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.
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.
- 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.↩
- 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.↩
- Fulton Freeman, Ambassador to Colombia.↩
- January 24.↩
- 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.↩