137. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Bolivia1

195927. Subject: Continuation of Relations. Ref: Boeker-Vaky Telcon, August 2; La Paz 6172.2

1. Per Telcon, we understand Pereda and his principal advisors are now seeking to establish a consensus within the military to hold national elections in late 1979 and install the new democratically elected government in January of 1980.3 We also understand that some elements in the military are reluctant to agree to this scheduling and would delay elections until early 1980 and install the new government in mid-year.

2. We feel we should now move to indicate that in accordance with current practice, we are continuing our relationship with Bolivia.

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3. Embassy is therefore authorized to acknowledge on August 4 the circular note announcing the assumption of office by Pereda as President and the establishment of the new cabinet (reftel). If the August 6 date for Pereda’s speech slips and you feel it adviseable to delay note after August 4, please request instructions.

4. The Embassy’s reply should read as follows:

“I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of the note of July 24 from the Ministry of Foreign Relations by which the Embassy of the United States of America was informed that General Juan Pereda Asbun had assumed the presidency of the Republic of Bolivia and a cabinet had been appointed; that his government guarantees tranquility throughout Bolivian territory and has declared its purpose of establishing a free political system with democratic foundations and with full popular participation originating from the will of the people; that it will respect all international treaties and agreements to which Bolivia is a party; and that it wishes to continue the cordial relations existing between our respective peoples and governments. I have the further honor to inform your excellency that the Embassy of the United States wishes to reciprocate the desire expressed by the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the government of Bolivia to continue these relations between our two countries.”

5. Once the US note is delivered, we presume the GOB will let it be known that the US has continued relations. If questioned by the press, the Department will respond as below:

A. Question—has the U.S. recognized the new Bolivian government?

Answer—we have informed the Bolivian government that we will continue diplomatic relations with it. When we continue relations with a country, as in this instance, it is not necessary to address the question of recognition and it has not been our practice to do so.

B. Question—Does this mean that the U.S. supports the new regime?

Answer—Continuation of relations implies neither approval nor disapproval of the nature or programs of a new government.

C. Question—what then is the US position on developments in Bolivia?

Answer—we previously expressed our regret at the events which interrupted the electoral process. However, we note the announced intention of the Bolivian government to respect human rights and to establish a free political system based on the participation of all Bolivians. We hope that the process of democratization, started under President Banzer, will be resumed and will reach fruition under President Pereda.

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6. Shortly after the Embassy’s note on continuation of relations has been delivered, the Ambassador should seek an appointment with the Foreign Minister to raise the matter of the pending exchange of instruments of ratification on the prisoner transfer treaty. We understand that Banzer did not sign the treaty prior to his resignation and that Pereda has not yet had time to do so himself. You should urge that the final steps be completed by the GOB so that the treaty may come into effect.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840140-2154. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information to the White House. Drafted by Fuller; cleared by McNeil, Vaky, Armstrong, Schneider, Pastor, and in S/S; approved by Newsom.
  2. Telcon not found. See footnote 4, Document 136.
  3. In an August 2 memorandum to Carter, Vance reported this set of dates for planned elections. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Evening Reports (State): 8/78)
  4. In telegram 6300 from La Paz, August 5, Boeker reported on his meeting with Anaya. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780321-1228)