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


  • Venezuelan Case Against Cuba

The Venezuelans today asked for an early Meeting of Foreign Ministers (MFM) to consider their complaint against Cuba.

[Page 140]

The convocation is under the OAS Charter rather than Rio Treaty. The essential difference is that a Charter MFM is limited to recommendations, while a Rio Treaty MFM normally takes mandatory measures.

Venezuela chose the OAS Charter track because it can count on almost unanimous support for convocation. This is not the case if they moved under the Rio Treaty.

The OAS Council meets on Monday, June 5, to act on the Venezuelan request. The first step will be to convoke the MFM at the ambassadorial level. A Committee will then be appointed to go to Venezuela (and other countries which have cases against Cuba) to examine all the evidence. The MFM at the ministerial level will meet after the Committee completes its report.

Venezuela has no clear picture of what it wants the MFM to recommend. Part of its difficulty is that there is little more that can be done against Castro of an effective nature short of armed force, which is out of the question. Another problem is the general unwillingness of the larger Latin American countries to apply additional economic pressure against countries trading with Cuba.

State is still sorting out what meaningful collective action can be taken. What is needed is a keener sense by the Latin Americans that Cuban subversion is a common problem and that they should be taking the lead in: (1) publicizing Cuban interventionist activities, (2) bringing pressure on the Western Europeans to curtail their trade with Cuba; (3) forcing the Soviet bloc to define its position and (4) strengthening their internal security forces to liquidate the guerrillas at the incipient stage. What is called for, in effect, is a collective security self-help effort by the Latins.

We will be trying to move them in this direction, making clear that they can count on our shield against overt Cuban military action and our support in developing their security capabilities.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Venezuela, Vol. III, 12/66–12/68. Confidential. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.