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

SUBJECT

  • Panama Situation Report, 7:00 p.m.
[Page 781]
1.
The OAS without debate is sending the peace committee to Panama at once. This committee as now set up includes Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.2 Dean Rusk says it is friendly to us.
2.
Panamanians have sent in a note definitely breaking relations,3 and their political noise level remains high. We are not confirming break in relations, since after all we expect Mann to see Chiari.
3.
The U.N. Security Council meets tonight and while there will be some noise, Rusk expects that the dispatch of the OAS peace mission will hold the line for tonight.4
4.
On the central front of restoring peace and safety, the immediate prognosis is better. Rusk, McNamara, and I agree that tonight will be the test whether we have a turning point here.5
5.
Mann has landed.
McG. B. 6
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Memos to the President, Mc-George Bundy, Vol. I, November 1963–February 1964. No classification marking.
  2. On January 10 the OAS issued a communiqué announcing the formulation of the Inter-American Peace Committee comprised of representatives of Chile, Venezuela, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Argentina. The committee was to travel to Panama to investigate the situation and recommend measures for a settlement of the dispute. The text of the communiqué is in Department of State Bulletin, February 3, 1964, p. 152.
  3. The message severing diplomatic relations was from Panamanian Foreign Minister Galileo Solis to Secretary Rusk, January 10, 3:10 p.m. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Panama Crisis, 1964)
  4. Rusk had urged that the OAS Peace Commission take up the problem in a noon meeting with departing Panamanian Ambassador Augusto Arango. (Memorandum of conversation, January 10; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL PAN–US)
  5. On the night of January 10 Johnson told Senator Mike Mansfield: “I’m waiting on that Panama thing to see if they have another riot there.” He added: “I think these damned Communists are goin’ to cause trouble every place in this country they can, and I think we’ve got to get a little bit hard with ’em.” Johnson continued: “I don’t know— Dick Russell may be right. He says that they’re goin’ to do this in every damned nation they can.” (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Mike Mansfield, January 10, 10:25 p.m., Tape F64.05, Side A, PNO 1)
  6. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.