369. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • A People-to-People Strategy for the Caribbean Basin (U)

In order to undertake the kind of comprehensive people-to-people (PTP) approach which you envisage for Central America and the Caribbean,2 I asked State to prepare a country-by-country inventory of extra-governmental US programs to the Caribbean basin. It will be easier to expand and mobilize these programs than to start from ground zero. (S)

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Three key people-to-people programs work in this area: the Partners of the Americas program (which connects US States with Latin American countries and provinces, like Pernambuco), the Sister Cities program (which is worldwide), and the new Committee For The Caribbean (a non-profit, non-governmental organization created to promote Caribbean economic development through private enterprise). This Committee is hosting an important conference on the Caribbean in Miami November 28th; you have been invited by Maurice Ferre, Governor Graham, and Dante Fascell to explain US policies regarding the Caribbean and Central America in a keynote address.3 A number of heads of state and important political leaders will be in attendance. (S)

These three private groups’ efforts need to be coordinated and reinforced, if they are to achieve the goal you have in mind. This could be done by appointing a high-level Commission, which would serve as an umbrella over the three US organizations noted above and any others that have a presence or could have an impact in the Caribbean or Central America. The head of such a Commission should be a prominent person, such as Mayor Ferre, who knows both the region and US groups interested in the region. Members of the Commission could include leaders from the three organizations noted above and representatives from churches, labor, etc. (S)

The November 28 Miami Conference would provide a unique opportunity to announce and launch such a commission; members of the Commission could make contacts at the Conference, which would make follow-up activities easier. This Commission could be assisted by different government agencies, with a full-time government official in the State Department being charged with these back-up services. (S)


1. That you approve the setting up of a broad-based Commission on the Caribbean Basin, subject to answering outstanding questions satisfactorily. (C)

2. That I contact Mayor Ferre as possible Chairman. (C)

3. That we prepare a message from you to the Miami Conference November 28 announcing formation of this Commission, if you cannot attend personally.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 46, Latin America, 11/79. Secret. Sent for action.
  2. See Document 368.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 367.
  4. Although President Carter did not mark any of the recommendations, in telegram 92901 to Nassau, April 8, 1980, the Department reported he was to meet with several “people to people” groups on April 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800176–0472) See footnote 3, Document 333.