377. Summary Record of the 509th National Security Council Meeting1

SUBJECT

  • Latin American Policy

Present: President, Vice President, Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Secretary Dillon, Attorney General, General Taylor, Director McCone, Secretary Vance, Under Secretary Ball, Ambassador Stevenson, Administrator Bell, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric, Director Murrow, Director McDermott, U. Alexis Johnson, Assistant Secretary Martin, Assistant Secretary Tyler, Paul Nitze, Mr. McGeorge Bundy, Mr. Sorensen, Mr. Dungan, Mr. Kaysen, General Clifton, Mr. Bromley Smith

[Page 781]

[Here follows discussion of Cuba, for text, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1063, volume XI.]

Secretary Rusk indicated that we must be prepared to move promptly in trouble areas such as Haiti.2 General Taylor indicated that we could put U.S. Marines ashore in Haiti within 51 hours.

The President reacted sharply to the estimate of 51 hours by saying that this was too long. General Taylor said there was a unit which could be airdropped much sooner if an airfield were available. If we wished, we could keep the Marines aboard ships just over the horizon.

Mr. Martin said our Ambassador in Haiti did not recommend that Marine forces be kept aboard ship just over the horizon. This matter is to be followed closely because of the uncertain situation in Haiti.

[Here follows discussion of other Latin American topics (see Document 56) and further discussion on Cuba (see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XI).]

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, NSC Meetings, No. 509. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text.
  2. At the request of the White House, INR prepared an assessment of short-term prospects for Haiti and of possible U.S. actions. It concluded that Duvalier was precariously threatened by opposition groups inside and outside Haiti. These groups were nonetheless ill-equipped to gain effective control of the government should Duvalier be eliminated. Anarchy was the most likely result; and Castro and Haitian Communists would profit most. There were few options open to the United States: direct U.S. intervention would be strongly protested in Latin America, and the Dominican Republic’s intervention would raise as many problems as it would solve. OAS intervention would be difficult to sell to the other members, but it was the best option. An OAS mission would have to take responsibility for a remedial economic program and establishing law and order conducive to formation of a successor regime. (Memorandum from Hughes to Rusk, May 8; ibid., 5/7/63-8/63)