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

3086. Subject: Call on Prime Minister Manley: US-Jamaica; Jamaica Internal; Cuba; Grenada; UNCTAD and IMF.

1. Confidential—Entire text.

2. I made my first call on Prime Minister Manley (protect through-out) on April 26. I was received promptly and the call lasted for about an hour and 20 minutes. Present, in addition to the Prime Minister was Gordon Wells, Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister, Don Davidson, Director of Protocol, and O.K. Melhado, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (who also acted as notetaker).

3. The Prime Minister commenced with a longish and overly complimentary statement about myself, pegging his impressions on conversations or exchanges he had had with mutual friends. He closed with the hope that it would be possible for us to develop the rapport for a candid, frank and brutally honest future relationship. He indicated that he trusted President Carter and that he was sensitive to the increased interest in the Caribbean, generally, and Jamaica, specifically. He said he wanted me to know that he believed that the CIA was not at this time and had not for some time been up to dirty tricks in Jamaica. He indicated that while my predecessor had always denied any CIA dirty tricks at any time in Jamaica, the PM was not, at this time, sure of exactly what to believe.

4. The Prime Minister wanted to take time to give me his assurances, and he hoped that if I did not believe them at this time that I could grow to believe that he was totally dedicated to the concept of democracy, the democratic institutions in Jamaica, the two-party, plural society that Jamaica has enjoyed. He indicated that regardless of what the opposition or the Gleaner had to say on this subject, his dedication to the concept was unwavering.2 He flatly stated that he was not intending “to take over” Jamaica, to make himself a strongman or to perpetuate his tenure of office through methods unconstitutional. He said it was for these reasons that he had come out advocating electoral reforms as being advanced by the opposition. He indicated that he has always been for electoral reform but until he came to office, it was not really [Page 469] possible to do much about it, and he was only now getting around to it. He reiterated that the last elections were honest and straight. He acknowledged that it was possible that there may have been some isolated incidents of “hanky panky” but that he doubted it. He likened such hypothetical incidents to the situation of President Kennedy in Chicago.

5. He then suggested that perhaps we could do away with the protocol of a first visit and proceed further—he had a few items on his mind he wished to discuss and was sure that there were some items that I would like to ask him about.

6. One—his relationship to Fidel Castro. He stated that Castro was a close personal friend, a man whom he admired, a man who had inspired in Manley a deep love and respect. However, he indicated that this did not mean that Mr. Manley was a Communist or that he was bringing Jamaica into the sphere of influence of Cuba or that he was seeing Cuba as a role model for Jamaica. Rather he felt that Cuba and Jamaica had sufficient similarities—that he should examine Cuba carefully and accept solutions to problems that the Cubans have found where such solutions seemed relevant to Jamaica. Equally, solutions that were not relevant were rejected. This statement was followed by a rambling presentation that if Jamaica had a political party with intellectual curiosity, the PNP was it. Within the PNP there were all shades of political thought from extreme right to extreme left of many countries, picking a bit here and rejecting a bit there. The fact of such examination should not be interpreted here in Jamaica by the opposition or in the United States as suggesting Jamaica was accepting any particular ideology. He concluded this paragraph by reaffirming his dedication to greater equality of opportunity for a greater number of Jamaicans. He said he was disturbed that many people in the U.S. could not make this differentiation, particularly as it applied to his relationship to Fidel Castro.

7. The second point that he wished to make was that he was sorry to see the U.S. make the kind of mistake he felt it had in instructing Bishop of Grenada.3 The U.S. should by now know when dealing in the Caribbean where leaders frequently had little more in assets than fierce personal and national ego, that any kind of instruction instantly evokes serious reaction.

8. Manley’s next point was an expression of hope that it would be possible for himself, or Mr. Nyerere4 (who he understood President [Page 470] Carter held in high esteem) or someone else, to capture a few minutes of President Carter’s “thinking time” on the subject of UNCTAD. He felt that while great progress had been made, the U.S. should come a little bit further both in terms of Jamaica’s needs and of his perception of the kind of reputation the U.S. might wish to have.

9. I responded to the PM on the above points by saying that I felt that the nucleus of my responsibilities in Jamaica was to get to know him, that my understanding, interpretation and knowledge of him were as near totally accurate as possible and that my Embassy’s reporting on him and Jamaica would be truthful, accurate and comprehensive. Also, that by the same token I would endeavor to be of service to him and to Jamaica by attempting to interpret the U.S. and its views as accurately as possible. I felt a good rapport between the two of us was essential. I indicated that I did not, at this point, have a “lot on my desk” that I wanted to take up with him but that there was one point we were concerned about and that was the recent joint release that FM Patterson had participated in on his recent trip to Cuba. Of particular concern to us was what was meant by the reference in that statement to Puerto Rico. (Kingston 3013).5 We understand Jamaica was broadly knowledgeable about the situation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. position on the future of Puerto Rico and the peoples of Puerto Rico. The PM responded instantly that he was not in total agreement with Castro on all points and that the issue of Puerto Rico was one in which he was in disagreement. He did understand the U.S. was not opposed to self-determination for the Puerto Rican people but at this point the Puerto Rican people had not made their decision as to their future direction (sic). He then called attention to the fact that the statement in its totality operated on the basis of “recalling” previous positions taken.

10. Our visit concluded with Mr. Manley wanting to know if he could deal with me confidentially from time to time and upon receiving my acquiescence proceeded to address a new problem. He indicated that negotiations had been taking place with the aluminum companies and that he had only just discovered that his negotiators, as a result of being a relatively new team and working with a Minister who was overburdened and tired and frequently out of the country on official business had agreed to some elements in the negotiations for the bauxite levy adjustment that were further than Jamaica could, in fact, go. He [Page 471] stated he recognizes that Jamaica is not competitive in bauxite pricing and that it must move to a competitive position but that what had been agreed to was more than Jamaica could afford. He said he had telephoned Edgar Kaiser on April 25 and expressed a desire to meet with him. He indicated Kaiser would be in Jamaica over the weekend and that he hoped to lay out for him the facts and seek counsel and advice.6 He hoped I would be available over the weekend to meet with him and Mr. Kaiser should this prove necessary.

11. Comment: The meeting was warm, charming and aggressive on his part. As one experiencing a first exposure to Mr. Manley, I came away convinced the complexities of the man would take considerable time to penetrate and comprehend.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790198–0911. Confidential. Repeated for information to Bridgetown, Caracas, Georgetown, Nassau, and Port of Spain.
  2. The Daily Gleaner, Jamaica’s largest newspaper, ran articles and editorials critical of the government and Manley and friendly to the JLP.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 317.
  4. Julius Nyerere, President of Tanzania, was Prime Minister Manley’s personal friend.
  5. Telegram 3013 from Kingston, April 27, described a Cuban-Jamaican joint communiqué issued after Patterson’s April visit to Cuba. It contained language regarding Jamaican support for Puerto Rican independence. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D7900195–0440)
  6. Edgar Kaiser, Chairman of Kaiser Aluminum, often chose to negotiate with Prime Minister Manley during bauxite negotiations.