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

292444. Subject: Delivery of Pinochet Letter. Ref: Santiago 98162

1. Ambassador Cauas, after checking with GOC yesterday, accepted appointment with Deputy Secretary Christopher to deliver President Pinochet’s letter to President Carter. Meeting, also attended by ARA/AND Director Barnebey, took place 3:30 p.m. today.

2. Cauas said that President Pinochet, in his letter dated November 9,3 had wanted to inform President Carter that GOC was strongly opposed to the procedures being used by UN Human Rights Commission ad hoc working group. The investigation of the Chilean human rights situation carried out by this working group allegedly was not pursued legally or equitably, and Pinochet therefore wanted letter delivered to President Carter to allow him to analyze Chile’s objections. Cauas said that the documents accompanying the Pinochet letter were given to Assistant Secretary Todman two weeks ago,4 but that the letter itself had not been delivered. Deputy Secretary Christopher said that he would send the letter today to President Carter. He would also inform the President, as Cauas explained today, that this letter of November 9 and the President’s letter of October 31 had crossed, and that therefore Pinochet’s letter was not in reply to the October 31 letter.5 Cauas clarified that GOC was continuing to process this response, which would be delivered at a later date. Cauas said he regretted that Pinochet’s letter had not been reviewed earlier, since the UN is to vote today or tomorrow on the Chile Human Rights Resolution.6 Christo [Page 625] pher responded that we will study the Pinochet letter in terms of evaluating the actions which will have been taken by the UN on this subject.

3. Deputy Secretary then expressed concern over Chile human rights situation, saying that we look for further improvements in a situation which now constitutes an impediment in our relations. He said we recognize that there have been some improvements but we are disappointed that further progress has not been made. He later reemphasized that he wanted GOC to understand that our overall mood is one of disappointment at developments in the human rights situation in Chile.

4. Deputy Secretary said he recognized that Ambassador Cauas is trying to be helpful, and he said that he wants to keep the lines of communication with GOC. Cauas agreed that he too wants to keep communications lines open. He said he was glad to hear that human rights improvements of Chile have been noted by the Department. He then said that working group study goes beyond the human rights situation in his country; e.g., Chile is being judged on “caricatures” such as criticism of its university fee system. He said that a GOC initiative which he said would have brought some balance into investigations of human rights had not been supported in the UN (apparently this was a resolution proposed by Chilean UN delegation to call for new procedures for UN in analyzing human rights in all countries). Cauas added that further efforts to improve human rights are not easy now in view of constraints GOC faces, such as economic problems of large debt and low copper prices. He also said that there could be a nationalistic reaction within Chile to these UN pressures on human rights. The Deputy Secretary said he recognized Chile’s efforts in economic areas in controlling inflation and seeking economic stability, but our concern remains with respect to bringing about human rights improvements there. Deputy Secretary said he hoped that Cauas would be among those advising against a xenophobic reaction since such a reaction could only harden positions on both sides and possibly result in downward spiral of more repression, more external negative reaction, etc. Cauas closed by saying his own objective was to convey clearly and honestly to GOC what USG believes, and said he was at Deputy Secretary’s disposal to continue dialogue on this subject.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770455-0546. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Barnebey; cleared by Lamb and for information by Schneider and Hewitt; approved by Barnebey.
  2. Dated December 5. The Embassy reported that Cauas had a “lengthy position paper concerning events at New York and the GOC’s problems with” the UN resolution on human rights in Chile, and a reply from Pinochet to Carter’s October 31 letter. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770450-1102)
  3. The letter is in the Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 9, Chile, 1-12/78.
  4. Not further identified.
  5. For Carter’s October 31 letter, see Document 207. Carter responded to the November 9 letter on January 17, writing that he was “pleased to have your views” on the UN resolution on human rights in Chile. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 9, Chile, 1-12/78)
  6. The UN Third Committee adopted Resolution 32/118 condemning the human rights situation in Chile on December 7. The U.S. co-sponsored the resolution. (Telegram 5351 from USUN, December 8; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770455-1039) On December 16, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution. (UN Yearbook 1977, p. 715–716)