679. Telegram 1073 From the Embassy in Venezuela to the Department of State, February 9, 1972, 1620Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
CARACAS 1073

P 091620Z FEB 72

FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4786

CARACAS 1073

FOR THE SECRETARY

SUBJECT: NEED FOR IMMEDIATE MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT NIXON TO PRESIDENT CALDERA

REF: A. CARACAS 1066; B. CARACAS 953; C. CARACAS 094

1. REFTELS INDICATE AN INCREASING SHRILLNESS IN TONE ON PART OF PRESIDENT CALDERA AND HIS MINISTERS DIRECTED AGAINST THE UNITED STATES AND SPECIFICALLY TO THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY HERE. ONLY YESTERDAY PRESS REPORTED STATEMENTS BY MINISTER OF MINES AND HYDROCARBONS THAT USG “IS BADLY ADVISED ON PETROLEUM MATTERS.” ACCORDING TO THE PRESS, THE MINISTER IS SUBSEQUENTLY QUOTED AS SAYING THAT “UNITED STATES EXPERTS TRY TO CONVINCE THEIR GOVERNMENT THAT THEY CAN BE SELF-SUFFICIENT, THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE DEPENDENT ON OUR OIL...THIS POLICY IS CONTRARY TO ALL ESTIMATES...THE UNITED STATES IS ILL-ADVISED AND I BELIEVE IT IS BEING ENGINEERED BY INTERESTS THAT RUN COUNTER TO THOSE OF THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF NORTH AMERICA.” SHOULD AN AMERICAN AMBASSADOR USE SUCH LANGUAGE HERE IN CARACAS TOWARD VENEZUELA, HE WOULD BE DECLARED PERSONA NON GRATA FORTHWHILE. THIS MORNING’S PRESS BURGEONS WITH LARGE HEADLINES SAYING THAT AFTER A PARTY WITH PRESIDENT CALDERA, COPEI WAS ALL THE MORE FIRMLY RESOLVED TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL PATRIMONY OF PETROLEUM.

2. IN OTHER WORDS, THE ATMOSPHERE HERE IS BECOMING BRITTLE. CALDERA HAS CONVINCED HIMSELF THAT THE MAJOR OIL COMPANIES ARE MOUNTING A GIGANTIC CONSPIRACY OF REPRISAL AGAINST VENEZUELA AND NO VOICE IS RAISED TO DISPUTE THIS ASSERTION.

3. IN THIS SITUATION, I URGENTLY RECOMMEND THAT PRESIDENT NIXON [Page 2] RESPOND TO PRESIDENT CALDERA’S LETTER OF DECEMBER 31 (CARACAS 094). THIS WILL AT LEAST SERVE TO QUIET CALDERA DOWN AND TO KEEP THE DOOR OPEN.

4. I RECOMMEND THAT LETTER FROM PRESIDENT NIXON START BY REFERENCE TO VENEZUELA’S UNILATERAL ACT IN DENOUNCING OUR BILATERAL TRADE AGREEMENT; THAT IT CONTINUE SAYING THAT THIS DECISION BY VENEZUELA HAS MERITED THE MOST SERIOUS STUDY BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES; AND THAT PRESENTLY THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR TO VENEZUELA WILL BE AUTHORIZED TO INITIATE CONVERSATIONS COVERING THREE POINTS. THESE POINTS WOULD BE: THE PROPER ORDINANCE OF OUR COMMERCIAL AND TRADE RELATIONS; THE DEVELOPMENT OF MUTUAL ADVANTAGE OF OUR PETROLEUM RELATIONSHIPS; AND THE CREATION OF A PROPITIOUS ATMOSPHERE FOR UNITED STATES INVESTMENT IN VENEZUELA LOOKING TOWARD THE BENEFIT OF BOTH NATIONS.
GP–4.
MCCLINTOCK

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 797, Country Files, Latin America, Venezuela, Vol. 2, 1972. Secret; Priority; Exdis. A stamped notation on the telegram indicates that it was received in the White House Situation Room at 5:15 p.m. on February 9. Caldera’s December 31, 1971 letter to Nixon informed him that Venezuela would unilaterally terminate the Reciprocal Trade Agreement between itself and the United States. (ibid., Box 765, Presidential Correspondence, 1969–1974, Venezuela, President Caldera) Nixon responded to Caldera’s letter on February 17, in which he proposed to start negotiations with Venezuela on the United States-Venezuela trading relationship. (ibid.)
  2. Ambassador McClintock recommended that President Nixon write to President Caldera to mitigate the Venezuelan Government’s negative reaction to U.S. petroleum policy toward the country.