21. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • Your meeting July 21, 6 p.m., with heads of Latin American delegations

You are receiving the heads of the Latin American delegations to the Foreign Ministers meeting on Cuba on July 21 at 6 p.m. All of these delegations are headed by Foreign Ministers, except Mexico and the [Page 60] Dominican Republic, which will be represented by their OAS Ambassadors. We have discouraged the Dominican Foreign Minister, Donald Reid Cabral, because he is a Chief of State, and we would have had to treat him accordingly. The Mexican Foreign Minister, Jose Gorostiza, is not coming because Mexico has been in a minority and he didn’t want to take a public beating in his first international meeting.

The meeting will also include Secretary Rusk, Tom Mann, Ambassadors Bunker and Duke, Senators Morse and Hickenlooper, Congressmen Selden and Mailliard, Secretary General of the OAS Mora, and myself.

Our suggestion is that during this reception you should talk informally with the Foreign Ministers in somewhat the way that you have with the Latin American Ambassadors. The group has been kept small for this purpose. Since you already talked on Latin American problems, our suggestion is that you might give them a general review of the world situation, and Horace Busby is putting some suggested remarks into final form.2 The experts think that such a review would be welcomed by the Foreign Ministers, and that they would find it flattering to hear your views on the world. If you agree, the prepared remarks could be made available to the press through George Reedy, together with some background comment.

These prepared remarks do not contain any argumentation on Cuba because we think the Foreign Ministers would regard this as undue pressure before they begin their deliberations. At the same time, it is entirely proper that you should informally state your own views in a private session, and we would plan to make it clear in back-grounding that you had done so, since we do not want the Republicans to be able to claim that you are uninterested in the resolution. In such informal remarks we suggest that you may want to make the following points which Tom Mann and Dean Rusk are already making in their discussions with the delegates:

Venezuela has been the victim of aggression and we should support her.
We should not do anything at this meeting that would give Cuba or the Soviet Union an impression that we have lessened our resolve to defend the Hemisphere against aggression.
Therefore we should adopt a strong and substantial resolution.

The present line-up on the Cuban resolution is reasonably hopeful. The Venezuelans are insisting on a mandatory break in relations and air service with Cuba, and eleven other Latin American countries share this view. Both on the merits and for political reasons we do not want to be against the Venezuelans, who are very firm on this issue.

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Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia are debating this issue of mandatory sanctions, but we think they will probably agree. That would give us 15 votes in favor of a resolution on Cuba at least as strong as the one you have already reviewed.

The Mexicans, however, are said to be bitter about the possibility of being forced to suspend relations and air service. They regard this move as a sanction against Mexico, not Cuba, and they are likely to carry Chile and perhaps Uruguay with them.

Haiti will try to blackmail us, but will probably vote on our side because we have two-thirds without her.

This picture is not perfect, and Tom Mann had hoped in particular for a less troublesome Mexican reaction, but I do not think we should try to second-guess him from the White House at this stage. I will try to have an up-to-the-minute account for you tomorrow before the meeting.3

McG. B. 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cuba, OAS Resolution (9th MFM), Vol. V, 7/64–8/64. Confidential. According to a July 14 memorandum from Sayre to Bundy this memorandum was drafted by Sayre. (Ibid., Latin America, Vol. II, 6/64–12/64)
  2. The remarks prepared by Busby have not been found.
  3. Although no substantive record of the meeting has been found, according to a memorandum for the record by W.Y. Smith it was discussed at the daily White House staff meeting on July 22: “At the soiree between the President and certain Latin American ambassadors yesterday the Mexican ambassador [to the OAS, Vicente Sánchez Gavito] misbehaved a bit. There was informal agreement before him that nothing would be said on the OAS resolution on Cuba, now under discussion by the OAS Foreign Ministers. The Mexican ambassador, however, made an impassioned plea for a resolution that the Mexicans could live with. The President handled the matter expertly, making some bland reply. Secretary Rusk stepped in and said that the resolution was the subject for discussion later, not at the meeting then underway.” (Memorandum for the record, National Defense University, Maxwell Taylor Papers, Chairman’s Staff Group, Box 25)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.