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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Johnson Administration > Volume XXXI
Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico
Released by the Office of the Historian

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
United States Department of State

www.state.gov/r/pa/ho

September 23, 2004

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico. On November 26, 1963--4 days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy--President Lyndon B. Johnson promised that relations within the Western Hemisphere would be "among the highest concerns of my Government." Although the war in Vietnam would soon intervene, Johnson essentially kept his promise, devoting considerable attention over the next five years to political and economic affairs "south of the border." Johnson moved quickly to make his mark in the region. In December 1963, the President announced that Thomas C. Mann, then Ambassador to Mexico, would have full authority to coordinate and direct U.S. policy in Latin America as Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, U.S. Coordinator for the Alliance for Progress, and Special Assistant to the President. Mannís appointment set the tone for U.S.-Latin American relations during the Johnson administration. The previous emphasis on the lofty ideals of Kennedyís Alliance for Progress soon gave way to more mundane concerns, the prosecution of Cuban subversion, and the promotion of U.S. business. This change, however, did not go unnoticed. In March 1964, after a major Presidential address on the U.S. commitment to the Alliance, The New York Times reported that Mann advocated a new policy, the "Mann doctrine," under which the countries of Latin America would be judged on what they did to further American interests rather than the interests of their own people. The press also reported that the President had "abandoned" the Alliance, a charge Johnson actively countered by citing the public works record of the program. Throughout his administration, Johnson sought in vain to revitalize the Alliance for Progress. In fact, while the Alliance may have initially lost its way under President Kennedy, it never recovered from his assassination.

The volume features eleven bilateral and two regional compilations, demonstrating the breadth of the U.S. Governmentís relations with the countries of South and Central America. Many of the bilateral compilations document the Johnson administrationís responses to a series of crises: the 1964 Panama Canal flag incident; the 1964 coup díetat in Brazil; the 1964 presidential election in Chile; the 1966 coup in Argentina; the 1967 hunt for Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Bolivia; the 1968 coups in Peru and Panama. The bilateral compilations also show how the administration tried to address more fundamental problems: the Panama canal treaty negotiations; the insurgencies in Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela; the authoritarian regimes in Brazil and Argentina; the continuation of covert political support in Bolivia and Chile; economic assistance in Brazil, Colombia, and Chile; and the protection of American business interests in Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, and Chile. The Latin American regional compilation emphasizes the broader themes of the administrationís policy in the hemisphere: the Alliance for Progress; the threat of Cuban subversion; the Punta del Esta conference. This regional compilation also highlights how personalities affected policymaking, especially the working relationship between Johnson and Mann. The Central American regional compilation examines how the United States exercised its influence in the region, from elections in Costa Rica and Guatemala to authoritarian regimes in Honduras and Nicaragua. Given subsequent events--including the assassination of Ambassador Gordon Mein in August 1968--the compilation also emphasizes the U.S. response to the escalation of violence between the insurgents and the government in Guatemala.

The text of the volume, the summary, and this press release are available on the Office of the Historian website (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/johnsonlb/xxxi). Copies can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office online at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/index.html. For further information contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series at (202) 663-1131; fax (202) 663-1289; e-mail: history@state.gov.

 


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