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

SUBJECT

  • Venezuelan Case Against Cuba

The Venezuelan Foreign Minister yesterday announced President Leoni’s decision to call for a Meeting of Foreign Ministers (MFM) to consider the problem of Cuban support for guerrilla movements in the hemisphere. The Venezuelans have as yet taken no formal action in the OAS. Their OAS Ambassador has been recalled to Caracas. We assume that he will return with orders to ask the OAS Council to convoke an MFM.

Yesterday Ambassador Bernbaum spoke with President Leoni and Foreign Minister Iribarren. He found them both concerned over what further meaningful action can be taken to punish Castro short of use of armed force against Cuban territory. Bernbaum’s reports are attached.2

You will recall that the 1964 MFM approved mandatory sanctions: break in diplomatic relations and suspension of trade and sea transportation. All have complied except Mexico.

State is taking a look at possible additional measures:

Through the MFM

1.
A strong condemnation of the Castro regime.
2.
An OAS blacklist of trading and shipping entities and vessels which engage in significant transactions with Cuba.
3.
Authorization for OAS member states, acting individually and collectively, to stop and search Cuban flag ships (or ships without flag) in the Caribbean suspected of acting as mother ships for Cuban-sponsored infiltration teams.

Outside the MFM

1.
Prevail upon Mexico to comply with the 1964 MFM decision and break all diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba.
2.
The United States and Latin American countries having relations with the Soviet Union to impress upon the Soviets the gravity of continued promotion of subversion by Castro.

The blacklist and stop-and-search measures raise many serious problems which need careful analysis before we sign on. State is engaged in this analysis.

In the meantime—as you will see from Bernbaum’s cable—we continue to help the Venezuelans as you promised President Leoni we would.

Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Venezuela, Vol. III, 12/66–12/68. Secret. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. Transmitted in telegrams 6069 and 6070 from Caracas, May 16 and 17; attached but not printed. Also in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, OAS 5–2 and POL 23–7 CUBA, respectively.