69. Memorandum of the 583rd Meeting of the National Security Council1
- The President
- The Vice President
- Secretary Rusk
- Deputy Under Secretary Bohlen
- Assistant Secretary Oliver
- Deputy Assistant Secretary Sayre
- Secretary Clifford
- Under Secretary Nitze
- General Wheeler
- Secretary Fowler
- Director Helms
- Director Marks
- W. W. Rostow
- B. K. Smith
- Tom Johnson
- W. G. Bowdler
Assistant Secretary Oliver opened the discussion on Latin America by reporting on his appearance this morning before Senator Morse’s Latin American Subcommittee. He said he had been “well and tolerantly” received with no grilling on the arms buildup in Latin America.
On the Latin American paper before the NSC,2 Assistant Secretary Oliver singled out three issues:
- the problem of keeping up the momentum of the Alliance for Progress if the Alliance appropriation were cut a second year in a row.
- the drop in Latin American trade in 1967 which amounted to 6%, or $600 million.
- some—though exaggerated—backsliding on economic integration since the Summit.
Reporting on his trips to Central America and four South American countries, Mr. Oliver made these points:
- The Central American Common Market (CACM) is going through a difficult adjustment period. The members are considering restrictive measures which would undo the progress made by CACM. We should shift the emphasis of our assistance away from bilateral aid and toward adjustment assistance tied to the strengthening of CACM institutions.
- As the Mexican Foreign Minister has suggested, we should place more emphasis on physical integration to encourage economic integration.
- During the South American tour, he launched the idea of a periodic meeting of Ministers of Defense as a way of getting the Latin Americans to focus more realistically on their military requirements.
- In his conversation with Belaunde, he achieved limited success in getting the promise of a memorandum explaining projected military expenses for 1968, but he received no assurances with respect to postponement of additional military equipment.
The President gave these directives:
- that a task force be established to make a detailed study of existing national road systems in Latin America and how they might be linked up. He indicated a willingness to give his support to findings of the task force.3
- that top level officers responsible for managing our Latin American affairs make a special effort to visit Latin America and engage in other activities demonstrating our continued, high-level interest in the area.
[Omitted here is discussion of other subjects.]
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings, Vol. V, 3/6/68, Inter-American Objectives and Problems. Secret. No drafting information appears on the memorandum. The meeting took place in the Cabinet Room, and according to the President’s Daily Diary it began at 12:46 p.m. (Johnson Library)↩
- A copy of the paper is attached to a memorandum from Paul C. Warnke, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, to McNamara, March 5. (Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330 73 A 1250, Latin America 1968, 0–092)↩
- The President subsequently said that the study might be expanded to include air transportation and communications. [Footnote in the source text.] On April 5 Johnson approved a State Department plan to promote the task force proposal in Latin America. (Memorandum from Rusk to the President, April 4; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 3 IA SUMMIT)↩