415. Memorandum From Viron P. Vaky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • Ambassador de Roulet’s Proposal re Jamaican Prime Minister

Ambassador de Roulet has asked Bob Haldeman directly to set up an appointment with the President for Jamaican Prime Minister Hugh Shearer (See letter at Tab A). Al Haig tells me that the President has agreed to see Shearer; Haldeman, I gather, has a vested interest in “producing” for his friend de Roulet. Therefore, I am given to understand that we have a fait accompli. A separate memo to the President asking for a specific date is being prepared.

There are two issues that will be central with reference to any conversation with the President—(1) the bauxite problem, and (2) covert support for Shearer’s reelection next year.

1. Bauxite: Shearer wants Jamaican equity participation in the bauxite industry, now entirely US-owned. The Ambassador feels that nationalism is creating strong pressure in Jamaica for nationalization of the industry; he believes that permitting the Jamaican Government to “buy in” in the equity and creating a mixed enterprise would deflect and stone off a nationalization problem. He proposes that the Jamaican Government and the American companies negotiate a new relationship along this line as soon as possible.

While the Ambassador is probably right, he has been pressing his point forcefully to the annoyance of the US companies. In any event, the shape of any future relationship in the bauxite industry is a complex and technical issue; involved are questions of tax liabilities, investment guarantees and US law.

I gather that Shearer will wish to talk about these problems substantively and in depth with the President; it is, however, the kind of complex technical situation that would require careful staffing and examination. The President could do little more than listen and promise to study, and would have to be careful not to commit himself unwittingly to something that may be technically unfeasible or impossible.

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2. Re-election Aid: The following message was sent by de Roulet [text not declassified]

“Last night Shearer in three-hour private meeting asked me for million to million half dollars to insure his reelection which he states is to U.S. best interest. Money to be spent local level for party workers. Shearer also indicated willingness to trade bauxite participation for support. I feel Shearer reelection best means to maintain stability. [text not declassified]

No one favors this proposal at all—there is no threat which would warrant this kind of delicate involvement or expense; while Shearer may be friendly to the US, his likely election opponent does not appear to be a threat and CIA thinks it’s a Tweedle-de/Tweedledum electoral prospect.

The difficulty is that de Roulet has in effect encouraged Shearer to think he might get something by stringing him along instead of shutting him off, and the Prime Minister is playing it for all it’s worth. The implication that such aid could buy a bauxite arrangement is particularly dangerous. Nothing would do more to guarantee the future disavowal of a bauxite industry agreement than this kind of deal if it were ever to leak out. In fact, we put ourselves in Shearer’s hands.

I very, very much oppose this idea; I see no redeeming virtue to it.

It is possible that Shearer will raise this with the President. If he does, this would put the President in an embarrassing position. If it is wise to turn this idea off—as I believe it to be—then we ought to figure out a graceful way to do this soon, preferably before the visit, rather than leave it to the President to do.


1. That you obtain concurrence from Helms and Alex Johnson that the idea should be killed, [text not declassified]

2. That you inform Haldeman of this before the message goes to the Ambassador, so as to avoid the confusion of an almost certain appeal back to Haldeman.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 786, Country Files, Box 786, Country Files, Latin America, Jamaica, Vol. I. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. The memorandum is a “not logged” item. A handwritten note by Kissinger, which appears next to Vaky’s recommendation against covert reelection support, reads: “Let’s talk to Helms.” Neither of the attachments is published. The attachments are: Tab A, a July 7 letter from de Roulet to Haldeman, requesting a meeting between Shearer and President Nixon; and an August 2 note from Nachmanoff to Kissinger indicating that the President agreed to see Shearer on August 11 at 11:30 a.m., but no memorandum of conversation of the meeting has been found. On August 10, Kissinger sent Nixon a briefing memorandum for the proposed meeting; not published. (Ibid.)
  2. Vaky informed Kissinger that President Nixon had agreed to meet with Prime Minister Shearer to discuss the bauxite problem and covert support for Shearer’s reelection. In reference to the bauxite question, Vaky recommended that the President listen to the Prime Minister and promise to study the situation. Concerning covert support for Shearer’s reelection, Vaky indicated his opposition to the idea.