545. Telegram From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State1
8970. 1. President Leoni called me to Miraflores shortly after noon today to discuss Venezuelan seizure of 575 ton Cuban fishing vessel Alecrin. Although the President did not indicate the location, he said that the vessel, when seized, was in Venezuelan territorial waters.
2. He then reviewed the belief of the GOV, based on hard intelligence, that Castro Cuba was supporting and activating the launching of guerrilla elements along the coast and Trinidad and probably hoped to stage a dramatic incident before the Venezuelan elections December 1.[Page 1137]
3. As a result of information obtained by the GOV that several Cuban fishing vessels were near Venezuelan waters, the navy, in the past few days, had intensified patrols and the seizure of the Alecrin resulted.
4. I asked the President what the facts were with regard to news reports from Havana that the fishing boat was machine-gunned and perhaps the target of cannon fire. The President said that he could not answer this question yet since he did not have all the facts, but that as the facts came in he would have the Foreign Minister, who was present at the meeting, let me know.
5. The President said that the seizure of the Alecrin would have to be accepted by Castro in the same way that the U.S. has had to accept the seizure of the Pueblo by the North Koreans. He made it quite clear that Venezuela’s patience is exhausted over Castro Cuba’s continued efforts to intervene subversively in its affairs. He added that the Communist Party in Venezuela at the present time is playing a double game. On the one hand it has sought temporary respectability so that it can participate in the Venezuelan electoral process while at the same time preparing to resume subversive and possibly terrorist activities after the election.
6. The President seemed somewhat tense as he discussed this matter and apparently was seeking through me the moral support of the U.S. It is also my impression that GOV action in this case is to give an unequivocal [garbled text] to Cuba to stop its support of the armed struggle in Venezuela.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–4 VEN–CUBA. Confidential; Immediate.↩