349. Telegram From the Embassy in Honduras to the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Commander in Chief, Southern Command1

355. Subject: (U) General McAuliffe’s Meetings with Honduran Junta. Ref: Tegucigalpa 0260 (DTG 161522Z Jan 79 Notal).2

1. (C-Entire text)

2. Following up on Ambassador Jaramillo’s meeting with General Paz (reftel), USCINCSO Lieutenant General McAuliffe called on Honduran Military Junta on January 18 in order to discuss U.S. decision to eliminate FMS credits for Honduras in FY 1980. Charge, MILGP Commander Colonel Seely and Major Felician of SOUTHCOM were present also.

3. McAuliffe noted that President Carter had pledged to reduce U.S. budget as well as U.S. arms sales throughout the world. He stated that security assistance had already undergone sharp reductions and would suffer even greater cuts in FY 1980. With the exception of the Dominican Republic, there would be no FMS credits in Central America or the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic is an exception, McAuliffe continued, because of the new, democratically elected government and the fact that elections were honored after many pressures to change results. Panama will have a program too, McAuliffe explained, because it is required by the Canal Treaty for the next ten years.

4. USCINCSO said it is difficult to explain why FMS credits are being cut but easy to misinterpret the reasons, which is why he came. Fundamentally, he noted that credits will go to those countries that have democratically elected governments, and to those that have demonstrated care and protection for human rights.

5. From the U.S. military point of view, Honduras is a special case, USCINCSO observed. It has a good record on human rights; its government is committed to democratic elections next year; and in a turbulent region, Honduras has maintained peace, achieved economic growth and cared for its citizens. McAuliffe commented that this is [Page 863] probably the only country in the region not threatened by terrorism thanks to the government’s caring for the people.

6. As a result, McAuliffe underlined the U.S. desire for a close military relationship, notwithstanding the cut in credits. FMS cash sales and IMET would continue. McAuliffe emphasized the U.S. desire for continued good relations.

7. Speaking for Junta, General Paz said that Honduras understood U.S. policy; it was for President Carter to decide.

8. Paz then asked what U.S. would do if a problem arose for Honduras in this turbulent region. He asked if U.S. would help at the preventive stage, before the problem existed already. General McAuliffe responded that the U.S. would carefully consider a Honduran request, judging it on the merits. Paz said that if they detect a problem, they would want help before there is trouble. (Paz was not more explicit.)

9. Paz said that Honduras is headed for an electoral process which could create conflict as the political parties vie to gain adherents. He expressed appreciation for IMET and narcotics assistance. He also noted Honduras FMS credit arrearages but McAuliffe assured Paz that these did not enter into FMS decision.

10. USCINCSO observed that FMS credit program cuts were affecting all countries of the region but that Honduras was only one he was visiting in order to explain U.S. decision because of our desire to preserve good relationships, given Honduras’ position in Central America.

11. McAuliffe also praised Honduras neutral stance toward Nicaragua as well as efforts to settle Honduras/El Salvador dispute via mediation.3

12. This message has been coordinated with General McAuliffe.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790027–0985. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Guatemala City, San Salvador, San José, Panama City, and Managua.
  2. In telegram 260 from Tegucigalpa, January 16, the Embassy described Jaramillo’s January 15 meeting with Paz in order to “convey decision to eliminate FMS financing for Honduras in FY 1980.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790027–0785.)
  3. The Summary of Conclusions from the June 11 PRC meeting on Central America noted that the “human rights situation in Honduras is much better than in neighboring countries, and the USG should therefore try to increase our aid levels to Honduras as a way to show its neighbors that we are prepared to reward better performance. DOD also agreed to try to reprogram FMS and IMET funding toward Honduras this year and in future years. The USG will work to encourage a return to civilian government by free and fair elections in April 1980.” See Documents 470 and 472.