312. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Goodwin) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

RE

  • June 7 meeting at the White House Mansion

Present at the meeting were: The President, Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Vice President Johnson, Attorney General Kennedy, [Page 643]Allen Dulles, General Lemnitzer, Admiral Burke, Alexis Johnson, Wyn Coerr, Henry Dearborn, Arthur Schlesinger, and Richard Goodwin.

1. Dominican Republic.

Alexis Johnson gave a brief review of the current Dominican situation. He pointed out that the OAS inspection team had gone with the mandate to inspect and come back with a recommendation whether current sanctions against the Dominican Republic should be lifted, retained or strengthened.2 He told of Dearborn’s conversation with Balaguer (fully reported in cables). He pointed out that Bill Pawley had talked with Trujillo’s daughter prior to her departure for the Dominican Republic and she had since communicated that Ramfis, et al., wanted to move toward a more moderate form of government.

Dean Rusk added that Porfirio Rubirosa had talked to Murphy and told him that Ramfis desired to stay on a little while and help move the country toward Democratic government; that he then intended to leave the country, having no great desire to live in the Dominican Republic. Ramfis is also reported to have suggested his willingness to grant an amnesty to current political prisoners.

Dearborn, reinforced by a few others, said that these promises, e.g., free elections, amnesties, even the firing of Abbes, were the same moves that Trujillo had always made without any intended impact on the structure of his regime.

The President asked what our immediate goals in the Dominican Republic were.

Alexis Johnson replied that we would like an immediate move toward dissolution of the secret police—the principal instrument of coercion.

In response to another Presidential question Dearborn indicated that he felt it would be possible to have a Democratic regime in the Dominican Republic without a communist takeover—that pro-Democratic, pro-United States forces were present and could run a government. He told of Radio Caribe—run by Ramfis, Abbes et al.—which has taken a strong anti-United States and a moderate pro-Soviet line over the past several months. This instrument had been one of the most dangerous in promoting a pro-communist viewpoint on the island.

Bob Kennedy expressed the view that we should give the current regime a chance to do what they promised to do; that it was worth our while to wait out the situation.

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It was pointed out that anything we did should be in concert with Venezuela, that we would do ourselves great harm if we appeared to be making a deal with Ramfis without consultation and concurrence by our Caribbean Allies, and perhaps by the OAS itself.

The President said that we wanted a Democratic regime in the Dominican Republic; failing that we would prefer a friendly dictatorship, and the last thing we wanted was a Castro type regime.

Dearborn said that our goal over six months should be a situation in which Democratic pro-United States forces were not afraid to organize a party, speak in public places, etc.

Decisions: It was decided (a) that all our contacts would be informal ones through Murphy and Alexis Johnson should remain in contact with Murphy; (b) that we would have no contacts through Pawley—that if he carried out his plans to go to the Dominican Republic we would be glad to hear his reports but he was in no way to involve State, CIA, the White House, etc., i.e. not to indicate that we approved what he said or authorized his visit. Secretary Rusk was detailed to communicate this to Pawley; (c) our military forces would remain in their current state of readiness for a few days at least—no decision was made as to when they should lift the current alert status; (d) we would re-examine the situation in a week or two and see where we are.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings with the President. Secret.
  2. Ambassador Gerald Drew, Inspector General of the State Department, represented the United States on the OAS inspection team that toured the Dominican Republic June 7-14.