S/PNSC files, lot 61 D 167, NSC 144 series

Draft Statement of Policy Prepared in the Department of State for the National Security Council 1

top secret

United States Objectives and Courses of Action with Respect to Venezuela

(Parenthetical references are to paragraphs of staff study2)

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general considerations

1. The importance of Venezuela to the U.S. is due principally to its strategic resources (chiefly petroleum and iron ore), and market for U.S. exports as well as the very large U.S. private capital investment, its geographic location, its support of the free enterprise system, and its political support of the U.S. and the free world in international organizations. (1–9)

2. Recent Venezuelan history has been characterized by rapid economic growth but much slower political evolution. The tradition of strong rule by military leaders has retarded political education, and has caused an acceptance of subversive and violent methods to accomplish political change. This, coupled with a rather sharp division between the very few who are wealthy and the extremely poor masses, without a strong, stabilizing middle class, has facilitated authoritarian government. The gradual education of the masses, the growth of labor unions, and the tests of political power enjoyed briefly by the masses from 1945 to 1948, as well as the rising tide of nationalism throughout Latin America, threaten the continuance of this type of government. (15, 16, 22–24)

3. The present dictatorship, which is constitutional in form only, is not generally liked by the people, but is popular with the majority of the armed forces and of the business interests and privileged classes who prefer a government friendly to them rather than greater civil liberties. So long as the President, Colonel Perez Jimenez, retains the support of the armed forces, there is no likelihood that he will lose control of the country. The leaders of the principal opposition parties are in exile, and while the Government has had only partial success in breaking up the organization of the Accion Democratica party which held power from 1945 to 1948, it is unlikely that any civilian group will be able to overthrow the Government. Efforts to split the armed forces are continuing, but have not so far achieved such success. There is a large and growing element which favors greater economic nationalism and which coincides partially with the group demanding greater civil liberties. Each of these elements will increasingly demand a voice in the Government, and this in itself presents a conflict of interests for us. (17–21, 25–27, 39)

4. Venezuela’s economy is overwhelmingly dependent upon petroleum, and both the commercial and military significance to us of this product give it a position of outstanding importance in Venezuelan-U.S. relations. This oil, on which the economy and the Government revenue depend so heavily, is produced ⅔ by American and ⅓ by British-Dutch capital and management. These facts enhance our direct interest in this commodity, and create additional problems in our relations. Increased Venezuelan production and discovery of additional [Page 1655] reserves are of strategic importance to the U.S., while at the same time, increasing exports of Venezuelan oil to the U.S. in peace time involve political problems for us because of the objections of our domestic producers. Recognition of the importance of Venezuelan oil and of this market for a half billion dollars of U.S. exports annually were the primary considerations in our acceding last year to Venezuela’s request for negotiation of a Supplementary Trade Agreement. Legislation which has repeatedly been introduced in our Congress threatens these trade agreement commitments as well as to varying degrees, our export market, our investments, and our security interests, and it would seriously damage our friendly relations. (4, 7, 11, 45)

5. The development by American steel companies of large deposits of high-grade iron ore is of strategic importance to us, and adds to U.S. private investments in Venezuela now estimated at over $2 billion. Venezuela’s position as an exponent of private enterprise and its friendly treatment of foreign capital constitute additional reasons for our desire to maintain friendly relations and to assist in the development of a sound balanced economy. (5, 6, 13)

6. Venezuela’s historically friendly attitude toward the U.S., its cooperation with us during the second World War, and its subsequent cooperation with us in both regional and United Nations matters, as well as its anti-Communist stand, and its desire for a more prominent position among the American Republics emphasize its importance to the U.S. However, while this friendly attitude is representative of the ruling element, we must not overlook the distrust and misunderstanding of the U.S. which is widespread on the part of the laboring element and the uneducated masses. (8, 9, 27, 28)

basic objectives

7. The objectives of the U.S. with respect to Venezuela are:

A. Political

(1)
Basic friendliness toward the U.S. on the part of the Venezuelan Government, political parties and people and a resultant support of our economic and military objectives in Venezuela, of our area-wide policy of maintenance and hemispheric peace and solidarity, and of our world policies, particularly in the UN; (40, 41, 57–59)
(2)
The elimination of the menace of internal Communist or other anti-U.S. subversion; (41, 59)
(3)
Encouragement of orderly progressive development by Venezuela of stable representative institutions in order to strengthen Venezuela’s support for the way of life of the U.S. and the free world. (40, 59)
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B. Economic

