53. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson 1

Mr. President:

The Venezuelan security forces report that they have captured a guerrilla infiltration force coming from Cuba. They claim 12 prisoners (4 of whom are Cuban), the boat and outboard motor in which they landed, US $10,000 in 50 dollar bills, and quantities of ammunition and other supplies. Interrogation of the prisoners reveals that another landing from Cuba can be expected in the next few days.

CIA is trying to verify these reports. If the information is fully borne out, there will be a strong—if not stronger case—for OAS action against Cuba than there was following the discovery of the Cuban arms cache in Venezuela in 1963. The 1963 incident led to the Meeting of Foreign Ministers in July 1964 which applied diplomatic and economic sanctions against Castro.

The resolution of the Foreign Ministers also contained this warning:

“To warn the Government of Cuba that if it should persist in carrying out acts that possess characteristics of aggression and intervention against one or more of the member states of the Organization, the member states shall preserve their essential rights as sovereign states by the use of self-defense in either individual or collective form, which could go so far as resort to armed force, until such time as the Organ [Page 134] of Consultation takes measures to guarantee the peace and security of the hemisphere.”2

If the case is an airtight one, we may find the Venezuelans moving in the OAS for action pursuant to this warning.3

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Venezuela, Vol. III, 12/66–12/68. Secret.
  2. For full text of the resolution, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1964, pp. 328–334, or Department of State Bulletin, August 10, 1964, pp. 181–182.
  3. The President wrote the following instruction at the bottom of the memorandum: “Why don’t we provide leadership quietly now. L