142. Telegram From the Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State1

10477. For the Secretary. Subject: Disseminating Intelligence Related to Cuban/Soviet Operations Against the United States.

1. For some months there have been various indications that a campaign is under way in Mexico to criticize the United States, and the Carter administration in particular, for alleged hypocrisy in supporting human rights causes abroad while failing to protect or adequately respond to human rights violations in the United States involving Mexican-Americans and undocumented Mexican workers. As you know, concern about mistreatment of undocumented Mexican workers and other people of Hispanic background in the U.S. has long been a sensitive and emotional public issue in Mexico which frequently receives heavy coverage in the media. As one might expect, Mexican political groups on the left—especially the Mexican Communist Party (PCM) and the Socialist Workers Party (PST)—have been actively exploiting this issue, although manifestations of concern about human rights violations in the U.S. and an alleged lack of responsiveness are by no means confined to identifiable Communist leaders or organizations.

2. In recent months there has been a proliferation of visits and public statements by Chicano leaders and/or organizations (some with well-known regional or national reputations, but others relatively unknown to us) who have alleged mistreatment, discrimination or human rights violations in the U.S. and expressed public opposition to the President’s proposed legislative program for responding to the growing number of undocumented workers in the U.S.2 Their freedom of expression is not an issue or source of concern here; as American citizens they, of course, have every right to speak out publicly on any issue abroad or in the U.S. What is of concern, however, are fragmentary, informal, and often inconclusive comments by some of our Mexican contacts which tend to suggest or supplement other indications in the press that some of these Mexican-Americans have been in contact with the same Communist parties or organizations in Mexico which [Page 312] have publicly been exploiting the issue of alleged human rights violations in the U.S.

3. This apparent relationship, whether innocent or otherwise, raises some question in my mind and among members of my staff as to whether the Cubans and/or Soviets—acting directly or through leftist parties in Mexico—may be orchestrating a campaign involving Chicanos which is designed to undermine the credibility of President Carter’s human rights policy and indeed to mount a counteroffensive criticizing human rights violations against Hispanics (especially Mexican-Americans and undocumented Mexican workers) in the U.S.

4. [4½ lines not declassified] information from intelligence sources which confirms Cuban/Soviet involvement in contacts with certain individual leaders and Chicano groups. While this information has been forwarded to Washington, I understand that it has not been disseminated [less than 1 line not declassified] because of the U.S. Attorney General’s procedures related to Executive Order 12052.3

5. While I fully understand and am in accord with the intent of the cited Executive Order (to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens), I am also concerned about the proper handling and dissemination of intelligence information which might confirm a clandestine Soviet and/or Cuban intelligence operation aimed at discrediting the United States Government and its foreign policy. I thought that you should be aware of this situation which, if confirmed, could negatively impact on our good relations with Mexico and involve broader policy considerations of probable interest to other agencies, the National Security Council, and the Intelligence Community.

6. I would very much appreciate any comments and/or counsel you might be able to offer me regarding this matter.4

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Mexico, 1963–79. Secret; Roger Channel.
  2. On August 4, 1977, President Carter proposed to Congress actions to reduce the flow of undocumented aliens into the United States and to regulate the presence of those already in the country. (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book II, pp. 1416–1420) Congress did not act on the proposal.
  3. Reference is in error. Executive Order 12052 defined the membership of a committee on antitrust laws. The reference might be to Executive Order 12036, January 24, provisions of which include, “no intelligence operation would be undertaken against a U.S. citizen unless the President has authorized the type of activity involved and the Attorney General has both approved the particular activity and determined that there is probable cause to believe that the person is an agent of a foreign power.”
  4. No response to this telegram has been found.