4. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)1

[Omitted here is discussion of Panama.]

President: And let’s find some good top men. I am not at all happy with my Ambassador to Mexico. I want to get the greatest man in America. I had the greatest [Mann], and I pulled him up here. He got me in Panama right after he got here.2 Now I want you to find me—I want a Marlin Sandlin. I want somebody that’s 45 years old. Reckon he can get out of his business interests and give’em up and go down there?

Mann: Well, you said you didn’t want another Texan there. Marlin would be. Trouble with Marlin is he’s Chairman of the Board of Pan American Sulphur.

President: Well, couldn’t he get out of that and resign it and give up his interest?

Mann: He could but he’d be attacked and so would you.

President: All right.

Mann: He’s one of the great guys [but it depends?] on your political judgment.

President: He would be. What else can we get.

Mann: Well, we can get him Colombia. You could move Freeman3 to Mexico.

President: I want to get some man I know in Mexico that’s my friend, that is looking after me, that’s my manager, that’s damned able, and I want him to understand business, and I want him to be young and attractive. I want him to be a Sargent Shriver type.

Mann: Well, why don’t you pick a good lawyer with a good political sense, somebody you know and have confidence in. We’ve got some Foreign Service people. I know that Friday4 the Secretary and Ball thought that they were going to—the Secretary said he was going to recommend [Page 7]Freeman, who is probably one of the two best you’ve got in Latin America, the other one being in Brazil.

President: Okay.

Mann: So, there’s still Colombia, but if you want somebody you know personally—you don’t know Freeman.

President: No, I don’t.

Mann: We’ll eliminate him, but he’s good, and he would be loyal to you.

President: Well don’t you know somebody that I know that’s good, like Marlin?

Mann: Well, I really hesitate for you—

President: I’m not talking about Marlin. I’m talking about somebody of his same qualifications, that’s got his appearance.

Mann: Let me then try. I’ll talk to Marlin and see if we can’t cook up two or three names for you.

President: Do that.

Mann: Probably be from Texas. That wouldn’t bother you?

President: No, but I’d rather get some other state—California might be good.

Mann: I think a young lawyer with good political instincts is what you want.

President: What about a Mexican?

Mann: Well, I wouldn’t recommend that to you.

President: We got a hell of a good Mexican out there that’s head of finance department, California.

Mann: Well, you know him. He has a couple of strikes on him. The Mexicans don’t like what they call pochos, that means—

President: Okay. All right. Mexicans won’t take a white man. I don’t, goddamned if I can understand that.

Mann: Well, it’s a—

President: Okay, that’s all right. You go on and get me a good one. But get me one. I want to help ’em. We’ve been miserable to the Mexicans. I want you to get some in your department. If you know any smart ones, you hire some—the Alliance for Progress—you don’t have to go to Puerto Rico.

Mann: We could hire him up here, and that would be easy. If you got a fellow you want hired up here—

President: Well, but hell, he gets more than you do. He gets $23,000 a year.

Mann: Well, everybody gets more than we do, but—

[Page 8]

President: You find some way for [Johnson asks an aide for the name] Lueveno—Danny Luevano. He’s the head of finance in the state of California, and they say he’s a damned able citizen. He’s coming in next week and I’ll send him to see you.

Mann: All right. Fine.

President: Okay.5

  1. Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of a Telephone Conversation between President Johnson and Mann, Tape 64.07, Side B, PNO 3. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.
  2. Mann began his new assignment as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs on January 3, 6 days before student demonstrations led to the crisis in Panama.
  3. Fulton Freeman, Ambassador to Colombia.
  4. January 24.
  5. On February 29 Johnson announced the appointment of Daniel M. Luévano as Assistant Secretary of the Army. On March 4 Johnson appointed Freeman to be Ambassador to Mexico.