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


  • Aid for the Caribbean (U)

Here are the paragraphs you requested:

OMB opposes the reprogramming of aid to the Eastern Caribbean for three reasons: (1) they fear it will merely fund public service jobs, and AID will find itself plugged in as an international welfare agency; (2) OMB believes that the Eastern Caribbean is a low priority for the US; and (3) OMB opposes aid to Grenada. I agree with them on the last point, but disagree profoundly on the other two. (C)

The $4 million is to be used to invest in essential infrastructure—road building, health facilities, and school repair. Unquestionably, that will create jobs, but AID’s emphasis on the job creation program is inaccurate; they probably did it because they thought that would be a better argument to obtain the money. In fact, the infrastructure investment is essential so that follow-on aid loans for agribusiness and industry, which have already been signed but will require 18 months to be implemented, could be more effective. (C)

Secondly, the Eastern Caribbean is of the highest priority to the US. The coup in Grenada was only a symptom of a more profound problem in the area. Since then, serious instability in Dominica and St Lucia point up the tremendous need for the US to support these islands and minimize the chances of another Grenada. If another island falls to a leftist coup, which could very easily happen, this would have extraordinary political and geopolitical implications for US foreign policy in the region and overall. (C)

$4 million is not a lot, but it goes a long way and could have a very big impact in these little islands. If the US continues to be niggardly and slow to move its money or its support, we will find ourselves continually on the defensive. (C)

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Thirdly, I agree with OMB that we should not pump out extra money for Grenada, but we could make clear in our acceptance of this $4 million reprogramming that Grenada would either get none of it or the least amount. (C)

In summary, I feel very strongly that NSC’s decision on this small amount of money will have a large effect on whether we will be able to pursue an effective policy in the Eastern Caribbean, or whether we will constantly be at the wrong end of the power curve. What startled everybody in the Eastern Caribbean after the coup in Grenada was how rapidly the Cubans were able to send assistance and advisors. Must the US always be so slow? I strongly recommend that we approve the reprogramming of this money for the Eastern Caribbean.2 (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron, Box 27, Folder: Latin America, 5–7/79. Confidential. Sent through Rutherford Poats of the National Security Council Staff. Sent for information/decision. At the top of the page, Poats wrote the following message to Aaron, “DA: I am working on Randy Jayne to reverse OMB staff on this. Henry [Owen] now has withdrawn his objection.”
  2. In telegram 3356 from Bridgetown, August 21, the Embassy reported that Forde complained that the $4 million in grant assistance for the Eastern Caribbean had been given to Nicaragua. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790381–1088)