Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs Release of Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-10, Documents on the American Republics, 1969-1972
This volume documents the formulation of U.S. policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean during President Nixon’s first term. Upon assuming the Presidency in January 1969, Nixon indicated that he intended to give a high priority to revitalizing relations with the region. On his first full day in office, 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 toward 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 intelligence 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 in San José confronted Figueres with those reports in 1971, the Costa Rican President denied them, and offered to cooperate with the United States. U.S. officials nonetheless remained concerned about Costa Rica’s moves toward closer ties with Moscow. Documents on the confrontation with Figueres and on the decision to transmit information on leftists to the Dominican and Guatemalan Governments are made available for the first time in this volume.
The volume also shows how 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 the 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. 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.
The volume includes documentation on U.S. relations with Argentina, 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,” which broke out after violence erupted at a World Cup qualifying match between the two Central American countries. An additional chapter on Bolivia will be added once it has been fully cleared for publication. Documentation on U.S. relations with Chile between 1969 and September 1973 will be published in a separate volume.
The volume, including a preface, list of names, abbreviations, sources, annotated document list, and this press release, is available on the Office of the Historian website (http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76ve10). For further information contact William McAllister, Acting General Editor, at (202) 663-1123 or e-mail to email@example.com.