Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Middle American Affairs (Burrows)1



  • Proposal for a meeting of Foreign Ministers of the American Republics to consider anti-Communist policy and actions2
  • Participants: The Secretary
  • Ambassador Thomen of the Dominican Republic.
  • Mr. Charles R. Burrows, Director, Office of Middle American Affairs

After an exchange of amenities, the Secretary opened the way for a discussion of Ambassador Thomen’s business by referring to the copy of the Dominican memorandum3 which had been furnished the Department [Page 940] in advance and which the Secretary had in his hand at the time.

Ambassador Thomen expounded upon the concern which his Government feels as a result of Communist activities and dangers throughout the Americas and in the Caribbean and Panamanian areas in particular. He referred to the 1951 Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Washington,4 to the general resolutions adopted at that Meeting and to the limited action which followed and then stressed the need now for follow-up and more specific measures against the ever-increasing dangers of international Communism. He said his Government felt that another meeting of Foreign Ministers would be the only proper means of achieving this purpose.

The Secretary asked if the Dominican Republic did not feel that the Caracas Conference5 would provide a more suitable and adequate opportunity for consideration of this problem. Ambassador Thomen said that his Government does not believe that such a controversial subject as this should be introduced into the Inter-American Conference, which should always be a symbol to the world of Pan American unity. He said he felt that a meeting of Foreign Ministers called specifically for the purpose of considering international Communism would leave the Inter-American Conference agenda free of this difficult subject. He said also that his Government feels the dangers presented by Communism in the Americas require more urgent attention then consideration at the Caracas Conference.

The Secretary pointed out that unless very general resolutions only are considered there is bound to be a certain amount of active discussion and controversy and said that he did not believe the danger of controversy was sufficient reason not to have the Caracas Conference consider the subject. He said that if the action taken is of a kind that will have real meaning there will be a certain amount of controversy but there is not necessarily any need to fear this. Mr. Burrows suggested that the kind of controversy which the Ambassador seemed to fear would be just as unfortunate at a meeting of Foreign Ministers as in the Inter-American Conference.

The Secretary asked if the Dominican Republic had received any indications of reaction from any other countries as yet. The Ambassador replied affirmatively and said that the reaction had been favorable from “several” Central American nations. The Secretary said he [Page 941] thought it would be a good idea to await the return to Washington of Dr. Eisenhower and his group in order to obtain the benefit of their opinion following their trip around South America. The Ambassador said that his Government had “expected” (he probably meant hoped) a prompt reply because it was felt that the matter was very urgent and that a meeting of Foreign Ministers should be held promptly. In reply to the Secretary’s query as to when the Dominican Republic would hope that such a meeting could be held, the Ambassador said “next month”.

The Secretary said that next month seems far too soon for a meeting of this kind. He said there would have to be very careful preparation and certainly the United States Government could not complete preparations so quickly for such an important meeting. He said that if a meeting of this nature were to mean anything at all it would have to consider some very difficult problems—such as intervention by an international organization in the internal affairs of individual countries. As far as the United States was concerned, this would raise very complicated questions. On the other hand, the Secretary questioned the usefulness of only general resolutions. He asked the Ambassador to report to his Government that the Secretary did not wish to reply more definitely until he had had a chance to consult with Dr. Eisenhower and to obtain his reaction.

Ambassador Thomen asked the Secretary if he had any suggestions as to what the Ambassador might say to the representatives of the press who were waiting outside. The Secretary said that the Ambassador of course could say what he liked concerning his own part of the conversation but he asked he not quote the Secretary. The Secretary said that he supposed he might tell the press that he had given the Secretary a memorandum from his Government concerning the possibility of a meeting of Foreign Ministers to discuss the problem of Communism in the Americas and that there had been some general exchange of opinions on the subject. Mr. Burrows suggested that so far as he knew there had not been any previous publicity with reference to similar conversations in any of the other countries and the Ambassador said that he would evade any press questions on the subject. When he left the Secretary’s office the Ambassador told correspondents that he had delivered a note to the Secretary and had discussed it with him but that he was not free to disclose the subject of the note to the [Page 942] press. In reply to a question he said that the subject of the memorandum was of interest to all the American nations.6

  1. A handwritten notation on the source text, initialed by Mr. O’Connor, indicates that the Secretary approved this memorandum.
  2. Ambassador Thomen discussed this subject with Assistant Secretary Cabot on Mar. 11, 1953; a memorandum of their conversation, dated Mar. 11, is in file 720.001/3–1153.
  3. The referenced memorandum, dated July 8, 1953, delivered to the Department of State on the same date by Ambassador Thomen, requested the Department’s views with respect to the Dominican proposal that a meeting of Foreign Ministers be called to consider what action the American States could undertake against the threat to their collective interests presented by international Communism (720.001/7–853).
  4. Reference is to the Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of American States, held in Washington, Mar. 26–Apr. 7, 1951; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. ii, pp. 925 ff.
  5. Reference is to the Tenth Inter-American Conference, held at Caracas, Venezuela, Mar. 1–28, 1954; for documentation on the conference, see pp. 264 ff.
  6. On Aug. 18, 1953, Acting Secretary Smith handed Ambassador Thomen a memorandum of the same date, which stated that the Department of State doubted the practicality of holding a special consultative meeting of Foreign Ministers prior to the Tenth Inter-American Conference, particularly in view of the possibility that the Conference might provide a suitable opportunity for consideration of the Communist problem (720.001/7–853).

    No special meeting of Foreign Ministers along the lines proposed by the Dominican Government was held in 1953 or 1954.