90. Memorandum From the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks) to President Johnson1

Weekly Report


Increasing Soviet concern over the effectiveness of U.S. information efforts was recently made explicit by International Affairs, an authoritative Soviet monthly. Noting the growing importance of USIA during [Page 266] your Administration, the article called for stepped up Soviet propaganda to neutralize our efforts.2 Anti-Communist propaganda is now based on considerable research, it asserted, it is efficiently organized and has improved continuously. It would be wrong to underestimate it, the monthly said.

The article singled out Communist ideology, the building of a Socialist economy, and Soviet foreign policy as the three major issues in the East-West ideological struggle. It called upon Soviet propagandists to refute Western information efforts. Ideological warfare between the two systems now is entering into a new stage, International Affairs said.


The April Chieu Hoi returnee figure was 1,510. While this number represents a decline from the record high of February and March, it not only is almost three times the number of last April’s returnees, but also is higher than any single monthly figure in 1965.


In anticipation of the dismal failure of the Cuban sugar harvest—a total production of about 4.5 million tons, 1.5 million less than last year—we are supplying all posts and media with background material to exploit these production figures when announced by the Castro government.


Reaction to Speech by Senator Robert Kennedy.3 The Latin American press differed in its comment on Senator Kennedy’s speech on Latin America. In Brazil where criticism seems strongest, there was marked resentment against his “paternalistic” tone. Critical reactions seemed to fear U.S. interference in economic affairs, the inadequacies of proposals made by Kennedy and alleged U.S. unwillingness to do anything about low raw material prices and high prices for manufactured goods.

In Colombia, liberal El Espectador praised the speech but warned against “treating Latin America as family,” an “error” which could lead to another Dominican crisis. Another paper “feared another Cuba” if Kennedy tried to push the Latin America revolution too fast.

Brazil’s conservative O Estado de Sao Paulo bitterly attacked the Senator and stated that he seemed to be setting himself up as a Latin [Page 267] American expert by virtue of a hurried visit to some of the Latin American countries.

Most papers approved Senator Kennedy’s sincere concern for Latin American welfare.


Seventeen former Grantees from Ecuador recently have come into positions of influence as political changes saw the substitution of civilians for military figures in national or municipal institutions.

Among ex-grantees named to important positions recently have been the Minister of Foreign Relations, Minister of Public Education, Attorney General, Secretary General of Administration in the Presidency, Director of the Ecuadorean Housing Bank, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Mayor of Cuenca and a member of the National Juridical Commission for reforming the National Constitution.


The film produced by USIA on President Ayub Khan’s visit4 to Washington is now being shown in all Pakistan theatres. The post reports that there is “compulsory commercial distribution” in these theatres.

Leonard H. Marks5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1963–1967, Entry UD WW 101, Box 4, Government Agencies—White House—Weekly Report 1966. Confidential. Sent through Kintner, who did not initial the memorandum. There is no indication that Johnson saw the memorandum.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Reference is to Kennedy’s speech, delivered over 2 days, May 9 and 10, before the Senate. (Richard Eder, “Kennedy’s Latin Views,” New York Times, May 12, 1966, p. 8)
  4. Ayub Khan came to the United States in December 1965 on an official visit. He met with President Johnson at the White House on December 14 and 15. For memoranda of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXV, South Asia, Documents 263, 265, and 267.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.