27. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Special Assistant for Mutual Security Coordination (Bell)1


  • Military Assistance Program for Latin America, FY 1960

I refer to my memorandum of October 7, 1959,2 which recommended that the FY 1960 grant military assistance program proposed by the Defense Department for Latin America be adjusted to permit the rehabilitation in FY 1960 of one destroyer for Colombia. To that end, we suggested that the Brazilian program be reduced by $1 million, provided that all Army items were retained in that program, and that the overhaul of an Ecuadoran patrol craft, at a cost of about $900,000, be deleted from the Ecuadoran program. We recommended that the savings realized by these adjustments be utilized for the rehabilitation of one destroyer for Colombia. The substance of these recommendations was subsequently conveyed to the Defense Department in Mr. Dillon’s letter of October 13, 1959 to Mr. Irwin.3 In a letter of November 13, 1959 to Mr. Dillon, the Defense Department replied as follows:4

“The items deferred for Brazil and Ecuador comprise high priority military requirements and their approval is recommended. The deferral of these items is not necessary to meet the requirement for rehabilitation of a DD for Colombia. In view of the recent acquisition by Peru of a Cruiser from the U.K., it is recommended that the DD for Peru be deferred until later and instead a DD for Colombia be approved.”

I consider it politically necessary that funds be made available in the FY 1960 program to rehabilitate one ship-loan vessel for Chile, Peru and Colombia. Uruguay should be offered the option of one rehabilitated destroyer or overhaul of one Uruguayan vessel. The program should also include funds for the rehabilitation of two PCE’s Ecuador has agreed to accept in lieu of one ship-loan destroyer escort.

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While we were most reluctant, for political reasons, to recommend that the Brazilian and Ecuadoran programs be revised downward in order to provide funds for the rehabilitation and/or overhaul of vessels identified above, we believe that the adjustments recommended in the Ecuadoran and Brazilian programs can be made without serious impairment of our political relations with Ecuador and Brazil. However, if the Defense Department considers that these adjustments would jeopardize important military objectives in the area, we suggest that the total FY 1960 program approved by the State Department for Latin America be increased by the amount of funds necessary to retain in the Ecuadoran and Brazilian programs all of the items originally recommended by the Defense Department. It is our understanding that the total Latin American program could be increased by such an amount without exceeding the ceiling imposed by the Congress on the FY 1960 program.

With regard to the destroyer which we plan to transfer as a loan to Peru, the Peruvian Foreign Minister5 has advised our Ambassador6 that he plans to recommend to the Peruvian President7 next Monday that Peru not acquire a second British cruiser, provided that the loan of a U.S. destroyer can be promptly announced publicly in Peru. Our Ambassador recommends that we authorize such an announcement without delay and states that Admiral Briggs, who is now in Lima, plans a similar recommendation to the Navy Department. Since the acquisition of a second cruiser by Peru would generate irresistible pressures in Chile, and perhaps Ecuador, for the purchase of expensive naval equipment which neither country can afford without impairing its economy, I urge that a concerted effort be made to overcome, before the end of this week, all legal obstacles standing in the way of a firm U.S. commitment to Peru to provide one rehabilitated destroyer, pursuant to the terms of Public Law 85–532 of July 18, 1958.

  1. Source: Department of State, ARA/RPA Files: Lot 61 D 374, Military Assistance Program—FY 1960. Secret. Drafted by Spencer on November 23.
  2. Supra .
  3. See footnote 7, supra .
  4. This letter, from Charles H. Chuff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, with several attachments, is not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 700.5–MSP/11–1359)
  5. Raúl Porras Barrenechea.
  6. Theodore C. Achilles.
  7. Manuel Prado y Ugarteche.