135. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, November 18, 19601


  • Caribbean Situation


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Hervé Alphand, French Embassy
  • M. Claude Lebel, Minister, French Embassy
  • Mr. Robert H. McBride, WE

Ambassador Alphand inquired regarding the Caribbean situation. He said this subject had been discussed recently with Assistant Secretary Mann but that he wished to pursue it further with the Secretary. With regard to the sending of ships to the Caribbean, the Secretary said that we had not informed the French of this previously because we had only received the request very recently from the Central American governments concerned and had alerted our vessels accordingly. He said these governments had only asked for surveillance of possible Castro invasion attempts and interdiction on November 17. In response to a question he said our ships would not go into the territorial waters of these Central American states, at least at the present time. He thought aerial reconnaissance would be sufficient for the purpose now. Ambassador Alphand inquired if our efforts were directed solely to preventing invasion attempts by Castro forces. The Secretary replied in the affirmative saying our vessels would be off the Central American coast. Ambassador Alphand asked if it is our intention to use these vessels to prevent shipment of Soviet arms to Cuba and if the United States intended to follow the same sort of a line of preventing Soviet arms from reaching Cuba as the French were following with regard to Algeria. The Secretary said that the situation was very different since Algeria was a part of France, according to the French position. Ambassador Alphand asked if we would attempt to interdict [Page 456] shipments of arms to Guatemalan rebels. The Secretary replied in the affirmative. The Secretary added that these governments had also reported this matter to the OAS. The Secretary said he hoped that they had a good case. He also noted the presence of Communist elements in Guatemala.

In response to a further query the Secretary said we were not recognizing the Salvadoran Government yet. We thought it looked more and more penetrated by Communist elements. The inexperienced members of the military junta had been hoodwinked by left wing elements. Should Salvador go Communist we would have numerous difficulties elsewhere.

Finally, Ambassador Alphand inquired with regard to the applicability of the Monroe Doctrine in such a situation. The Secretary did not think it would be practical to apply the Monroe Doctrine but noted there was some talk of applying the Caracas resolution.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversations: Lot 64 D 199. Confidential. Drafted by McBride and approved in S on November 28.