122. Editorial Note

During the first months of his administration, President Nixon devoted considerable attention to Latin American issues, including development assistance. As early as January 22, 1969, Henry Kissinger sent President Nixon a memorandum reporting that on January 21, at the President’s request, he had phoned Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York, to ask him to visit Latin America as the President’s special [Page 290] representative. Rockefeller reportedly was interested. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files-Latin America, Box 797, LA General, Volume I 1-7/69)

President Nixon spoke on the telephone with Governor Rockefeller at 5:40 p.m. on January 22, and Governor Rockefeller called on the President from 3 to 3:40 p.m. on February 12. (Ibid., White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) On February 17 the President announced the Rockefeller Mission to Latin America, a series of trips to develop joint programs to accelerate the pace of economic and social development in the hemisphere. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 106-107.

On February 3 Kissinger sent National Security Study Memorandum 15, requesting a review of U.S. policy toward Latin America, to the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury; the AID Administrator; and the Director of Central Intelligence. NSSM 15 requested five papers, including an assessment of regional security requirements and “the purpose and nature of military assistance programs in the light thereof; Development assistance strategy, the Alliance for Progress and the U.S. role in it; [and] Trade and Investment Policy [and] regional economic integration.” The NSC Interdepartmental Group for Latin America was to prepare those papers by March 31, to be followed by an overall statement of U.S. policy toward Latin America by May 15. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 15)

The National Security Council met on July 9. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) According to an undated briefing memorandum for the President, Kissinger noted that the meeting would be an opportunity for “NSC members to brief themselves on the current situation and problems in Latin America and to discuss some of the major conceptual choices that face us. This will be useful preparation and backdrop for later consideration of Governor Rockefeller’s report.” He added that since the meeting would not make decisions on the issues, he had not included decision recommendations. (National Security Council, Secretariat, Box 84, 7/9/69 NSC Meeting on Latin America) No record of the July 9 meeting has been found.

Although the report of the Rockefeller Mission would not be formally released until November 10, copies of the report were circulated internally under cover of a September 17 memorandum from Kissinger to the Vice President, Secretaries of State and Defense, and the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness (with copies to many other agency heads), indicating that it, NSSM 15, and other related materials would be the documentation for an NSC review of U.S. policy toward Latin America, tentatively scheduled for a Review Group meeting and a National Security Council meeting. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: [Page 291] Lot 73 D 288, NSC/Misc.) The agenda for the NSC meeting on October 15 began: “The NSC Meeting on Latin America is intended to consider major lines of policy toward the region. To provide some manageable structure to this wide-ranging topic, it is proposed to concentrate on a few specific issues, drawn from the Rockefeller Report and the position being developed for the IA-ECOSOC meetings.” Item I dealt with Trade and the specific issue of tariff preferences. Item II dealt with Development Assistance and had three components: A. Sharing responsibility with others in the Hemisphere for planning, allocating and administering US-provided assistance; B. Untying of Aid; and C. Debt Rescheduling. Items III and IV dealt with political/diplomatic and security/military issues, respectively. (National Security Council, Secretariat, Box 119, NSC Meetings, 10/15/69 NSC Meeting on Latin America)

According to the transcript of the October 15 NSC meeting, the President wanted to offer something of substance to the Latin American nations in an upcoming speech scheduled for October 31. (Ibid.) Regarding the discussion at this NSC meeting on recommendations of the Rockefeller Report on military assistance and debt service, see Document 12.

Following the NSC meeting, Kissinger sent Secretary of State Rogers an October 22 memorandum requesting the views of the State Department and other agencies on 13 of the Rockefeller Report recommendations. Three were requested by October 29 for the President’s October 31 speech, and the remainder by November 15. (National Archives, RG 59, S/S Files: Lot 80 D 212, NSSM 15) Secretary Rogers responded in memoranda of October 31 and November 22. (Both ibid.)

At Camp David on September 27 President Nixon had met with Governor Rockefeller, Kissinger, Assistant Secretary Charles Meyer, and NSC Staff Member Peter Vaky. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, President’s Daily Diary) No record of their discussions has been found, but according to an October 21 memorandum from Vaky to Kissinger, which refers to the President’s remarks at Camp David, President Nixon wanted, among other things, to create a new Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, which would upgrade the Assistant Secretary position and oversee Canadian affairs as well. (Ibid., NSC Files, Agency Files, Box 280, State, Volume IV) On October 27 the President signed a memorandum to Secretary Rogers mandating the new Under Secretary position, and on the same day Kissinger sent a memorandum to Secretary Rogers, Robert Mayo, and John Hannah requesting a Bureau of the Budget memorandum by October 29 on the advantages and disadvantages of a new organization, separate from AID, to administer U.S. Development Assistance in the Western Hemisphere. (Ibid.)

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In his address to the Inter-American Press Association in Washington on October 31, the President announced changes in his administration’s approach to economic development in the hemisphere. He also indicated his intention to seek legislation to create the new Under Secretary position and mentioned the possibility of a new agency to administer development assistance in Latin America. See Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard Nixon, 1969, pages 893-901.