own
b. The defense of its own territory,
including land communication, coastal waters, ports and approaches
thereto, bases located within its area of responsibility and air
lanes of communication associated therewith.
c. The allied defense effort, including
participation in combined operations within the hemisphere and
support of collective actions in other theaters by forces beyond the
requirements of hemisphere security.
12. In support of the course of action in paragraph 11, the United States
should provide military assistance to Latin America consistent with the
agreed plans of the Inter-American Defense Board and other bilateral or
multilateral military agreements to which the United States is a party.
U.S. military assistance should be designed to reduce to a minimum the
diversion of U.S. forces for the maintenance of hemisphere security; and
in determining the type of military assistance to be provided each
nation, consideration should be given to its role in hemisphere
13. The United States should assume primary responsibility for military
operations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean Sea,
including sea and air approaches to the Panama Canal, and at the
appropriate time should seek from other American states acceptance of
U.S. military control of the defense of these areas.
14. To the extent that military bases other than U.S. bases in Latin
America are required to further joint defense efforts, the United States
should technically guide and assist the Latin American countries in
their development and maintenance and seek agreements providing for
their reciprocal use, rights of air transit and technical stops, and
availability for common defense purposes.
15. The United States should take political, economic or military action,
as appropriate, to insure the continued availability of U.S. bases in
16. Where necessary the United States should assist in the protection of
sources and processing facilities of strategic materials and land
transportation related thereto. However, each of the Latin American
countries should organize its own civil defense.
17. In providing military aid and seeking military commitments the United
States should not encourage Latin American nations to contribute to the
military effort to an extent which would jeopardize their economic
18. In addition, the United States should:
a. Continue the planning of the
Inter-American Defense Board and the Military Commissions on which
we are jointly members with Brazil and Mexico.
b. Continue and establish where
appropriate, military training missions in Latin American
c. Continue to provide training in the
United States for selected Latin American military personnel.
e. Seek the ultimate standardization along
U.S. lines of the organization, training, doctrine and equipment of
Latin American armed forces.
1 The Executive Secretary of the NSC, James
S. Lay, Jr., in a note to the NSC dated Mar. 18, 1953, not printed, referred to the
Council’s action on NSC 144 (NSC Action No. 746) and the President’s
approval that date of NSC 144 as
amended, and transmitted the statement of policy as NSC 144/1 to all appropriate executive
departments and agencies.
* The general
problem of reimbursement for U.S. logistical support of Latin
American forces participating in the war in Korea will be
considered in the forthcoming report on U.S. policy relating to
Korea. This problem is currently most acute in the case of
Colombia. [Footnote in the source text.]