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 of the Foreign Relations series, 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. These regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 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.).

This 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 should include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute also confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg: the Foreign Relations series is guided by the principles of 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 purposes of concealing a defect in policy. The 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 volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important issues in the foreign policy of the administrations of Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.

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Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E–11, Part1

This volume documents U.S. relations with Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean between 1973 and 1976. U.S. relations with Panama are covered in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXII, South America is covered in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–11, Part 2, and Chile through mid-September 1973 is covered in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXI.

The eleven compilations herein illustrate both the formulation of a new U.S. policy towards the region as a whole and bilateral relations with The Bahamas (independent, 1973), Barbados, Belize (U.K.), Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada (independent, 1974), Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua.

In three cases, documents on relations with more than one country have been combined into a single compilation. One compilation covers U.S. relations with El Salvador and Honduras and the border dispute between them; another covers relations with Guatemala and Belize and the claim of the former on the British territory; and a third compilation covers relations with the nations of the Anglophone Caribbean, including Jamaica, The Bahamas, Barbados, and Grenada.

U.S. policy towards Latin America during this period centered on establishing what Henry A. Kissinger called a “New Dialogue” with the region. Launched in October 1973, just days after Kissinger took office as Secretary of State, the “New Dialogue” was envisioned as a constructive way for the United States to meet the challenge posed by the perceived emergence of a Latin American regional bloc. The initiative called for regular meetings of foreign ministers to address issues of mutual concern and aimed to restore a sense that a special relationship existed between the United States and its neighbors to the south. Successful meetings between several Latin American foreign ministers and the U.S. Secretary of State took place in Mexico City and Washington in 1974. But by the time Kissinger made his trips to Latin America as Secretary of State in February and June 1976, however, U.S. officials had largely abandoned the idea of pursuing a unified regional policy, as called for by the “New Dialogue.” Instead, recognizing that Latin America was not a monolithic bloc, the Ford administration focused more on bilateral relations with the nations of the hemisphere.

Readers interested in U.S.-Cuban relations should consult both the chapter on Cuba and the chapter on Regional Affairs, inasmuch as policy towards Havana was influenced as much by broader regional concerns as it was by developments on the island. When the U.S. Congress voted in July 1975 in favor of lifting the 1964 Organization of American States (OAS) diplomatic sanctions on the Castro regime, it [Page V] did so in order to avoid conflict with Latin American countries that were then reestablishing ties with Cuba and to preserve the credibility of regional institutions. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Department officials explored the possibility of rapprochement with Cuba, particularly after the departure from the White House of President Richard M. Nixon, an inveterate opponent of the Castro regime. However, the apparent spread of Cuban influence in the Caribbean and, especially, the deployment of Cuban forces to assist the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) undermined any possibility that the United States and Cuba might reestablish diplomatic ties. The acrimony and recriminations that followed the bombing of a Cubana de Aviación airliner off the coast of Barbados in October 1976 placed further strains on U.S.-Cuban relations.

Those readers interested in U.S.-Mexican relations will also find compelling documentation in this compilation. As the closest Latin American neighbor of the United States, Mexico has historically had a particularly deep and multifaceted relationship with Washington. During the Nixon and Ford administrations, bilateral relations were marked by the emergence of immigration and narcotics control as key issues. Efforts by Mexican President Luis Echeverría to assume a role as a leader of the Third World sometimes complicated the relationship, but the United States and Mexico succeeded in resolving a long-running dispute over the salinity of the Colorado River in 1973. Moreover, in 1976, the U.S. and Mexican Governments reached an innovative agreement on the transfer of prisoners between the two countries, and Washington responded quickly to help avert a looming Mexican financial crisis.

Elsewhere in the region during the mid-1970s, investment disputes played a central role in relations with countries such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Guyana. Meanwhile, military governments dominated much of Central America, but signs of the unrest that would give rise to the civil wars of the 1980s were beginning to become apparent.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversations are placed according to the date and time of the conversation, rather than the date a memorandum was drafted. Documents chosen for printing are authoritative or signed copies, unless otherwise noted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations series follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the Chief of the Editing and Publishing Division. The documents are reproduced as exactly as possible, including [Page VI] marginalia or other notations, which are described in the footnotes. Texts are transcribed and printed according to accepted conventions for the publication of historical documents within the limitations of modern typography. A heading has been supplied by the editors 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. Other mistakes and omissions in the documents are corrected by bracketed insertions: a correction is set in italic type; an addition in roman type. Words or phrases underlined in the source text are printed in italics. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the original text, and a list of abbreviations is included in the front matter of each volume. In telegrams, the telegram number (including special designators such as Secto) is printed at the start of the text of the telegram.

Bracketed insertions are also used to indicate omitted text that deals with an unrelated subject (in roman type) or that remains classified after declassification review (in italic type). The amount and, where possible, the nature of the material not declassified has been noted by indicating the number of lines or pages of text that were omitted. Entire documents withheld for declassification purposes have been accounted for and are listed with headings, source notes, and number of pages not declassified in their chronological place. All brackets that appear in the original text are so identified in footnotes. All ellipses are in the original documents.

The first footnote to each document indicates the document’s source, original classification, distribution, and drafting information. This note also provided the background of important documents and policies and indicates whether the President or his major policy advisers read the document.

Editorial notes and additional annotation summarize pertinent material not printed in the volume, indicate the location of additional documentary sources, provide references to important related documents printed in other volumes, describe key events, and provide summaries of and citations to public statements that supplement and elucidate the printed documents. Information derived from memoirs and other first-hand accounts has been used where appropriate to supplement or explicate the official record.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, established under the Foreign Relations statute, 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 prepara[Page VII]tion 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 implementing public access regulations require NARA formally to notify 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 they were a participant 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 Staff are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, conducted the declassification review for the Department of State of the documents published in this volume. The review was conducted in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and other 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 regarding specific documents of those governments. The declassification review of this volume, which began in 2007 and was completed in 2014, resulted in the decision to withhold 0 documents in full, excise a paragraph or more in [Page VIII] 9 documents, and make minor excisions of less than a paragraph in 31 documents.

The Office of the Historian is confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described above, that the documentation and editorial notes presented here provide a thorough, accurate, and reliable—given the limitations of space—record of the policy of the Nixon and Ford administrations toward the American Republics.


The editor wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the staff at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland, and Melissa Heddon at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum at Yorba Linda, California. The editor also wishes to thank Geir Gunderson, Donna Lehman and Helmi Raaska at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan for their expertise and assistance. The editor would like to acknowledge the Historical Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, who arranged access to Agency Files, and to John Haynes of the Library of Congress, who was responsible for expediting access to the Kissinger Papers. The editor was able to use the Kissinger Papers with the permission of Henry Kissinger. The editor would like to thank the staff in the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress for their assistance, and Sandy Meagher for her assistance in expediting the use of files of the Department of Defense.

Halbert Jones and Douglas Kraft collected, selected, and annotated the documentation for this Foreign Relations volume. The volume was completed under the supervision of Edward C. Keefer, former General Editor of the Foreign Relations series. Alexander Poster assumed responsibility for resolving substantive issues of compilation and review during the final stages of production. Dean Weatherhead coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of Susan C. Weetman, former Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division, and Carl Ashley, Chief of the Declassification Division. Margaret Ball, Mandy Chalou, Erin Cozens, Stephanie Eckroth, and Thomas Faith performed the copy and technical editing.

Adam M. Howard, Ph.D.
General Editor
Stephen P. Randolph, Ph.D.
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
June 2015