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

SUBJECT

  • Measures to Invigorate the Form and Substance of Our Activities in Latin America
[Page 162]

You asked for ideas to dramatize our Latin American policy. I suggest the following:

Measures Demonstrating High-level US Interest

1.

Special Message to the Inter-American Cultural Council. Dr. Eisenhower and Dr. Hornig leave for Venezuela on February 13 to attend a special meeting of the Inter-American Cultural Council. The Council will pass on programs for carrying out the OAS Summit decisions in education and science and technology. I suggest you send a special message, with emphasis on the possibilities of satellite ETV. I have asked Dr. Hornig and Doug Cater to prepare a draft.

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2.

Trip by the Vice President. To demonstrate our interest in economic integration and in opening the inner frontiers of South America, the Vice President could make a 3-week tour, visiting primarily projects related to development of the heartland of the continent: road building, hydroelectric plants, colonization, community development, cooperatives. Covey Oliver, Bill Gaud (who hasn’t been to Latin America except to Punta del Este) and perhaps some Congressman should go with him. They would dramatize these two distinctly Johnsonian dimensions of the Alliance for Progress: integration and multinational projects.

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3.

Invite Presidents to the Opening of Hemisfair. Hemisfair officials could invite the Presidents of participating countries to the opening of the Fair. As part of their visit to San Antonio, you could invite them to the Ranch.

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4.

Visits of Latin American Presidents. You have the President of Paraguay, Alfredo Stroessner, scheduled for March. For the remainder of the year you could have:

President Leoni of Venezuela. He was invited for January but could not make it. State is proposing July.

President Lleras of Colombia. He is going to Europe this spring and would like to stop in the US.

President Balaguer of the Dominican Republic. He will have finished half of his term on July 1.

The Amistad Dam will be ready for dedication in September. You could join President Diaz Ordaz for that ceremony.

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5.

Interview with Selected Latin American Newsmen. An interview with a group of carefully selected, prominent Latin American reporters would give you good exposure in Latin America. You could make it an informal, personal affair by having the interview in your office and taking the newsmen on a tour of the White House. This could be filmed by USIA for the newsmen and played all over Latin America. You could use the interview to project your vision of an economically integrated Latin America with the benefits that this would bring to the entrepreneur as well as the average citizen. State and USIA have developed a plan for bringing such a group of newsmen to the US, using Hemisfair as the cover.

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5. [sic]

More Direct Contact by Covey Oliver with Latin Americans. Covey has just finished a highly successful, two-week swing through Central America and Panama. He plans to travel to Peru, Chile, and Brazil, starting this week. A Taveras Dam loan signing ceremony in the Dominican Republic in March is another possibility. On these trips he tries to reach the people through TV, press conferences and public appearances in places outside the capital. His mastery of Spanish and natural empathy are a great asset.5

Our OASCIAP man should also be doing some missionary work of this nature, but he lacks the language and substantive knowledge of country problems and what CIAP might do to dramatize the Alliance. Nevertheless, if you reject proposal 2 above, he could tour the inner frontiers and be photographed on the modern roads, at dams, gas pipelines, etc. in the interior.

Measures to Give New Thrust to the Alliance for Progress

1.

Restructure CIAP . CIAP is not giving leadership to the Alliance. The Chairman tends too much towards private diplomacy and does not exert enough firm, imaginative, public leadership. Our man is not feeding him ideas and pushing him for action behind the scenes. There is a serious structural weakness—7 part-time members cannot do the job of policy direction, country review, and performance follow-up that is required. It is politically impossible to replace the present members, but a few more full-time members with imagination and drive could be added. The new men are needed to translate the Summit directives into specific courses of action, determine priorities and, through close personal contact, persuade governments to move accordingly. Bill Bowdler has prepared a proposal for restructuring CIAP which he is taking up with Covey and Sol. We are shooting to get this done at the Inter-American Economic and Social Council meeting in June.

We can also expect more dynamism from a new OAS Secretary General if Galo Plaza is elected.

2.

New US Executive Director on the IDB . Related to our leadership in CIAP is leadership in the Inter-American Bank. The Bank is assuming a larger role in the Alliance. Last year annual investments by the Bank reached the half billion mark. It did more dollar lending than our entire AID program in Latin America. My hunch is that the Congress will increasingly want to funnel assistance through the multilateral lending institutions, so the IDB’s role in the Alliance is likely to increase. This makes it most important that we have a top-flight pro as US Executive Director [Page 165]who knows how to work with Latins while protecting our interests—especially since our top man on the Bank management is not effective. I know you are considering this matter. You have in Ray Sternfeld—the present US alternate—the man who can do that kind of job. I strongly recommend that you name him. (Tom Mann and Joe Barr agree.)

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3.
Modernize our Military and Security Relations with Latin America. The pattern of these relationships was established during World War II and the years immediately thereafter. They are outdated. There is too much emphasis on bilateral programs with us and an excessive paternalism on our part. As we have done in the economic field, we should get the Latins to think more of military and security policy in collective terms and in relationship to economic and social goals. New instruments of inter-American cooperation are needed to replace the present antiquated—and stigmatized—ones. Bob Sayre has prepared a strategy for doing this which Nick Katzenbach has approved and is now awaiting the concurrence of Secretary McNamara.
4.
Three Additional Measures Contingent on Future Developments. These measures of high impact for Latin America are contingent on future developments:
a.
Untying of AID for the Western Hemisphere, when our balance of payments situation permits.
b.
Granting of Trade Preferences to Latin America, if the Europeans continue their preferences for Africa and do not go along with further temporary worldwide tariff cuts for the LDCs.7
c.
A New Program to Open South America’s Inner Frontiers More Rapidly, after the heavy expenditures in Vietnam decrease.
Walt
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. VII, 1/68–2/68. Secret.
  2. The President approved the first five measures, adding the handwritten instructions noted in footnotes below.
  3. Johnson wrote: “check Pickets, Parades etc.” Rostow later explained the instruction as a “careful check of the security aspects.” (Memorandum from Rostow to Read, February 7; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. VII, 1/68–2/68) Humphrey left for Latin America on March 31 and was in Mexico City that evening when Johnson announced that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for reelection. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1968–69, Book I, pp. 469–476) After signing Protocol II to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, Humphrey returned to the United States on April 1. (Hubert H. Humphrey, The Education of a Public Man, pp. 358–360) The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America was signed by 14 Latin American countries at Tlatelolco on February 14, 1967; see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XI, Document 226.
  4. Johnson wrote: “plus 2 or 3 others.” The following Latin American Presidents visited the United States in 1968: Stroessner of Paraguay (March), Trejos Fernandez of Costa Rica (June), Barrientos Ortuño of Bolivia (July), and Diaz Ordaz of Mexico (December).
  5. Johnson underlined the last two sentences of this paragraph and wrote: “good give us all he can take.”
  6. This option is checked.
  7. The President checked measures 4b and 4c.