3. Operations Plan for Latin America Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board1


I. Introduction

A. Special Operating Guidance

Keep the other American Republics friendly toward the United States and retain their support of our world policies.
Encourage the development of stable political systems along democratic, representative lines.
Encourage the growth of sturdy, self-reliant economies based upon the free enterprise system.
Destroy or neutralize Soviet bloc and Communist influence in the area.
Obtain adequate production of and access to materials essential to our security.
Obtain the participation in and support of measures to defend the hemisphere.
In implementing our policies and seeking our objectives in Latin America, emphasis should be placed on the following principles and programs:
Principle of Non-intervention. This principle, proscribing intervention by the United States Government unilaterally in the internal affairs of the other American republics, is the cornerstone of our inter-American relations. It is a principle based on the cardinal U.S. policy for self-determination of peoples. It does not preclude multilateral action through the Organization of American States (OAS) against a government of the hemisphere. The concept that the United States attempts to maintain friendly relations with the governments of all the [Page 21] other American republics without implying approbation or disapprobation of the domestic policies of those governments should be developed and publicized. There should be increased efforts to convince the governments and peoples of the democracies that U.S. action or discrimination against the dictatorships would be the very type of intervention they themselves so vigorously decry, and could often have an effect the opposite of what was intended. Nevertheless, while making clear our position of non-intervention in the internal developments of the Latin American countries, we should express our satisfaction and pleasure when the people of any country determinedly choose the road of democracy and freedom.
Principle of Individual and Collective Aid. This principle is based on solemn inter-American treaties and agreements, particularly the Rio Treaty2 and the Caracas Resolutions,3 which establish that an attack against one state is an attack against all and provide for individual or collective (OAS) aid to any one of the 21 republics against intervention, attack or communist subversion.
Elimination of Soviet Bloc and Communist Intervention. A continuous program to achieve this objective is consistent with the provisions of Article 93 of the Caracas Conference Resolutions.4 It is of particular importance as the Soviets and communists increase their activities and seek to extend their influence in this hemisphere. The Latin American governments and peoples should be more fully informed and made aware of the use to which the Soviet Union and its satellites put their diplomatic, military, trade and other missions for purposes of subversion, intervention and direction of local communist activities.
Development of Internal Security Programs. The absolute strength of Latin American communist parties is not impressive at the present time. However, factors such as unstable political systems, ultra-nationalist sentiment, inadequate internal security forces, poverty and unstable economic conditions, are susceptible to exploitation by the communists. The United States should assist in strengthening the internal security forces in selected countries. In so doing, care should [Page 22] be taken to avoid creating the impression that the United States has abandoned the principle of non-intervention or has committed itself to the preservation of the status quo through repression of the non-communist political opposition. In the development of Overseas Internal Security Programs requiring the assignment of police technicians to the field, the basic anti-communist objective of the program must be strictly observed. Specific OISP programs for Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Guatemala have been designated Annex A to this Operations Plan.5
Encouragement of Private Enterprise. Every opportunity should be taken to encourage the expansion or adoption of a system of free enterprise in the area. Without in any way attempting to impose our own methods, increased efforts should be made to explain adequately the benefits to be gained from this system. Achievements of free enterprise in the United States, in Latin America and elsewhere should be increasingly emphasized and publicized. The decision of certain governments to create state monopolies, particularly in the oil industry, has hampered their economic growth and development.
Labor. Constant attention should be given to encouraging in the area strong, free trade union movements capable of effective collective bargaining, as a bulwark against communism and totalitarianism as a factor in the free enterprise system, and as a force for political stability and economic development.
Encouragement of Economic Development. Each of the other republics should be encouraged to do all in its own power to set its house in order for economic development (especially through adoption of sound monetary and fiscal policies, utilization of free private enterprise, and maintenance of freedom from Soviet bloc or communist influence). Without committing the United States, the belief should be promoted within recipient governments that continued cooperation and assistance from the United States depend in part on their willingness and ability to cooperate with us in achieving common objectives. The maintenance of a genuine and effective anti-communist policy, and the requisite self-discipline to withstand those hardships which may be necessary to achieve greater economic vigor and stability are important in this regard.
Encouragement of Trade Expansion. Encouragement should be given throughout the area to trade expansion, and the reduction or elimination of barriers to such expansion.
Special Considerations.

