169. Memorandum from Rusk to President Kennedy, April 31

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  • Visit of Premier of Jamaica

Norman Manley, Premier of Jamaica will be in Washington from April 17 to April 21. He is coming at his initiative primarily to discuss various matters of specific US-Jamaican interest such as housing, civil aviation, contract labor, sugar, and bauxite. We are arranging for him to be briefed on Cuba, and on inter-American defense arrangements. We plan also to discuss the political and economic future of The West Indies with him.

Mr. Manley is the outstanding West Indian statesman and is likely to be the first Prime Minister of the Federation after its independence in 1962. He will be meeting with other West Indian leaders on May 2 in Trinidad to determine finally the shape of the new West Indies nation. On May 31 these leaders will meet with the UK in London to set a firm date for West Indian independence.

The United States has substantial interests in this area. The Air Force has bases scattered through the Islands on which instrumentation for the Atlantic Missile Range is located. The Navy conducts anti-submarine operations from installations there, and the Naval Station at Chaguarmas guards the southern approaches by sea to the Panama Canal. In addition to its tourist attractions, the area is economically important for its bauxite resources and petroleum refining facilities.

Mr. Manley’s prestige and leadership will be crucial at the Trinidad and London meetings. Jamaica’s adherence to the Federation depends on his political strength within the Island. If he becomes Prime Minister, the early years of West Indian independence will be shaped by his concepts of international relations. During the recent successful base negotiations, he publicly declared his opposition to neutralism and his devotion to the principles of democracy. We understand he favors membership by The West Indies in the Commonwealth, the UN, the OAS, and the Rio Pact. He has influence in Africa.

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For the above reasons, I believe it would be in the interests of the United States for you to receive him for about an hour any time between April 17 and April 21. If you approve, Mr. Ivan White, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, will accompany him.

Dean Rusk
  1. Upcoming visit of Premier Manley of Jamaica. Secret. 2 pp. Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Jamaica, 1961–62.