512. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Peru 1

250839. For Ambassador from Oliver. Subject: Recognition Doctrine and the Peruvian Crisis.

My reply to you Saturday night was approved above me in Department as to general line.2 This message relays for your consideration some so far entirely individual thoughts of mine as to possible courses for “post dust-settling” future. Herein I shall seek to open dialogue on relative desirability in Peruvian case of moving U.S. recognition doctrine and practice toward a variant of Estrada Doctrine3 without [Page 1062] losing positive elements of Rio Resolution 264 as pressure points in favor of early return to elected government and assured respect for basic human freedoms.
Your preliminary characterization of Junta5 coincides exactly with my feelings about it. There was no justification for this heavy-handed move; and it is very much in doubt whether Junta will be able to pick up quickly and ably enough the complicated strands of Peru’s critical fiscal, foreign exchange, credit, and development needs. Junta officers probably do not have the savvy—and they may not be able easily to mobilize it outside their uniformed circle—that is essential if Peru is not to slip into a real economic and financial tailspin. For example, I wonder today and shall try to find out early in the week what IMF’s thinking is about future of standby.
On recognition, it is apparent to me that our developing practices as to responses to coups no longer fits exactly within the textbook doctrinal pattern, i.e., one that assumes that the constitutional discontinuity caused by a coup automatically bars all standard intergovernmental relationships pending a new act of recognition of a golpista regime as the government of a State. (Hereinafter, “traditional doctrine.”) Analytically, the main disadvantages of the traditional doctrine center on (i) historically-based general Latin-American distrust of USG use of power to withhold recognition; (ii) inhibition of any substantive relations, including diplomatic protection, during period of non-recognition; (iii) vast uncertainties about status of contractual relations (below international agreements level) between USG and the other state. Advantages of traditional view are (i) provident utilization of pressures arising from extra-constitutional regime’s needs for our recognition; (ii) symbolization of our dislike of “bad” extra-constitutional changes, such as Peruvian one is.
Rio Resolution 26 may be based on assumption that traditional doctrine as to recognition will continue. (I have not been able to research this.) However, it does not seem to me that Rio 26 absolutely requires use of traditional doctrine. And as we know from Argentine case and current editorial comment about Peru, formal recognition following [Page 1063] consultations under 26 does “ring hollow”, as October 6 New York Times editorial says.6
At some appropriate time, I think USG ought to shift toward the notion that a coup affects the intensity, intimacy and levels of our relations but does not automatically cut them off. I do not speak for anyone but myself on this. The question I raise with you in context of this message is whether the Peruvian coup might be the occasion for announcing and following a new doctrine. It does not require an immediate response from you, of course. Moreover, it may be that my personal views will not be acceptable. You will be kept informed.
Another alternative would be to follow in practice, but not announce, a new doctrine on this occasion. So far our responses (press briefings and your authorizations) fit within traditional doctrine, albeit somewhat imperfectly as some uncertainties already expressed by the involved American public show.
Related to para 6 is the problem of divergent attitudes in our business community arising from conflicting interests as to continuity or discontinuity in our formal relations. Moreover, if I may refer to legal matters outside present responsibilities, there are problems arising from tendency judiciary here to follow Department’s views as to recognition or not in litigation involving a revolutionary regime’s authority or lack of it to deal with state assets and other interests localized in this country or to make laws and rules that our Courts will treat as having governmental authority.
I want you to know that my personal feeling is one of revulsion and that if it were otherwise feasible and in our interest, I would not want to deal with Junta at all. Here I think I only reflect general feeling in this country. But I know that indefinite “suspension” is not going to be possible; and I am seeking the best way, not only to minimize losses, in the public affairs field and otherwise, but to help develop a more adequate approach to the coup problem in today’s world.
I have cancelled a Southwestern speaking trip under Council for Foreign Relations auspices and shall tend store here during period immediately ahead. We are working closely with Cates and Poole (on TDY) at USUN, and I think that Vaky ought to go up to New York during week. The Latin Americans are meeting at UN on morning October 7. We are in close touch as to lines of inquiry and expect to have rather full readbacks.
Nearer to immediate operations, we need to get as clear a view as we can of circumstances surrounding IPC settlement. Junta’s perjorative statements are receiving uncritical acceptance here. I do not propose we get into act, certainly not before IPC itself; but we do need to know all there is to know.7
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 16 PERU. Secret; Priority. Drafted and approved by Oliver. Repeated as Tosec 83 to USUN for Rusk, who was attending the 23rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.
  2. The Embassy had requested instructions on overtures from individuals claiming to represent the new government in telegram 7725 from Lima, October 5. (Ibid., POL 23–9 PERU) The Department’s response, drafted by Oliver and cleared in substance by Acting Secretary Katzenbach, stated: “Your reception of overtures should be cool and you should make it clear to intermediaries that you are only receiving suggestions for transmittal to Washington. You may add that USG especially interested in Junta’s plans as to timing return to elected government.” (Telegram 250828 to Lima, October 5; ibid.)
  3. Doctrine espoused in September 1930 by Mexican Foreign Minister Genero Estrada held that recognition of another government does not necessarily imply acceptance of its legitimacy. See Marjorie M. Whiteman, ed., Digest of International Law, Vol. 2, pp. 85–89.
  4. Resolution XXVI of the Final Act of the Second Special Inter-American Conference, signed on November 30, 1965, in Rio de Janeiro, recommended that OAS members consult before recognizing a de facto government, giving due consideration to: a) whether a foreign country was involved in the overthrow of the old regime; and b) whether the new regime promised to hold free elections, to honor its international obligations, and to respect human rights. After consultation, each country was free to decide whether to maintain diplomatic relations. (The OAS Chronicle, February 1966, p. 27)
  5. See Document 510 and footnote 3 thereto.
  6. The New York Times editorial reads: “The State Department has properly withheld diplomatic recognition of the military junta that has unconstitutionally seized power. But the announcement that the United States is consulting with Latin American Governments on how to deal with the situation rings hollow.”
  7. In telegram 7797 from Lima, October 9, Jones agreed with the “pragmatic approach” of Oliver’s recognition policy: “a prolonged suspension of several months or more would place intolerable stain on traditional ties between U.S. and Peru, seriously endanger private U.S. interests and probably prove counter productive in end.” (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 16 PERU)