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

42100. Subject: Letelier-Moffitt Assassination Investigation

1. Department may call in Chilean Ambassador Cauas as early as February 17 to advise him of imminent presentation of letters rogatory in connection Letelier-Moffitt assassination investigation.2 At that time Cauas will be given a copy of the US District Court for District of Colombia “cover letter” addressed to Supreme Court of Chile. We will stress gravity with which USG regards matter and our expectation that GOC will give prompt and full cooperation in the investigation.

2. The letters rogatory are being pouched to you early next week for presentation to the Foreign Minister.3 The text of the District Court’s “request for international judicial assistance”, but not the sealed questions, will become available in open court records within a few days, possibly as early as Tuesday or Wednesday (February 22 or 23), after the letters have been dispatched to Chile.

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3. You will soon be requested to seek an appointment with the Foreign Minister or the Senior Foreign Ministry official available in his absence, possibly on February 17 or if not then soon thereafter. When you make your approach, you should inform the minister that letters rogatory in the Letelier-Moffitt investigation are being sent to Chile and that your Embassy will deliver them as soon as received. You should state that Ambassador Cauas has been called to the Department, and has been handed an advance copy of the court’s “request”, which he will undoubtedly transmit to Santiago as quickly as possible.

4. For the interim information of the GOC (once you are authorized to make your approach), you may draw upon the following excerpts from the text of the “request” to make clear the general line of inquiry pursued by the court and the political implications of the situation. “It has become known . . . that two members of the Chilean military entered the United States one month before the Letelier and Moffitt murders. At least one of these men met with one of the persons believed to be responsible for these murders. Both of these men had previously obtained visas to enter the United States using fraudulent documentation from a country other than Chile. These visas were revoked by the United States on August 9, 1976, after the fraudulent nature of the documents was discovered. They subsequently obtained official A-2 visas from the US Embassy in Santiago, Chile on August 16, 1976 by presenting official Chilean passports . . . The information on the two men is as follows: Juan Williams Rose, Address Bustamente 24, Santiago, DOB March 12, 1949, official Chilean Passport 528-76; Alejandro Romeral Jara, Address Monjitas 613, Santiago, DOB May 15, 1950, official Chilean Passport 527-76 . . . It is believed that these men have knowledge and information concerning these murders. It is therefore requested that you cause each of these men to appear in court to answer under oath the written questions which are attached . . .”

5. The following talking points have been prepared for the Department’s use with Cauas. You may draw upon them at your discretion.

—The Letelier-Moffitt investigation has proceeded to the point at which testimony from certain Chilean witnesses is essential.

—The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has issued letters rogatory requesting the cooperation of the Chilean courts in taking testimony from the two Chilean military officers. A copy of the court request is attached for the advance consideration of his government; the formal submission with the sealed questions for the witnesses is being sent to Santiago for presentation to the Foreign Ministry in accordance with recognized practice.

—No accusation of guilt upon the part of the Chilean Government is made or implied.

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—However, it is of the utmost importance that the Chilean government recognize the gravity of this situation and the possible implications for our future relations.

—Although the courts have primary responsibility, we hope for and expect the cooperation of the Chilean government in obtaining the requested testimony.

—A failure to cooperate in the effort to establish the responsibility for the murders will have the most serious implications to this government, the congress and the American public.

—We hope and trust that the Chilean government will pursue this investigation with us to its ultimate end.

—Ambassador Landau is to make this same request for cooperation to the Foreign Ministry in Santiago, and he will deliver the letters rogatory as soon as they reach him.

—We wish Cauas well and regret his retirement from his post here on March 31. We regard him with respect and friendship.

6. Once you are authorized to make your approach, we would appreciate your reporting any significant reaction on the part of the minister or other official with whom you speak.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780072-0974. Secret; Niact Immediate; Stadis; Exdis. Drafted by Steven; cleared by Barnebey and in L and S/S-O; approved by Bushnell.
  2. No record of the meeting was found.
  3. In telegram 1336 from Santiago, February 27, Boyatt indicated that the letters rogatory had arrived that morning and were delivered to Carvajal that afternoon. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780090-0431)
  4. In telegram 1128 from Santiago, February 17, Landau reported that, during his meeting with Carvajal that day, he “outlined in detail” the points in paragraph 5 of this telegram. Carvajal responded “that he was happy that the USG was now following the normal and correct procedure of letters rogatory,” and he worried that “the content of the covering letter which would be in the public record” would be used by the press to “play up such matters as alleged false passports to prejudge the GOC’s guilt.” Carvajal also said “that we could count on him and the court’s cooperation.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780074-1172)