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


  • OAS Meeting of Foreign Ministers2

On all counts, the OAS Meeting of Foreign Ministers went well, within the limits of what we thought possible.

The basic resolution was approved 20 to 0, with Mexico abstaining.

The resolution has all the points which the Venezuelans and we originally sought (copy attached):3

  • —a strong condemnation of Cuba for acts of aggression in Venezuela and Bolivia.
  • —a request to free world countries to restrict their trade with Cuba and a recommendation to OAS members that they press this request individually or collectively.
  • —an expression of serious concern to the Communist countries that their support of Castro stimulates his subversive activities, and a recommendation to OAS members that they make joint or individual representations to manifest this concern.
  • —a call upon governments supporting the Afro-Asian-Latin American People’s Solidarity Organization to withdraw their support of the organization because it fosters subversion.
  • —a recommendation to OAS Governments not to use ships in the Cuban trade and deny them bunkering facilities.
  • —a call on OAS Governments for tighter controls over subversive activities.

At Congressman Selden’s request, Secretary Rusk tried to get in the notion of the OAS Secretariat keeping a list of private firms trading with Cuba, but this did not prosper.

In the separate resolution, sponsored by Chile, Venezuela and Colombia, it was agreed to call attention in the UN to Cuba’s subversive activities. Mexico went along with this decision.

The resolutions will not topple Castro but they provide OAS-sanctioned levers for pressuring our European friends and Soviet bloc countries to put the heat on him. Now we must get the Latins to pull these levers. Covey Oliver is working on this.

The resolutions also give Venezuela strong moral support which will be helpful to President Leoni domestically. To the extent that Cuba becomes a political issue here over the next 13 months, the resolution will help to show that we have been active in mobilizing additional collective action to squeeze Castro.

We may well find that Castro will persist in his guerrilla activities, despite getting his fingers burned. This raises the question of what further action can be taken to deter Castro. Bill Bowdler and I were discussing this over the weekend. We concluded that the next step might be measured retaliation by the aggrieved state against Cuba. There is authority for this in the 1964 resolution. Many aspects need to be sorted out. We plan to use the IRGSIG mechanism to assess the advisability of this course.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Subject File, Organization of American States, Vol. II. Secret. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. The final plenary sessions of the Twelfth Meeting of Consultation of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of American States were held in Washington September 22–24. Documentation on the meeting is ibid., International Meetings and Travel File, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, 9/22–24/67; and National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Conference Files, 1966–1972: Lot 68 D 453, CF 212 and CF 213.
  3. Attached but not printed. For an excerpt of the Final Act, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967, pp. 648–652; the text of the final act of the meeting, including the “basic resolution,” is in Department of State Bulletin, October 16, 1967, pp. 493–498.