350. Telegram From the Department of State to Embassy in Honduras1

215209. For Ambassador Jaramillo. Subject: Policy Toward Honduras.

1. C-Entire text

2. The President has approved PRC recommendation of August 2, 1979,2 that Honduras should be given priority in economic assistance in order to demonstrate our willingness to support a government in the Central American region which has a relatively good Human Rights record and is committed to development and to a return to democratic constitutional government. We are seeking modest increases in security assistance to Honduras. We are also consulting with like-minded Latin American governments about ways to encourage multilateral support for moderate democratic change.

3. In line with this policy we are exploring the possibility of additional AID assistance for Honduras. This is the reason we sent Abelardo Valdez to Honduras last week and on the basis of his report we will study possible increases in such areas as an impact program covering such items as community development, access trails, materials for self-help housing and expanded agricultural credits.3 The AID Mission which has just visited Honduras did so to develop details for such projects.

4. It is also our intention to seek a modest increase in the IMET proposal for Honduras for 1980 and a modest FMS financing program. FYI: We will propose a reprogramming of FMS financing to Honduras on the order of 3–5 million dollars. End FYI.

5. We believe it now important for us to inform President Paz that we intend to look into increasing US economic and security assistance [Page 865] to Honduras because of the Honduran record on human rights and its commitment to development and political liberalization. You may make the following points:

—As we have indicated before, we are indeed concerned about the situation in Central America and the potential for extremism that exists.

—We are prepared to assist in combatting the spread of Castroist subversion and in fostering measures that will prevent radicalization and lower tensions.

—It is our belief that the best defense against subversion and the actions of extremists to exploit instability and injustice is a program which provides for human rights, democratization and economic and social justice.

—The United States is prepared to help preserve peace in the region by assisting those societies willing to structure themselves in ways that reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen political and civil liberties and equitable development.

—The United States Government is looking into ways to increase economic and security assistance and to support your programs. We are prepared to encourage other governments and the International Development Bank (IDB, IBRD) to help Honduras, and we intend to encourage private investors to help.

—We have come to this decision on the basis of the demonstrated commitment, as reflected in the report made by Mr. Valdez, of the Government of Honduras to accelerate economic development, especially directed toward the poor, and the responsible allocation of Honduran resources to achieve this goal. We are encouraged by Honduras’ good human rights record.

—In addition, the USG has noted with favor the continuing progress toward free elections in Honduras and the welcome opening of the political system to allow for the achievement of a truly democratic and pluralistic society. (FYI: You may want to encourage a continued opening and allow the Christian Democratic Party to participate fully and freely. You may also wish to encourage Paz to seek help in pursuing the democratic process from other democratic countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador, or Venezuela and from international organizations like the IAHRC. End FYI.) We are confident that this commitment will continue to be sustained through the difficult period that various countries of Central America are now passing. We are prepared to help you do this.

—With respect to security assistance, it will be recalled that Honduras was initially removed from the FY 1980 program of FMS because of budgetary constraints.4 Dependent on congressional action, we plan [Page 866] to reprogram funds to make available a continued FMS credit program for FY 1980 and thereafter. Moreover, we will seek an increase in the IMET allocations for FY 1980.5

6. For Andean Group Embassies: Please inform your Foreign Ministers in general terms of our intent to extend increased assistance to Honduras for the reasons mentioned. You should urge like contacts and positions on the part of host governments. Venezuelan President Herrera told Secretary Vance in Quito that Venezuela is considering increased assistance to Honduras. Ambassador Luers may want to pursue this. Ambassador Gonzalez may want to open a dialogue on Honduras with President Roldos and Admiral Poveda, encouraging them to think about ways to convey the lessons of the retorno6 to other governments like Honduras.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Freedom of Information/Legal, Kimmitt, Arms Transfers/Country File, Box 19, Honduras, 3/77–1/81. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information Immediate to Guatemala City, San Salvador, San José, Panama City, Managua, Caracas, Bogotá, Lima, Quito, and La Paz. Printed from a copy that was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Vaky; cleared in ARA, AID, I, ARA/CEN, DOD/ISA, NSC, S/P, HA, and OMB; approved by Christopher. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790374–0023)
  2. See Document 475.
  3. In telegram 4618 from Tegucigalpa, August 16, the Embassy described Valdez’s visit to Tegucigalpa, during which he described the Agency for International Development’s intention to commit up to $40 million to Honduran development. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790372–1205) No memoranda of conversation of Valdez’s meetings with Paz and Cabinet officials have been found.
  4. See Document 349.
  5. In telegram 4771 from Tegucigalpa, August 23, Jaramillo reported that she had met with Paz on August 22 to deliver these points. Jaramillo noted that Paz was “unusually tired, sentimental, and at times befuddled” but “was nevertheless extremely excited about my message of support for Honduras.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Freedom of Information/Legal, Kimmitt, Arms Transfers/Country File, Box 19, Honduras, 3/77–1/81) Telegram 4772 from Tegucigalpa, August 23, updated the Department that Jaramillo’s August 22 conversation “was held with a drunk General Paz” and that “the military have warned Paz to stay on the wagon or else.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840125–1689)
  6. Vance attended the inauguration of President Roldós in Quito August 9–12. The “retorno” process in Ecuador involved the return of civilian government following military rule. See the chapter on Ecuador scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIV, South America; Latin America Region.