119. Instruction From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions 1



  • Authorization of Arms Shipments to Caribbean Area

In order to provide more detailed guidance than that contained in Circular Telegram 1141 of April 3, 19592 respecting consideration by the Department of applications for licenses to export military equipment to the Caribbean area, a memorandum was recently prepared in the Department setting forth the more important elements of the current practice respecting this matter. This memorandum, a copy of which is enclosed, has been distributed to officers of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs and the Office of Munitions Control for their guidance in considering export license applications.

Comments of Embassies to which this Instruction is sent for action are requested respecting the guidelines set out in this memorandum.




While it is difficult, if not impossible, to establish firm general rules for consideration of licenses for the export of arms and ammunition to the Caribbean area, the following guidelines are set out for use in the immediate future. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide advice to MC and to ARA country desk officers to make it possible to decide speedily as to approval or disapproval of the majority of applications received from countries of the area.


Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

No applications for combat military equipment should be approved in the immediate future. “Combat equipment” encompasses military aircraft (including training planes), ships commonly accepted [Page 388] as war vessels, arms, ammunition, and spare parts for combat military equipment already on hand in the applicant country. Since spare parts for military equipment will not be approved, authorization should not be given for temporary entry for purposes of repair or overhaul of either (a) components of aircraft or (b) the aircraft themselves. Combat equipment does not include civilian aircraft or spare parts for civilian aircraft; applications for these items will be considered on a case-by-case basis where it can be demonstrated that the items are for use exclusively by civilian aircraft or by private individuals. End-use checks should be routine for these case-by-case examinations. Applications for spare parts for civilian-type aircraft used by the military forces (e.g. C–46’s, C–54’s) will be reviewed to determine whether the normal use of these aircraft is such that no objection would be raised to approving such requests. The Munitions Control Division should continue to refer to ARA doubtful cases involving non-combat military equipment for review on a case-by-case basis, but need not refer cases of non-combat, non-military items included on the U.S. Munitions list. Generally, non-combat military equipment will be approved.


Colombia and Mexico.

There is no need at present for disapproving applications, but the normal scrutiny should be given to applications to assure that Colombia and Mexico are not being used as centers for trans-shipment to other points in the area. The Mexican Desk will be alert, in clearing applications, that no equipment will be authorized which might be used to arm Communist groups.


Central America, Panama and Haiti.

In general, the practices followed in the cases of Cuba and the Dominican Republic should be followed in the immediate future, although in individual countries there may be reasons for more latitude in approving small items. For instance, the following items should be approved in amounts determined4 to be not in excess of normal requirements:

small arms and ammunition for police use
trucks and jeeps
non-combat equipment such as helmets, helmet liners, and riot equipment, including tear gas.



Requests for authorization to ship military equipment to Venezuela will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Items on which questions are raised will be referred to the Embassy at Caracas for its recommendation.

[Page 389]

In rejecting applications, it is suggested that MC return disapproved requests with the comment that the application cannot be approved “at this time”.

In instances where a question regarding any request for an export license is raised by MC or the appropriate Desk, our Embassy in the applicant country will be asked to conduct the customary end-use check.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 413.118/6–359. Confidential. Drafted by Little, and approved by Snow. Sent to Bogotá, Caracas, Ciudad Trujillo, Guatemala, Habana, Managua, Mexico, Panamá, Port-au-Prince, San José, San Salvador, and Tegucigalpa; repeated to Asunción, Bonn, Brussels, Buenos Aires, La Paz, Lima, London, Madrid, Montevideo, Oslo, Ottawa, Paris, Quito, Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Stockholm, and The Hague.
  2. Document 116.
  3. Drafted on May 26.
  4. These determinations would be made in consultation with the Desk and, where appropriate, with our Embassy in the applicant country. [Footnote in the source text.]