152. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Harriman to President Johnson 1


  • Recognition of New Bolivian Government
[Page 343]


I recommend that the United States recognize the military junta headed by General Barrientos as the government of Bolivia, and that our Embassy in La Paz be instructed to acknowledge the junta’s note of November 7 requesting recognition.2


President Paz of Bolivia fled the country on November 4 and a military junta headed by former Vice President Rene Barrientos was installed on November 5. The new regime is in control of the country, has encountered no resistance, has reestablished constitutional liberties, and has reiterated its intentions to hold elections. Barrientos and his principal advisers have privately pledged that communist influence will be reduced and eventually eliminated, and that they will not reestablish relations with Cuba or Czechoslovakia. While the new government may not be able to fulfill completely all of its assurances, unless we resume normal relations with the Barrientos government, the possibilities for communist influence and chaos increase. Congressional leaders have been consulted and concur that recognition is desirable and U.S. performance on existing aid commitments should be resumed. The AFL–CIO has been reassured on labor rights by recent actions of the new government. The Barrientos government has been recognized by seven countries in Latin America, by most of the NATO powers, and by others including India, Japan, Israel, and the Republic of China.

W. Averell Harriman
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Bolivia, Vol. III, Memoranda. December 1964–September 1965. No classification marking. The Department of State copy indicates it was drafted by Brewin (ARA) on December 2. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 16 BOL) The following handwritten note is at the bottom of this memorandum: “Mr. President: Rusk, Mann, and I concur—the plan is to deal with this in State Department—from press point of view. McG.B.” Sayre recommended the President concur in a December 3 covering memorandum to Bundy. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Bolivia, Vol. III, Memoranda, December 1964–September 1965)
  2. The President approved the recommendation.