The Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (also referred to as OPD and/or S/LPD) was established by President Reagan in 1983 with the mission to better explain U.S. policy towards Latin America and the Carribean. Reagan appointed Otto Reich as its first director.

Officially, designated as an “interagency office�? responsible to the State Department OPD staff members were recruited from the military, the CIA, the UISA, and USAID. OPD officially reported to the State Department. However, subsequent Congressional investigations found that the agency had strong ties to the CIA, reported directly to National Security Advisor, Oliver North and had engaged in domestic propaganda designed to boost public opinion for U.S. support of the Contras in Nicaragua.

The Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair found that the OPD had "produced and widely disseminated a variety of pro-contra publications and arranged speeches and press conferences. It also disseminated what one official termed white propaganda: pro-contra newspaper articles by paid consultants who did not disclose their connection to the Administration. Moreover, under a series of sole-source contracts in 1985 and 1986, S/LPD paid more than $400,000 for pro-contra public relations work to International Business Communications (IBC), a company owned by Richard Miller, whose organization was described by one White House representative as a 'White House outside the White House [1].'"

In March 1986, OPD was transferred from the Office of the Secretary of State to State’s Bureau of Inter-American Affairs and placed under a new Coordinator, the Deputy for Policy and Public Affairs.

Further Reading

  • Government Accountability Office (December 1987) Report on OPD contract irregularities.

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