133. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

1246. Verbatim Text. Transmit following message from President Kennedy to President Frondizi:

“Dear Mr. President:

I am grateful for your letter of January 2, 19622 and for the frank expression of your viewpoint regarding the prospective actions to be taken at the forthcoming Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Punta del Este. You may be certain, Mr. President, that I share your preoccupation regarding the urgent necessity that both the solidarity of the hemisphere and the internal unity of the Member States be strengthened rather than weakened as a result of that Meeting. Naturally, I welcome your emphasis upon the program of the Alliance for Progress, and I share your view that the spirit of that program—the fulfillment in peace and freedom of the aspirations of the peoples for economic and social progress should characterize the Meeting.

I am confident that all of our Governments are deeply concerned over not only the need for rapid and effective demonstration of the achievements which can be made in economic and social development, but also the need for finding means to prevent the inroads in this hemisphere of the power bloc and system of which the Cuban Government [Page 289] has become an accomplice. A substantial number of our Governments, including those which are threatened most closely by the principal source of the present infection, are so greatly concerned over the existing danger that they would strongly support OAS action for the application of some, at least, of the mandatory measures which are available under the Rio Treaty. Some of these Governments indeed seek mandatory action of an even stronger nature. To ignore the concern of these immediately threatened Governments—which compose the majority of the inter-American community—incurs the grave risk that our system would be confronted with a division at least as wide and as deep as that which might result from the adoption of steps which they deem important and urgent.

I must emphasize in all frankness that the Government of the United States shares their view concerning the importance and urgency of applying effective measures under the Rio Treaty against the existing and potential threat posed by the alignment of Cuba with the Sino-Soviet Bloc, dedicated as it is to eventual subversion of the Governments of this hemisphere and to the denial of every value for which the Alliance for Progress stands. It appears that a majority of the American States are in agreement that it would be desirable that these measures take the form of the obligatory imposition of sanctions. I recognize, however, the advisability of seeking to avoid a probable rift in solidarity if this can be accomplished by achieving unanimity, or virtual unanimity, on a program which would include the concepts of great importance contained in your proposals. There are, however, certain modifications in those proposals which my Government wishes to suggest.3 The suggested modifications are largely changes in the third proposed resolution. However, my Government would also wish to suggest modifications in the first resolution to place greater emphasis on the mutual nature of the pledge taken in the Charter of Punta del Este. I should like to emphasize that these modifications—which are primarily changes of language and not changes of principle—represent the minimum position which we could expect that a substantial number of American Governments, including my own, would be able to accept.

The penetration of this hemisphere by international communism has endangered the security of the American nations and evoked the strongest possible feelings of the people of the United States, as well as of the people of other American States. I believe that this Meeting offers the OAS an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate that collective action, through the inter-American system, can deal with this threat. The future unity and vitality of the Organization of American States depends upon [Page 290] taking the strongest possible action with respect to Cuba which commands the support of a substantial consensus of the hemisphere. We consider it still possible that such a consensus might be achieved in favor of the imposition of sanctions. If so, we would hope to pursue this course together with your Government.

In view of the limited time remaining before the opening of the Meeting in Punta del Este, I am requesting the Secretary of State to transmit the suggested modifications to you through our Embassy at Buenos Aires. I shall be very much interested to know your opinion of these suggested modifications, as well as your latest views as to the possibilities of imposing diplomatic and economic sanctions. I would also be pleased to learn the responses which you may receive from the proposal of these modified resolutions to the Governments that are not now supporting the idea of a collective break in diplomatic and commercial relations.

In the meanwhile, my Government is informing the other Governments that the United States is prepared to support the firmest effective action for which there is a substantial majority, and we are discussing with those Governments illustrative phraseology for action which might receive the support of such a majority.

In conclusion, I should like to express my appreciation for the leadership which you and your Government are displaying in this most important effort. If we achieve a satisfactory decision at Punta del Este and, at the same time, maintain the essential unity of the hemisphere, you will have made a highly significant contribution to that result. This fruitful collaboration between our two countries will, I am confident, be extended and strengthened in all fields of hemispheric political and economic activity. The important role which Argentina is playing in Latin America will be one of the most important forces in bringing us closer to our mutual goals for the freedom and prosperity of the Americas.

With pleasant recollections of your visit to Palm Beach and with cordial best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

John F. Kennedy

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-1162. Confidential; Niact. Drafted by Woodward and Jamison, cleared in draft by Rusk and with the White House, and approved by Woodward.
  2. See footnote 2, Document 130.
  3. The modifications were transmitted in telegram 1247 to Buenos Aires, January 11. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-1162)