167. Letter From President Pastrana of Colombia to President Nixon1 2

[Page 1]

Mr. President:

When I held the post of Ambassador of my country at Washington, from January to September 1969, during your meeting with President Lleras—in which I had the honor to participate—I had an opportunity to become directly acquainted with your interest in finishing the so-called Darien Gap with a view to concretizing the old dream of the countries of this Hemisphere to be linked by a superhighway. I mention this fact because it is related to the subject of your communication of November 8 of this year.

I have had the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Leonard Saccio, Ambassador of the United States at Bogota, the problem which may arise owing to the fear of Panama, the Central American Republics, Mexico, and the United States, that foot-and-mouth disease way eventually contaminate their livestock. I gave Ambassador Saccio Colombia’s maximum assurances in that respect, but, as you yourself have stated, Mr. President, major national interests are involved, since vast areas‚ many of them located far from the highway, are occupied by Colombians who have large cattle ranches [Page 2] and farms therein, and whom it is not easy to displace in order to convert an oversized territory into a reserve. The Minister of Agriculture has sent a communication to the Ambassador of the United States indicating what our government can do to avert the obstacles that may arise in carrying out this project, as well as Colombia’s limitations, imposed by other circumstances. I trust that the viewpoints expressed by our governments can be reconciled.

Once more, Mr. President, I wish to reiterate my country’s interest in completing the unfinished section of the Pan American Highway promptly by building the Darien link between Panama and Colombia, an event which will doubtless constitute another bond of unity and integration in our Hemisphere.

Accept, Mr. President, the assurance of my devoted friendship.

Misael Pastrana Borrero
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Central Files, Foreign Affairs, Box 32, EX FO 3–1/1–2, 1973–1974. The letter bears Pastrana’s typed signature. Nixon’s letter to Pastrana is published as Document 166.
  2. President Pastrana discussed a number of the problems Colombia would face in attempting to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. In particular, he noted that displacing a large number of cattle, located in remote areas, would be costly.