19. Information Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • OAS Resolution on the Cuban Arms Cache in Venezuela
1.
A meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers (MFM), probably lasting three or four days will start in Washington on July 21 to consider action against Cuba on the Venezuelan arms cache issue. The following is meant to bring you up to date.
2.
The OAS countries are likely to discuss and take action on the following three resolutions when they meet on July 21.
(a)

Resolution I recommends that member states cooperate in surveillance to detect the subversive movements of men and arms between Cuba and Latin America. The resolution also recommends that OAS countries, which still maintain diplomatic and air relations with Cuba, break such relations. It goes on to require member states to suspend all sea and commercial relations (except food and medicines) with Cuba.

We can live with this resolution and there is a very good chance that it can be passed with a strong majority; at present, only Chile and [Page 55]Mexico, both of which have domestic political problems, are opposed. It is quite possible, moreover, that, by the date of the MFM, Mexico may change its mind and decide to abstain or, conceivably, to vote favorably.

(b)

Resolution II issues the warning and establishes the principle that the OAS regards subversion as aggression and that future acts of Cuban subversion will trigger an immediate OAS meeting to agree on measures to be taken against the guilty party. The resolution goes on to say that the above OAS procedure does not limit the right of the victim of such aggression and the right of other states, at the victim’s request, to take appropriate measures inherent in the right of individual or collective self-defense.

As the resolution now stands, we can live with it and can probably get a substantial majority to vote favorably (e.g. all but Chile and probably Mexico). However, we may get some heat at the MFM to weaken the resolution in two ways. First, most of the OAR’s would like to generalize the warning language so that it pertains to subversion by both the left and right. We prefer the language to pertain more sharply to Cuba—so Cuba will feel the heat directly and unequivocally and so there will be no chance (although already unlikely) that the resolution will be turned against us because of our own “rightist” subversive activities against Cuba. Second, Chile would like to limit the right of individual and collective self-defense in the event of subversive aggression. We and most other OAR’s oppose the Chilean position.

(c)
Resolution III urges non-OAS Free World countries to cooperate with the OAS in its economic denial program against Cuba. It also recommends that OAS countries take necessary measures to achieve non-OAS Free World cooperation in this area. This resolution should pass easily. At present, there seems to be little opposition.
3.
If we get the three resolutions as they now stand, with the majorities which we now estimate, we will have done fairly well. While we will not be able to point to an imminent overthrow of the Castro regime and to a complete cessation of Castro–Communist subversion in Latin America, we will be able to point to some movement towards a number of intermediate objectives, achieved without excessively straining the unity of the OAS.

First, Cuba will be further isolated. The break in the remaining commercial and sea relations and further possible diplomatic breaks, at a minimum, will hurt Castro psychologically. Second, the spread of Cuban subversion will be impeded. The warning resolution might inhibit Castro’s will to spread subversion while the establishment of a surveillance system and the isolation measures will make it physically somewhat more difficult to move subversive men, funds, and arms between [Page 56]Cuba and Latin America. Third, the warning resolution will give us some juridical basis for and pre-position the OAS to use force against future Cuban subversion, if it is deemed desirable to do so. Fourth, Cuba’s economic difficulties will be increased marginally by the break in commercial and sea relations with the OAS. To the extent we decide to use Resolution III as a lever, multilaterally if possible, on non-OAS Free World countries to reduce commercial relations with Cuba, Cuba’s economic difficulties will be further increased. Fifth, the economic burden to the Soviet Union will be increased marginally—to the extent that we can continue to force Cuban commercial activities into abnormal, uneconomic channels.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cuba, OAS Resolution (Arms Cache), Vol. II, Memos, 11/63–9/64. Confidential. According to a June 25 memorandum from Chase to Bundy this information memorandum was drafted by Chase. (Ibid.)