This volume, prepared by the Historical Division of the Department of State, consists of a one hundred-page narrative summary followed by three hundred pages of documents. It provides a detailed account of efforts of the OAS to resolve the international crises that disturbed the Caribbean area in 1959 and 1960.
In 1959, crises caused by invasions and rumored invasions of Panama, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic—allegedly sponsored by the Cuban or Dominican governments—required numerous meetings of the Council of the OAS. Finally, the problem of Caribbean tensions was referred to the Fifth (Santiago) Meeting of Foreign Ministers held in August, 1959. But the pious resolutions approved at Santiago demonstrated the failure of the American states to agree upon a specific course of action, and tensions in the Caribbean persisted.
In 1960, these tensions assumed an even graver aspect with the attempted assassination of President Betancourt and the support extended by the Soviet Union to Cuba. The Sixth (San José) Meeting of Foreign Ministers held in August unanimously condemned the Dominican government for “acts of aggression and intervention against Venezuela,” and that government withdrew from the conference. At the Seventh (San José) Meeting which followed, a relatively mild resolution against “extracontinental intervention” resulted in the withdrawal of Cuba.
The summary briefly describes each crisis, then at greater length reviews the discussions and decisions made by the instrumentality of the OAS exercising jurisdiction in the dispute. Based exclusively upon official sources, the narrative summarizes the policies of all states—Cuba and the Soviet Union included—with commendable accuracy. The authors avoid polemics and present the U. S. position with restraint. The interpretation of events is left largely to the reader, partly, one suspects, in order to avoid stating conclusions that would reveal weaknesses in the interAmerican organization or a failure of U. S. policy.
Although adding nothing significantly new to available sources, the documents reproduced constitute a valuable and convenient collection well worth having. Of particular interest are the extracts of speeches made before the Council and at the foreign ministers’ conferences.
Despite its merits, this official history does not alone constitute an entirely satisfactory treatment of the subject. For livelier discussions that also provide a broader perspective, one should consult Mecham’s The U. S. and Inter-American Security and the summaries of U. S. foreign policy for 1959 and 1960 published by the Council on Foreign Relations.