The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. Those regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series must include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg in 1928: the Foreign Relations series is guided by historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purpose of concealing a defect in policy. The 1991 statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This electronic-only volume is part of the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important decisions and actions of the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. This is the latest Foreign Relations volume to be published in a new format, that of electronic-only publication. Approximately 25 percent of the volumes scheduled for publication for the 1969–1976 subseries, covering the Nixon and Nixon–Ford administrations, will be in this format. The decision to institute this change was taken in full consultation with the Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, which was established under the Foreign Relations statute. The advantages of this new method of presenting documentation are evident in this volume: the format enables convenient access to a large amount of key documentation on a broader range of issues, all or any portion of which can be easily downloaded. Annotation—the value added element of documentary editing—is still present in limited form, but not to the scale of a Foreign Relations print volume. This electronic-only publication results in substantial savings in cost and time of production, thus allowing the series to present a fuller range of documentation on a wider range of topics sooner than would have been possible under a print-only format. These advantages compensate for the fact that this Foreign Relations volume is not an actual book bound in traditional ruby buckram. The Department of State, the Historian, the General Editor, and the Historical Advisory Committee are all dedicated to publishing the great majority of the volumes in the Foreign Relations series in print form; these are also posted in electronic format on the Department of State’s website. While the future of research in documentary publications is increasingly tied to the ease of use and availability of the Internet, the Department of State will continue to use both print and electronic-only versions to make the Foreign Relations series available to the widest audience possible. In that sense, this innovation is in keeping with the general principles of the series, which was begun by President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward and continued by subsequent presidents and secretaries of state for 140 years.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E–10

This volume documents the formulation of U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean between 1969 and 1972. Upon taking office in January 1969, President Nixon indicated that he intended to give a high priority to revitalizing relations with the region. On his first full day as President, Nixon asked New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, a Latin America expert, to assess the effectiveness of the Alliance for Progress program initiated by the Kennedy administration and to make policy recommendations. Rockefeller’s report helped to shape Nixon’s October 31, 1969, speech to the Inter-American Press Association, in which the President outlined his vision for U.S.-Latin American relations. In that address, Nixon called for “a more mature partnership” with the region. He offered to allow more multilateral input into the process of allocating development aid, to reduce barriers to trade, to give the management of relations with the nations of the Western Hemisphere a special place within the U.S. bureaucracy by raising the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs to the rank of Under Secretary, and to deal with Latin American governments as they were, recognizing that “enormous, sometimes explosive forces for change” in the region could result in instability and changes in government. The American Republics Regional compilation in this volume documents the deliberations within the Nixon administration that resulted in the formulation of this framework for policy towards Latin America.

As the documentation in this volume shows, U.S. relations with individual Latin American nations during Nixon’s first term as President were tempered by concern over the threat of leftist subversion in the region. Fear that instability would facilitate the spread of communist influence in the hemisphere led the Nixon administration to pursue cooperative relations with governments that were seen as bulwarks against radicalism, including undemocratic regimes such as those in Brazil and Nicaragua. The U.S. Government also shared information with authorities in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, allowing them to move against violent leftist groups in those countries. At the same time, relations with democratically elected governments could be tense if U.S. officials believed that those administrations were susceptible to communist influence. For example, U.S.-Costa Rican relations chilled in 1970 when information surfaced that President José Figueres had secretly received a $300,000 payment from the Soviet Union. When the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica confronted Figueres with those reports in 1971, the Costa Rican President denied them and offered to cooperate more closely with the United States. U.S. officials nonetheless remained concerned about Costa Rica’s moves towards closer ties with Moscow. Documentation of the confrontation with Figueres and of the decision to transmit information on leftists to the Dominican and Guatemalan Governments is made available for the first time in this volume.

Efforts to improve U.S. relations with Latin America were sometimes hampered by episodes of unilateralism, and by disputes over investments and resources. For example, the Mexican Government protested in 1969 when the United States launched Operation Intercept, a major drug interdiction effort along the U.S.-Mexican border, with little prior notice to officials in Mexico City. Also, with the memory of 1964 disturbances in Panama still fresh, the continued presence of the United States in the Canal Zone was seen in much of the region as part of a legacy of U.S. unilateralism. The chapter on Panama in this volume documents ultimately unsuccessful high-level efforts by U.S. and Panamanian officials during this period to reach a new agreement on the status of the Canal. Meanwhile, disputes over fishing rights greatly complicated relations with Ecuador and Brazil, and Nixon administration officials were troubled by rising economic nationalism in countries such as Jamaica and Guyana, which sought greater control over the bauxite mining activities of U.S. corporations there.

