The Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs
was a United States agency promoting inter-American cooperation during the 1940s, especially in commercial and economic areas. It was started in August 1940 as OCCCRBAR (Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations between the American Republics) with Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States , serving under President Gerald Ford, and the 49th Governor of New York , as well as serving the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations in a variety of positions...
as its head, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in the Executive Office of the President was formally established and enacted by US Executive Order 8840 on July 30, 1941 by President Roosevelt who named Nelson Rockefeller as the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CIAA).
The agency's function was to distribute news, films and advertising, and to broadcast radio, in and to Latin America in order to counter Italian and German propaganda there. The CIAA grew to be a large Federal agency with a budget of $38 million by 1942 and 1,500 employees by 1943.
It was later renamed the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA) with slightly changed powers by Executive order 9532 on March 23, 1945.
In its early days, a particular concern of the CIAA was the elimination of German influence in South America, and that of other Axis powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...
. Trade routes to Europe were disrupted following the fall of France in June 1940, presenting opportunities to both Germany and the U.S. At the same time, many agents or affiliates of U.S. firms operating in Latin America were sympathetic to European Axis powers. The office encouraged a voluntary program of non-cooperation with companies and individuals perceived to be anti-American. To this end it cooperated secretly with British Security Coordination
British Security Coordination was a covert organization set up in New York City by the British Secret Intelligence Service in May 1940 upon the authorization of Winston Churchill.-Operation:...
in New York. Though isolated in Europe, Britain maintained an extensive intelligence network in Latin America, and was happy to undermine Germany's trade efforts overseas by identifying sympathisers and agents. Through these efforts, U.S. exporters were encouraged to drop over a thousand accounts in South America during the first half of 1941.
The office was also concerned with public opinion in Latin America. It translated and disseminated relevant speeches by President Roosevelt, and distributed pro-U.S materials to features syndicates
Print syndication distributes news articles, columns, comic strips and other features to newspapers, magazines and websites. They offer reprint rights and grant permissions to other parties for republishing content of which they own/represent copyrights....
in the region. It carried out audience research surveys and encouraged radio broadcasters targeting these regions to improve the quality of their programming. In order to discourage opposing views it created a 'Proclaimed List', a black-list of newspapers and radio stations owned or influenced by Axis powers. Latin American firms wishing to do business with America were discouraged from dealing with these stations. Tax incentives were also used: spending by American firms on unprofitable longwave
In radio, longwave refers to parts of radio spectrum with relatively long wavelengths. The term is a historic one dating from the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was considered to consist of long, medium and short wavelengths...
transmission to Latin America could be deducted from income tax payments. Likewise, spending on approved advertising in Latin America became deductible from corporate income taxes.
Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, entertainer, international icon, and philanthropist, well-known for his influence in the field of entertainment during the 20th century. Along with his brother Roy O...
and a group of animators had been sent to South America in 1941 by the U.S. State Department as part of its Good Neighbor policy
The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of the administration of United States President Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America. Its main principle was that of non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of Latin America...
, and guaranteed financing for the resulting movie, Saludos Amigos
Saludos Amigos is a 1942 animated feature produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. It is the 6th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It is the first of six package films made by the Disney studio in the 1940s...
In 1944, William Benton, publisher of the Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...
, had entered into unsuccessful negotiations with Disney to make six to twelve educational films annually. Disney was asked by the US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), to make an educational film about the Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...
and it resulted in the 1944 animated short, The Amazon Awakens
By an Executive order of August 31, 1945, the informational activities of the Office of Inter-American Affairs were transferred to the Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...
. It became known as the Office for Inter-American Affairs
. By an Executive order of April 10, 1946, the Office was abolished and its remaining functions and responsibilities were transferred to the State Department.
The Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs was penetrated by Soviet intelligence during World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
. Below is a list of American citizens who as federal employees in the CIAA engaged in espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....
. The CIAA's code name in Soviet intelligence and in the Venona project
The VENONA project was a long-running secret collaboration of the United States and United Kingdom intelligence agencies involving cryptanalysis of messages sent by intelligence agencies of the Soviet Union, the majority during World War II...
- Marion Davis Berdecio
Marion Davis Berdecio born Marion Davis, and married to Roberto Berdecio.Marion Davis Berdecio worked on the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence at the United States Embassy in Mexico City. She was allegedly recruited into Soviet intelligence accomplished during World War II along with...
- Jack Fahy
Jack Bradley Fahy was an American government official. He allegedly spied for the Soviet Naval GRU during World War II. Soviet naval intelligence was much smaller than the Soviet army's GRU, and only a fraction of the size of the KGB....
, (Soviet Naval GRU)
- Charles Flato
Charles S. Flato was an American writer, American Communist Party member and a Soviet agent....
- Irving Goldman
Irving Goldman was an anthropologist. He is known for his acute ability to reconstruct the worldviews and systems of thought of the indigenous peoples whose lives and thought he analysed in several major works, some now regarded as classics in the field of anthropology.-Life:Goldman was born in...
- Joseph Gregg
- Helen Grace Scott Keenan
Helen Grace Reswich Scott Keenan, more commonly, Helen Grace Scott was an American citizen employed in the Office of Strategic Services and later the Office of U.S Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis War Criminals on the staff of Justice Robert H. Jackson during World War II...
, Office of U.S. Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis War Criminals, Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...
- Robert Miller, Director of the Division of Reports
- Willard Park
Willard Zerbe Park , anthropologist. Park was a former teaching colleague of Maurice Halperin at the University of Oklahoma. Both Park and Halperin actively sought out recruitment with Soviet intelligence, or the "Communist East" through the New Masses and Jacob Golos...
, Assistant Chief of Economic Analysis Section
- Bernard Redmont
Bernard Sidney Redmont is an American journalist and Professor of Journalism and later Dean of the College of Communication at Boston University.-Education and early career:...
, head of Foreign News Bureau
- Coordinator of OCCCRBAR (Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations between the American Republics) and OCIAA (1940–1944): Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller
- Director of the Office for Inter-American Affairs (1945–1946): Wallace K. Harrison
One employee who was particularly famous was Morris "Moe" Berg, with his business card found among his personal effects.
- Maxwell, Allen Brewster, Evoking Latin American collaboration in the Second World War: A study of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (1940–1946), PhD dissertation, Tufts University, Medford, MA., 1971.
- Rockefeller Family Archives, Record Group #04, Record Group Name: Nelson A. Rockefeller, Personal, Washington, D.C. Files - Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, Dates: August 1940-December 1944
- Rowland, Donald W., History of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, US Government Printing Office, 1947. (United States Office of Inter-American Affairs)