86. Telegram 327 From the Embassy in Bolivia to the Department of State1 2

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  • La Paz 324

1. At his invitation I talked with President Ovando at his home for two hours evening January 22. Central topic was possibility of another sensational argued-as-style public denunciation of CIA in Bolivia, [text not declassified]

2. Ovando said MinMines Quiroga Santa Cruz had brought to him January 21 two avowed communists, one of whom he identified as Aneiva, who demonstrated to him in utterly convincing detail that they had been double agents in min government under Arguedas and who announced their intention to stage another expose of CIA and alleged Bolivian collaborators. They apparently impressed Ovando with wealth of photographic and other presumptive “evidence” supporting their stories. [text not declassified]

3. Ovando asked what to do, i took this opportunity to make the following points to him with all the clarity and emphasis at my command: (a) I came to Bolivia instructed by my President to work for the best possible mutual relationship between our countries and I intended to do this as long as the Bolivians permitted me to. (b) In pursuit of this objective I came with, and maintain, an [Page 2] attitude of complete good will and which an open mind and heart on every problem affecting both our countries. (c) Disappointingly, I found that even before my arrival someone had launched a contrived campaign to sabotage my mission by whipping up a national psychosis on CIA and fabricating an outrageous series of allegations linking me with its alleged nefarious activities. The GOB thus far had done little or nothing to dissociate itself from and minimize this effort to harm our relations. (d) The crucial question is, does the GOB accept or condone the campaign of vilification against myself and the CIA. If it does, there can be no basis for any useful function in Bolivia by myself or any other American Ambassador. If it does not, it is imperative that the GOB say so publicly. (e) With respect to alleged CIA activities mentioned above, I had no personal knowledge of them whatsoever. [text not declassified] In any event I could guarantee that nothing of this nature had occurred since that time, and certainly not since my arrival in Bolivia. (f) A re-run of Arguedas-type accusations could only harm the GOB and relations with US.

4. Ovando readily agreed with all this and assured me “one thousand percent” of his intention publicly to uphold my position and the legitimacy of the USG mission in Bolivia. He said Quiroga himself had no doubts or suspicions about me personally, and that neither Quiroga nor any other GOB official would associate himself with the accusations described above. He said that since our first meeting he had lost no opportunity to tell his Cabinet of his complete trust in me.

5. [text not declassified] I agreed on desirability of this, and it will take place.

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6. [text not declassified] Comment: I believe that it is in Ovando’s interest to suppress or minimize the threatened scandal, that he desires constructive relations with US (see septels which will follow on his hopes for our cooperation on Gulf problem, MAP, investment, literacy, etc.) and that therefore this is no trickery involved. [text not declassified]

7. [text not declassified]

8. [text not declassified]

9. Ovando throughout was friendly, relaxed and even discursive, himself delaying my departure past the hour obviously scheduled for a meeting of the Cabinet, which [Page 4] assembled in another room during our conversation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 770, Country Files, Latin America, Bolivia, Vol. 1 1969–1970. Secret; Exdis; Immediate; Eyes Only for Assistant Secretary Meyer. The telegram was stamped “White House Situation Room ’70 Jan 23 pm 5:26.”
  2. Ambassador Siracusa reported a two hour meeting with President Ovando. Ovando assured Siracusa that the Government of Bolivia did not concur with what Siracusa termed a “campaign of vilification” against him and that Ovando fully trusted the Ambassador.