This volume includes documentation on U.S. relations with Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. Coverage of El Salvador and Honduras is limited to a chapter on the U.S. response to the 1969 “Soccer War” between those two Central American countries. The chapter on Uruguay will be added once it has completed the declassification process. Due to space constraints, relations with Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the colonies and overseas territories of European powers are not covered here. Documentation on relations with Chile between 1969 and September 1973 will be published in a separate volume.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations electronic-only volumes follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. The original text is reproduced exactly, including marginalia or other notations, which are both visible on the facsimile copy of the document and described in the source note. There is also a text version of the document. The editors have supplied a heading, a summary, and a source note with additional relevant information, as required, for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected in the text file. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the text, and a list of abbreviations, persons, and sources accompanies the volume.

Bracketed insertions in roman type are used on the facsimile copy and in the text file to indicate text omitted by the editors because it deals with an unrelated subject. Text that remains classified after declassification review is blacked-out on the facsimile copy and a bracketed insertion (in italic type) appears in the text file. Entire documents selected for publication but withheld because they must remain classified are accounted for by a heading, a source note, and a bracketed note indicating the number of pages not declassified. These denied documents are listed in their chronological place in the volume.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary, to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and related implementing public access regulations require NARA to notify formally the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which staff members were participants or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Nixon White House Tapes

Access to the Nixon White House tape recordings is governed by the terms of the PRMPA and an access agreement with the Office of Presidential Libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Nixon Estate. In February 1971, President Nixon initiated a voice activated taping system in the Oval Office of the White House and, subsequently, in the President’s Office in the Executive Office Building, Camp David, the Cabinet Room, and White House and Camp David telephones. The audiotapes include conversations of President Nixon with his Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger, other White House aides, Secretary of State Rogers, other Cabinet officers, members of Congress, and key foreign officials. The clarity of the voices on the tape recordings is often very poor, but the editor has made every effort to verify the accuracy of the transcripts produced here. Readers are advised that the tape recording is the official document, while the transcript represents solely an interpretation of that document. Through the use of digital audio and other advances in technology, the Office of the Historian has been able to enhance the tape recordings and over time produce more accurate transcripts. The result is that some transcripts published here may differ from transcripts of the same conversations published in previous Foreign Relations volumes. The most accurate transcripts possible, however, cannot substitute for listening to the recordings. Readers are urged to consult the recordings themselves for a full appreciation of those aspects of the conversations that cannot be captured in a transcript, such as the speakers’ inflections and emphases that may convey nuances of meaning, as well as the larger context of the discussion.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, Department of State, conducted the declassification review of all the documents published in this volume. The review was undertaken in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2005 and was completed in 2010 for the compilations published here, resulted in the decision to withhold 4 documents in full, to excise a paragraph or more in 18 documents, and to make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 70 documents. The editors are confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described, that this volume is an accurate record of the foreign policy of the Nixon and Ford administrations toward the American Republics for the 1969 to 1972 period.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors also wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access.

Douglas Kraft and James F. Siekmeier did the research, made the selection, and prepared the annotation under the supervision and direction of the former Chief of the Asia and Americas Division, Erin Mahan, and the former General Editor, Edward C. Keefer. Douglas Kraft prepared the chapters on Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the “Soccer War;” James Siekmeier prepared the chapters on Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela; the Regional chapter was prepared jointly. Halbert Jones prepared the Preface and List of Sources. Craig Daigle and Richard Moss prepared the transcripts of the Nixon Presidential tape recordings. Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of the Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division, Susan C. Weetman. Carl Ashley, Mandy A. Chalou, and Keri Lewis compiled the document list and edited the lists of abbreviations, persons, and sources. Chris Tudda scanned the documents and Mandy A. Chalou prepared the electronic files for on-line publication.

Ambassador John Campbell

Acting Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
July 2009