230. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State 1

4079. Subj: SYG Candidacy of Herrera.

Summary: Acting in accordance with scenario agreed to by Dept, Bush late afternoon Nov 5 informed Herrera, who was accompanied by Chilean PermRep Diaz Casanueva, that US cannot support Chile’s proposal re SYG succession. Chileans did not appear very surprised. Herrera sought to draw connection between US decision on his candidacy and problem of copper companies, saying this would unfortunately be viewed in Chile as “first direct political consequence of disagreement on economic issue.” Bush said this might be Herrera’s conclusion, but that it was not what he had said or implied. End summary.
Final Dept instructions concerning Herrera SYG candidacy were received during General Comite mtg which did not end until 6:15 PM on inscription of item on protection of diplomatic missions. On receipt instructions, Bush arranged to re-schedule mtg with Chilean PermRep originally set for 5:30, and to meet briefly beforehand with Argentina, Costa Rica and Nicaragua Ambs (LA SC members and LA group Pres respectively). Attempt was made to see Chilean Amb alone, but he arrived with Herrera in tow.
Ortiz de Rozas (Argentina), when informed of our decision to tell Chileans that we could not support their proposal, said this came as no surprise to him. He said his own instructions had been to individually support Herrera, as result of Argentine desire to maintain best possible relations with Chile, and due to Pres Lanusse’s decision to respond positively to a request he received from Allende. However, Ortiz said, he had opposed suggestion that LA group “endorse” Herrera’s or any other candidacy as improper and dangerous precedent. Ortiz noted that when LA group met to discuss Herrera candidacy about half expressed active support, other half reserved their positions, although some of these were believed sympathetic. Ortiz welcomed US decision to level with Chileans right away, before additional support for Herrera developed, and US was faced with possible necessity to veto. On other hand, he urged that US make it known that inability to support this particular candidacy did not constitute opposition to any [Page 410]and all LA candidates, predicting that Chileans would seek to portray US attitude as 1) anti-Chilean, and 2) anti-Latin American. Bush assured Ortiz that this was not case, and that he believed there had to be other strong candidates from Latin America whom Security Council should have opportunity to consider.
Bush subsequently conferred briefly with Sevilla-Sacasa (Nicaragua) and with Molina (Costa Rica), neither of whom was in slightest surprised by news. In fact they seemed almost elated that US was going to get them [out?] of position of unenthusiastic support for Herrera. Sevilla-Sacasa had clearly been prepared for this development by phone call from Pres Somoza (Managua 2547).2 Both agreed that US decision to inform Chileans promptly was wise and thought this would help avoid misunderstandings.
Diaz Casanueva and Herrera arrived at USUN at 6:45, Pol Couns and LA adviser were present during thirty-five minute mtg. After introductory courtesies, Bush told Chileans that he believed in and hoped they would appreciate frankness. Bush said USG had given most careful consideration to the matter and had come to the irrevocable conclusion that it could not support Chile’s proposal re SYG succession. Bush said that he did not wish to enter into details of basis for this decision, but that it had not been arrived at lightly. Bush said although this was, unfortunately, first personal meeting with Herrera, he felt they knew each other from the many mutual friends they had. We were well aware of the high regard in which Herrera was held not only in the US, but throughout Latin America. Herrera asked if he understood correctly that US was not opposed to him personally, and Bush assured him that this was indeed the case.
Diaz (who took very little part in conversation), asked if it could therefore be deduced that US decision was based on Herrera’s Chilean nationality and patronage, and on US discontent with recent developments in Chile. Bush replied that he wished to make it very very clear that we were not making any connections between any issues on which the US and Chilean Governments disagreed, and a decision which concerned the United Nations. Bush said that of course we would not be so naive as to pretend that recent Chilean actions affecting US investments had not had significant, and understandably adverse, effects on US public opinion. And USG, as a democracy, could not be indifferent to such public opinion. Bush asked what were views of Chilean people, as opposed perhaps to government. American people, he said, were not anti-Chilean, and respected right of these, or any other people, to freely decide for themselves their form of government. Were Chilean people now anti-American?
Herrea answered. He said Chilean people continued to hold Americans in high regard. At same time, Chilean people believed in their own government and in its efforts to reform their society to make it better. The people approve of the GOC’s decisions with respect to nation’s resources, and copper was the principal resource. Herrera noted that constitutional amendment permitting expropriation was unanimously adopted by “Congress” which was not even controlled by Allende regime. Herrera said that unfortunately he thought USG had tended to characterize everything Chile was doing as unfriendly, and anti-American, because of the understandable discontent of the copper companies, their stockholders, and taxpayers who faced possibility of having to make up the losses. Herrera noted that this was not first time US had adopted negative view of an entire country because it disagreed with some of its policies. Bush said he wished that he could agree copper expropriation was only issue which divided us, and asked if Herrera had read some of statements that Chilean representatives had made in UN? Herrera said he had not, because he had not been following UN deliberations closely. Bush recommended he do so.
Herrera then said that in context of this conversation he felt he had to make some observation about likely reaction in Chile to US decision not to support him. He said situation would have been same were it some other Chilean than he. Herrera believed that Chilean public would interpret this as direct consequence of US discontent with copper situation. He added that this would, in fact, be considered as first political consequence of a disagreement on purely economic issue. Some would view it as a US political sanction against a country which believed it was only exercising its rights. Bush said that if such were conclusion which GOC attempted to draw, it would be most unfortunate. This might be Herrera’s conclusion, but it was not what Bush had either said or implied.
As discussion drew to close, both Diaz Casanueva and Herrera thanked Bush for his candor in explaining US position to them. Much as they regretted hearing it, they said, they appreciated being told and being told promptly. Bush in turn said he regretted that his first meeting with Herrera proved to be occasion for transmission of understandably unwelcome news, and appreciated spirit in which news had been received. He said that he was convinced USG was searching for ways to improve our relations with Chile, and hoped that this decision would not set back this objective.3
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 8–3. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Asuncion, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Caracas, La Paz, San Jose, Santiago, and Tegucigalpa.
  2. Dated November 3. (Ibid.)
  3. The Department elaborated on its reasons for rejecting Herrera’s candidacy in circular telegram 204711 to all posts in the American Republics, November 10. (Ibid.)