425. Memorandum for the Record1


  • Puerto Rico and the Committee of 24

Acting under Mr. Sayre’s long standing instructions and after consultation with Mr. Ward Allen, I telephoned Angel Calderon Cruz, Assistant Secretary of State for External Affairs, Puerto Rico, to pass on the following message: the United States was actively considering withdrawal from the UN Committee of 24 and would shortly commence consultations with the membership of that Committee on this subject. Briefly, the reasons for which the U.S. was considering this action were as follows:

The increasing tendency of the Committee to disregard UN rules of procedure and basic parliamentary principles.
The Committee’s debates and resolutions have become increasingly anti-Western.
The Committee has become a vehicle for propaganda attacks on the West.
The U.S. role on the Committee is essentially defensive and negative.
There is little, if any, possibility for U.S. initiatives and a positive role.
There seems to be little grounds to hope for the situation to improve substantially.

In view of the above, the U.S. is contemplating withdrawal from the Committee. Because of the Committee’s previous desires to place the Puerto Rican problem on its agenda, the U.S. wanted to let Puerto Rico know ahead of time what course of action was being contemplated. Dr. Calderon whistled when he was told about our plan. He took my explanation in good form but said this was a most important action from the Puerto Rican standpoint. He wondered what would happen, assuming U.S. withdrawal, if Puerto Rico were attacked by members of the Committee. I told him I thought the U.S. as a member of the UN would have the right to reply to attacks of this nature if the U.S. desired to do so.

He said that from Puerto Rico’s viewpoint and speaking off the cuff it would be best if USUN could avoid precipitate leaks concerning this pending action. The “independentists” groups in Puerto Rico would be [Page 919] happy to use this contemplated action to their own benefit. I explained that as soon as consultations started in New York we anticipated that there would be leaks about this possible withdrawal.

Dr. Calderon said he would consult urgently with Secretary of State Irizarry and Governor Sanchez Vilella on this issue and that he would in all probability be in touch with me shortly.2

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 19 UN. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Edward T. Long (ARA/CAR). Copies were sent to ARA, IO, UNP, L, USUN, and the White House.
  2. In a January 24 memorandum for record, Long reported that Calderon Cruz had replied stating that the Governor’s position was that the Committee of 24 issue fell within the purview of U.S. policy regarding the United Nations. “Puerto Rico’s only concern was that [its] views be considered and defended if the issue came up in the Committee of 24.” (Ibid.)