514. Telegram From the Embassy in Peru to the Department of State1
Lima, October 11, 1968, 1602Z.
- DCM met privately last night with FonOff SecGen Ambassador Javier Perez de Cuellar and delivered letter as directed ref. (A). In doing so DCM called attention to fact that communication was a letter and not a note and that it addressed to General Mercado without further title. DCM said USG considered it important informally to establish dialogue for development of essential information without in any way implying recognition. Perez de Cuellar expressed understanding and agreement.
- SecGen noted he career officer devoted without political inclination to serving his country and therefore continuing with revolutionary regime. He noted unhappily that General Mercado was his fifth Foreign Minister in about two years. He expressed opinion that President General Velasco and cabinet were patriotic Peruvians; nationalistic but not leftists. He hoped there could soon be constructive relations with the US so that the government would not become so frustrated as to find it necessary to deal with Communist regimes and which was not its desire.
- SecGen said that he had received alarming information from Carlos Gibson in Washington about Hickenlooper and Sugar Act implications but in telex conversation with the Peruvian Chargé had been reassured on basis that USG had made no drastic public condemnations either of the golpe or of the expropriation.
- DCM said the lack of condemnatory statements by the USG should not be interpreted as in any way approving either act. DCM said it should be clear to the new government that the US deplored the interruption of constitutionalism and hoped for its prompt resumption. As for IPC, the United States recognizes the right of expropriation but also expects fulfillment of the obligation under international law to make just compensation. DCM noted then that it was precisely these concerns which motivated the letter at this time to General Mercado and that the questions posed therein were on these two subjects. As for the IPC matter, DCM said, an important earnest of the new regime’s good intentions would be for it to put itself in contact with the company for the purpose of discussing compensations. Since this obviously is an issue in dispute, willingness of the regime to submit it to established procedures for negotiation, mediation or adjudicating of such disputes would be important.
- Perez de Cuellar welcomed opportunity for informal contact and said GOP had already established such contacts through its missions in Washington and USUN. DCM said for time being it would probably be inadvisable for any direct meetings between Ambassador and General Mercado and asked to be advised whether the latter would wish to communicate informally with DCM via the SecGen or name another intermediary without official position in the GOP. SecGen expressed opinion that he would be intermediary as he had been, as Chief of Protocol, during the 1962 golpe.
- General Mercado’s reply will be communicated as soon as received. Assume Dept will instruct other ARA posts as to content this message as needed.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 PERU. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated to USCINCSO and USUN.↩
- In telegram 252730 to Lima, October 9, the Department instructed Jones to deliver an “ordinary business letter” to General Edgardo Mercado Jarrin, addressing the new Foreign Minister by military title only, in response to the revolutionary government’s note of October 3. “There is no danger,” the Department explained, “that such a response will itself be taken as marking official resumption of relations.” The letter asked: (a) when the government intended to return to constitutional rule; and (b) whether it would observe the property rights of foreign nationals in accordance with international law. (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram 7850 from Lima, October 10, the Embassy doubted that the new government would offer assurances about property rights “in light of developments yesterday regarding certain assets of IPC.” (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram 253684 to Lima, October 11, the Department replied: “Your points carefully considered when sending letter decided and conclusion reached that essential ask questions.” (Ibid.)↩