298. Paper Prepared in the White House1

1. Pezzullo’s Return to Nicaragua: Ambassador Pezzullo reports that Tomas Borge welcomed him in the name of the government of national reconstruction (GNR) upon his arrival in Managua on Saturday.2 While critical of some of our actions in the past during the Somoza era, Borge told the ambassador and the attending press that the GNR shared the democratic principles valued by the U.S. and applauded the Carter administration’s championing of human rights. Later in Pezzullo’s office during a discussion of the security situation, Borg surprisingly stated that he would like to see the U.S. send a military mission to help train their armed forces. Pezzullo comments that sending Borge to greet him at the airport was a significant gesture by the new government. They selected the individual they knew would be most suspect to us and had him carry the olive branch. Ambassador Pezzullo met again on Sunday with Borge who reiterated his request for U.S. military and economic assistance. On the military side he said the government needs helicopters, planes, tanks and artillery and that they had the expertise to operate and maintain such equipment. Pezzullo cautioned Borge against any expectation of receiving the high-profile types of [Page 725] weapons he was seeking and stated that a careful survey of the needs of the armed forces they contemplate was a necessary first step. Borge replied that it would be difficult for any American military to enter Nicaragua at this time but would discuss it with his colleagues. Pezzullo observes that Borge is clearly one of the principal movers in the GRN and is comfortable speaking for the GRN on a broad range of issues. He is decisive, frank and gives every appearance of wanting to develop a close personal relationship with us. (Managua 3388, PSN 46616: Managua 3382, PSN 44788)3 (S)

2. Recommended U.S. Economic Assistance to GRN: Ambassador Pezzullo asks to be authorized by COB today to discuss a $10 million emergency grant when he presents his credentials to the GRN tomorrow or Wednesday.4 Pezzullo thinks it important that our first reconstruction assistance package not lay behind other donors and feels it particularly desireable to have our aid agreement be the first signed by the GRN. He also recommends that a Title I PL–48 program for 15,000 tons of wheat for the balance of this first year be approved as soon as possible.5 Pezzullo is also recommending a $500,000 operational program grant, or more, to help meet emergency needs of Funde cooperatives throughout the country which are a symbol of the private sector. (Managua 3379, PSN 44703, 44698)6 (C)

3. Consultations with Colombia on Central America: Assistant Secretary Vaky termed his discussions with Colombian President Turbay and Foreign Minister Urbie as being the most significant and impressive of his current trip. Turbay’s basic theme was that a new cooperative relationship between Latin America and us needed to be developed; that the U.S. had to demonstrate more tangibly our interest in the region; that Colombia was prepared to work with us and that what [Page 726] ought to be developed is a “new dimension.” Turbay specifically asked that the White House be sounded out as to the President’s receptivity to receiving a joint letter from a significant group of Latin American chiefs of state inviting him to join them in a dialogue to give “new dimensions” to our relations.7 Foreign Minister Urbie outlined a number of imaginative initiatives Colombia would be willing to undertake with regard to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Commenting on Nicaragua, Turbay noted that the communist powers are behaving as though they have a major strategic interest in Central America; they have their friends and are supporting them. The best bet to counter the Cuban-Soviet strategy is to copy it and support the moderates. Humanitarian assistance, Turbay continued, provides a rationale for intervention that cannot be denounced as intervention. U.S. assistance must be substantial enough to be visibly the most important and larger than that provided by Cuba or the Soviet Union. (Bogota 7902, PSN 44551, 44553, 44555)8 (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 36, Nicaragua: 7/24–31/79. Secret. Carter initialed the top of the page and wrote: “Zbig.”
  2. July 21.
  3. Pezzullo described his meeting with Borge in telegram 3388 from Managua, July 30. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 36, Nicaragua: 7/24–31/79) Pezzullo described Borge’s greeting at the airport in telegram 3382 from Managua, July 28. (Ibid.) Telegram 197806 to Managua, July 30, noted the Department’s “general sense” that “Borge is not a long-term friend of the US and our objectives” and instructed Pezzullo to give “primary attention to contacts with the Junta and Cabinet members who more clearly wish an open society” and to “tread carefully” regarding the request for military assistance. (Ibid.)
  4. August 1. Brzezinski wrote in the margin next to this sentence: “We have $8 mill; if you direct it, we can go up to $10 m.”
  5. Carter drew arrows in the margin pointing to these last two sentences and wrote: “ok.” Brzezinski wrote underneath Carter’s comment and beside the final sentence of the paragraph: “If directed, can be done.” The reference to “PL–48” is an apparent typo for P.L.–480.
  6. In telegram 3379 from Managua, July 28, the Embassy included an economic assessment of post-revolutionary Nicaragua and aid recommendations. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 36, Nicaragua: 7/24–31/79)
  7. Brzezinski underlined the portion of this sentence beginning with “to” and ending with “letter” and wrote in margin: “Explore with Cy.”
  8. Vaky described his consultations with Colombia on Central America in telegram 7902 from Bogotá, July 28. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 7, Central America: 6/79–7/79)