Today’s post comes from National Declassification Center Archives Specialist Dr. Amanda Weimer.
Today’s post comes from National Declassification Center Archives Specialist Dr. Amanda Weimer.
Jose Pepín Bosch was a man of action. Having married into the Bacardi family in 1922, Bosch led the spirits company now known as Bacardi Limited from November 1944 until 1976. A Cuban patriot, he helped to emphasize the Cuban character integral to the brand identity. He also played a lasting role in Cuban politics: in addition to serving as Minister of the Treasury during the early 1950s, between 1931 through the 1960s Bosch helped to finance and procure arms for uprisings against the Machado, Batista, and Castro governments.
Bosch regularly looked for assistance away from Cuba to ensure the survival of both the Bacardi company and the Bacardi family. He succeeded in boosting sales for Bacardi’s U.S. subsidiary, and securing a location for U.S.-based production of Bacardi rum ultimately located in Puerto Rico, saving the company from bankruptcy and shepherding Bacardi’s transition to an international brand. Initially a supporter of Fidel Castro’s revolution against the Batista regime, Bosch’s shrewdness–in moving ownership of the company’s trademarks, recipes and other assets away from the island–ensured the company’s survival after Cuba’s communist government nationalized Bacardi’s Cuban assets in late 1960. He also supported both overt and covert action against communist Cuba, including the bombing of the country’s oil refineries and CIA-led plots to assassinate Castro himself, during which time he worked closely with the Department of State’s vice-consul in Santiago, Bill Patterson.
Bosch had cultivated relationships with U.S. diplomats for many years by that point, as can be seen in this newly-released 1948 letter from Ellis O. Briggs of the American Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay to Robert F. Woodward of the Department of State’s Office of American Republic Affairs. In this letter, Briggs describes a confidential conversation had with his friend, Bosch, wherein Bosch revealed his knowledge of the movement of arms previously used in a Cuban uprising to have been used in an uprising in Costa Rica.
This letter can be found in the General Records of the Department of State. Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary. Subject Files, 1945-1956. National Archives Identifier 2108781. Folder “Caribbean – Revolutionary Activities – General, 1947-1949, 1950-1951.” The letter was declassified via FOIA case NW 42365.
by Don on November 3, 2014
Today’s Blog Post is from Senior NDC Archivist (Special Assistant, NDC Evaluation and Special Projects Division) Patrice Brown.
The beginning of the Panama Canal is well known. The routes considered, the French construction efforts, the United States entrance as the canal builder, and the characters involved. However, the transitional period between the Panamanian demands for control of the Canal and its surrounding territory and the eventual U.S. transfer of the canal is not as well known. The Panama Canal celebrated its 100th Anniversary on August 15, 2014. In commemoration of this important event the National Declassification Center (National Archives and Records Administration) is reviewing for release approximately 22,500 pages of classified records dated between 1964 and 1973. This period marks the culmination of several events that would eventually bring about the transfer of the Panama Canal from the United States to Panama. The records under review are from Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State (NAID 12014843), Record Group, 84, Records of the Foreign Service Posts Department of State (NAID 12018029), and RG 286, Records of the Agency for International Development (NAI 12069278). When these classified records are released, more information will be made available regarding U.S.-Panamanian relations as well as the history of the Panama Canal.
The first significant event during the 1964-1973 period involved Panamanian nationalism. A long standing dispute had raged over the years between Panama and the United States over whose flag should be flown in the Zone. The U.S. flag was the only flag flown over the Zone since the Canal was completed. The U.S. announced in 1963 that the Panamanian flag would fly with the U.S. flag over all civilian institutions throughout the Zone. In January 1964 there was confusion over how to implement the 1963 decree. The Governor of the Canal Zone issued a revision to the decree to say that no flags would be flown over certain civilian buildings such as schools, post offices, and monuments. The U.S. citizens in the zone, known as “Zonians” took offense with this revision and chose in several instances not to follow it. One instance occurred on January 9, 1964, when U.S. students with encouragement from their Zonian parents raised the U.S. flag over Balboa High School in opposition to the Governor’s revised decree. On the same day several hundred Panamanian students marched into the Zone to protest the absence of their flag. In the ensuing confrontation the Panamanian flag was torn and a riot erupted.
