46. Telegram From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State1
3192/Secto 26. Eyes Only for the President and Acting Secretary from Secretary.
We have now reached the point where the opinions of all countries are in and it is possible to report general agreement that there should be a summit conference and, indeed, that a failure to hold one would have a very negative effect throughout the hemisphere. I have seen all the FonMins personally and have encountered only the friendliest reactions to you and to the US. There is general understanding of the burdens we are carrying these days and real appreciation for the personal attention which you have given to Latin American affairs and to the Alliance for Progress despite your many other problems.
As far as the ministers are concerned the fact that I am remaining over the weekend has been accepted as a compliment contrasted with the notion that my departure before the end of the conference is somehow a “walk out.”2[Page 114]
I have tried to be very realistic with my Latin colleagues about what they should expect from the US. On the subject of integration I have insisted that this is their decision. I have emphasized that if they were to move toward integration because of the possibility of modest amounts of help from the US they would move for the wrong reasons and integration efforts could not succeed. They understand fully that we must consult with the Congress before making commitments and that, in such consultations, we must have specific information on what our friends in Latin America really intend to do. We cannot have them come up with some meaningless phrases involving the word “integration” and expect that we will come forward with substantial additional assistance. It would take the Congress only ten minutes to prick any such bubble and ask for specifics. Somewhat to my surprise, I am beginning to feel (after a full day’s discussion today) that they really are quite serious about integration. They seem to recognize that rapid modernization will pass them by unless they enlarge their markets among themselves and open up the possibilities provided by the internal American market for US and the enlarged European Common Market.
Again in the direction of realism I have stated quite simply that they must compete with the rest of the world for private investment, that private investment cannot be commanded by US or anyone else but must be attracted by them, and that if they fail to attract it they cannot expect the same investments to come through the public sector at the taxpayer’s expense.
I have also tried, in personal conversations with ministers, to remind them that a meeting of Presidents is an informal meeting at the highest political level and is not an occasion to resolve every trivial issue which twenty governments might have in mind. Some of the nervousness about the need for “adequate preparation” arises from an unrealistic view of what Presidents will do when they get together. You will not wade through stacks of black boots but will share your political and other problems with each other and give direction to the grand strategy of the hemisphere. My impression is that the FonMins will greatly simplify the recommendations they make to their Presidents. From our own point of view, it seems to me that the principal benefit to come from a summit meeting is the enlistment of public interest in the hemisphere, in the successes and prospects of the Alliance for Progress and in your own personal commitment to what happens to ordinary men and women. Our own people have been hearing almost nothing else but Viet-Nam, President de Gaulle and China, and hemispheric affairs have dropped somewhat into the background. We will need this public attention as a defense against Congressional assaults on the Alliance for Progress.[Page 115]
Outstanding among the FonMins have been Mexican, Chilean, Argentine, Brazilian and Colombian colleagues. It is a great relief to find Chile in a cooperative mood and I have no doubt this reflects the growing personal relations between you and President Frei. Tony Carrillo has been a stalwart friend.
I have emphasized in talks that we are not pressing for a summit meeting if there is any reluctance on their part. Their response has been one of alarm that we might lose interest. I think they realize that they are competing for the attention of the American people with many other problems and that it is in their interest to find a way to dramatize hemispheric cooperation.
I have tried to keep our Congressional delegation involved as much as possible although private meetings of ministers have limited their participation. They came, understandably enough, with considerable skepticism about whether the Latin Americans really mean business on integration. It is a skepticism which I myself shared. But if our Latin friends demonstrate that they mean business and are prepared to take some additional tangible steps, I think our Congressional friends will be both surprised and impressed.
We have had press backgrounders every day since my arrival and I will try to have a wrap up with them before I depart for Washington.3
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 3 IA. Secret; Nodis.↩
- Rusk headed the U.S. delegation in Buenos Aires until February 21, when he was replaced by Ambassador at Large Ellsworth Bunker.↩
- For texts of the resolution of the Eleventh Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics and the final act of the Third Special Inter-American Conference, see Department of State Bulletin, March 20, 1967, pp. 473–476. The amendment of the OAS Charter—the so-called Protocol of Buenos Aires—was adopted on February 27, becoming effective 3 years later upon ratification of two-thirds of the member states.↩