70. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the President and the Acting Secretary of State, White House, Washington, December 23, 19591

I spoke to the President regarding plans for his trip to South America. I pointed out that in view of the many rumors regarding this subject it would be helpful if we could get the matter definitely decided one way or the other in the relatively near future. The President said that he wanted to be sure that any visit to South America would achieve the purpose of increasing cooperation from the area and would not cause disappointment or resentment in the countries which he would not visit.

I said that we had in mind a visit to Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, and the only country which I could imagine might feel left out would be Peru. The President said as far as his personal likes were concerned, he would hope it would be possible to omit Uruguay and include Peru. The President then inquired regarding Colombia and Paraguay. I pointed out that in the case of Colombia, the President of Colombia would be coming shortly thereafter to the United States and, in any event, the visit to Bogota would be difficult because of its high altitude. The President had not been aware of the altitude at Bogota and agreed that this would make it out of the question. Regarding Paraguay, I pointed out the problem posed by the dictatorial regime. The President recognized that this would probably make a visit inadvisable at this time, but commented that he had been struck in Asia by the growing feeling that a benevolent form of dictatorship is not a bad form of government for newly-developing countries that were not prepared for full democracy.

[Page 271]

The President then said that if he were to make such a trip, he would prefer that it take place sometime between the 1st and the 20th of March, and that it be limited to a week or eight days. I told the President that we would re-study the question of Peru and Uruguay, and would put together a definite proposal for an itinerary for his consideration sometime next week.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/12–2359. Confidential. Drafted by Dillon.