After four days of fighting four U.S. soldiers and twenty-four Panamanians were killed. This incident perhaps spurred President Lyndon Johnson to announce in March 1964 that the United States would begin studies in Central America and Mexico for the construction of a new sea-level canal. The records under review address the riots in 1964. The records focus on what happened during the riots, those groups involved, the stability of the Canal, the actions of the Panamanian National Guard, and the reactions of U.S. Embassy staff to the crisis. The records also reflect on the new sea level canal with discussion of site survey agreements, the best possible route, building costs, and the impact of a new sea level canal on U.S.-Panamanian relations.
The second significant event occurred in December 1964 when President Johnson announced plans not only for a new sea-level canal but also to negotiate a new treaty. The new treaty marked an historic change in the United States policy calling for the recognition of Panamanian sovereignty in the Zone and for the United States to operate and protect the Canal for a fixed time. Until the new canal could be built there would have to be a new agreement that would have to be drawn up to govern the current waterway. After eighteen months of talks the United States and Panama unveiled three treaty drafts in 1967.
One dealt with a possible sea-level canal, the second one provided for the defense and neutrality of the present canal, and the third set new rules for operating the new canal. In the draft treaties the U.S. recognized Panamanian sovereignty over the Canal, would allow the Zone to be integrated into Panama, and would allow Panama to receive a larger portion of the Canal’s revenues. However, Panamanian President Marco Aurelio Robles came under fire from his National Assembly over the treaty provisions dealing with the new Commission that would be in charge of Canal operations and the presence of long term U.S. bases. Neither country budged on these two issues. Therefore, negotiations were deadlocked until 1971. In the meantime a change in political leaders did nothing to speed up negotiations.
The 1968 Panamanian elections and the subsequent overthrow of President Arnulfo Arias further stalled talks over the next several years. President Arias won the election over former President Robles on October 1, 1968. On October 11, 1968, the National Guard under the leadership of General Omar Torrijos forced Arias out of office and took over control of the Panamanian Government. The records highlight the impact of the 1968 Panamanian elections and the subsequent coup, the fleeing of President Arias to the Canal Zone, the Panamanian Junta Government, U.S. interaction with the Junta Government, U.S. economic inflation, U.S. reduction in aid to Panama, Panamanian economic problems, Panamanian dependence on the Canal/Canal Zone, and Panamanian nationalism.
Talks were opened again from 1971-72 under President Richard Nixon and the then leader of Panama, General Omar Torrijos. This time the U.S. demanded control of the Canal for another fifty years and if a sea-level canal was built on the same site as the present canal U.S. control would be extended for eighty years. General Torrijos did not want the U.S. to have control beyond 2003. The sea-level canal was abandoned by 1971 due to high building cost so it could no longer be used as leverage by the U.S. against Panama in the treaty negotiations. By the mid-1970’s the U.S. was looking to forge an economic partnership with Latin America countries and the first step toward this was an amicable settlement of the canal issue. The U.S. realized that its hard stand on control of the canal had to give way to a more inclusive canal operation. The records cover the treaty negotiations during this critical period. Unfortunately, we have only been able to locate records in our custody dated through 1973 for this commemorative project. Any additional related documents identified in the future will be expedited for release and notice will be posted on this blog.
Today’s post comes from NDC Director Sheryl Shenberger and discusses a new option to help the NDC prioritize final processing of records.
In the recently posted NDC Status Report on the NDC Declassification Website I noted that in completing quality assurance for the 352 million pages of backlog records (a good thing), we still faced additional important NARA processes, including segregation of records exempted from automatic declassification, screening for privacy concerns, and archival processing (description, holdings maintenance). I reported that we have been considering several prioritization strategies that will have the greatest success for making access happen as quickly as possible given our currently available staff resources. The first option we want to offer is a list of larger series’ identification information. We invite you to request any of the following 10 entries for placement at the head of our queue, either via our firstname.lastname@example.org email box or by replying to this blog post.
In the near future we will blog about an expanded ‘on demand’ option we will be establishing by way of the College Park Research Room, where you can request specific series.
by Don on June 27, 2014
The NDC has released a listing of 286 entries that have completed declassification processing between March 7 and June 2, 2014 and are now available for researcher request. This release consists of records from both military and civilian agencies.
Requests to access the newly released records or to order copies should be directed to Archives 2 Reference at 301-837-3510 or email@example.com.
(When making a request, please cite the HMS Entry and Series Title.)
by Don on June 11, 2014
Many thanks to all who provided comment on our draft plan. I am happy to report that the plan is now available here: http://www.archives.gov/open/open-government-plan-3.0.pdf
or as a Word document http://www.archives.gov/open/open-government-plan-3.0.docx
Please continue to provide us with comments as we work to reach the goals set out in the plan.
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