138. Backchannel Message From Vice President Mondale to President Carter1

827. I raised in some detail with Lopez Portillo the increased problem of Russian and Cuban intervention in the Horn of Africa and explained the potentially grave consequences.2 I said these interventions threaten US-Soviet relations and jeopardized the hope of improved relations with Cuba which the two of you had discussed.

President Lopez Portillo said he was aware of the gravity of the situation. He said he would be happy to do anything he could to alleviate tensions and would be willing to talk to the Cubans about it. He had the impression that Castro would not pay too much attention to Mexico on this issue but he would be willing to try.

It is my understanding that the Cuban Foreign Minister will be coming to Mexico in the near future which may provide an opportunity for Lopez Portillo to discuss the subject directly. I will have Ambassador Lucey follow up.3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 8, Backchannel Messages, Latin America, 6/77–12/78. Secret; Sensitive. Sent through Brzezinski.
  2. Mondale met with Lopez Portillo in Mexico City on January 20 and January 21. (Memorandum from Mondale to Carter, undated; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 48, Mexico, 1–12/78)
  3. During a meeting with Lucey in late March, Roel reported on his recent meeting with Castro in Havana; he also reiterated “Mexico’s full support for the U.S. goal of eliminating or reducing the Cuban presence in Africa.” Roel noted that he felt that the Cubans were deeply in debt to the Soviets for “support and assistance since 1959” and were now “paying a tribute in blood to the Soviets.” (Telegram 5205 from Mexico City, March 31; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780155–0924)