68. Memorandum of a Conversation, White House, Washington, December 3, 19591


  • National Advisory Committee on Inter-American Affairs


  • The President
  • Secretary of State
  • Committee Members: Amb. Walter J. Donnelly, Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower, Mr. G. Kenneth Holland, Mr. O. A. Knight, Mr. Charles A. Meyer, Mr. Dana G. Munro,
  • Assistant Secretary of State Rubottom
  • Mr. Thomas Stephens, President’s Appointment Secretary

The President greeted the Members of the National Advisory Committee on Inter-American Affairs as did the Secretary who had been in consultation with the President prior to the group’s arrival. The President said that he was appreciative of their willingness to serve and delighted to have the Committee begin its functions.2 He felt that they could make a real contribution by drawing on their knowledge and firsthand experience in the area. The very existence of the Committee was an additional indication of the importance which the United States gives to relations with its southern neighbors.

The President said that he would be taking off on a very long journey within a few hours,3 the sole objective of which was to impress [Page 268] all those with whom he would be speaking, and through them others, that the United States wants peace—peace with justice and freedom. He had been distressed that so many people in the world, including some of our friends, seemed to have doubts as to our real intentions. He was prepared to spend his remaining thirteen months in office to try to remove these doubts.

Even though his trip obviously was designed to talk to leaders in those countries which are right on the perimeter of the Communist world, and intended to underline our support of free people everywhere, he was concerned that some of our Latin American friends were resentful of the fact that he had not made a trip to their countries. He recalled his meeting in Panama in 1956 with the other American Presidents,4 and the considerable benefit derived from that. Dr. Eisenhower said that he was sure the Members of the Committee would be delighted if the President could find the time to make a trip to Latin America during the next year.

The President said that he would like very much to do this, but there was a scheduling problem. The Secretary commented that he also hoped that the President would be able to go to Latin America, but had felt that there might be a more propitious moment for planning a trip after the President’s return from his presently scheduled journey.

The President expressed his regret that there seemed to be a conflict in dates between the summit meeting in Europe5 and the inauguration of Brasilia, April 21. He alluded to the possibility of postponing the summit meeting to around May 1 to permit him to go to Brasilia, but the Secretary said that the summit participants had indicated their agreement to the late April date. The President then mentioned the possibility of visiting Buenos Aires to repay the call made by President Frondizi on him earlier this year,6 wondering whether Frondizi might be able to invite all of the Chiefs of State to his capital for a day or two of talks following which they could all go to Brasilia. This idea was not pursued.

Mr. Rubottom said that if it were not possible for the President to visit President Kubitschek prior to or during the inauguration of Brasilia, perhaps he could plan a quick trip to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. This could be done in six or seven days and would have symbolic impact throughout the area. The President said that he [Page 269] would have no objection to such a plan provided it did not evoke an adverse reaction in those countries not visited. Obviously he would be unable to make a tour of every country in Latin America. Mr. Rubottom pointed out that the Colombian President7 had been invited to come to the United States in early April8 and expressed the opinion that a quick trip to the southern tier countries could be planned with beneficial rather than harmful effects in the other countries.

The President told the group that he would be willing to consider a short trip of six or seven days to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, possibly around the first of February. The Secretary indicated that he would look into this prospect and make a recommendation to the President.

The Committee Members then took leave of the President, wishing him well on his journey to begin that night.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries. Confidential. Drafted by Rubottom.
  2. President Eisenhower established the National Advisory Committee on Inter-American Affairs on November 14, 1959, following the recommendations made by Milton Eisenhower in his December 27, 1958, report upon the conclusion of his trip to Latin America. See Document 67. For text of the Department of State’s announcement, see Department of State Bulletin, December 7, 1959, p. 823. According to a White House press release dated December 3, the purpose of the Committee was to consider U.S. current and long-range problems with Latin America and provide the Secretary of State with recommendations for solving these problems. For text of the White House announcement, see ibid., December 21, 1959, p. 905.
  3. President Eisenhower left Washington on the evening of December 3 on a trip to Italy, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Greece, Tunisia, France, Spain, and Morocco. He returned to Washington on December 22.
  4. Documentation concerning President Eisenhower’s trip to the meeting of the American Presidents in Panama, July 21–22, 1956, is printed in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. VI, pp. 437 ff.
  5. Reference is to the Heads of Government and Chiefs of State Meeting in Paris, May 12–21, 1960.
  6. Regarding President Frondizi’s visit to Washington, January 20–23, 1959, see Documents 166 ff.
  7. Alberto Lleras Camargo.
  8. Regarding President Lleras’ visit to Washington, April 4–17, 1960, see Document 303.