109. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, January 29, 19592


  • Allen W. Dulles, Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • A. Gilmore Flues, Assistant Secretary, Department of the Treasury
  • J. Edgar Hoover, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice
  • General J. M. Swing, Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Department of State:
  • Governor Christian A. Herter, Under Secretary
  • Colonel John M. Raymond, Acting Legal Adviser (L)
  • Roy R. Rubottom, Jr., Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs (ARA)—(present for only 15 minutes)
  • John W. Hanes, Jr., Administrator, Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs (SCA)
  • Hugh S. Cumming, Jr., Director, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR)
  • William P. Snow, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs (ARA)

Governor Herter opened by indicating the concern of the Department (and presumably of all other Departments and Agencies represented) in the problems deriving from the presence of so many political exiles and other Latin America nationals in this country, especially in Florida. This situation had been high-lighted by recent activities in the United States of sympathizers of the Cuban rebels, culminating at the time of the Cuban revolution. Governor Herter also commented on the interest and concern of the Governor of Florida3 in these matters.

Mr. Rubottom expressed the Department’s belief that activity among Latin American factions in this country—especially those from the Caribbean Islands and Central America—would intensify in the coming months as a result of the successful revolution in Cuba and events which will probably flow from it. Mr. Hoover pointed out that a [Page 358] considerable amount of information had been developed in the United States about these Latin groups in the past, and presumably would be in the future. Mr. Hanes commented that the law enforcement agencies were handicapped if they had to approach the problem as one strictly of law enforcement, since the activities of these groups, while often illegal, stemmed from political motivations, and in consequence there was much of an intelligence nature which could be derived from contact with them if the enforcement officers could be given an appreciation of the pertinent political background. [1 sentence (3 lines of source text) not declassified]

Mr. Hoover pointed out that the problem was not confined to Florida; similar problems exist, for example, in New York and New Orleans, and often the persons involved move from place to place during any given operation. He therefore felt that any coordination of effort would have to be at the Washington level, although with full participation by the local representatives as appropriate.

General Swing raised the question of persons seeking asylum arriving at our borders without documentation; and complained that he had been unable to get any answer from ARA concerning what to do with certain Cubans who had arrived after the revolution. The question at issue was that of waiver or non-waiver of the documentary requirements. He said that he had finally paroled some of them into the United States on his own responsibility; he could not detain them indefinitely.

Governor Herter said that there seemed to be three distinct problems: (1) the most effective use of information which is developed; (2) the coordination of effort among the various agencies in Florida and elsewhere to develop such information most usefully; and (3) the problem presented by immediate situations, such as the arrival of undocumented persons at our borders, or of an unauthorized plane at one of our airfields (as recently happened during the Cuban revolution).

With regard to the first problem, Governor Herter said that the Department would perfect its own internal mechanisms, and Mr. Allen Dulles said that further effort could and would be made with regard to tying such information into the national estimates and other centralized intelligence reporting channels. (Governor Herter subsequently requested Mr. Cumming to coordinate the approach to this problem for the Department, consulting especially SCA and ARA.)

With regard to the second problem, there was general agreement that closer liaison among the interested agencies should be maintained at the Washington level, although with participation as required by field personnel, especially those in Florida. Mr. Hoover commented that it would probably be most useful to have frequent “face-to-face” exchanges of information and views among the agencies so that they [Page 359] could develop a commonly agreed procedure with regard to problems of agreed common interest. The desirability of including representatives of the Department of Defense was agreed. It was generally agreed that the group present at this meeting should meet from time to time, although it would probably be useful also to have some continuing liaison group at the working level. (Governor Herter subsequently assigned the coordination of the Department’s role in this matter to Mr. Cumming, to work in conjunction with SCA and ARA.)

Concerning the third problem, it was pointed out that representatives of various agencies in Florida already knew their responsibilities with regard to such incidents as the recent unauthorized arrival in Florida of the Cuban plane and had acted promptly and effectively. The major problem in that instance seemed to be that the Governor of Florida did not know the division of responsibilities among Federal agencies, and did not know to whom to turn for information. Mr. Hoover indicated that he had recently transmitted information to the Governor concerning these matters, which should aid in clearing up the Governor’s confusion. Mr. Hoover’s office in Florida has also offered to answer any future inquiries of a similar nature from the Governor concerning the division of responsibilities among Federal agencies.

It was recognized that the problem was somewhat different with regard to the admission of undocumented persons. General Swing stated that he had been trying to get the Department of State to give him a ruling on whether the documentary requirements are to be waived in the individual cases, this type of ruling being the legal responsibility of the State Department. Mr. Snow pointed out that it was not easy to make prompt findings in these cases, due to insufficient information; and also pointed out that contact between INS and the Department in several of these cases had only been at the desk level up to now. Mr. Hanes pointed out that this contact had also been with the wrong bureau. Governor Herter stated that the Department would look into this question of proper procedures promptly. (Governor Herter subsequently asked L, in coordination with SCA and ARA, to develop an acceptable policy and procedure to handle such situations.)4

  1. Source: Department of State, ARA Deputy Assistant Secretary’s Files: Lot 61 D 411, Caribbean 1959. Secret. Drafted by Hanes on February 4. This conversation took place during a luncheon meeting.
  2. LeRoy Collins.
  3. On February 27, Acting Secretary Herter approved two recommendations contained in a February 9 memorandum from John M. Raymond proposing that the Administrator of SCA should continue to serve as the channel for communication with the Commissioner of INS regarding the entry of ineligible aliens into the United States, and should have responsibility for developing policy, subject to the concurrence of the Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, governing the Department of State’s position with respect to the entry of such persons from the Caribbean area. (Department of State, ARA Deputy Assistant Secretary’s Files: Lot 61 D 411, Caribbean 1959)