73. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • U.S.–Costa Rican Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • U.S. Side
    • The President
    • Assistant Secretary Mann
    • Ambassador Telles
  • Costa Rican Side
    • Francisco Orlich, President of Costa Rica
    • Daniel Oduber Quiròs, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Ambassador Gonzalo J. Facio
    • Mario Quirós Sasso, Minister of the Presidency
    • Mr. Eduardo Lizano, Economic Advisor
    • Mr. Fidel Tristan, Economic Advisor

After speaking privately together, President Johnson and President Orlich joined members of the United States and Costa Rican delegations in the Cabinet Room. President Johnson said that President Orlich had raised two matters, first, a ten million dollar commitment which President Kennedy made during his visit to Costa Rica2 and, second, the attitude of the United States towards the activities in Costa Rica of the two Cuban exile groups headed respectively by Mr. Ray and Mr. Artime. The President asked Mr. Mann to comment on these two points.

Mr. Mann indicated that he was not aware of any unfulfilled ten million dollar commitment to Costa Rica but he would look into this [Page 179]and speak with the Costa Rican officials later on.3 He said that it was understood that Costa Rica, because of the volcano and the drop in the production of coffee and other export crops, might need help. We would be glad to look into this on the basis of concrete projects as we wished to be cooperative. Regarding Ray and Artime, Mr. Mann stated that since last September no raids had been staged from U.S. territory because of President Kennedy’s decision to avoid the risks of having Cuban exiles attack, from a U.S. base, ships of various nationalities. Mr. Mann stated that the United States was not participating in the activities of Mr. Artime and Mr. Ray which might be based in other countries. Mr. Mann said that he did not know a great deal about the activities of these two exile groups but he gathered that Mr. Artime might be somewhat more responsible than Mr. Ray. President Orlich ventured the opinion that the more responsible of the two was Mr. Ray. Mr. Mann indicated that we did recognize that the two Cuban exile leaders were trying to help Cuba return to freedom and we sympathized with their objective.

President Orlich in reply to a question by President Johnson said that the Alliance for Progress had been working more efficiently during the last few months. Mr. Mann explained some of the administrative steps that had been taken to make the Alliance machinery operate more speedily.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL COSTA RICA–US. Secret. Drafted by Mann and approved by the White House on July 11.
  2. President Kennedy visited Costa Rica in March 1963 to attend a conference of the Central American Presidents. In a meeting at the Embassy on March 20 Orlich asked Kennedy for financial aid, including budgetary assistance. No evidence was found to suggest that Kennedy gave any commitment other than an assurance “that he would look into this matter.” A memorandum of the conversation is in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, American Republics, Microfiche Supplement, Costa Rica.
  3. In a July 1 memorandum for Rusk, Mann confirmed that Kennedy had “made no such commitment.” “It was clear yesterday,” Mann explained, “that President Orlich himself did not know what he would ask of President Johnson when he walked into the meeting.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 COSTARICA) Orlich discussed the issue of financial assistance in meetings with Rusk on July 1 at 10 a.m. and Mann immediately thereafter. Memoranda of conversation for the two meetings are ibid., POL 15–1 COSTA POL 7 COSTA