4. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Cuba Meeting—Friday, February 21, 1964


  • The Attorney General; General Taylor; Ambassador Bunker; Ambassador Stewart; Deputy Secretary Vance; Deputy Under Secretary Johnson; Special Assistant Califano; Acting Director Wilson; Ward Allen; John Crimmins; Desmond FitzGerald; McGeorge Bundy; Gordon Chase

The group met to follow up their discussion of February 19 regarding OAS action resulting from the Venezuelan arms cache discovery. (Attached is a copy of the discussion paper.)2

The Venezuelan Position—After a status report by Mr. Allen, the group discussed the Venezuelan position.
Ambassador Stewart said that the Venezuelans are prepared to take very strong Rio Treaty action, up to and including invasion; they are especially anxious to quarantine Cuba’s export of subversion. He went on to admit, however, that the capability of the Venezuelan Foreign Office to sell a tough OAS resolution to other Latin American countries is not great. We will have to do a major share of the selling.
Ambassador Stewart said that the Venezuelans might agree to a surveillance system whereby U.S. ships could shadow suspect vessels into Venezuelan waters. He had some doubts as to whether or not the Venezuelans would allow us to seize a suspect vessel in territorial waters; they might, if it were clear that Venezuelan forces could not arrive at the scene in time to make the seizure themselves.

Surveillance System—With the exception of General Taylor, the group favored the “non-force” option. Mr. Vance favored the “non-force” option because it is a more flexible system. Mr. FitzGerald noted that the arms shipment to Venezuela was a deviation from Castro’s normal mode of procedure; he is unlikely to ship arms in the future. General Taylor commented that we should be clear that neither the “force” nor the “non-force” surveillance system will be very effective. He likes the “force” option because it gives us a reprisal capability.

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The group agreed that the OAS resolution should include language which will allow us to search suspect vessels and aircraft for subversives as well as for arms.

Economic Sanctions and Warning to Castro—The group agreed that the OAS language should be as general as possible in encouraging OAS countries to take action against Free World traders who deal with Cuba. General language is more likely to get OAS approval. The group agreed that, in warning Cuba that it had better not continue its subversion, the OAS language should also be general and flexible.

Noise-Level—The group agreed that a high noise-level in Latin America will be needed to obtain a tough OAS resolution. At the same time, it is desirable to keep the noise-level low in the U.S.

The general shape of the noise-level we want to get across is that Cuba is not solely a U.S. problem, but is a genuine Hemispheric problem. A confident but outraged Hemisphere is banding together to take further measures against Castro. The arms cache incident is a grave demonstration of what we have been saying for some time.

Action Items—The group agreed that a series of actions should be taken:
The State Department should write a fresh draft of the OAS resolution and send it to Palm Beach to the Secretary so that the Secretary might get the President’s approval in principle.3
State should explore the problem of how the OAS meeting ties in with the Alliance for Progress meeting in March. This situation must be handled carefully.
Mr. Chase should write a paper by February 24 which discusses the action against Cuba we want the OAS to take, and the results we expect to achieve by getting the OAS to take such action. Mr. Chase should clear his paper with Mr. Crimmins.
USIS Film—The group watched a USIS film about the arms cache, which will be shown on TV in Latin America. The general consensus was that it is a very convincing piece of work.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cuba, OAS Resolution (Arms Cache), Vol. II, Memos, 11/63–9/64. Secret; No Distribution. Drafted by Chase on February 27.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Rusk was in Palm Springs, California, February 20–23 for a meeting between President Johnson and President López Mateos of Mexico.