218. Telegram From the Embassy in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State1

2942. Subject: GODR Effort To Counter Local Press Reports That U.S. and Dominican Republic Diverged on Human Rights Issue at Grenada.

1. Following was drafted by Ambassador before he departed post this morning.

2. At 11 p.m. last night Rafael Bello Andino, Private Secretary to President Balaguer, came to see me at President’s instruction, he said, to show me cable from Fon Sec Jimenez reporting his bilateral talk with Secretary Vance.2 Substance of cable was that talk was very cordial and that Secretary Vance conveyed warm greetings from President Carter to President Balaguer. Further, that Secretary Vance mentioned approvingly progress made by Dominican Republic in recent years. Finally, that Secretary Vance had evinced surprise upon hearing that Dominican press was reporting that Dominican Republic diverged from U.S. on human rights issue, for he thought both governments united on question.

3. Bello said that GODR strongly desired to publish text of Jimenez cable and purpose of his visit was to inquire as to whether there would be any objection to doing so. I cautioned Bello that bilateral talks between Foreign Secretaries were normally considered privileged, unless agreement had been reached beforehand between the participants to make all or part of it public. I added that if, notwithstanding [Page 523] normal practice, GODR decided to publish Jimenez’s message, I would undertake to explain the circumstances.3

4. Bello expressed hope that Department might find appropriate occasion to mention publicly U.S. and Dominican identity of views re human rights.

5. Comment: Although Presidential and other elections are still eleven months away (May 1978), local political maneuvering and keen public interest give impression that elections are imminent. June 15 edition of widely read El Caribe carried top headline that U.S. and Dominican Republic diverged on human rights stance at Grenada. Same story mentioned that in congressional subcommittee suggestion had been made to include Dominican Republic in list of countries whose human rights policies warranted exclusion from military and economic assistance, but that suggestion was rebuffed. Conclusion that average reader could reasonably reach was that U.S. and Dominican Republic were at odds and that GODR respect for human rights might be inadequate in U.S. view. In current charged political atmosphere where relations with U.S. play important role, President Balaguer’s concern that El Caribe story could provide political opposition with telling ammunition is reasonable. Publishing Jimenez’s cable would undoubtedly clarify the situation here. I expect therefore that it will probably be made public.

6. I am persuaded that there is no important divergence of view between U.S. policy on human rights and that of President Balaguer. Since the report to Congress regarding the status of human rights in the Dominican Republic (which apparently caused no concern in Washington),4 President Balaguer has taken a number of steps to improve his performance in this area, including reinstatement to his chief oppositionist, Pena Gomez, of his right to speak on the radio. All of these steps are a matter of record in the Department. Accordingly, I perceive no objection to some U.S. official fulfilling hope expressed para 4 above. Such a step on our part would certainly clear the air here.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770217–0098. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated for information to the U.S. Delegation to the OAS General Assembly meeting in Grenada.
  2. In telegram 46 from Grenada, June 19, the Delegation reported on the June 16 meeting, during which Vance and Jimenez discussed the economic progress of the Dominican Republic, terrorism, and human rights. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770219–0058)
  3. In telegram 2948 from Santo Domingo, June 17, the Embassy reported that extracts from Jimenez’s report to Balaguer on his meeting with Vance were published in the Dominican press “under headlines noting identity of Dominican and US human rights positions at OASGA meeting.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770217–0336)
  4. The Department of State submitted reports to Congress on human rights in countries receiving security assistance, including the Dominican Republic. The reports were made public on March 12. (Bernard Gwertzman, “U.S. Says Most Lands Receiving Arms Aid Are Abusing Rights,” The New York Times, March 13, p. 1)