Unique Position of Latin America. The Organization of American States is the oldest and most experienced of the world regional organizations. Latin Americans, proud and jealous of their sovereignty, nevertheless take pride in this unity and affinity with the United States [Page 23] which is based on mutual interests, common beliefs and heritage, and on equality. Their almost unanimous, consistent support of our position in international affairs is unequaled elsewhere. This unique situation is one which must be recognized and preserved and not allowed to deteriorate or to splinter. American unity constitutes a bulwark against Soviet and communist expansion and is an important factor in the total economic and political strength of the Free World.

The rapid rate of population increase and economic growth in Latin America, portending as they do a greatly increased strength and importance for the area, should be taken into consideration in the execution of all our programs. The intense desire in Latin America for rapid economic progress and higher standards of living, and the increased Soviet bloc economic and political drive in the area emphasize the need for the United States to so implement its policies that the continued alignment of Latin America with the United States, and its unique position of solidarity against communism are assured.

Latin American Attitudes.

Low Priority Accorded Latin America. A major threat to the achievement of U.S. policy objectives in Latin America is the feeling prevailing among Latin Americans that a much too low priority has been placed by the U.S. Government on operations in the area, particularly when compared to U.S. policies, objectives, programs and approaches in other parts of the world. Many Latin Americans feel the United States neglects them or takes them for granted. They point with resentment to the minuscule proportions of our total foreign economic and military assistance funds which have gone their way and tend to use these as a measure of our respect and consideration for them.

Many Latin Americans in their efforts to solve their economic problems are showing an interest in increased Soviet bloc offers of trade and economic assistance, particularly offers in those segments of the public sector in which the United States is reluctant to enter. Although, on the basis of past experience, there is some recognition in Latin America of the pitfalls involved in trade with the communists, there is a temptation to use Soviet bloc offers for bargaining purposes in negotiations with the United States.

U.S. economic assistance to neutralist and, on occasion, communist governments, is widely criticized in Latin America. Such assistance is contrasted to the allegedly niggardly share of U.S. public capital made available to Latin America. Latin Americans believe the United States should help them first; other areas later.

Consequently, in the entire range of U.S. relationships with Latin America, we should strive to convince the governments and peoples of the area that the United States is aware of and sympathizes with their legitimate interests and aspirations and considers them as equal partners in undertakings of mutual interest and benefit.


Ultra-Nationalism. The strong nationalist sentiments prevailing in most countries of the hemisphere should be taken into account by all United States activities, whether government or private. The extreme [Page 24] form—ultra-nationalism—is usually anti-U.S. in character and constitutes a major obstacle to the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. The communists have allied themselves with the various ultra-nationalist groups in order to gain support for and to cloak their operations. The communists have used ultra-nationalism to obscure and disrupt the general progress in several countries and to intensify anti-U.S. sentiment and focus it on defeating U.S. objectives.

Ultra-nationalism breeds on resentments and frustrations which are all the more deep-seated because of widespread poverty and illiteracy existing side by side with islands of material wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. A serious lack of managerial and administrative personnel, researchers, teachers, scientists, engineers and technicians in almost all fields of endeavor tends to retard the development of indigenous food, mineral and industrial productivity potentials. Human and material resources are available but their development awaits the application of technology, managerial skills and the necessary finances for capital equipment.

Conflicts with U.S. Policy. Latin American attitudes of ultra-nationalism and resentment against the alleged low priority given by the United States to the area are important and cannot be overlooked, since they tend to conflict with current U.S. economic policy with respect to Latin America. We place reliance and stress in economic development on the free enterprise system and private capital investment, with grant economic assistance being reserved for temporary emergencies which affect U.S. interests, supplemented by loans for sound economic projects for which private capital is not readily available. These policies often create in the minds of Latin Americans the misconception that our failure to provide all the help which they request just when they want it, indicates that the United States has relegated Latin America to a “back seat”. Ultra-nationalist groups calling for increased national control, as opposed to foreign private enterprise, heighten these misconceptions and falsely interpret U.S. policy. The Soviets and the communists are also attempting to increase these misconceptions and foster the belief that the Soviets are willing to step in to aid Latin America and that the United States is neglecting the area. Those charged with implementation of the U.S. policy for Latin America should at every appropriate opportunity seek to disabuse Latin Americans of these misconceptions. They must, however, realize that such misconceptions do exist and take them into account in applying U.S. policy. Increased attention must be given to insure that this Government at all appropriate levels avoid pronouncements and actions which to Latin Americans could provide a basis for these misconceptions or could lend substance to their feelings that we underrate them, ignore them, or slight them.
Colonialism and Intervention. Latin Americans are sensitive to these issues. They resent any stand or action by the United States which tends to favor colonial policies or which seem in any way to be interventionist. Although Latin American groups (particularly the political “outs”) at times call for United States intervention to support their cause, these same groups become the highly vocal opponents of intervention when they think that action by the United States might be directed against them. Only by strict adherence to an impartial application of our non-interventionist policy can criticism on this issue [Page 25] be avoided or minimized. The United States has consistently abstained from discussions on colonialism in inter-American forums on the basis that the European colonial powers are not represented and therefore proper debate of the issue is not possible.
Technical Cooperation Programs. The United States Government has no technical cooperation programs of its own to “sell” the other Republics. We support programs of the host government in which the latter has a genuine interest and desire for our participation and where our participation makes a contribution toward the achievement of our foreign policy objectives commensurate with its cost. In a few countries programs may have to be retained on the basis of overriding political considerations.
Development Loan Fund (DLF). The newly established DLF provides a potential for aiding both the public and private sectors of various Latin American countries to help them overcome serious deficiencies.

Military Programs. Emphasis in U.S. military programs for the area is on persuading Latin American countries to limit their military objectives to those unilaterally determined by the U.S. Government to be necessary for their internal security and country and hemisphere defense needs.

In some cases it is in the United States interest to provide military equipment primarily for political reasons. This is especially true because of the unique political position of military groups in Latin America. It is important to the United States to maintain influence with these groups. Against these considerations must be balanced, on a case-by-case basis, the consideration that the purchase and maintenance of excessive military equipment by Latin American states generally reduce their capacity to develop their economies. In this connection, we should show sympathetic and helpful interest in any effort by Latin American states to work out a mutually acceptable plan for reducing arms expenditures so long as the basic military requirements as set forth in Courses of Action 34 and 356 were still adequately met.

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While it is recognized that reduction of military budgets by direct negotiation would be difficult, the possibility is suggested of diverting attention from costly military prestige items by promoting interest by their Governments and military services in projects tending to contribute to economic development such as those which could be undertaken by engineer construction units.

Varying Conditions. Although Latin America is treated as an area in this Operations Plan, the very different conditions which exist in these very different countries require flexible and imaginative implementation of U.S. policy and the OCB courses of action. For example, the extent to which the labor courses of action can or should be applied in the Dominican Republic is quite different from what can be done in Uruguay and Costa Rica. The position within the government of the military differs as among Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina. Economic factors in Brazil are not necessarily the same as in Honduras. And, an approach to French-speaking Haiti or Portuguese-speaking Brazil may be different from that required for the other countries in which Spanish is the language.
Attitudes Toward U.S. Personnel Overseas. The Operations Coordinating Board has given particular attention over the past several years to ways and means of improving foreign attitudes toward U.S. personnel overseas. This involves both the positive actions which can be taken to improve these relationships as well as the removal of sources of friction and difficulties. The special report prepared by the Board, “United States Employees Overseas: An Inter-Agency Report,” dated April 1958, is an effort to provide on an over-all governmental basis a common approach and guidance in this field. All supervisory employees in the field should familiarize themselves with the substance of this report and all U.S. personnel should know the substance of the conclusions and recommendations set forth in Section V of Volume I. Attention is directed to the President’s remarks in the Foreword of the report.


In the light of the foregoing and in carrying out our policy toward Latin America, it becomes necessary to make known more of the facts on all phases of U.S. interest in and assistance to Latin American development, including both public and private activities designed to help Latin America achieve its aspirations. The retrograde effects of ultra-nationalism [Page 27] and economic statism on economic and social development need to be exposed. The position of the United States as a world leader, in order to retain Latin American cooperation and admiration, must be highlighted by:

Depicting the range, depth and freedom of U.S. culture;
Demonstrating U.S. dedication to the preservation of political and personal freedoms; and

Publicizing U.S. developments in the fields of science and applied technology.

Finally, it is important in overcoming some of Latin America’s misconceptions to expose communism as an international conspiratorial movement which is not a local left-wing political party but instead a tool of Soviet imperialism. The perfidy and traitorous nature of the communists and others who would pervert legitimate nationalism for their own ends into an evil force working against the best interests of the nation must be disclosed and emphasized. In so doing, we should develop the understanding that the well-being of Latin American countries is closely tied to that of the United States as the Western world leader and that through unity of purpose hemispheric solidarity will be strengthened.

[Here follow section I. B. “Selected U.S. Arrangements with or pertaining to Latin America,” referring readers to the Department of State publication Treaties in Force; section II. “Current and Projected Programs and Courses of Action,” containing specific agency assignments; a list of National Intelligence Estimates pertaining to Latin America; and an Annex entitled “Pipeline Analysis, Mutual Security Program.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S–OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Latin America—1958. Secret. The OCB concurred in this Operations Plan at its meeting on May 21. An undated covering memorandum by Staats indicates that the plan superseded the “Operations Plan for Latin America,” dated April 18, 1957. For text of the earlier plan, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. VI, p. 61.

    Operations Plans described Executive branch programs and responsibilities for courses of action to implement NSC policy, for which the OCB was coordinating agency. Concurrence in Operations Plans by responsible agencies represented in the OCB did not automatically constitute authorization for operating officials to institute new programs or modify existing ones, but rather served as a basis for the development of appropriate operating instructions by each of the participating agencies. The Department of State ordinarily transmitted the text of approved Operations Plans for Latin America to the respective Chiefs of Mission.

  2. Reference is to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (commonly called the Rio Treaty), opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro, September 2, 1947, and entered into force for the United States, December 3, 1948; for text, see Charles I. Bevans (comp.), Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, vol. 4, pp. 559–566.
  3. Reference is to the series of resolutions approved at the Tenth Inter-American Conference, held in Caracas, Venezuela, March 1–28, 1954; for documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. IV, pp. 264 ff.
  4. For text of Article 93, “Declaration of Solidarity for the Preservation of the Political Integrity of the American States Against the Intervention of International Communism,” approved March 28, 1954, see Tenth Inter-American Conference, Caracas, Venezuela, March 1–28, 1954: Report of the Delegation of the United States of America With Related Documents (Department of State Publication 5692, Washington, 1955), pp. 156–157.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Text of Courses of Action 34 and 35, assigned to the Department of Defense on a continuing basis, read as follows:

    “B. Military

    • “34. Through the service missions, military assistance advisory groups, and the U.S. Delegations to the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) and Joint Commissions, continue to encourage acceptance of the concepts of (1) U.S. primary responsibility for hemispheric military operations in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Caribbean Sea, including the sea and air approaches to the Panama Canal; (2) Latin American contribution to hemispheric defense by effective military and mobilization measures for the defense of coastal waters, ports, and approaches thereto, bases, strategic areas and installations located within its own territory, and lines of communication associated therewith; and (3) each Latin American state is responsible for maintaining its own internal security.
    • “35. In exceptional cases, be prepared to accept participation by a Latin American state in combined operations in support of U.S. military responsibility under para. 34 above, where its location and resources make such participation feasible, and where political or hemisphere defense considerations make such a course of action in the interests of the security of the United States. If participation of Latin American military units is required in future extra-continental defense actions, provide logistical support, if necessary without reimbursement, to such forces.”