71. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Venezuela1

43981. Exdis for Ambassador Vaky. Subject: Presidential Reply to Perez Letter on Nicaragua. Please deliver following letter to President Perez from President Carter dated February 17, 1978.

Begin text: Dear Mr. President:

I very much appreciated your thoughtful letter of January 31.2 I want to affirm the importance I attach to our agreement to exchange views on all matters, but especially on the defense and enhancement of human rights. I have been giving careful thought to your letter.

I share your concern about the tumultuous situation which has developed in Nicaragua. There are two important issues at stake: the status of human rights in Nicaragua and the evolution of the Nicaraguan political system.

Your description of the human rights situation in Nicaragua was a moving one. We are in complete agreement on the need for an urgent visit by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. My Ambassador in Managua has informed President Somoza of our concern and has suggested that the Government of Nicaragua invite the commission for an urgent visit. After receiving your letter, I instructed my Ambassador to speak to President Somoza again and repeat our request. If we do not receive a positive response soon, our governments should consult on the most effective way to secure President Somoza’s cooperation.

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On the broader issue of political change in Nicaragua, I would like to share my thoughts with you. I deeply respect your strong feelings about the need for fundamental and democratic political change in Nicaragua.

We can and will voice our preference for increased democratization in all countries, and have done so regarding Nicaragua. We can and will be prepared to support basic human rights and to shape our policies toward this end. But we will not intervene or impose specific political solutions for individual countries. I know that our two governments will act as one on these issues.

In this period of political crisis in Nicaragua, the U.S. Government has suspended new arms transfers and withheld some economic assistance to the Somoza regime, and he is clearly aware that he is on his own. Though our sympathies are clearly in favor of steady evolution toward greater democracy, I am convinced that the Nicaraguans can only build a viable and lasting democracy that responds to their own particular needs, if they undertake and complete the task themselves.

Because of your knowledge and long experience with Nicaraguan and Central American politics, I value your counsel as the situation develops. I agree that we cannot remain indifferent to human rights violations in Nicaragua and elsewhere, and I am proud that we speak together on this.


Signed Jimmy Carter

His Excellency

Carlos Andres Perez

President of the Republic of Venezuela


P.S. (Handwritten) Best wishes. I look forward to seeing you in Caracas. End text of letter.

When you deliver the letter to President Perez, the President would like you to deliver the following oral message: “We sincerely regret the delay. We fully understand the importance of the issue. Indeed the response was delayed precisely because your letter raised many very difficult questions, which led us to reexamine our longstanding policy to Nicaragua and to the entire question of the appropriate role for the United States Government in similar situations.”

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of the Office of the Deputy Secretary, Warren Christopher, Lot 81D113, Box 17, Human Rights—Nicaragua II. Confidential; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by text received from the White House; cleared in S/S–O; approved by McNeill (ARA).
  2. See footnote 3, Document 68.