663. 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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  • Venezuelan Concern re US Oil Import Policies

Attached for your information at Tab A is a telegram from Charlie Meyer reporting on his conversation yesterday with President Caldera of Venezuela. The principal subject of the conversation was President Caldera’s deep concern over US oil import policies. In summary, Meyer’s conclusions from the discussion are that:

  • —US indecision on oil import policy is the most disturbing element in Venezuela today.
  • —There is no question that second class consideration in relation to Canada is political dynamite in Venezuela.
  • —The US should give greater thought to the appearance of parity with Canada to help the Venezuelan Government sell the new US policy to its people and to other Western Hemisphere oil producers.

In the discussion, President Caldera stressed his concern about the uncertainties of a change from a quota to a tariff system (as recommended in the Shultz Task Force Report), and indicated that he did not know how he could explain to the Venezuelan people why Canada should be accorded a substantial preference over Venezuela, while Venezuela would be accorded only a small preference over Africa and Middle East producers. He hoped we understood that the door was wide open for critics of the US and for demagogues to capitalize on Venezuelan nationalistic resentment. Press reports of the Shultz Task Force Report have created the impression in Venezuela that the US does not regard Venezuela as a first class friend, and that the US has not taken into account the favorable treatment which has been accorded American capital in Venezuela. In addition to seeking a guaranteed and growing market for Venezuelan oil, Caldera appears to be looking for some way to demonstrate that the US, Canada and Venezuela have a mutually beneficial relationship, and thereby undercut those who could capitalize on nationalistic Venezuelan resentment.

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President Caldera’s deep concern about US oil import policy takes on special importance because of the fact that President Nixon has agreed to invite Caldera here for a State Visit in the first half of this year. Continued delay in a decision on oil import policy, or a decision which does not give adequate consideration to Venezuela’s aspirations, will insure that President Caldera will be under great pressure to take up the question intensively with President Nixon during his State Visit.

You may also be aware of the fact that President Caldera has written to Governor Rockefeller about his preoccupation with US oil import policy. I will be sending a separate memorandum to you on that subject.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 796, Country Files, Latin America, Venezuela, Vol. 1, 1969–1971. Confidential. Sent for information. Attached but not published at Tab A is telegram 588 from Caracas, February 5.
  2. Vaky informed Kissinger of President Caldera’s unhappiness that Canada received a substantial preference over Venezuela for oil exports. Vaky warned that Venezuela’s smaller export quota would foster strong, nationalistic, anti-United States movements, and concluded that Caldera would address the question in his upcoming meeting with President Nixon.