124. Telegram 2846 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1

2846. For Kubisch from Mailliard. Subject: Cuban Sanctions

1. I went straight from the airport to see Facio last night accompanied by Chargé Lane and McNeil. Facio had taken the initiative to see us immediately. He sandwiched us in between reception and dinner for Gabriel Valdez.

2. We got down to business right away and I laid out our objections to any kind of OAS action (even the formation of a Committee of Inquiry) in the near future. We would have to fight all the way. The result would be a big [garble] in which the Rio Treaty would suffer, the OAS would suffer, and the only winner would be Castro. On the other hand, if he would delay until late in the year, say early December or late November, we would not object to a meeting then. I added that we basically shared the same goals, recognized the danger to the Rio Treaty, and wanted to work something out quietly with him. If he would wait, we would work with him, although I could not assure him how we would vote on the substance, which would depend on the situation.

3. Facio began by repeating that Costa Rica had no intention of resuming relations with Cuba, but he was convinced others were going to act unilaterally if some kind of OAS action were not initiated shortly. He, personally, was in no hurry, but his concern had to be to save the Rio Treaty, which had twice protected Costa Rica from aggression. He had been in communication with Venezuela in recent days (through his special envoy) and, just before our arrival, with Colombian Foreign Minister Vazquez by phone. Venezuela would vote for a Committee of Inquiry but would not cosponsor in order to keep its freedom of action, as he understood, to begin conversations with Cubans. (Given President Perez’s [Page 377] remarks to Ambassador McClintock, “freedom of action” could have other meanings.)

4. Vazquez had contacted Lopez Michelson in London who assented, so long as the Committee of Inquiry were proposed prior to his inauguration, otherwise he wanted freedom to move right away. Vazquez also informed Facio of the conversation with Amb Vaky [garble] this together, Facio felt he had to move very quickly or unilateral actions would make the whole thing meaningless.

5. I then told him in the most general terms that we had conflicting reports from Venezuela. I was going to Caracas and Ambassador Vaky would be trying to see Lopez Michelson before the inauguration to find out his views. Would he agree to hold off if we undertook to get commitments from Colombia and Venezuela to go along with a scenario in which they would wait for OAS action late in the year?

6. Facio immediately assented. He added that he did not want to embarrass the U.S., but as a matter of Costa Rican vital interests he had to do something to preserve the Rio Treaty. He would be willing to wait if they will wait. He asked me to inform him immediately of the results of our conversations with Venezuela since he might be going to Bogota Monday or Tuesday to talk to Lopez. I agreed and added I would still want to talk to him again if the results were negative to explore any possible alternatives. He again agreed provided events did not force his hand.

7. Facio also gave [garble] some helpful information on the procedures he envisages. We asked him about the phrase in his letter to Schacht saying that if the Committee of Inquiry judged that Cuba was no longer a threat to the peace and security of the hemisphere, then sanctions would be illegal. We said this could be embarrassing to a number of countries, and not just the U.S. and Costa Rica, who did not wish to renew relations. He said he was referring to the concept of sanctions, not to the sovereign right of [garble] State to determine whether it will have relations with another.

8. So far as the mechanisms were concerned, under the resolution of the ninth MFM instituting sanctions, the OAS Permanent Council is empowered only to lift them. However, an organ of consultation, either an FMF [ MFM?] or the OAS Council acting provisionally could by two-thirds majority adopt something like the Venezuelan proposal of last year freeing nations to renew relations with Cuba if they wished (in effect making sanctions optional).

Comment: We have a slight reprieve. It largely depends now on Venezuela and Colombia. In my judgement Facio was most forthcoming, but made it clear he could not hold back if he becomes convinced that unilateral action by others is imminent. He clearly wants not to embarrass us but is determined to prevent further erosion of the [Page 378] Rio Treaty. The whole picture becomes somewhat clearer having seen the latest Panamanian version of what is going on [less than 1 line not declassified].

I also note that Ambassador Vaky and Facio have made fundamentally similar assessments of the Colombian situation. Given these new reports, I suggest we begin to consider fallback positions.

Facio agreed to keep my visit quiet (he saw us alone). We leave for Caracas as scheduled.

  1. Summary: During a July 24 meeting with Facio, Mailliard explained U.S. objections to OAS action on Cuba and urged the Foreign Minister to delay any possible discussion of the subject in the regional forum until later in the year.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Box 779, Latin America, Costa Rica. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Bogotá and Caracas. In telegram 2639 from San José, July 11, the Embassy noted Costa Rican concern over the possible breakdown of the hemispheric security framework as some countries abandoned OAS sanctions on Cuba. It also reported Facio’s advocacy of an OAS meeting on Cuba’s status in the hemisphere. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740185–0460) In telegrams 3247 and 3339 from San José, August 26 and 31, the Embassy reported that Facio would accommodate the U.S. desire for a delay of final OAS action on Cuba until November. (Ibid., D740236–1245, D740235–0852, D740241–0996) A September 16 memorandum of conversation records a Kissinger-Facio discussion on possible OAS action on Cuba. (Ibid., P820097–2068) All brackets are in the original except those indicating garbled text or text that remains classified.