1. Editorial Note

At a White House reception for Latin American representatives on November 26, 1963, President Johnson announced that relations within the Western Hemisphere would be “among the highest concerns of my Government.” Acknowledging that the Alliance for Progress had its share of problems, Johnson pledged to “improve and strengthen the role of the United States,” thereby making the program a “living memorial” to the late-President Kennedy. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson , 1963–64, Book I, pages 6–7) In a December 3 memorandum for the President, Director of Central Intelligence McCone addressed an important aspect of this pledge to “improve and strengthen” the Alliance: personnel. Citing “our recent conversations” on the subject, McCone observed that the Alliance had become so “deeply enmeshed in administrative problems” that no man “could be expected to take over the responsibilities of directing the program, overcome the obstacles that would confront him, and give the program the forward motion you desire.” What the administration needed was a “special assistant” to the President or a “special deputy to the Secretary of State,” a man “with the experience to envision the program, the stature to speak with conviction with all the Latin American countries and who additionally holds the complete respect of the Congress.” McCone recommended former Secretary of the Treasury Robert B. Anderson for the job with Thomas C. Mann, then Ambassador to Mexico, assuming the role of administrator. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Agency File, Alliance for Progress)

Anderson evidently declined the appointment, forcing the President to consider other candidates for the top position, including Mann himself. (Ibid., Recordings and Transcripts, Transcript of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Robert Anderson, December 5, 1963, 2:14 p.m.) In a telephone call to Mexico City on December 9 Johnson offered Mann the position as “kind of an Undersecretary” of State for Latin America—an offer that, he suggested, should not be refused. (Ibid., Transcript of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Thomas Mann, December 9, 3:30 p.m.) Mann arrived in [Page 2] the United States on December 10 and met the President at the White House the following day. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) On December 14 Johnson announced that Mann had agreed to “undertake the coordination and direction of all policies and programs of the U.S. government, economic, social, and cultural, relating to Latin America.” Johnson later announced that Mann would exercise this role not only as the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs—a position he had held during the second Eisenhower administration—but also as Special Assistant to the President and United States Coordinator of the Alliance for Progress. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963–64, Book I, pages 56, 65, 88) To accommodate Mann’s appointment, Assistant Secretary Edwin M. Martin was appointed Ambassador to Argentina, and Teodoro Moscoso, the former U.S. Coordinator of the Alliance, was named to represent the United States on the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress (CIAP). Mann assumed his new responsibilities on January 3, 1964.