535. Editorial Note

On January 14, 1966, the Venezuelan Embassy informed the Department that Minister of the Interior Gonzalo Barrios was planning to visit Washington for 1 week starting January 18. The Embassy requested that Barrios receive an appointment with President Johnson, possibly in connection with the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Manuel Perez Guerrero, who was coming to Washington for oil consultations. (Telegram 569 to Caracas, January 14; National Archives and [Page 1113]Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 VEN) In a meeting with Ambassador Bernbaum on January 15, President Leoni made a separate appeal for the appointment, explaining that its main purpose would be to allow “first direct contact with President Johnson through Barrios, who is most trusted aid.” Barrios would deliver a personal letter to Johnson addressing several issues of mutual concern, including recent petroleum developments, the Venezuela–British Guiana border dispute, and the Vietnam war. (Telegram 709 from Caracas, January 15; ibid.)

Under Secretary of State Mann raised the Venezuelan request with President Johnson on January 15. According to a memorandum of the conversation: “The President said that was the last thing he wanted to do, negotiate on oil. Mr. Mann said that was right but Venezuela is so important that if the President could see him and then refer him to Udall and State, he thought it would be a good political move. He said he did not think the President should discuss details. He said he thought it would be good if the President could receive him because when the President sends people down to Leoni they are received by him and if his people could not get through to the President, it might hurt feelings. The President said for Mr. Mann to bring him in for five minutes then, and to be sure that was all he stayed.” (Johnson Library, Papers of Thomas C. Mann, Telephone Conversations with LBJ, May 2, 1965–June 2, 1966) A January 19 memorandum from Mann to the President requesting the appointment for Barrios is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 VEN.