175. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Manley Visit; Bilateral Relations; Economic Assistance; Revere; Cuba; International Economic Questions; Western Hemisphere Politics


  • Jamaica

    • Foreign Minister Percival N.J. Patterson
    • Ambassador Alfred Rattray, Embassy of Jamaica
    • Mr. Frank Francis, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs
    • Mr. Robert Mason, Ministry of Finance
    • Mr. Thomas Stimpson, Counselor, Embassy of Jamaica
  • United States

    • The Secretary
    • The Deputy Secretary
    • Assistant Secretary-designate Terence A. Todman, ARA
    • James E. Thyden, ARA/CAR (notetaker)
[Page 425]

Secretary Vance opened the conversation by welcoming Patterson for a full exchange of views on topics of mutual interest, including Southern Africa and the Middle East. Patterson said he was glad to be here and looked forward to the discussion because he wanted to do everything possible to maintain good relations between Jamaica and the U.S. The two countries could make significant contributions to world peace and comity.

Manley Visit

Patterson said he brought best wishes from Prime Minister Manley, who hopes for a meeting soon with President Carter. The Secretary asked Patterson to convey warm greetings to Manley and said that, although the President has an extremely tight schedule now and many foreign visitors, we want to arrange a visit for Manley and will try to find a mutually convenient time.

Patterson said Manley also has problems at home that require his full attention, but the sooner the meeting could be arranged, the better. Manley would be ready for discussions whenever convenient for the President.

Patterson recalled that he and Mrs. Manley had met then-Governor Carter in Atlanta in 1972. He said the Jamaican Government (GOJ) has been greatly impressed with the President’s energy and zeal and his willingness to work for economic justice and equality. Patterson thought it not inappropriate for Manley to be received also as a representative of the Third World.

Bilateral Relations

Patterson said the GOJ places great emphasis on good relations with the U.S. There has been a long, close relationship. Constant dialogue is necessary to maintain this or misunderstandings will arise, especially if one tries to conduct communications in the press. Patterson said that in preparation for this visit he had reviewed the range of U.S./Jamaican interests and was surprised to find how few real issues there are between us.

The Secretary responded that he, too, wants to have a dialogue. Too often issues arise which should not even exist and could be prevented by a conversation. Then relations would not be damaged by press articles.

Patterson asserted that in objectives the U.S. and Jamaica are similar. We both want to do what we can to remove exploitation, recognize the dignity of mankind, and relieve poverty. We cannot always pursue these goals by the same methods because of differences in our history and levels of development. Despite these differences, we share a common target.

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The Secretary agreed and added that each must pursue these goals by methods best suited to our respective countries. The USG accepts that and will not interfere in the methods Jamaica chooses.

Economic Assistance

Patterson discussed some of his government’s economic and social development plans, and said the GOJ is trying by a variety of techniques to involve the people in making decisions. Establishment of cooperatives, reduction of illiteracy, and more democracy in schools and industry are parts of the program to develop Jamaica’s human resources. He described the World Bank-supported Sites and Services Program for making permanent, livable communities out of squatter settlements, and he expressed appreciation for USAID assistance in housing and road construction. At the Secretary’s request, Patterson described GOJ problems and policies in public health and education.

Patterson said unemployment of 23% is Jamaica’s most desperate problem. Immediately following the December election, the new government had to come to a firm decision that they could not afford the social costs of reducing social programs. The cost of such reductions would have fallen on those least able to pay. Instead, Patterson said, the GOJ decided on a route of self-reliance and adopted severe import restrictions. They felt they had to make the people realize that they would have to solve their own problems.

Patterson said the GOJ is trying to broaden its economic options and has received assistance from many sources, including the World Bank, Lome Pact, U.S., FRG, UK, Cuba—which should be seen in the context of hemispheric relations—Venezuela and Mexico.

Patterson said the U.S. is Jamaica’s principal export market and source of imports and tourists. He therefore wished to suggest the establishment of a group of technical experts to study opportunities for economic assistance and better terms of trade. If it were possible to obtain more flexibility in the terms of trade, that would greatly benefit Jamaica.

The Secretary said we would be happy to explore the possibilities, which would need careful study. We would take Patterson’s proposal under consideration and follow up promptly.

IMF Cooperation

Patterson referred to Ambassador Rattray’s earlier call on the Secretary when Rattray had expressed the GOJ’s hope that the IMF would be sympathetic to Jamaica’s economic problem.2 Patterson said the [Page 427] balance-of-payments problem is acute and he hoped the USG could help so that Jamaica would not be driven to even more drastic solutions.

