82. Telegram 9124 From the Embassy in Bolivia to the Department of State1

9124. Subject: Guidance on Human Rights Provisions of New Security Assistance Legislation. Ref: (A) State 231122, (B) State 045319.

1. I called on Foreign Minister, Air Force General Oscar Adriazola, on November 12 to discuss human rights sections in the new security legislation and to leave a note containing the text of those provisions. The Foreign Minister said he would examine the legislation carefully and expressed hope that it did not establish conditions to be met before providing security assistance. If that were to be so, it would infringe the sovereignty of recipient countries and he, personally, would recommend that Bolivia not accept assistance so conditioned. I explained that current legislation calls for analysis of treatment of human rights in each country receiving security assistance and that these reports will serve as a basis for Presidential and congressional decisions as to maintaining, modifying or suspending assistance. The Foreign Minister concluded that this is not conditioned assistance and expressed the hope that Congress and the U.S. executive branch make every effort to understand the circumstances in the Southern Cone which have led to the military taking power. He expressed his personal view that our officials are relying too much on exaggerated press reports which in large measure are based on self-serving allegations from extremists who are trying to undermine governments which came to power to rescue nations from Communist and Marxist domination.

2. Foreign Minister Adriazola said that the United States is the leader of the Western world in a desperate fight against communism. Bolivia and the Southern Cone countries consider themselves allies of the U.S. and respect the U.S. as the leader in this fight. Yet Southern Cone countries are dismayed when the U.S. virtually turns against military governments even when they have taken power to halt the takeover by communism. Allende was taking Chile into the Soviet camp; Torres was [Page 236] facilitating the communization of Bolivia; Perón was permitting the fracturing of Argentine society and allowing the increasing militancy of armed leftists within that country; the Tupamaros in Uruguay almost brought that country to chaos from which the Communists would have been the beneficiaries. Those forces pressing for Communist control have long used violence and terrorism. Abuses of human rights are tools for Communist subversion and disruption. Criminal acts such as those must be dealt with, according to the Foreign Minister. As allies of the U.S. in the worldwide fight against communism, the Southern Cone countries think that what they have done by overthrowing alien ideologies and preserving legitimate societies is a major contribution in the worldwide anti-Communist fight of the U.S. Rhetorically he posed this question, quote “would the U.S. prefer for us to become enslaved by Communist forces who have no respect for human rights or for us to maintain respect for human rights for the masses but deal effectively with criminal elements seeking to undermine orthodox institutions?” Unquote.

3. In the case of Bolivia, the Minister in effect lectured to me. He cited freedom of the press, which the SIP just confirmed in its Williamsburg meeting, as the greatest brake on abuses of human rights. He said that the GOB does not have a policy of repression and maintains its courts and legal system open and free without manipulation. He asserted that the military regimes which have come to power in the Southern Cone did not do so in the quest for power or to establish dictatorial governments. They are the legitimate guardians of freedom of the population from subversion, violence, terrorism, and domination by communism. The struggle goes on and the regimes must continue to be vigilant in defense of the interests of the people. The regimes understand the difference between dissent and subversion; permit the former as witness the free press in Bolivia. He complained that the U.S. Congress does not understand what subversion is and has taken a one-sided position, colored by media, academics, exiles, etc. He mused that when Communists suppress human rights as a conscious policy the Congress seems very little concerned. But let a Latin American military government restrain a Communist agitator from subversion and there is an immediate negative reaction.

4. The Minister closed by suggesting that the U.S. push the United Nations Human Rights Commission to become more active in the question of human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Mainland China as a necessary step to root out clearly conscious policies of gross violations of human rights. He said it would be interesting to investigate Mexico. He repeated his request that the U.S. executive branch do what it can to try to help U.S. Congressmen to get facts before legislating and [Page 237] to understand the realities of Southern Cone military regimes so as to have a clearer perspective on human rights.

  1. Summary: In a conversation with Ambassador Stedman, Foreign Minister Oscar Adriazola complained that U.S. human rights policy restricted security assistance and made it difficult for Bolivia to fight communism.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760426–0101. Confidential. In telegram 231122 to all diplomatic and consular posts, September 17, the Department discussed “explicit congressional policy guidance on human rights matters [that] definitively links provision of security assistance to human rights observance.” (Ibid., D760353–0445) In telegram 45319 to all diplomatic posts, February 25, the Department explained the requirement that Embassies report on human rights policies. (Ibid., D760071–0412)