18. Memorandum From Robert M.Sayre of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)1

SUBJECT

  • Meeting with President and U.S. Ambassadors to Latin America

Mr. Mann believes the meeting between the President and six of our Ambassadors in Latin America went well because:

1.
The group includes two or three of our best Ambassadors in Latin America and
2.
The Ambassadors were prepared to discuss general trends and prospects, and raised specific country problems to illustrate the general trend.

I would add a third point—that in three of the countries (Brazil, Panama, and the Dominican Republic), there are active and serious issues in which our own interests and security are deeply involved.

The President received in his night reading material before the meeting a brief status report on the Alliance, a few lines of biography on the Ambassadors with whom he was not well-acquainted, and three or four sentences on the current situation in each of the six countries concerned.2 During the meeting, the President asked each Ambassador what he regarded as the key problems in his country and the Hemisphere, and what he thought should be done about them. Most of the talking from the Ambassadors’ side was done by Lincoln Gordon (Brazil), Jack Vaughn (Panama), and W. Tapley Bennett (Dominican Republic), in each of whose country we have some pretty tough problems.

The President had an oral briefing by Mr. Mann on the Alliance for Progress a few days before the meeting.3 The extent to which this [Page 54]may have contributed to the meeting with the Ambassadors is hard to say.

Although no specific effort was made to brief either the President or the Ambassadors concerned, each had fairly well in mind the general problems in the area. The Department has just completed an intensive review of Brazil’s debt situation, and the requirements for financial assistance in which Ambassador Gordon participated fully. The same is true in Panama and the Dominican Republic, although we are not as far along in either country toward decisions as we are in Brazil.

RMS
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. II, 6/64–8/64. Confidential. According to the President’s Daily Diary the meeting was held in the Cabinet Room, June 18, 12:10–1:10 p.m. The attendees included: the President, Lincoln Gordon, Jack Vaughn, W. Tapley Bennett, Aaron Brown, Covey Oliver, John Bell, Tom Mann, Ralph Dungan, Robert Adams, Anthony Solomon, and William Rogers. (Johnson Library)
  2. A report prepared by Sayre that fits this description was forwarded to Bundy under cover of a June 18 memorandum. (Ibid., National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. II, 6/64–8/64)
  3. Evidently a reference to the telephone conversation between Johnson and Mann on June 11; see Document 16.