278. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Release of Kidnapped U.S. Air Attache—Dominican Republic

The kidnappers of Colonel Crowley, our Air Attache in Santo Domingo, have demanded the release of 20 political prisoners as the price for Crowley’s release. They have asked that these prisoners be released in front of a church in Santo Domingo. President Balaguer has up to now not wanted to release these prisoners in the manner asked for; he has, with our support, sought to negotiate a release of the prisoners which would involve turning them over to an Embassy and their leaving the country. Balaguer has now been informed by the kidnappers that they do not agree to this, that they insist upon release as they originally requested, i.e., in front of the church, and that if this is not done by 3:00 PM today Crowley will be killed.

In a sense, therefore, something of a confrontation between Balaguer and the kidnappers has developed. The kidnappers would in our opinion kill Crowley if their demands are not met.

Our Ambassador has just stated that to save Crowley’s life he must convince Balaguer to release the prisoners in the manner originally requested. The Papal Nuncio and the Diplomatic Corps are making such an appeal. Our Ambassador believes that he also needs a Presidential message from you to Balaguer asking that everything possible be done to save Crowley’s life. A draft text is attached.

Balaguer Is prepared to release the prisoners. The question is his not wanting to release them in the country. However, now that the kidnappers have stood firm on their original request, we have no options if we are to save Colonel Crowley’s life. Balaguer would probably also welcome a message from you as a help in making up his own mind and explaining his decision.

I do not think that you can afford to do anything else but exhaust every opportunity to persuade Balaguer to take the only step that it now appears will save Crowley’s life.


That you sign the attached message to Balaguer.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 783, Country Files, Latin America, Kidnapping in Dominican Republic. Secret; Urgent. Sent for action. Attached but not published is a draft message from President Nixon to President Balaguer. For the message as sent, see Document 279.
  2. Kissinger recommended that President Nixon sign a message to President Balaguer persuading him to agree to the demands of Colonel Crowley’s kidnappers.