487. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Congo1

103125. 1. Ramiro Rodriguez and Mike Pons, self-styled Tshombe emissaries, approached DOD December 13 with letter to President from Tshombe. The two men stated Tshombe had told them avoid Department of State since DOD could be expected be more sympathetic Tshombe’s aims. In initial contact, they informed DOD officials they wished to furnish oral briefing and request US support and assistance for Tshombe.

2. After checking with Department for guidance, Rodriguez and Pons received morning of December 14 at DOD in presence State officer (not identified as such to them). They furnished long rambling briefing about satisfactory state Congolese affairs when Tshombe was Prime Minister and how bad they are now, as well as list of benefits which would accrue to West and capitalism if Tshombe returned. They requested loan of $4 million to assist Tshombe, who, they claimed, expected return Kinshasa no later than December 31.

3. In line with State guidance, DOD officials informed them of following:

a) US does not intervene in internal affairs of other nations.

b) US has supported every central government of Congo since independence and continues that policy.

c) Communications re foreign affairs should be submitted to Dept of State and if letter given to DOD officials latter would transmit it to State for forwarding.

d) US will not support or assist in any plot or scheme to overthrow the present government.

4. In view this negative response to request for assistance, emissaries decided not to give letter to DOD. They added that other sources, notably France, had offered support which Tshombe had earlier refused but intimated they would turn back to such sources. Added that when Tshombe comes to power, he will be friendly with US but refusal to assist him now would affect relations with US.

4. [sic] At time original contact Dec. 13, DOD officials actually saw unsigned copy of letter which they said was essentially recital of conditions in Congo. Net impression of those attending Dec. 14 meeting was that this not a serious undertaking which leads us to wonder whether [Page 714] two men actually reflecting Tshombe’s views on anything other than letter itself.

5. On Dec. 15 Deptoff saw Struelens, who, although he claims no present association with Tshombe, may be in communication with him. He was informed in general terms of this approach. Deptoff suggested Struelens might clearly inform Tshombe that the US will not support any plot or scheme to depose Mobutu government.

6. Embassy should inform Mobutu in general terms this approach and of US reaction. We do not exclude the possibility that Rodriguez and Pons will attempt to peddle letter elsewhere in Washington for delivery to the White House.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 30 THE CONGO. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Schaufele, cleared by Godley in AF/CM, and approved by Fredericks. Repeated to Brussels, Madrid, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 110241 to Kinshasa, December 29, reported that Rodriguez and Pons called at the Department on December 28, asked for U.S. support of a future Tshombe government, and left a letter for the President. They said they were not seeking active U.S. support for a move against Mobutu, but asking for “benevolent neutrality” if Tshombe forces attempted a coup, i.e., a commitment not to let U.S.-controlled aircraft in the Congo be used against Tshombe forces. They were informed that the United States continued to support the central government and did not support plots to overthrow it, and that the aircraft in the Congo were part of the Congolese forces and Tshombe should not assume they would not be used against forces attempting a coup. (Ibid.) No copy of the letter to the President has been found.