177. Telegram From the Embassy in Jamaica to the Department of State1

2167. Subject: Meeting With Prime Minister Manley.

1. Deputy Assistant Secretary Luers and Charge called on PriMin Manley May 3 for a 45-minute discussion. (Call immediately preceded arrival of Cuban Vice President Carlos Rafael Rodriguez, for one-day talks with Manley and other officials.) At opening of conversation, Luers stressed that Carter administration seriously desires improved relations between the US and Jamaica, and wants to place the recent difficult period behind the US. The US team now in Kingston for economic discussions is part of a serious effort in that direction. PriMin Manley expressed gratification for the arrival of the team and for Luers’ presence in particular. Both agreed that the joint US/Jamaican team meetings which began on May 2 appear to be off to a good start.2

2. Luers stressed that while we wish to be able to give concrete expression to movement toward improved relationships, there will be problems. Luers discussed the general negative attitude of Congress toward bilateral and multilateral assistance and the fact some congressional leaders and others believe most past assistance programs were used to shore up authoritarian regimes. This administration attaches importance to improved relationships with Jamaica, said Luers, precisely because it is an exception to the pattern of non-egalitarian, authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Manley replied that he suspects that such [Page 434] expressions of congressional concern about the Third World are in fact only an excuse for being generally opposed to anything which interferes with traditional conservative American attitudes toward property and the free enterprise system. Luers said Congress and the American people were in no way monolithic.

3. Luers then discussed the origins of President Carter’s emphasis on human rights, pointing out it rests in the strong American emphasis on liberty as the bedrock of our Constitution. He said that the egalitarian qualities in American society flowing from the Declaration of Independence are also strong but have never been equal in American history to our stress on preservation of liberty. Thus, for many Americans, the retreat from liberty in the Third World is disillusioning and the argument in favor of applying egalitarianism to nations does not hold up in view of the large number of Third World nations which do not place a priority on income distribution and egalitarian principles. Manley at this point commented that one of the most exciting things he has seen in the new administration is President Carter’s effort to give a new dimension to foreign affairs issues and to US policy—to revive “Americans’ moral perception of themselves and the world.” He considers Carter to be a “watershed” President—the last one being President Roosevelt. As Roosevelt had first directed the American government toward a sense of responsibility toward its citizens’ well being, President Carter was summoning the American spirit and projecting it abroad. He contrasted the genuine vitality of Carter’s stress on values to the “showiness” of the Kennedy era which resulted in power plays.

4. Luers briefed Manley on state of play of the US/Cuban relations. Manley clearly has followed closely recent Cuban/American negotiations and indicated his understanding of the problems that both we and the Cubans face. He did add that he is totally opposed in principle to the US embargo of Cuba. Not only is it wrong in principle, he said, but it also distorts completely the true character of the US and Cuba. The US appears to the rest of the hemisphere but especially to the youth as a bully. Cuba emerges as a hero figure and the entire Cuban revolution becomes over romanticized in the eyes of many. However, he said, he was very impressed by the manner in which President Carter had kept from being drawn into the Cuban issue throughout the Presidential campaign.

5. Manley commented that Jamaica’s relationships with Cuba have been excellent in large measure because the Cubans have been “completely principled” and had not interfered in any manner whatsoever in Jamaica’s domestic affairs. He pointed out that Jamaica has perhaps a unique relationship with Cuba because of a number of common concerns which relate not to Cuba’s Communism but rather to Cuba’s similar Third World concerns, e.g., Southern Africa and the need for [Page 435] a new international economic order. He stressed that Cuba, while Communist, also sees itself as a Third World nation with its own Third World concerns separate from those of the Soviet Union. Also, Manley interjected, Jamaica has a series of common concerns and interests with the U.S. Luers said it was curious that Manley and Castro got along so well since historically Social Democrats and Communists have been the most dedicated enemies. Manley replied that he thought he and Fidel were an exception (Euro-Communism aside). Comment: Manley clearly was attempting to display a middle ground for himself and the US.

6. Turning to Southern Africa, Manley said that “anybody who settles that one is ‛my hero.”—“Even if the US does it with battle cruisers.” He said it was extremely important that this not be an East-West conflict and that the West not swallow Vorster’s not particularly adroit effort to sell a Communist menace”.3 He said that he felt that there is little hope for the negotiations course in Southern Africa. “The international community could bring down the racists with economic sanctions, but the will to do so does not exist”. Therefore, “armed struggle is inevitable.” He expressed concern that the world is headed toward an apocalypse and again emphasized that it is for this reason that Southern Africa not become an East-West issue.

7. Comment: The meeting was extremely cordial. The fact that Manley on little notice took time out from an extremely hectic schedule for 45 minutes was of itself some indication of the importance he attaches to improving relationships with the US.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770155–0357. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis.
  2. Officials from AID, Treasury, and State met with Jamaican officials May 2–6 to discuss trade, aid, and foreign investment. (Telegram 2289 from Kingston, May 9; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770163–0291)
  3. B.J. Vorster, Prime Minister of South Africa, argued that South Africa needed Western support because the nation was threatened by Communists. (Telegram 135 from Cape Town, January 29; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770033–0632)