51. 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, 9:15 p.m.1


  • Situation in Venezuela

Mr. Rubottom called to say that the Vice President’s press conference went well.2 He said he had not received the telegram referred to in an earlier conversation3 but they were getting reports through the AP and UP about military units being sent down their way, and asked for confirmation. When Mr. Snow said this was so, Mr. Rubottom said that action should not have been taken without consultation with them, that the Vice President definitely did not want anything like that done, and it had caused the Venezuelan Government some embarrassment. At this point Mr. Snow explained that the units were not being sent to Venezuela, only to nearer locations in the Caribbean and would not be moved from there unless requested by the host (i.e., Venezuelan) government. He then read the text of the Defense Department press release for a stenographer at the Embassy to take down.

Mr. Rubottom said they would have to find some means of counter-balancing that down there because the Junta is concerned about the reaction and wants the Embassy to put out some statement of denial which, of course, could not be done. He added he did not know what could be done or said at this stage but they might be able to work out some kind of statement indicating that the Venezuelans do not need the help. This whole matter will take a little undoing, he said.

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Mr. Rubottom then said that the Junta has been meeting with political leaders for the last hour or so. They are reported to be having trouble down town at this time. He promised to call Mr. Snow again later this evening at home to report further.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.1100–NI/5–858. Official Use Only. Drafted by Mary E. O’Brien on May 21.
  2. For an account of Vice President Nixon’s press conference in Caracas on May 13, see Tad Szulc’s article entitled “Vice President Unhurt As Furious Crowds Halt Reception” in The New York Times, May 14, 1958, p. 1.
  3. Presumably reference is to telegram 685 to Caracas, May 13, which transmitted the text of the Department of Defense press release announcing the fact that the United States was moving several companies of airborne infantry and Marines to American bases in the Caribbean area to provide assistance to the Government of Venezuela if such aid was requested. (Department of State, Central Files, 741B.5411/5–1358)