221. Memorandum of conversation, December 16, between President Kennedy and President Betancourt and other U.S. and Venezuelan officials1

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  • Conference Between President Kennedy and Venezuelan President Betancourt—Refinancing Venezuela’s External Debt


  • The President
  • Ambassador Chester Bowles
  • Mr. C. Allan Stewart, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim
  • Mr. Robert F. Woodward, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
  • Mr. Teodoro Moscoso, Assistant Administrator for Latin America of the Agency for International Development
  • Mr. Richard Goodwin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs
  • Mr. Harold Linder, President of Export-Import Bank of Washington
  • Mr. Fernando van Reigersberg, LS staff interpreter
  • President Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela
  • Dr. Marcos Falcón Briceño, Foreign Minister of Venezuela
  • Dr. Andres German Otero, Minister of Finance of Venezuela
  • General Antonio Briceño Linares, Minister of Defense of Venezuela
  • Dr. Jose Antonio Mayobre, Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States
  • Dr. Alejandro Oropeza Castillo, Governor of the Federal District of Venezuela
  • Dr. Manuel Perez Guerrero, Chief, Office of Coordination and Planning, Venezuelan Government

The meeting convened at 5:15 p.m. on December 16, 1961, at Los Nuñez, President Betancourt’s residence in Caracas, Venezuela. Several unrelated matters were discussed at this conference, including the subject covered in this memorandum.

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Refinancing Venezuela’s External Debt

President Betancourt introduced the subject of refinancing Venezuela’s external debt, which is discussed in detail in his memorandum No. 2, and called upon his Finance Minister, Dr. Otero, to make an oral presentation. Dr. Otero said the Government of Venezuela is called upon to pay $118,400,000 in each of the years 1962 and 1963 to cover loans received from United States commercial banks and to repay treasury bonds financed by external institutions. The 1962 budget provides for repayment but the Government would prefer that part of the sum be refinanced over a longer term to free the budgeted funds for developmental projects in the country. He asked for United States support in obtaining longer terms from the private banking institutions. He said that negotiations on Venezuela’s behalf were being undertaken by Mr. George Woods of the First Boston Corporation to have part of the debts mature over a 10-year period of time and some headway was being made. The Chase Manhattan Bank and the First National City Bank seemed disposed to postpone until 1964 three-fourths of the amounts due in 1962 on their loan.

President Kennedy stated that he was familiar with the situation and that he hoped that Minister Otero would have a chance to discuss this matter with Mr. Linder, President of the Export-Import Bank.

Mr. Moscoso expressed the view that the proposal made by the commercial banks could be improved and he and Mr. Woods were of the opinion that the Venezuelan Government should seek a better deal. Mr. Moscoso said that he was working closely on the matter with Mr. Woods, hoping to have half of the 1962–63 payments financed on a long-term basis. He added that Venezuela needs long-term capital and should try to obtain a delay in repaying any debts for a couple of years in order to strengthen its economic and financial position.

Dr. Falcon Briceño asked whether the new law concerning insurance of credits could be extended to Venezuela and he was assured that it could be.

President Kennedy said he would talk next week to Secretary of the Treasury about this subject and that he would confer also with Mr. Moscoso and Mr. Linder in Washington.

  1. Refinancing Venezuelan external debt. Limited Official Use. 2 pp. DOS, Presidential Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 66 D 149.