(1)
A continuing development of Venezuela’s petroleum and iron ore resources; (44–52)
(2)
Maintenance of an important market for U.S. exports; (7, 43)
(3)
Venezuela’s continued adherence to the private enterprise system, including the further development by private capital of its strategic resources of petroleum and iron ore and the continuance of a favorable climate for foreign investments; (42, 54)
(4)
Development by Venezuela of a strong and balanced economy so that Venezuela will be an increasingly effective member of the hemisphere system and participant in world-wide economic and political affairs; (54–56)
(5)
Development of better living conditions for the Venezuelan masses and an increased share for them in the economic wealth of the country as the surest means of preventing the growth of Communism and of assuring that any more popularly chosen government will not be less friendly toward the U.S. (55, 56)

C. Military

(1)
Safeguarding of Venezuelan strategic resources, territory, and adjacent sea and air lanes through individual and collective defense measures against external aggression; (2, 3, 12, 32–37, 60–63)
(2)
Ensuring the availability to the U.S. and its allies in time of war of maximum quantities of Venezuelan oil and other raw materials. (32, 36, 44, 45)

courses of action

Political

8. The U.S. should seek to maintain the friendship of the Venezuelan Government and its support for our hemispheric and world-wide policies by:

a.
Showing a genuine interest through assistance wherever possible in the economic objectives of that Government; (13, 42, 43, 45, 52–56)
b.
Showing respect, wherever warranted, for Venezuela’s desire for political leadership among the American Republics; (30)
c.
Showing appreciation for its cooperation with the U.S. and other nations of the free world in the UN; (8, 30)
d.
Consulting in advance with respect to important UN or other international issues, and showing a willingness to take its views into account rather than merely expecting it to vote on our side. (8, 9, 30)

9. The U.S. should also seek to win the greater friendship of the Venezuelan people and thereby assure itself of support which will outlast any current government, and will not suffer by the development of a more representative type of government. This can best be accomplished by the approach set forth in paragraph 13; also by displaying a friendly attitude in any contact with the political leaders and an interest [Page 1657] in their programs insofar as they are not directed against the constituted government, and at all times exercising great care to avoid any action which might be interpreted as intervention in the political life of the country. (19–21, 26–28, 39, 40, 57–59)

10, The U.S. should endeavor to eliminate Communist and other anti-U.S. subversion by:

a.
Cooperating with Venezuela in eliminating those conditions which foster the spread of Communism; (22–25, 30)
b.
Carrying out the program set forth in paragraph 13;
c.
Indicating informally its approval, when appropriate, of anti-Communist measures taken by the Venezuelan Government, but distinguishing clearly between these and the repression of other opposition elements. (41)

11. The U.S. should encourage the development of democratic representative institutions in Venezuela by:

a.
Promoting visits to Venezuela of U.S. legislators and leaders in the political life and thought of this country and reciprocally the visits to the U.S. of leaders in the Venezuelan Government and intellectual circles; (39, 40)
b.
Bestowing upon leaders in Venezuelan civic life honors at least equivalent to the honors and decorations which it may be considered necesssary or expedient to confer upon those leaders who are symbols of military achievement or authoritarian power. (39, 40)

