116. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions1

1141. Missions no doubt aware from recent communications and other sources of recent increase in unsettled conditions in Caribbean area, particularly following Castro victory in January, and activity of various groups intent on unseating “dictatorship” governments. Trujillo most frequently mentioned target of these groups while others include Somoza of Nicaragua, Stroessner of Paraguay, and some mention Duvalier of Haiti.

Department is deeply concerned implications of these unstable conditions because of danger of armed flareups in region, including possible outbreak hostilities, and opportunities these activities give for infiltration and possible heavy gains by communist elements. All American States committed to seek peaceful settlement controversies which is contained in Rio Treaty as well as OAS and UN Charters. Department is exploring every possible means of ameliorating tensions in area and, in reviewing problem, question of U.S. policy regarding arms shipments to entire Caribbean area has been under intensive study. This study has included evaluation of effects of shipment or non-shipment arms on (1) increase or decrease of threat of violence in Caribbean, (2) U.S. position in hemisphere, particularly respecting “dictatorship” issue, and (3) rising current of feeling against military buildups in Latin America in favor of emphasis on economic development.

Applications are pending with Department for sale and shipment to most Caribbean countries of military equipment including military aircraft, patrol vessels, arms, ammunition and spare parts for military equipment on hand in the applicant countries. Except where existing commitments cannot be escaped or where there are other well-based and clear considerations of United States interest, action is being withheld for time being on such applications in view tense conditions in area. Items clearly identifiable as non-combat equipment, including spare parts for civil aircraft, are generally being approved after case- by-case [Page 380] examination. This course being followed with respect all sales, whether commercial purchases or those arranged through U.S. military auspices authorized by Section 106 Mutual Security Act.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 413.118/4–359. Confidential. Drafted by Little and signed for Herter by Rubottom. Sent to all 20 diplomatic missions in Latin America, and also to Bonn, Brussels, London, Madrid, Oslo, Ottawa, Rome, Stockholm, and The Hague. Repeated on April 16 to Ankara, Frankfurt, Manila, Naha, Rabat, Saigon, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo.