44. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Snow) to the Secretary of State1

SUBJECT

  • Vice President Nixon’s Trip to South America

Vice President Nixon has completed visits in five countries of South America (Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru). He is now (May 9) in Ecuador, and he will visit Colombia and Venezuela before returning to the United States on May 15.

The Vice President’s tour has thus far been well received by the government, the responsible press, and by the great majority of the people in each country.

In the capitals visited he has had cordial and useful conversations with government officials. Economic problems have been the predominant subjects discussed. The Vice President has, generally, expressed the desire of the United States Government to cooperate to the maximum extent its resources will permit and has stressed the importance of private investment. In Peru trade relations were emphasized, and the subsidy plan for minerals in the United States was helpful as illustrative of the desire of the United States to cooperate.

Press coverage in the United States has been extensive. The consensus of the press is that the Vice President’s tour is making a valuable contribution to United States-Latin American relations and that he showed courage and resourcefulness during the Lima episode described below.

An incident on the trip which received adverse play in the United States press was the Vice President’s arriving a few minutes late at the Congress Building in Buenos Aires for the swearing in ceremony of Argentine President-elect Frondizi. Actually, the ceremony started a few minutes ahead of time, and the Vice President was detained outside the building by crowds through which even the police could not make a passage for him quickly. The incident caused little comment in Buenos Aires.

The most dramatic and widely publicized feature of the Vice President’s tour has been the anti-United States demonstration in Lima2 presumably organized by a Communist minority. The Vice President was grazed, but unhurt, by a stone. The United States flag, depicted in flowers in a floral arrangement which the Vice President had placed on the statue of San Martin, was torn apart. The Peruvian [Page 225]Vice President,3 the Foreign Minister,4 and the Embassy in Washington have expressed keen regret, and the Government of Peru promptly replaced the floral offering at the statue of San Martin. The press in Lima deplored the demonstration. The Vice President stated publicly in Lima that official Peruvian regrets had been expressed and that, as far as he was concerned, no United States protest was necessary. The Department informed the press through Mr. White on May 9 of the official Peruvian regrets and stated that the people of Peru may be assured that the United States does not intend to let the Communist-inspired incident impair the friendly relations between the two countries.

The incident in Lima may inspire similar ones in Quito, Bogotá, or Caracas. Before the Vice President reached Lima, there had been small demonstrations, also inspired by Communists, in Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033. 1100–NI/5–958. Drafted by Sanders.
  2. This incident occurred on May 8.
  3. Luis Gallo Porras.
  4. Raúl Porras Barrenechea.