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

482. Ref. Circular 1141, April 3, 1959.2 Circular telegram under reference described unsettled conditions in Caribbean area and informed posts of Department’s decision withhold for time-being shipments combat military equipment to area in order not to exacerbate tensions.

After careful consideration number of factors, including lessening of tensions in Caribbean in recent months, Department has decided to modify policy on arms shipment to area and intends follow policy outlined below effective October 16 until circumstances indicate need for modification.3


Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Export licenses for combat equipment, military weapons and ammunition, spare parts for combat equipment, combat aircraft, military trainer aircraft and armed patrol vessels will continue to be withheld except for reasonable amounts of necessary spare parts for all types military aircraft now in possession of Dominican and Cuban air forces. Such spare parts include engine and air frame replacements parts, but do not include spare parts or replacements for armaments carried by aircraft.

In general, non-combat military equipment and civil aircraft, whether for military or civilian end use, and spare parts for such equipment and aircraft will be authorized. This does not include military trainer aircraft.


Other Caribbean Countries—Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Panama, Haiti and Venezuela. In general, proposed exports of conventional military equipment in reasonable quantities will be given favorable consideration but on case-by-case basis.

Department is informing Washington Embassies of friendly supplier countries substance revised arms policy and requesting their governments’ cooperation in adopting parallel practices.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 413.118/10–1459. Confidential. The time of transmission is illegible on the source text. Drafted by Owen and approved by Vallon. Sent to all 20 missions in Latin America, and also to Bonn, Brussels, Copenhagen, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, and The Hague.
  2. Document 116.
  3. In a memorandum to Snow, September 24, Wieland proposed a change of policy regarding arms sales in the Caribbean basin. He stated in part the following:

    “Confirming conversations with you, CMA and OAP agree that tensions in the Caribbean area have abated to a considerable extent over the past several months, and that our policy concerning the shipment of military equipment to the area merits reexamination. In addition, there are indications that American suppliers of certain types of equipment are becoming apprehensive that their normal markets may be lost to competitors from those European countries which have not been as scrupulous as the United States in observing our present policy on arms shipments to the area. Another factor in the situation is the complaint by the Department of Commerce that they are finding the present policy difficult to administer on a case-by-case basis.

    “In view of these considerations, it is proposed that the policy outlined below be adopted.” (Department of State, ARA Deputy Assistant Secretary’s Files: Lot 61 D 411, Caribbean 1959)

  4. Between October 7 and 19, copies of an Aide-Mémoire describing the modified policy regarding arms exports to the Caribbean area were delivered to the Embassies of Great Britain, West Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Austria. In the Aide-Mémoire, the Department thanked those “friendly supplier countries” for their cooperation in support of the previous arms export policy, and expressed the hope that they would continue to adopt practices parallel to those of the United States. (ibid., Central File 413.008)