Skip to main content
FRUS Volume released on Caribbean relationsApril 15, 2005

The Department of State released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXXII, Dominican Republic; Cuba: Haiti; Guyana, the second volume in the 1964-1968 sub-series covering the foreign policy of the Lyndon Johnson Administration towards Latin America. The first, volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico, was released in September 2004. Together, these two volumes contain 989 documents and over 2,000 pages of key documentation of the Johnson White House, the National Security Council Staff, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense.

Volume XXXII, released today, concentrates on the Caribbean. The Johnson Administration’s primary focus was on the Dominican Republic, which, after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship, had been marked by political instability and crisis. President Johnson was determined to avoid another “Castro-type takeover.” When the military government of Reid Cabral resigned and leftist forces threatened to take control in Santo Domingo, Johnson sent in the U.S. Marines. The volume documents the efforts of the Johnson Administration to seek evidence of Communist elements in the Dominican Republic, support U.S. intervention by OAS contributions to a peace-keeping force, and negotiate a political settlement through the services of President Johnson’s aides and friends-Assistant to the President McGeorge Bundy, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States Ellsworth Bunker, and Abe Fortas. Drawing on Johnson presidential tapes, the volume demonstrates that the President himself maintained hands-on control of U.S. policy toward the Dominican Republic. In August 1965, the various political factions in Santo Domingo established a provisional government, which was to be followed by general elections for president and vice president. The Johnson Administration provided both overt encouragement and covert financial support to former President Joaquin Balaguer, the Johnson Administration’s favored candidate for president. When the other leading candidate, deposed President Juan Bosch, threatened to boycott the election, the Johnson Administration encouraged him to remain in the race. Balaguer’s solid victory over Bosch on June 1966 seemed to confirm the Johnson policy.

Cuba remained a central focus of Johnson Administration policy, but not at the same level of personal interest as it had been under Kennedy. Johnson continued the economic embargo against Cuba and sought to block Cuban subversion in Latin America; however, European allies were less enthusiastic about economic denial programs against Cuba, and U.S. efforts to enlist their support proved ineffective. When the Johnson Administration decided that the ongoing U.S. program of covert harassment of Cuba was not having any real impact, the Administration suspended U.S.-sponsored sabotage raids in April 1964. In March 1965, U.S.-supported autonomous exile sabotage operations were shut down. The chapter on Cuba also covers the Guantanamo water crisis, U.S. overflights of Cuba to verify that offensive weapons were not being reintroduced by the Soviet Union, and a short-lived consideration of a possible Cuban-American rapprochement.

The volume’s final two chapters cover Haiti and Guyana, both trouble spots for the Johnson Administration. In Haiti, the brutal dictatorship of “Papa Doc” Duvalier presented a dilemma: Duvalier’s regime was repressive and corrupt, but there was no Haitian opposition or a candidate to take his place. The United States was reduced to working quietly with Haitian exiles and examining contingencies should Duvalier die, be assassinated, or be overthrown.

The Johnson Administration also focused on Guyana, a small English-speaking country on the South American continent equally split between East Indians and Afro-Guyanese. Fearing “another Cuba” on the South American mainland, President Johnson continued President Kennedy’s policy of trying to discourage the leftist Indian Prime Minister of the then-colony of British Guiana, Cheddi Jagan, from becoming the Prime Minister of an independent Guyana. The U.S. Government covertly funneled financial support, and campaign advice and expertise to Jagan’s Afro-Guyanese opponent, Lester Forbes Burnham. In December 1964, Burnham won the parliamentary elections. In May 1966, Guyana received its independence from Great Britain and the United States provided economic support and assistance to Guyana. When elections were held again in 1968, Burnham received additional secret U.S. support and used absentee overseas Guyanese voters to increase his vote count. The documentation on Guyana demonstrates, as do the documents in the
other compilations in this volume, how Cold War considerations-especially the fear of another Cuba-strongly influenced U.S. Latin America policy.

The text of the volume, the summary, and this press release are available on the Office of the Historian website (<>). Copies can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office, after April 28, 2005, at <>. For further information contact Edward Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series at (202) 663-1131; fax (202) 663-1289; e-mail: <>.

Comments are closed.