41. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Rowan) to President Johnson 1

Since one of our obvious goals is to win the support of the Dominican people for a progressive and democratic government, and of the rest of Latin America for our present actions in the Dominican Republic,2 I think I should point out a few of our major obstacles:

1. While I support completely our sending in more troops, we must be aware that it will be well nigh impossible to justify the presence of 16,000 American troops simply on the grounds that we are protecting Americans and other foreigners.

2. We shall have to devote considerable effort to providing evidence that our actions are to protect the short-range and long-range well-being of the people of the Dominican Republic and the rest of Latin America.

3. In order to do this meaningfully, especially when troops are entering during a period of so-called ceasefire, I believe we must exploit as shrewdly as possible, without overdoing it, the Communist and Castroite3 leadership of the rebels. This is indicated in the fact that almost all the editorials supporting us in Latin America base their support on the fear that the Dominican Republic might become another Cuba, and thus a menace to the entire hemisphere.

4. What I am emphasizing, then, is the need for a two-track information operation—the first being humanitarian, which we can push openly as a government, and the second being the threat to the security of non-Communist nations of Latin America, which would best be pushed by Latin Americans, but which we must encourage in every feasible way.

5. If we are to succeed in making other Latin American nations believe that our actions are vital to their safety and freedom, it is of utmost importance that we get some members of the OAS, and perhaps non-OAS neighbors of the Dominican Republic like Jamaica, to speak out about the Communist involvement in the Dominican Republic, and to offer troops or other support to our efforts to end the bloodshed.

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6. Proper consideration of the foregoing points will help to mute the cries of “United States aggression” and “gunboat diplomacy” and perhaps preclude attacks on USIS libraries, embassies and other American installations, with attendant Communist exploitation through Latin America and the world.

Carl T. Rowan
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Box 74, United States Information Agency Vol. 4, 4/14/65 [2 of 2]. Secret. In the top left-hand corner of the memorandum, Roberts wrote: “President: ‘Okay, tell him to get going.’ JR.”
  2. U.S. actions in the Dominican Republic during this period are detailed at length in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXII, Dominican Republic; Cuba; Haiti; Guyana, Documents 1222.
  3. The reference is to Fidel Castro.