654. Memorandum of Conversation, Washington, February 5, 1969, 11:30 a.m.1 2

[Page 1]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Memorandum of Conversation

DATE: February 5, 1969
TIME: 11:30 AM
PLACE: Secretary’s Office

SUBJECT: Venezuelan-U.S. Relations

PARTICIPANTS:
Foreign
Dr. Hugo PEREZ La Salvia, representative of President-elect Caldera of Venezuela
Dr. Jose Curiel, representative of President-elect Caldera
Sr. Ramon Yllarmendi, representative of President-elect Caldera

United States
The Secretary
Mr. Viron P. Vaky, Acting Assistant of State for Inter-American Affairs (ARA)
Mr. John Calvin Hill, Director, Office of North Coast Affairs (ARA)
Mr. James Akins, Acting Director, Office of Fuels and Energy (E)

Dr. Perez told the Secretary that President-elect Caldera had asked him and his companions to make this trip to the U.S. to make contact with the new Nixon Administration and to explore broadly the issues which would confront the two new administrations. He stated that Dr. Caldera, who valued his exchange of correspondence with President Nixon, desired to have good relations and to work out the problems in practical ways.

Dr. Perez described petroleum as a matter of great importance to Venezuela and indicated his hope that it would be a subject about which there would be consultation between the two governments, as there had been since consultations [Page 2] had been instituted in 1959 between Presidents Eisenhower and Betancourt. He said that, while Venezuela understood the practical difficulties which confronted the U.S., it was Venezuela’s duty to insist that it be treated like Canada and Mexico under the Oil Import Program; Venezuela, especially in the era of modern communications, was part of the same security area as Canada, the U.S. and Mexico and the question of Venezuela’s treatment under the Oil Import Program was also a matter of domestic political concern in Venezuela. He referred to the recent order suspending for ninety days the Phillips Oil Company allocation to import crude from anywhere into Puerto Rico and expressed the hope that something can be worked out between the company and the Government of Venezuela during the period. He inquired about the proposal to establish a free trade zone and refinery at Machiasport, Maine, and was told that the matter was under study in the Department of Interior where Venezuela’s position would be taken fully into account.

Drs. Perez and Curiel then described some of the programs and aspirations of the Caldera Administration. The former emphasized the modernization of education and organization, areas in which the cooperation of the United States would be needed. (The Secretary pointed out that Dr. Hannah, the A.I.D. Administrator-designate, was an expert on education). Dr. Curiel outlined the Caldera Administration’s steps to draw up a program for the development of Venezuela south of the Orinoco, an area which contains only 4 per cent of the population although it has half of Venezuela’s territory. He indicated this project could eventually lead to hooking the area’s waterways with the Amazon Basin, which in turn could be linked to the River Plate, thus opening up the center of South America--a plan to which President Nixon had alluded in his campaign.

The Secretary assured Dr. Perez and his colleagues that the U.S. desired warm and cordial relations with Venezuela and [Page 3] expressed appreciation for their trip here. He reiterated, as it was pointed out by Under Secretary of Interior-designate Train earlier, that the United States would consult with Venezuela on petroleum matters significantly affecting her. He inquired about the possibility of a visit by President Caldera and agreed, after the Venezuelans pointed out that both Presidents would be busy for some months, that it was best to think in terms of the end of the year.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 796, Country Files, Latin America, Venezuela, Vol. 1, 1969–1971. Confidential. Drafted by Hill. Attached was a note that read, “Not reviewed and cleared.” The meeting took place in the Secretary’s Office. According to Roger’s appointment book, the meeting took place between 11:35 a.m. and 12:10 p.m. (Personal Papers of William P. Rogers, Appointment Books)
  2. Special emissaries of President-elect Caldera met with Secretary of State Rogers to explore issues that would arise between the two nations, especially concerning petroleum.