49. Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation Between the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) in Caracas and the Acting Assistant Secretary of State (Snow) in Washington, May 13, 1958, 4:30 p.m.1
- Nixon Party—Caracas Situation
Mr. Snow inquired about the present situation and was informed by Mr. Rubottom that the situation was bad but that the complete party was in the Embassy Residence, where they will remain until departure.
Mr. Snow inquired about the guard and Mr. Rubottom said he thought it was adequate, based on the judgment of the Secret Service. Mr. Rubottom reported that there were armored cars and tanks at the front door. Mr. Snow asked if he thought the protection was adequate. Mr. Rubottom replied yes; that he was telling Mr. Snow what others had told him.[Page 230]
Mr. Snow inquired about crowds and was informed that the crowds mentioned in the previous phone call had dispersed and that although they had heard rumors that crowds were going to move in that direction from the center of town, so far they had not materialized.
Mr. Rubottom reported that the Junta was due to arrive at any moment. They were going to call on the Vice President at the Residence rather than have the Vice President call on them at the Palace.
Mr. Snow asked what the Nixon party’s plans were and Mr. Rubottom replied that they would not be going outside to any meetings. The party will stay at the Embassy Residence and will leave the country on schedule, although plans have been made to leave earlier at any time it may be necessary. Adequate plans have been made to provide means of getting the party to the aircraft if need be.
Mr. Snow inquired whether the aircraft was o.k. and Mr. Rubottom said yes. Mr. Snow mentioned that there is an alternate airport only a few miles away. Mr. Rubottom knew about it.
Mr. Rubottom reported that the Vice President today had given a luncheon at the Residence, attended by 25 to 30 important opinion leaders. The Vice President gave a rousing anti-communist speech which seemed to sink in and Mr. Rubottom said he thinks we have gotten back to a much better posture.
Mr. Snow said that things seem to have quieted down. Mr. Rubottom said that no one within his immediate reach had been out on the streets. He heard that there were only a few people then at the Pantheon whereas there were six to seven thousand this morning.
Mr. Rubottom said they had not gone to the wreath-laying; that it was cancelled on the spot en route. There was a terrific mob and the Venezuelan flag—their own flag—had been desecrated, irrespective of any national honor or anything else.
Mr. Snow asked Mr. Rubottom if he could now tell the White House and the Secretary that Mr. Rubottom considers the protection adequate. Mr. Rubottom said that so far as he knows, and he has been checking every 15 minutes, the protection is adequate. Mr. Rubottom at this point in the conversation left to check again on security and reported once again that it seemed to be ample. Mr. Snow asked if the Secret Service thought so, too. Mr. Rubottom said yes and they have army units and armored cars and tanks at the Residence so the party can be evacuated if necessary.
Mr. Snow asked if there was a guard on the plane. Mr. Rubottom said that he was sure there was; there always had been and he thought it may have been doubled.[Page 231]
Mr. Snow told Mr. Rubottom that he had shortly before had a call from someone who wanted to send in 500 of General Shepherd’s friends and Mr. Snow said that the Department’s answer was no, and especially not without the prior knowledge and permission of the host country. Mr. Rubottom said he did not think it necessary.
Mr. Rubottom said he had just spoken with Sherwood2 who had reassured him on the points just discussed. The Venezuelan Government seemed to have the facilities to do the necessary. Mr. Snow said that during the previous call he gathered that Mr. Rubottom had been doubtful about it. Mr. Rubottom said this was due to the way the police had dispersed at a critical moment.
Mr. Snow said he had all the information he needed for the time being and asked Mr. Rubottom to keep in touch. Mr. Rubottom said that they would call again after the meeting with the Junta.