672. Telegram 4879 From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State1 2

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  • Current Views of President Caldera

1. Last night by virtue of fact I sat next to President Caldera at banquet of American/Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce, I had an hour’s relaxed conversation with the chief executive. Following points were covered:

A. Caldera visit to Washington. President Caldera is still reminiscing with greatest pleasure of effects of his visit last June to Washington. in addition to his obvious feeling of satisfaction over achievements of that visit he said in all sincerity he believed this reception by President Nixon had had a beneficial effect in South America resulting in a much better understanding and appreciation of President Nixon. I did not lose opportunity to tell Caldera that in American President South Americans had a wise and understanding friend. I recalled how in 1967 when I saw President Nixon in London upon his return from a private trip to South America, I had been so impressed by his intimate grasp of differing situations in various countries that I had telegraphed a complete report to the Department.

B. US aid to Venezuela. President did not refer to specifics of White House conference June 3 when President Nixon had outlined potential scope of US assistance to Venezuela in such things as military equipment and CODESUR but did say that it would take a great budgetary load off his shoulders if by some means ways could be found for credit financing of replacement materiel for [Page 2] Venezuelan armed forces. I said our present reading of situation in Congress was that there would be no FMS credit available this fiscal year but we would certainly try out best to find means of financing at least part of the C–130 purchase. Caldera said it would be a tremendous relief for him if help on C–130’s could be forthcoming.

C. Aviation talks. I had taken opportunity to indicate to Acting FonMin Zambrano who sat at my left our disappointment at recent downward trend of US-Venezuelan relations insofar as civil aviation was concerned (ref. Caracas 4819). In lighter vein I repeated same comment to Caldera whose rejoinder was that his impression was that our side had been quite unresponsive in meeting in Caracas early last summer. I took this opportunity to say that recent attempt to forbid Pan American even to indicate it flew jumbo jets across the Atlantic did not conduce to a more affirmative atmosphere once conversations were resumed in Washington November 17. I had impression that both Zambrano and Caldera will pass word along to Venezuelan team before it departs for US.

D. Western Hemisphere preferences on petroleum. In an almost diffident manner President Caldera said that despite real democracy which existed in Venezuela and its very basic feeling of friendship for US, nevertheless country and, he, Caldera, needed some sort of nationalistic “victory.” He felt this all the more important because of recent developments in Bolivia and now Ecuador with consequent need to buttress fabric of democracy in nations still left free from either Marxist or totalitarian tendencies. This in effect boiled down to Colombia and Venezuela. Without actually saying so, and realizing that his remarks were a prelude to Ambassador Sosa’s fiery speech of the evening on US-Venezuelan economic relations, it was clear that Caldera was thinking of assurances re petroleum and specifically his hope that when US permanent oil policy is formulated early next year Venezuela would have a satisfactory position. Although he did not use the expression, this all seemed to boil down to “hemispheric preference.”

2. In expressing my personal feeling of confidence that Venezuelan petroleum would continue to be exported to US on an increasing scale which might in fact tax industry’s capacity to produce, I recalled to Caldera the immense additional petroleum resources which Venezuela has not yet begun to exploit, specifically [Page 3] tar sands and natural gas. Caldera seemed sincerely surprised when I told him of plans of El Paso Natural Gas to bring LNG all the way from Algeria and Libya to Texas; and he seemed not to be fully informed of CVP’s negotiations with the Philadelphia Gas Company for possible export of LNG from Venezuela to Philadelphia. President seemed definitely interested in these prospects which likewise might fit into current stress of his government on joint ventures in future petroleum developments. He asked specifically if I thought there might be a possibility of ExImBank credits for necessary plant and equipment. I replied that speaking personally I thought indeed we might be interested. Furthermore World Bank had also shown its desire to extend important credits to Venezuelan industries as, for example, at Gure Dam and in Sidor. In fact I thought Venezuela could couple its own immense natural resources of electricity, petroleum, gas and iron with the human resources of the country, adopting meanwhile a broad-gauged policy for industrialization and development of an export market, there was no reason why Venezuela could not become the Japan of South America.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 15–1 VEN. Secret.
  2. Ambassador McClintock recounted his discussion with President Caldera in which they discussed Caldera’s June 1970 visit to the United States, U.S. military assistance to Venezuela, and Caldera’s desire to export more oil to the United States.