The current series of Latin American crises kept official Washington busy as the week ended.?
The current series of Latin American crises kept official Washington busy as the week ended. The United States took action against Cuba and the Organization of American States set up a commission to settle the dispute between Panama and the United States.
President Johnson met with his top advisors Friday morning (7 February) to discuss what action might be taken towards Cuba. The United States was detained four Cuban fishing vessels for poaching in U.S. territorial waters, and the Castro government has cut off the water supply to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in retaliation. It was decided at the meeting that most of the Cuban workers at the base would be discharged unless they chose to live there or spend all their earned dollars there. It was also decided to make the base independent of Cuban water, through conversion of salt water and supply by ship.
Among those at the White House meeting were Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Director of the Central intelligence Agency John McCone. Later in the day, Mr. Rusk held a news conference at which he said the Cuban fishing boats had deliberately invaded U.S. waters, and described the action as a provocation. He called Cuban attempts to link the seizure of the boats with the U.S. presence in Guantanamo "inadmissible." He said there appeared to be a concerted Cuban campaign to get the U.S. out of Guantanamo, but that the U.S. would in fact remain there in the foreseeable future.
He also welcomed the establishment by the Organization of American States of a 17 nation commission which will seek a solution to the dispute between the U.S. and Panama over the Panama Canal Zone treaty.
The OAS, in a special meeting, voted to set itself up as a committee of the whole to deal with the Panama situation. The vote was 15 to 0, with Chile and Colombia abstaining, and the U.S. and Panama excluded. The committee will look into the causes of the friction between the two nations and search for a settlement. On Saturday (8 February) an OAS delegation left for Panama to begin the task.