191. Memorandum From Robert Pastor of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) and the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • U.S. Policy to the Caribbean: The Case of Jamaica (U)

Recent developments in Jamaica confirm the correctness of our overall political objectives—e.g., free press, free elections—in the Caribbean. While there are many in the Caribbean, particularly in the younger generation, who increasingly look to Cuba as a model and an inspiration, there are at least as many who view Cuba with suspicion and fear. Prime Minister Manley, one of the most adept politicians in the Caribbean, is extremely sensitive to both currents. He has leaned to the right in purging his government of radicals, in signing an IMF agreement, and in instituting an austerity program. He has leaned to the left in his continuing contacts with the Cubans and with radicals who have set up independent political parties. But all in all, he has maintained a free press in Jamaica, and he has permitted the free expression of views by those who oppose him. That freedom will keep Jamaica from tipping too far to the left. (S)

The opposition political leader, Edward Seaga, gave a number of speeches in June and July of 1979, where he named names of Cubans and Soviet intelligence operatives who have penetrated the Jamaican government, or who have close relationships with people in the Jamaican government.2 Seaga obviously had some very good sources, and he disclosed an extraordinary amount of information on what people in the Jamaican government were up to with the Cubans. (S)

At first, there were those in the Jamaican government who accused the CIA of providing this information to Seaga, but these accusations never really caught on. Instead, the Jamaican people reacted vehemently against this intensive penetration of Jamaica by the Cubans and the Soviets. The opposition newspaper The Daily Gleaner, has repeatedly run stories on Seaga’s information and the implications for Jamaica. (S)

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There have been two very positive results from this episode. First, an electoral reform law was passed recently, and our Embassy called it a “clear plus for democracy in the Caribbean.”3 Our Embassy believes the main reason it passed was because the government compromised for fear that stubbornness would be interpreted as an attempt by Manley to move toward a single party state. The effect of the law will be to guarantee a fair electoral process. Secondly, the Cubans and the Soviets have clearly been put on the defensive. Our Embassy reports a dramatic increase in popular Jamaican anti-Cuban feelings, and there have been demonstrations against the Cubans. An intelligence report (Tab A)4 suggests that the Cuban presence in Jamaica has been reduced, and the new Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica paid a visit on our Ambassador recently, and clearly conveyed great concern with the tremendous anti-Cuban feeling which has emerged.5 A recent speech by Carl Stone, a leading independent, shows the degree to which the moderates in Jamaica have stopped criticizing the U.S. and have started criticizing the new big brother, Cuba. (Tab B)6 (S)

I believe that the lesson of this episode is that the best way to contain and even to reduce Cuban influence in the Caribbean and to assure a more moderate direction by the governments in the region, is to focus our public attention on the continued desirability of a free press and free elections. At the same time, we should not be averse to passing facts on Cuban activities in the area to our friends. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 40, Jamaica, 1/77–10/79 through Japan, 6–12/78. Secret; Sensitive. Copies were sent to Gregg and Henze. Brzezinski initialed the memorandum and wrote, “Interesting.”
  2. See footnote 3, Document 190.
  3. The new electoral law established a bipartisan committee that would appoint an official to oversee the conduct of elections in Jamaica. (Telegram 3560 from Kingston, May 18; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790229–0650)
  4. Not attached.
  5. Lawrence described the meeting in telegram 5906 from Kingston, August 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790376–1316)
  6. Not attached, but see footnote 3, Document 190, for some of Stone’s remarks.