Economic

12. The U.S. should seek to achieve its economic objectives by:

a.
Taking all possible steps to assure Venezuela of a continued and reliable market in the U.S. for petroleum. It is essential to the security of the U.S. to have access to this important nearby source of petroleum, and assurance to Venezuela of a stable peacetime market in the U.S. will encourage the maintenance of adequate production and development of additional reserves of petroleum; (43–45)
b.
Encouraging the Venezuelan Government to grant new oil concessions necessary for the development of additional reserves required for the increase or at least maintenance of existing levels of production; (44,48)
c.
Furthering the concept of cooperation between the American oil and iron mining companies on the one hand and the Venezuelan Government on the other, and by taking what measures we can to overcome the natural prejudice of the Venezuelan masses against foreign big business; (27, 28, 46–48, 52)
d.
Emphasizing the benefits which the Venezuelan people obtain from investment of private U.S. capital in their country; and supplementing and stimulating the efforts of the large U.S. companies operating these to improve their own labor and public relations programs; (27, 28, 46–48, 52)
e.
Continuing to show in public statements by U.S. officials, and by specific measures of cooperation and assistance, our approval of the Venezuelan attitude toward foreign investments; (6, 42)
f.
Encouraging private investment and extending Export Import Bank loans where these may be necessary to aid in the sound economic development of the country; (54)
g.
Discouraging the development of uneconomic tariff barriers which will limit our export market and decrease trade; (7, 31, 43)
h.
Extending upon request technical aid in those projects which will raise the standard of living for the Venezuelan masses, and will serve as an indication of the good will of the U.S. toward the Venezuelan people. (55, 56)

Information and Related Activities

13. The U.S. information and cultural programs in Venezuela should be directed toward gaining the understanding and friendship of the Venezuelan masses by:

a.
Presenting the U.S. as a nation without imperialistic intentions which is interested in the increased welfare of those masses and the economic development of the country; (57)
b.
Emphasizing the economic and political community of interest existing between the two countries; (59)
c.
Using all available resources to convince the people of Venezuela that the best interests of Venezuela and its people will be furthered by economic cooperation and by continuing to attract private foreign capital; that wise nationalism is by no means to be equated with nationalization; and that aggressive demands for nationalization and extreme nationalism are in fact contrary to the best interests of Venezuela; (27, 28, 39, 42, 46–52, 54, 57)
d.
Endeavoring to convince Venezuelans that their national safety depends upon hemisphere solidarity and makes it imperative for them to keep their strategic materials available to the free world; (8, 9, 30, 32, 40, 44, 52, 59)
e.
Making increased efforts to reach the laboring masses with our information and other programs, bearing in mind their distrust of the U.S. and the appeal of Communist propaganda to this group; (57–59)
f.
Furthering the interchange of journalists, teachers, and students as groups particularly susceptible to Communist ideology, but also susceptible to exposure to U.S. democracy; (59)
g.
Continuing the work of the binational center and other projects for increased cultural interchange, and the exchange of leaders and trainees in important areas of Venezuelan life. (57)

Military

14. The U.S. should promote cooperative planning for the protection by both countries of Venezuela’s strategic resources, territory, and sea and air lanes against external aggression by:

a.
Obtaining acceptance by the Venezuelan Government of the specific role which Venezuela should play in defense of the hemisphere in accordance with the Western Hemisphere Defense Scheme.3 [Page 1659] This can best be achieved by trying to reach agreement with Venezuelan authorities on a program of equipment acquisition which will actually develop Venezuela’s ability to participate in such protection, with the understanding that the U.S. will fill equipment requests based on this program on a high priority basis; (32–37)
b.
c.
Exercising great care at all times to avoid any encouragement of the purchase of arms in excess of those required for Venezuela’s actual hemispheric defense responsibilities, to avoid the development in Venezuelan minds of implied U.S. commitments to supply such arms, and to guide the thinking of Venezuelan military officers so that their requests will conform to those needs. (61, 62)

  1. No drafting information appears on the source text, nor was any found in Department of Sate files. The draft statement was transmitted to the NSC Planning Board under cover of a memorandum by Executive Secretary Lay, dated Oct. 22, 1953. The planning Board considered the statement at several of its meetings during August 1954 in connection with the preparation of NSC 5432, but did not forward the document to the NSC (S/PNSC files, lot 62 D 1, “Records of Planning Board meetings, 1954”). Regarding NSC 5432, see the editorial note, p. 65; for text of NSC 5432/1, Sept. 13, 1954, see p. 81.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Apparent reference to the Common Defense Scheme for the Defense of the American Continent, approved by the Inter-American Defense Board, Oct. 27, 1950, and by the Department of State, Jan. 15, 1951; for pertinent information, see Secretary of Defense Marshall’s letter to Secretary Acheson, Dec. 16, 1950, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. i, p. 679.