352. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Your Meeting with Honduran General Paz (C)2

Though superficially stable now, Honduras is next. The Cubans have stepped up their training of guerrillas and are using the apparatus of the Honduran Communist Party (PCH) to funnel arms, funds, and guerrillas to the more immediate struggle in El Salvador. At the same time, the Cubans are reported to be building up the PCH to be the base for the eventual struggle in Honduras. (S)

You will only have thirty minutes with Paz. I suggest you use the time to make three points:

(1) Communism/Democracy. We recognize the threat to Central America, but are convinced that the best way to defeat that threat is to undertake essential social reforms, to invest in economic development, and to open up the political process. We are therefore deeply concerned about reports that your (General Paz’s) government may not be impartial with regard to the constituent assembly elections on April 20.3 We hope that you will eventually permit the Christian Democratic Party and other legitimate political parties to participate in free [Page 870] elections in Honduras, and that you will become known as the man who brought civilian democracy to Honduras. To the extent that the Honduran government maintains its commitment to human rights, free elections, democracy, and development, the U.S. will be a firm and determined supporter. (S)

(2) Border Dispute. We sincerely hope that the Honduran government exhibits a spirit of compromise in its negotiations over border problems with the Government of El Salvador. We are prepared to use our good offices if you request. This is an important moment to try to conclude an agreement and reestablish diplomatic relations as it will help to strengthen a good, moderate government in El Salvador and make it easier for both countries to help each other with the terrible threat that confronts the region. (S)

(3) Security Threat. Because of Honduras’ fine record on human rights and its commitment to development, we are eager to help you build up the capability to stop the flow of arms and guerrillas to El Salvador and prevent the establishment of a guerrilla network in Honduras. (S)4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 16, Honduras. Secret. Sent for information. Carter wrote on the first page of the memorandum: “El Povener, Tegusagalpo.” Telegram 848 from Tegucigalpa, February 6, relayed Paz’s request to meet with Carter, which Jaramillo endorsed. An unknown hand wrote on the telegram: “Pres: I will see him briefly.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor Files, Country Files, Box 25, Honduras: 1–4/80)
  2. For the memorandum of conversation, see Document 353. Vance provided a memorandum for Carter, dated February 28 and initialed by Carter, in preparation for Carter’s meeting with Paz. Vance noted four objectives: “To reiterate our support for Honduran security in a troubled region. To urge the Paz regime to move ahead toward an agreement ending a ten year break in relations with El Salvador. To demonstrate our support for a regime which has a good human rights record and is committed to more equitable economic and social development. To support the Paz Government through a difficult transition to civilian rule.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Freedom of Information/Legal, Kimmitt, Arms Transfers/Country File, Box 19, Honduras, 3/77–1/81)
  3. In telegram 951 from Tegucigalpa, February 12, Jaramillo noted that Paz had expressed “serious misgivings” about the upcoming April 20 elections and added that Paz “had been very impressed by his” recent conversations with U.S. officials who “made strong case for inclusion of Christian Democrats.” Jaramillo urged Paz not to postpone the elections. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800076–0485)
  4. See Documents 412 and 413.