59. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Secretary of State1
- Dr. Eisenhower’s Trip to Central America
Whether the trip should be carried out as scheduled2 or be postponed.
In view of the incidents during the Vice President’s trip to South America, there is clearly a calculated risk in proceeding with Dr. Eisenhower’s trip to Central America. The timing of the trip, the scheduling of the countries, and the program in each country can be handled in such way as to minimize the risk, but it cannot be removed. In the final analysis the President will have to make the decision because it involves his brother and because any subsequent criticism would be directed largely at him since he has received a clear warning by the incidents which occurred on the Vice President’s trip.
At this moment, I believe we should take the risk and proceed with plans for the trip, including extreme security precautions and other steps which might keep any demonstrations against Dr. Eisenhower within tolerable limits. The trip was publicly announced on March 293 as being scheduled “in June”. Reports from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica indicate that Dr. Eisenhower’s trip could be carried out as scheduled without serious risk. Similar assurances have been received from the Government of Panama with the proviso that the scheduled appearance of Dr. Eisenhower at the University be cancelled. However, the present political tensions in Panama are such as to require a very careful evaluation as to the desirability of his going there at the time scheduled.[Page 251]
Guatemala presents the most difficult problem. Ambassador Mallory has recommended that the visit be postponed until August. The continued presence in that country of a large number of known Communists and the already proven ability of the University students to create serious disturbances have cast doubt on the advisability of going to Guatemala at all. On the other hand, the omission of Guatemala from the trip would be widely interpreted as a serious setback to the United States which has since 1954 continually pointed to Guatemala as an example of a country which had thrown off the Communist yoke.
A postponement of Dr. Eisenhower’s trip as much as two weeks would require little explanation, although I do not know whether his personal plans permit that much flexibility. This would provide additional time for the necessary security precautions to be taken and would be more propitious as to timing in the case of at least two or three countries where the presently scheduled dates coincide with already planned student or labor events.
That we be authorized to consult with the Central American Governments regarding a two-weeks’ postponement of the trip; and that we not take a final decision until additional information has been received from our Embassies and other sources.4
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1513/5–2158. Confidential.↩
- The date “June 15” is written in at this point in the source text.↩
- For text of the White House press release announcing the good will visit of Dr. Milton Eisenhower to the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, see Department of State Bulletin, April 21, 1958, p. 663.↩
- The source text does not indicate the Secretary’s action on this recommendation, but see infra.↩