681. Telegram 3557/Secto 23 From Secretary of State Rogers to the Department of State1 2

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Memorandum of Conversation:

  • FM Aristides Calvani (Venezuela): Petroleum; II. Terrorism; III. World Disarmament Conference; IV. Cuba; September 27, 1972, 11:00 am; 30A Waldorf



  • Venezuela: FM Aristides Calvani, Permanent Rep Diaz; U.S.—The Secretary, Mr. Poole, (reporting officer), Mr. Seidenman (interpreter)

2. Summary: I. In bilateral conversation with the Secretary, Venezuelan FM Calvani described GOV’s middle and long range petroleum plans in terms of meeting both Venezuelan and U.S. security requirements with respect to assured markets and supplies, respectively, and invited US participation in development of Orinoco oil belt, including USG assistance in financing collateral agricultural development in area. The Secretary commented that this is a matter we should continue to discuss. II. On subject of terrorism, Calvani thought Venezuela’s position was [Page 2] similar to ours. He agreed on need for international regulation, but thought it important not to go too fast since there were problems of definition and dangers of giving some governments tools against human dignity. The Secretary disagreed, stressing that delay does not improve solutions and urging prompt action to deal with certain terrorist crimes against innocent persons which cannot be excused irrespective of motive. He also urged Venezuelan ratification of conventions dealing with hijacking. III. The Secretary stated USG does not think time is ripe for world disarmament conference. IV. Calvani did not reach last subject he intended to raise, i.e., Cuba, but outlined in advance to area advisor his question why spirit of detente with China should not also be applied by US to Cuba as well as his concern over possibility that USG, after elections, will change policy toward Cuba in way to leave LA countries in invidious position of having to follow US lead.

I. Petroleum

3. FM Calvani, speaking mainly in English, referred to conversations in Caracas with Ambassador McClintock and James Akins (Director, Office of Fuels and Energy) on Venezuelan petroleum policy and on programs for Orinoco oil belt. He described former as one of rational production to sell oil at good price while maintaining reasonable reserves. GOV has no ceiling on production and recognizes need for new exploration and exploitation for which foreign financing is essential. Hence Venezuela is open to discussion re projects in Orinoco and elsewhere. He commented that oil is political subject for both Venezuela and US, involving US security with respect to sources and Venezuelan security for future, including access to US market. Venezuela attempting to diversify in other fields but such development is dependent on resources provided by oil.

4. Calvani said GOV is thinking in terms of middle and long range plans, which will meet both Venezuelan and [Page 3] US security requirements. Initially this will include exploration in Orinoco oil belt, in which foreign oil companies are interested, as well as complementary measures for rural development in same area. Latter program also requires foreign financing, some from oil companies (e.g. free assistance provided to peasants by Shell), but GOV hopes also to interest USG in cooperating in financing government-to-government basis, perhaps through financial corporation, in fields of agricultural development such as cattle.

5. The Secretary commented that this is a topic we should continue to discuss. He appreciated GOV’s desire to cooperate on oil as this was of course important for U.S., and remarked favorably on the fact that Venezuela has no production ceiling. How the developmental program occurs, whether between GOV and oil companies or on government-to-government basis, would be subject of discussion but we would in any event like to see oil companies involved. The Secretary thanked Calvani for his contribution to these conversations.

II. Terrorism

6. Calvani raised subject of terrorism, stating GOV’s position is similar to ours and referring to GOV position taken in OAS. However, he thought it important not to go too fast. He agreed on need for international regulation but also stressed need for definition. Saw problem in giving some governments a tool against human dignity.

7. The Secretary, speaking as a friend, said he did not agree. He stated delay would mean unwillingness to face up to issue, adding that time does not improve solutions and that problem should be dealt with now. How many more crimes must be committed before we act? The Secretary agreed that some areas are difficult to define, but some are clear such as hijacking which endangers innocent lives. Moreover, dictatorial regimes do not need a UN resolution if they wish to act against people. Pilots have indicated they will not fly planes to countries which act like Algeria.

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8. The Secretary urged Venezuela to ratify Hague and Montreal conventions on hijacking. Calvani did not have at hand precise status ratification process of these and OAS convention on terrorism, but stated this is being explained in his answer to Secretary’s note.

9. Reverting to urgency of matter, the Secretary said if international body cannot deal pragmatically with problem of terrorism, we would have very pessimistic view. Just because problem is a tough one is no excuse to delay or talk to death. Referring to mail bombs, hijackings, kidnapping of diplomats, threats to international organizations, Olympics and Lod murders, he said American people would not understand UN inaction when so much time devoted to discussion of impractical matters. Some fear we might make mistakes, but greatest mistake would be delay.

10. When Calvani illustrated difficulties by citing case of desperate Soviet Jews escaping in hijacked plane, Secretary agreed there were difficulties but stated there is no doubt in case of hijacking commercial planes endangering lives of innocent persons, whatever the motive. [Page 5] Individual plight and right of asylum does not give right to endanger or kill innocent persons. Referring to those who say root causes must be taken into account, the Secretary said this would be tantamount to excusing all shock when governments excuse murder as in case of those who speak of Munich terrorists as martyrs. The Secretary reiterated that USG feels very strongly about problem and will do everything it can to stop it.

III. World disarmament conference

11. The Secretary briefly raised the question of a WDC, stating USG does not think the time is ripe and are making headway through other talks.

IV. Cuba

12. Time did not permit Calvani to get to third topic he planned to raise, i.e. Cuba, which he had explained in advance to LA area adviser Poole in following terms: On the one hand, he wonders why spirit of detente applied to China but US would not also apply to Cuba. On other hand, he is uneasy over possibility that USG following November elections will change its policy toward Cuba in such a way as to leave LA countries in invidious position of having to follow US lead. He referred to degree to which Cuban interventionism had decreased in various LA countries including Venezuela, although he acknowledged it had not yet ended and mentioned he had told the Peruvians that their move toward Cuba was premature. Poole referred to the Secretary’s explanation of USG position in his April 12, 1972 speech to OAS General Assembly. After bilateral conversation, Calvani expressed satisfaction that memo outlining his concerns had been given to the Secretary.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 2 VEN. Confidential. Repeated for information to Caracas.
  2. This telegram transmitted a memorandum of conversation of a meeting that took place on September 27 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in which U.S. and Venezuelan officials largely agreed on petroleum policy, but disagreed about a policy to combat terrorism. They also discussed the world disarmament conference and Cuba.