134. Telegram From the Consulate in Luanda to the Department of State 1
Luanda, November 2, 1975, 1815Z.
1721. For Mulcahy from Killoran. Subj: Closing of Consulate. Ref: State 259582.2
- I appreciate timeliness of Dept decision to reduce staff and we are proceeding to implement instructions contained reftel. However, I want to make one final effort to persuade Dept to close post temporarily at this point rather than allow it to remain open with reduced staff for several additional days. The question to be asked and answered, it seems to me, is what do we stand to gain and what price do we have to pay for keeping reduced staff here until Nov 10. [1½ lines not declassified] I doubt very much that [less than 1 line not declassified] extra week here will significantly enhance our knowledge of state of play or future directions of MPLA or sources and extent and kind of outside assistance being given to MPLA.
- [2 lines not declassified] only real value to USG of continued operation here would have to derive from post’s ability to protect US citizens as well as those of UK and Canada. This is important but I frankly think that ability of remaining Consular officers to render protection [Page 330] services is going to be sharply curtailed by circumstances. The price that we may have to pay for this limited value operation is in the very great exposure and vulnerability of those USG officials who remain behind. [3 lines not declassified] As the FNLA military challenge to the MPLA becomes even stronger, and we can expect that to happen between now and Nov 11, and since Portuguese authority here is almost non-existent now, I think we have to accept possibility that MPLA hotheads might well find it necessary or convenient to arrest or detain one or more members of Consulate staff. Even if this were not a real possibility, I would still recommend closing of post now on grounds that prospective military situation between now and Nov 11 will expose remaining USG personnel to unacceptable levels of personal danger and their ability to leave at the last minute will be severely curtailed by the lack of commercial transportation. I have not yet been able to locate the High Commissioner today, but I suspect the vessel in which he will leave is going to be fully loaded. He just may have to refuse to take our six remaining employees.
- In the event the Department decides to keep the post open for additional period, both Rodgers and Doubleday have volunteered to stay. In light of Rodgers’s greater experience, seniority and contacts, I have asked him to remain. CRO Casey will also stay.
- [2½ lines not declassified]
- After we close, we will keep as many locals on the payroll as are willing to remain in Luanda. A number of them have long years of service and we cannot in good conscience lay them off. Too, they will be needed for maintenance work and other services and we will want qualified people to be on board when we come back in.
- I understand that ONA aircraft making final refugee flight is scheduled now to make ferry trip to Los Angeles following delivery of passengers to Lisbon and brief stop in Rome. If this schedule holds, I and staff and TDY personnel (except those assigned elsewhere in Africa) will remain on plane and ask to be dropped off at Dulles Airport rather than holding over in Lisbon. I would appreciate if the Department could ensure ONA is directed to carry us as passengers Lisbon/Washington. I am doing this on the assumption that my immediate availability to Dept would be useful in these final days before Angola independence and that it would be more economic in terms of dollars and manpower to move other staff members to Dept in this way rather than holding over in Lisbon for later commercial flight.