226. Memorandum From Marshall Wright and Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

SUBJECT

  • Successor for U Thant

State is concerned that the candidacy of Felipe Herrera of Chile is gaining momentum. He is not a particularly attractive figure, from the US point of view. He was somewhat self-serving as President of the Inter-American Development Bank and a poor manager to boot. These personal considerations are enough to disqualify him. The fact that he is being actively pushed by the Chilean Government has a double aspect. First, it is, of course, an additional reason for being against him since Herrera’s election would give further respectability and influence to the Allende Government. But, second, it makes it difficult for us to focus other people on his lack of qualifications, for our opposition will be deemed to rest on his Chilean nationality.

Herrera is very popular with the Latins, both because of the personal and financial patronage he was able to dispense as head of the IDB, and because he is considered a “developmentalist”. Moreover, Latin pride in having a regional contender for the UN SYG post is an important factor which may outweigh any concerns they may have about the fact that he is Allende’s candidate. There is therefore a serious possibility that the Latins may unite around Herrera and induce other LDC’s—for example, at the Group of 77 meeting in Lima—to form a bloc around Herrera as a Third World candidate.

A Latin American caucus is meeting in New York this week. In an attempt to prevent the crystallization of a firm consensus behind Herrera, State is instructing approaches to key LA Foreign Ministers. Our Ambassadors will question Herrera’s stature, ask if LA does not have better candidates, and say that the US would have difficulty supporting a candidate sponsored by the Chilean Government.USUN will also throw cold water on Herrera with trusted LA delegates, though somewhat less explicitly. We will also keep the British and Max Jakobson informed and encourage them to discreetly further the cause. Hopefully, [Page 405]these steps will be carried out with some subtlety and discretion, since there are risks that US opposition to Herrera would be resented and gain sympathy for him.

We fully agree that some action should be taken to prevent a Latin-LDC consensus from forming around Herrera, and, in fact, we helped stimulate State to move. While risks are involved, we think the dangers of inaction—and letting his boomlet grow—are substantially greater.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 302, Agency Files, USUN, Vol. VIII. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger’s handwritten note in the margin reads: “Unless this strategy crystallizes another Latin candidate. HK.”