181. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1 2

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  • Proposed Confrontation with President Figueres of Costa Rica Concerning his Relationship with the Soviets

In the memorandum at Tab A Dick Helms reports that CIA has corroborated earlier reports that President Figueres received more than $300,000 from the Soviets earlier this year. The money was passed to Figueres, who had serious financial troubles, through the Secretary General of the Costa Rican Communist Party. Since the inauguration in June, Figueres increasingly has developed ties to the Soviets.

Helms, with the concurrence of U. Alexis Johnson, believes that we should try to stop this trend by confronting Figueres with the fact that we know he took Soviet money. The purpose of the confrontation would be to convince him to limit his cooperation with the Soviets and to cooperate with us in hindering their effectiveness in Central America.

Helms’ specific proposal is to send a U.S. representative, who is a friend of Figueres, to Costa Rica to confront Figueres on a personal as well as official level. The individual they have in mind is Ambassador C. Allan Stewart, a retired FSO, who has known Figueres for 20 years.

We are not certain as to how Figueres might react to such a meeting. It is possible that he will react with rage, claiming that we are acting on “false” information, or possibly even publicly denouncing us for blackmail. However, Figueres has shown that he is sensitive to criticism of his increasing ties with the Soviets, and he appears to be too vulnerable to risk public exposure. CIA believes that at a minimum Figueres will be very cautious with the Soviets once he knows that we are aware that he has accepted funds from them. His fear of exposure, and of a strong reaction by the United States against him, might lead him to work with us against the Soviets. [text not declassified]

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Although there are some risks involved in this plan, I believe on balance that it is worth trying. In view of the fact that the action contemplated involves a Chief of State, I am submitting it to you for approval.


That you approve the proposed confrontation with President Figueres as recommended by Dick Helms

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 779, Country Files, Latin America, Costa Rica. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent for action. The memorandum was a “non-log” item. Nixon approved the recommendation. Tab A, a November 17 memorandum from Helms to Kissinger, is attached and published as Document 180. A December 16 note from Nachmanoff to Kissinger, indicates that “Ambassador Stewart has agreed to undertake the mission.” (Ibid.)
  2. Kissinger forwarded CIA’s proposal for a confrontation with President José Figueres regarding his relationship with the Soviets. President Nixon approved the recommendation.