207. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Chile1

262398. Subject: Letter to President Pinochet from President Carter

Begin text: Dear Mr President: I want to thank you for your letter of September 162 and to express my pleasure that you were able to visit Washington to witness the signing of the Panama Canal Treaties. These treaties will greatly strengthen relations among the nations of the Americas, and demonstrate our ability to resolve problems through frank discussion and negotiation as equals.

I also found it helpful to meet you personally to discuss issues of concern to both our governments. I gained a better understanding of your views, and hope that our meeting will stimulate further exchanges between our governments. You will have in Santiago Ambassador George Landau, who has my complete confidence. I urge you to speak with him as you would with me.

As I noted during our conversation, human rights considerations remain the major obstacle to restoration of the traditionally close relations between the United States and Chile. I earnestly hope such friendly and close relations can gradually be reestablished between our two countries. I am convinced, however, that there will be little change without increased evidence that your government is taking steps to safeguard and promote human rights and to restore to Chile the vigorous and open democratic tradition of which all Chileans have justly been proud.

I was particularly interested in your indication of willingness to receive two United Nations human rights observers, provided that they visit without publicity and meet privately with you before returning to the United Nations and making their report public. I have no intention of intervening in the affairs of your country, but I believe that the interests of Chile would best be served by such a visit and the subsequent submission to world opinion of an objective report concerning the human rights situation in Chile. I was pleased with the peaceful outcome of the demonstration by the Chilean women at ECLA headquarters, and hope that you will be able to cooperate with the United [Page 623] Nations Secretary General on this matter.3 I will follow the course of your government’s discussions with the United Nations on both matters with great interest.

In this regard, let me mention the very important role played by the non-governmental human rights organizations, and my hope that they will continue to contribute to the advancement of human rights and my firm belief that they should retain their consultative status at the United Nations.

As you know, I had the opportunity to review Bolivia’s desire for renewed sovereign access to the Pacific with Presidents Banzer and Morales Bermudez.4 I assured them, as I did you, of my government’s support for negotiations to find a solution satisfactory to all three nations, and of our continued interest in the achievement of a peaceful settlement. I was pleased that you and they were subsequently able to take advantage of your joint presence in Washington to meet privately on this important subject.5

Finally, let me repeat my profound interest in nuclear nonproliferation. You commented that Chile would be able to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and permit the Treaty of Tlatelolco to come into effect if Argentina were to do so. This would be a courageous and important decision. I discussed these same matters with President Videla, and urged him to take the remaining steps necessary to bring the treaties into force.6 I expect that there may be some progress soon. We can all hope that Latin America, before too long, will become the first region in the world to bar nuclear weapons. Sincerely, Jimmy Carter. End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770404-0053. Confidential; Immediate. Sent for information immediate to Lima and for information to La Paz, the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York, and Buenos Aires. Drafted in the White House, cleared in S/S-O and approved by Fuller.
  2. Not found.
  3. A reference to a hunger strike by relatives of Chileans who had disappeared, the goal of which was to call for UN support for their efforts to find out what had happened to their relatives. The hunger strike ended in June. (Telegram 5199 from Santiago, June 23, National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770225-0621) In telegram 8272 from Santiago, October 6, the Embassy reported that a GOC report to the UN on disappearances was “rather lame and predictably barren,” and that “about the only nice thing to be said is that it contains no lies of commission. We have no doubt that the persons named ‘are not now detained by the security forces.’” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770367-0077)
  4. See Documents 120 and 304.
  5. Not found.
  6. See Document 63.