269. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland) to the Ambassador in Bolivia (Drew)1

Dear Jerry: With reference to your letter of August 14, 19562 regarding implementation of the OCB Plan against Communism in Latin America,3 I think your points are very well taken. You have noted from the Under Secretary’s letter of May 174 that the Plan is not to be considered inflexible and that not all courses of action will be equally applicable to all countries. This provision in the Under Secretary’s letter distributing the Plan was put in so that people on the spot would not feel that their hands were tied and in order to give them the necessary flexibility and freedom of action within the framework of a paper attempting to cover 20 countries and prepared here in Washington. Implementation is up to you, and the Department will be guided by your recommendations.

We concur in the opinion of your country team that in Bolivia emphasis needs to be placed on: [Page 554]

better control of the international movement of communists and pro-communists (I would add control of their propaganda material, much of which seems to move into Bolivia via the Czechoslovak Legation and is distributed widely, including to neighboring countries, from there);
a tightening of legislation with respect to subversion (I would include in this enforcement of existing legislation); and
a more aggressive campaign against communists and pro-communists holding positions of influence in the Government and in the educational system.

My only comment is that these points do not hit at another problem which is, in my estimation, serious in Bolivia and other Latin American countries. This is the tendency to view local communists as “patriotic” if misguided individuals rather than as agents of an international conspiracy. We hear so often that so-and-so may be a communist but after all “he’s a good Bolivian”—or a good Chilean, or Brazilian, etc. The other side of the coin is the tendency to view communists as simply local political opponents to be dealt with merely as the “outs” wanting to get “in.” Courses of action 5a and 10a of the Outline Plan under reference are aimed at this problem. Anything you can devise in this connection to supplement your other ideas would be advantageous.

If you have not already submitted one, I would find it most interesting to receive a summary of the informal measures taken by the Embassy over the past year to carry out paragraph 11 of the Joint Program agreed upon with Bolivia in June of last year. The Outline Plan under discussion as a whole has the same objectives as paragraph 11 of the Joint Program, of course, but paragraphs 6, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 14 are particularly pertinent. Also paragraph 35 of the OCB paper on Bolivian internal security,5 sent the then Chargé d’Affaires ad interim on January 13, 1956 by the Under Secretary, has the same objective. A summary as requested would be of great help to us in reporting implementation of these OCB documents.

I would not want the anti-communist programs to prejudice our economic programs or interfere with the attainment of their objectives, as I explained them in my talks with Paz Estenssoro and Siles. At the same time, attainment of our economic objectives without some success in the anti-communist field would be a hollow achievement indeed. Arriving at a balance between the two efforts, and the timing of specific moves in each field, will of necessity be based largely on the recommendations of you who are on the spot. At the present time I am inclined to agree with you that too great an emphasis on the anti-communist side could have undesirable political consequences and hence concur in your recommendation that we [Page 555] not put too much pressure on the Bolivians in the communist field right now. At the same time, unless the Bolivians recognize communism as an international subversive conspiracy which is a separate and distinct threat not to be dealt with as merely a part of the political opposition (para. 5a) and unless they control communist movements, activities and propaganda (paras. 6, 13 and 14) then communists will be free to work with impunity against our economic programs. And they have the Czechoslovak Legation to give them direction and support.

Consequently, when you sit down with President Siles to go over your “inventory” as proposed, I suggest you point out to him the interrelationship between success in the anti-communist field and success in the economic field. I do not suggest that you put great pressure on him to take specific actions at this time, but he should have a clear understanding of our conviction that communists are opposed to economic progress which meets the needs and aspirations of the masses, particularly if accomplished with US support, and that success in the economic field thus depends in part on effective measures to control communism. You might also modify point no. 7 of the inventory to ask why Siñani was given an official passport.

You have raised interesting and difficult points in your letter. I hope the foregoing will be helpful to you. I am always glad to have your comments and suggestions and, as stated above, will rely on your judgment in these matters.


Henry F. Holland6
  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, Latin America—General, 1953–58. Secret. Drafted by King and cleared by Bernbaum, Briggs, Turkel, and Richards.
  2. Drew’s letter is summarized in paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of Holland’s letter. (Ibid., Central Files, 720.001/8–1456) A report on implementation of the OCB plan was transmitted in despatch 73 from La Paz, August 16. (Ibid., 720.001/8–1656)
  3. See vol. vi, Document 18.
  4. Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 611.20/5–1756)
  5. Not printed. (Ibid., S/SOCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, Latin America—1953–1958)
  6. Printed from a copy which bears this typed signature.