345. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Suriname and the Netherlands1

73396. Subject: US Policy for Suriname. Ref: A. Paramaribo 509, B. Paramaribo 512, (C) Para. 475.2

1. C—Entire text.

2. Department is now formulating a strategy to meet the new situation in Suriname. We believe at this time that our policy should concentrate on the following four areas: (1) support for President Ferrier and for holding early elections; (2) establishment of a working relationship with the new interim government; (3) continued Dutch military presence in Suriname; and (4) Dutch leadership to pressure the new government to hold early elections.

3. For Paramaribo: Reftels were most appreciated.—Your analysis of the new government was very helpful. We concur in your recommendation made in paragraph 12 reftel A.3 We intend to call in the Dutch Ambassador to make the following points:

—Indicate to him our hope that the GON will continue to take the lead in pressing the new government to preserve constitutional process and to seek early elections.

—Inform him of our serious concern over several appointments to the interim government because of possible past association with Cuba and the Communist Party.

—Express our continued support for President Ferrier in his efforts to restore the democratic process.

—Inform him how important we consider the role of the Dutch military mission in Suriname, especially its ability to influence the [Page 854] new Surinamese military leadership to retain a continued Western orientation.

—Urge the Dutch to continue their military assistance and military mission in Suriname until after its scheduled departure November 1980.4

4. For Paramaribo: Ambassador should see new PM as soon as possible to make the following points, and take stock of situation.

—The PM’s appointment signals a return to constitutional government.

—We trust that the new government will maintain Suriname’s traditional excellent human rights record.

—We will continue to support President Ferrier’s efforts to ensure that the democratic process is restored when elections are held.5

—We hope that our governments will develop the traditionally close ties that have characterized our bilateral relations.

5. Embassy staff should continue to meet with NMC members as appropriate to assess their attitudes and plans and to make the following points:

—The U.S. hopes that the military in Suriname would continue their close relationships with the Netherlands.

—The military would continue to respect civilian leadership in accordance with the Constitution.

—The NMC will support the holding of elections as soon as possible.

6. The Department at this time does not intend to issue a press statement commenting on the formation of the new government. We want to have a better idea of the direction and political orientation of the new government before making a public comment. Addressee posts should draw upon points in para. 4 in stating USG views on current situation. Embassy should follow activities of interim government and NMC closely. Several members have allegedly been affiliated with the Communist Party and have worked with the Cubans. These individuals [Page 855] bear particularly close watching. We should also be alert to third-country activities.6

7. For The Hague: Embassy should seek appointment at the appropriate level and drawing upon the points made in paragraph 3 emphasize to the GON the importance we attach to its influence with the new military and civilian leadership in Suriname and its ability to have a positive influence on them.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country, Box 46, Suriname, 1/77–4/80. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated for information Immediate to Georgetown, Bridgetown, Port of Spain, Caracas, and Brasilia.
  2. In telegram 509 from Paramaribo, March 15, the Embassy discussed the constraints on the Dutch military mission. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800133–0441) In telegram 512 from Paramaribo, March 15, the Embassy informed the Department of Hendrick Chin A Sen’s appointment as Prime Minister. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800166–0467) In telegram 475 from Paramaribo, March 12, the Embassy described the contact between Cuban officials and a lower-level member of the new Surinamese Government, Under-Minister for Cultural Affairs Robin Ravales. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800130–0518)
  3. Reference is in error; telegram 509 from Paramaribo does not have a paragraph 12.
  4. In telegram 76669 to Paramaribo, March 22, the Department reported that Bowdler had met with Dutch officials, and that the “GON will work with the new interim government and intends to press for a return to constitutional government.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800146–0633) U.S. officials were unsuccessful in their efforts to lobby for a continued Dutch military presence. The Dutch decided to terminate their military mission in 1980. (Telegram 2045 from Paramaribo, November 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800547–0010)
  5. On August 13, President Ferrier was removed from office by soldiers loyal to Desire Bouterse and the Surinamese Constitution was suspended. Chin A Sen was then appointed President. (Telegram 1510 from Paramaribo, August 16; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800391–0769)
  6. Ambassador Ostrander met with Prime Minister Chin A Sen on March 24. The new Prime Minister stated he wished to continue “good, strong relations” with the United States, declaring “Suriname is part of the Western world,” and that the nation would retain “strongest ties with the Dutch.” (Telegram 567 from Paramaribo, March 25; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800151–1038)