Summary Description | Introduction | Series Descriptions | Container List


Primarily routine, but occasionally substantive materials on U.S. foreign relations with the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, bilaterally and on a regional basis. Materials are the reference and working files of Senior Staff Members for Latin America Stephen Low and David Lazar, and research assistant Mary Brownell.

6 linear feet (12,000 pages)

Gerald R. Ford (accession number 77-118)

Open, but some materials continue to be national security classified and restricted. Access is governed by the donor's deed of gift, a copy of which is available on request, and National Archives and Records Administration regulations (36 CFR 1256).

Gerald R. Ford donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain.

Prepared by Helmi Raaska, November 2002
[S:\bin\findaid\nsc\nsc latin american affairs staff.doc]

Provenance of the National Security Adviser Files


The NSC Latin America Staff Files is one of many subcollections that comprise the National Security Adviser Files. In general, materials in Staff Files tend to be more routine in nature than those found in Presidential Files. They are non-record working and reference files maintained by staff members in their offices.

The Latin American Affairs staff, composed of a senior staff member, research assistant, and one or two secretaries, had an office in Room 380 of the Old Executive Office Building. Stephen Low became senior staff member during the Nixon administration in 1974. Mr. Low, a foreign service officer, served with the State Department in various locations from 1956-68. He was a counselor at the U.S. embassy in Brazil from 1968-71, and then director of the Office of Brazilian Affairs at the State Department until he joined the NSC staff. In August 1976 Stephen Low was appointed ambassador to Zambia and David Lazar was hired as senior staff member. Mr. Lazar began his career in the late 1950s in the general counsel’s office of the International Cooperation Administration, predecessor to the Agency for International Development (AID). He later served with AID in Peru, Bolivia, Panama, and South Vietnam. In the 1970s Mr. Lazar was general counsel of the Inter-American Foundation, director of the office of Central American affairs at the State Department, deputy to the secretary for economic and social development affairs at the Organization of American States (OAS), and senior adviser to the permanent representative to OAS. At the end of the Ford administration Mr. Lazar returned to AID to be deputy assistant administrator of the Latin American bureau. Mary Brownell was the research assistant, and she was on the staff when President Ford came to office in August 1974.

Much of what the staff did involved responding to comments and inquiries received directly from members of Congress or their constituents. They were a contact point for the Legislative branch, American businesses, inter-American organizations, and the general public, and were often called upon to assist in providing constituent services. The staff was frequently asked for help on behalf of American citizens who had family members either missing or detained in Latin American jails or American companies that were experiencing problems in their various host countries. The Latin American Affairs staff regularly updated briefing materials and Qs and As for the President and Vice President. They prepared talking papers, schedule proposals, and courtesy messages.

Scope and Content of the Materials
Latin American Affairs Staff Files are in two series, a Country File and a General Subject File. In both of these series, the most substantive materials relate to U.S. relations with Panama, Mexico, Cuba, and Chile. Some of the issues concerning relations with each of these countries are described in the following paragraphs.

The strongest materials in this collection pertain to Panama, particularly to negotiations for a new Panama Canal treaty. The materials contain information on the background and history of the Canal, negotiating history, current negotiating instructions, disagreements between the State and Defense Departments over the negotiation process, and the impact of the 1976 presidential campaign on the negotiations. A large volume of correspondence from members of Congress and the general public on the negotiations and future status of the Canal is included in the files. Information is also available on toll increases at the Canal, military aid, and the disestablishment of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Panama.

Among the issues in U.S.- Mexican relations are undocumented Mexican workers in the U.S., control of drug traffic, fishing rights, Mexico’s oil resources, and the treatment of Americans held in Mexican jails. The materials also provide information on a Mexican proposal in the United Nations for a Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States. Briefing materials and memoranda of conversations for President Ford’s meetings with Mexican leaders are included in the files.

Materials concerning Cuba are found throughout the collection. These materials concern U.S.-Cuban relations, relations between Cuba and other countries in the hemisphere, trade sanctions, and the position of the Organization of American States regarding Cuba. Information is also available on Cubana Airlines overflights of U.S. territory, political prisoner Lawrence Lunt, and Angola. The files include correspondence from members of Congress and the general public regarding these issues.

Materials on Chile primarily address U.S. economic and military assistance to the country and allegations of human rights abuses there.

In terms of other countries, the files contain information on fishing rights in Brazil and Ecuador, Venezuelan oil, narcotics control in Colombia, and earthquake disaster relief for Guatemala. Materials are also available on Puerto Rico and consideration of its future status. General issues within the hemisphere include U.S. trade policy, assistance to developing countries, human rights, terrorism, Law of the Sea negotiations, and the Organization of American States.

The files show a pattern of communication between the Latin American Affairs staff and Jon Howe of Vice President Rockefeller’s staff. These materials reflect the Vice President’s long-standing and continuing interest in the region and the personal relationships he had with Latin American leaders.

Related Materials (November 2002)
The most closely related materials are in the Presidential Country Files for Latin America. Several categories of White House Central Files Subject File, especially country files, contain related materials. Researchers can identify the file locations of additional materials relating to Latin America or to specific countries from PRESNET search reports, which are available upon request.


Country File, 1974-1977.  (Boxes 1‑8, 3.0 linear feet)
Memoranda, telegrams, briefing papers, Qs and As, routine courtesy messages, and correspondence concerning U.S. bilateral relations with countries from Latin America and the Caribbean. The materials are particularly relevant to issues concerning Panama and Panama Canal treaty negotiations, Mexico, Cuba and Chile. Issues concerning U.S. relations with Latin American countries include fishing rights, human rights, economic assistance, disaster relief, narcotics control, illegal aliens, trade, and economic development.

Arranged alphabetically by country

View container list for this series

General Subject File, 1972-77. (Boxes 8‑15, 3.0 linear feet)
Memoranda, correspondence, briefing papers, memoranda of conversations, press guidance, Qs and As, and drafts of speeches and messages concerning U.S.-Latin American relations on a regional basis and with individual countries. Also manuals and procedures for operation of the office and guidelines for dealing with various contingencies. Issues of note include relations with Cuba, Panama Canal Treaty negotiations, the status of Puerto Rico, fishing rights, Law of the Sea negotiations, human rights, trade policy, and relationships within the United Nations and Organization of American States. The files contain good materials on President Fordís meetings with President Echeverria, President-Elect Lopez Portillo, and Secretary of Foreign Relations Emilio Rabasa of Mexico, and President Lopez of Colombia. Materials are also available on the appointments of ambassadors and envoys and Bicentennial gifts and visits to the U.S.

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

View container list for this series


Box 1 - Country File

Box 2 - Country File.

Box 3 - Country File

Box 4 - Country File

Box 5 - Country File

Box 6 - Country File

Box 7 - Country File

Box 8 - Country File

Box 8 (Continued) - General Subject File

Box 9 - General Subject File

Box 10 - General Subject File

Box 11 - General Subject File

Box 12 - General Subject File

Box 13 - General Subject File

Box 14 - General Subject File

Box 15 - General Subject File