The Secretary replied that we hope the IMF will be sympathetic. He reminded Patterson of the Administration’s budget proposal of $10 million in supporting assistance for Jamaica and said this shows our desire to help and to encourage other countries to do likewise. Patterson responded that the GOJ had noted the Secretary’s Appropriations Committee testimony with great warmth.3

In reply to the Secretary’s question concerning cooperation with the IMF, Patterson said the GOJ’s economic plans would be published in a new Production Plan which would emphasize agriculture, tourism and bauxite/alumina. Following the publication of that plan in late March, the GOJ and IMF are agreed to resume discussions in early April.


Patterson referred to the problems of the tourist industry and said he thinks it has begun to recover. That is why the GOJ is so upset about last week’s Newsweek article.4 He said it is surprising how easily a traveler can misunderstand what is happening in a country.

It was agreed that the press cannot be controlled and that it is unfortunate when misunderstandings occur. The Secretary said he had noted the Newsweek article and understood it contained some inaccuracies. He asked Patterson to explain Jamaica’s relations with Cuba.


Patterson said the relationship is based on problems common to developing countries. Jamaica is taking advantage of Cuban experience in housing and school construction. Patterson said expensive schools inhibit education because the government cannot afford the needed school buildings; housing construction is handicapped by costs and lack of resources. Jamaica also has many areas which chronically suffer from either flood or drought. The Cubans had solved a similar problem with microdams and had helped Jamaica to build some. Patterson said Jamaica is advising Cuba on tourism. Other mutual interests include commodity questions, for example, sugar.

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Patterson said the two countries are agreed that each has its own political system and will not try to persuade the other. The GOJ has made clear what they mean by “democratic socialism”—a mixed economy with the private sector working within guidelines. Jamaica prefers ownership to be with the people, not the state. They are trying to form cooperatives and stimulate worker participation. Patterson said Jamaica is working out its own model and wants to make it succeed. In this hemisphere, where some have taken an authoritarian or even fascist route, there should be some who show it can be done democratically.

Revere Disputes

Ambassador Todman referred to the Production Program and asked if the emphasis on bauxite would include a settlement with Revere?5 Secretary Vance said that would be very helpful. If OPIC had to pay Revere’s claim, it would have an adverse effect on bilateral relations because of the U.S. laws which would automatically restrict economic assistance.

Patterson replied that the GOJ is aware of the implications of an OPIC decision. He reviewed the GOJ position on the economic viability and value of the Revere plant. He said the GOJ had initialled an agreement with Revere at one point and is still willing to follow through on it. But Revere is not and has gone to court. Patterson said the GOJ will accept the court decision, which is due in four to five weeks.

Patterson maintained that no nationalization or expropriation has taken place. He said Revere is trying a sleight-of-hand or blackmail operation. They want someone to pay an inflated price for an uneconomic unit or be compensated by the U.S. taxpayer. It would be a travesty of justice if Jamaica had to capitulate to Revere’s blatant attempt at a rip-off.

Ambassador Todman asked about Southwire’s role. Patterson replied that Southwire is interested in joining the GOJ in the Revere plant, but there is no agreement on price. The figures mentioned by Southwire and OPIC are unrealistic. The GOJ is not against an agreement but so far there have been only discussions, and the terms remain to be worked out.

Patterson said the GOJ would be most unhappy if the Revere action would damage bilateral relations. Todman emphasized the automatic [Page 429] nature of relevant U.S. law. Rattray said he could not see by any stretch of the imagination how Revere could win.

International Economic Questions

Patterson said that in the international forums where imbalances between rich and poor countries are discussed, there should be some progress. The U.S. has a moral responsibility in this area. Especially in Paris nothing much is happening and people are becoming impatient.6 Concrete proposals are needed.

The Secretary said we are interested in progress, not confrontation. The new Administration has set up a task force on CIEC to make recommendations on what is possible to do. There is some question of whether the proposed common fund is feasible; this provides us more problems than do some of the other items. He said that Mr. Christopher is working on this problem and that he would give it personal attention as the date for the next meeting gets closer.

Patterson also expressed concern about lack of progress in the Multilateral Tariff Negotiations. The Secretary agreed, saying the longer this goes without progress, the more chance there is of the protectionists prevailing. The European countries can help greatly.

Patterson responded pointedly that there is a tendency to make someone else the scapegoat to conceal one’s own reticence. If the U.S. does not move on this question, it will get the blame.

