5. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk in Palm Springs, California1

Tosec 13. For the Secretary from Alexis Johnson.

Text working draft OAS Resolution contained immediately following telegram2 represents outcome two White House meetings chaired by Bundy and attended by Attorney General, Vance, General Taylor, State (Johnson, Bunker and Amb. Stewart), USIA and CIA. Mann and Commerce and Treasury representatives participated first meeting.
Text developed ad referendum to you and, if you approve, for you to seek approval of the President to use text as basis for further discussions with Venezuela with view arriving at agreed text which they would take as basis for initiating soundings of OARs.
Following is background of critical parts of resolution:

Article 2, warning:

We wanted here to seek umbrella for possible future unilateral action and at same time provide ourselves maximum flexibility with respect nature our response to further Castro actions. Judgment is that it will be most difficult to get two-thirds vote for this blank check and we would be prepared negotiate back from this initial position. This article places emphasis on future action and is not designed provide basis for response of general OAS concern in instant case. Concept is also to provide basis of expressed OAS concern for considering approaches to Soviet Union urging they exercise restraint on Castro.


Article 3, surveillance:

We examined closely the question of an alternative which would permit search and seizure, involving the use of force, of OAS member states flag vessels (including Cuba), on the high seas. There was agreement that this alternative would not do anything more in a practical sense (i.e., in stopping arms shipments) than the language in the above draft and would be much more difficult to get agreement on. Wish to note that under either method chances actual apprehension of vessels carrying arms or subversives not good, and in fact it is doubtful Castro will revert at least for some time to technique used exceptionally in Venezuelan operation. Therefore, effect this article essentially psychological. It would be viewed as a further tightening measure, and [Page 15] the fact no further arms shipments occurred could be interpreted as result establishment surveillance system.


Article 6 on economic measures:

After examining variants, which included recommendation specifically calling for “proclaimed list” action by member states, we agreed on generalized formula presented in draft. This language does not commit us or others (who we estimate would be reluctant go so far) to establishment “proclaimed list”, but would provide basis for such additional action and measures by us and other OAS countries as we may decide to take to discourage free-world trade with Cuba.

White House meetings produced following additional conclusions:
Aggrieved party, Venezuela, which is prepared propose strong measures, should float draft resolution, with US prepared move in firm support Venezuelan initiative. So long as possible, US should not be in lead.
USIA would proceed with large-scale effort in Latin America through its Latin American outlets to publicize Investigating Committee report (which is to be released 24th). (USIA is distributing dramatic non-attributed TV show on report.) Decision based conviction that high noise level effort needed in order develop Latin American support for even a minimum package.
On US domestic side, issue should be placed in low key, with no major statements coming out of Washington. Basic theme US public position would be that, as we have consistently maintained, US itself not threatened by Cuba; real Cuban threat is subversion directed against Latin America; therefore problem is one for entire hemisphere, particularly for the Caribbean basin countries directly threatened; and action to meet threat must be decided upon in common.
We should withhold decision on whether issue should be handled in Meeting of Foreign Ministers or in COAS acting provisionally as Organ Consultation until we have clear idea of Latin American lineup on action to be taken.

Text conclusions Investigating Committee also being transmitted septel.3

Foregoing also discussed with George Ball. I will be available in Dept after 10 a.m. Sunday for telcon if you desire.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–8 VEN. Secret; Limdis. Drafted by Crimmins and U. Alexis Johnson, cleared by Allen, and approved by U. Alexis Johnson.
  2. Telegram Tosec 14 to USDel Palm Springs, February 22. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram Tosec 15 to USDel Palm Springs, February 22. (Ibid.)
  4. Rusk called U. Alexis Johnson on February 23 to report his decision “to check out the draft resolution further with the lawyers before he shows it to the President.” (Memorandum from Chase to Bundy, February 24; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Cuba, OAS Resolution (Arms Cache), Vol. II, Memos, 11/63–9/64)