Western Hemisphere Political Problems

Patterson asked the Secretary’s views on relations in the hemisphere and prospects for improvement. The Secretary reviewed the status of the Panama Canal negotiations and concluded that it should be possible to reach a just and fair agreement.7

He said he believes Cuba and the U.S. should begin quietly to discuss the differences that divide us. We have been too long in a state of non-communication. Patterson said normalization with Cuba would reduce tensions, and he offered Jamaican assistance if desired. The Secretary responded that Jamaica could help, as we must all help each other to work together as a family of nations.

Patterson and the Secretary expressed the view that the OAS should be made a more dynamic, problem-solving body.

Patterson expressed concern at indications from Guatemala of a more belligerent attitude toward Belize. He said if there is any narrow[Page 430]ing of differences between the U.K. and Guatemala, that probably indicates widening differences between the U.K. and Belize. He urged active U.S. support for the territorial sovereignty of Belize. Secretary Vance responded that we had tried direct intervention in the 60’s and some had found that not helpful. He said the U.S. is supporting OAS efforts to find a solution.

Middle East

Patterson asked the Secretary’s views on the Middle East. The Secretary said it is one of the most dangerous situations in the world. In every country he had visited, local leaders wanted to channel resources away from arms and into economic and social needs. Unfortunately all parties are deeply suspicious and the atmosphere is incredibly difficult. The Secretary felt it would be possible to solve the issue of how to deal with the PLO and to reconvene the Geneva Conference in the latter half of this year.

Southern Africa

Patterson referred to his conversation March 1 with Ambassador Young and said Jamaica has a profound interest in the problems of Southern Africa.8 He said it was the GOJ’s feeling that the U.S. should use its position of moral leadership to end racism. It would be a great tragedy if reluctance on this led others to be reluctant and finally made Southern Africa the scene of conflict.

The Secretary indicated that the UK has the first responsibility in this area but that we have some ideas which may lead to reconvening the Geneva meetings. He said that in Nairobi we will play a more frontal role because South Africa is clearly in an illegal situation. The situation is not easy because of divisions among the black African leaders.

Patterson emphasized the need for the U.S. to be seen in opposition to apartheid and to be fully identified in leading the expressions of outrage. He asked the U.S. to support a pending UN resolution on segregation in sports. The Secretary said the U.S. will press for solutions. He thought the Byrd Amendment would be repealed soon.9

LOS and Fisheries

Patterson referred to past U.S. agreement in principle to support Kingston as the site of the LOS Seabed Authority, and he asked for [Page 431] continued support. The Secretary said he was not aware of any U.S. position on this but he was sympathetic.

Patterson said now that the U.S. has extended its fisheries boundary, Jamaica would soon do likewise. The GOJ would like to consult with us at some time.

Other Business

Patterson told the Secretary he intended to raise a variety of subjects in other conversations during this visit. He wanted to talk with Ambassador Todman about air security in the hemisphere. Air piracy in all forms should be discouraged. All forms of sabotage and terrorism should be stopped. He felt this would require the cooperation of all.

Subjects for discussion with other agencies included sugar, an extradition agreement to enable the GOJ to control the illegal flight of currency, and the limitations on tax deductions for foreign conventions.

Patterson presented the Secretary an inlaid wooden box of Jamaican cigars and Manley’s book of speeches The Search for Solutions. He said he would not ordinarily knock the competition, but the cigars are better than the Cuban product.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 28, Jamaica, 2–4/77. Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by Thyden; approved by Twaddell. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Vance met with Rattray on February 1. (Telegram 24234 to Kingston, February 3; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770038–0057)
  3. The Secretary testified on February 24. His statement is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, March 14, 1977, pp. 236–241.
  4. The February 28 issue of Newsweek magazine contained an article by Arnaud de Borchgrave entitled “Cuba’s Role in Jamaica.” Rattray condemned the article at his press conference on February 25. (Telegram 893 from Kingston, February 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770068–0185)
  5. Revere Alumina filed suit against the Government of Jamaica in 1976, after company officials discovered they were charged $6 million for permits that were not required by law. (Telegram 204311 to Kingston, August 17, 1976; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D760316–207)
  6. The Conference on International Economic Cooperation had been meeting intermittently in Paris since December 1975.
  7. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XXIX, Panama.
  8. In telegram 603 from USUN, March 3, the Mission provided a summary of Young’s March 1 meeting with Patterson in New York. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770073–1124)
  9. The Byrd Amendment allowed the import of chrome ore from Rhodesia in violation of UN sanctions. It was repealed on March 14.