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

145831. Subject: Letelier/Moffitt Assassination Investigation: The Paraguayan Connection.

1. In consultation here with Ambassador White, Boyatt, Propper and Barcella, we have established a tentative plan of action designed to elicit Chilean and Paraguayan cooperation in the matter of testimony on the Williams-Romeral passports. Information recently received by Propper, [less than 1 line not declassified] indicates that the Chilean government does not intend to cooperate further in the Letelier case.

2. When you have our responses to the pending GOC questions, which should be in your hands soon,2 you would be asked to hand them to General Orozco and to simultaneously note that we are awaiting cooperation on such matters as the Iturriaga testimony and the telephone call to the Paraguayan Government in which the GOC will “release” Colonel Guanes to testify concerning the Williams-Romeral passport affair. The Paraguayan testimony concerning the passports may be vital to the investigation. The importance of this should not initially be made evident to the Chileans, but it is probably the critical point upon which we will judge GOC cooperation. FYI. The Paraguayan testimony may be key to an indictment of Contreras. End FYI. Propper indicated that he feels you should tell the Chileans that these two [Page 645] requests are totally within the governments ability to immediately comply with while others, such as finding Liliana Walker,3 may not be within their power to do immediately, and so cooperation will not be judged on requests such as the latter.

3. We would inform the GOC that we expect positive replies to both requests quickly. The first-priority item should be the call to the GOP.

4. If they do not make the phone call, we must consider how best to apply pressure. We contemplate at that stage asking you to seek an interview after about 3 days with an appropriate official other than Cubillos close to Pinochet such as General Vidal. We have not ruled out going to Pinochet himself, but we feel that there may be advantages in avoiding direct confrontation with Pinochet at this point. In an interview with Vidal or another official close to Pinochet, you would state the imperative need for GOC cooperation in obtaining Paraguayan testimony in the passport matter. You would tell Vidal that we consider GOC response on this particular issue to be the critical test for now of the GOC’s continued cooperation. We would set a specific short time for GOC response. What do you feel is reasonable? You would state that failing that cooperation, you expect instructions to return to the US for consultations. In the event you are required to return, we would issue a public statement making clear the reason for your departure. We would hope and expect that this step would be unnecessary, since the threat may be sufficient to obtain what we want.

5. In the meantime we will have drafted in consultation with Ambassador White an instruction for his action in Paraguay. We would prepare a note for him to deliver to the Foreign Ministry, in which we would outline the Paraguayan involvement and ask for Colonel Guanes’ testimony. However, Ambassador White would hold this note until it became certain that the effort with the GOC had failed and that you were leaving Chile. At that time he would go to Pappalardo and show him the intended note. He would make every effort to convince Pappalardo to obtain the testimony for us without forcing us to confront the GOP with the note. He would try to convince the GOP that it can by cooperating honestly maintain the posture of an uninvolved bystander in the Letelier case. He would stress that by refusing cooperation, the GOP would be placing itself in the much more dangerous position of appearing to help cover up the crime. We would be prepared to deliver the note if GOP cooperation were not forthcoming. He would [Page 646] see to it this was understood by Pappalardo, and that the note would inevitably become public. He would convince Pappalardo of our seriousness by pointing out the fact of your departure from Chile for consultations and our public charge of non-cooperation against the GOC.

6. We believe the described circumstances might be sufficient to stimulate crisis consultation between GOC and GOP, and hope this will result in their agreement to cooperate. If your efforts with GOC fail to produce their cooperation, we will find ourselves at the point of decision contemplated in your earlier consultation with the Deputy Secretary,4 at which time it was agreed that you would return for discussion of our next steps.

7. This message has been made available directly to Ambassador White, who expects to return to Asuncion about June 7 or 8. Your comments and suggestions will be welcomed.5

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Santiago 1963–79. Secret; Immediate. Sent for information immediate to Buenos Aires.
  2. Not found.
  3. Liliana Walker Martinez (alias) was another DINA agent. (Nicholas Horrock, “Seven Indicted In U.S. Murder Of Chilean Aide,” New York Times, August 2, 1978, p. A4) In 1990, she was identified as Monica Luisa Lagos. (Malcolm Coad, “Reopening of Letelier Case Ordered in Chile,” Washington Post, April 25, 1990, p. A31)
  4. Not further identified.
  5. In telegram 4401 from Santiago, June 9, Landau responded: “I am in general agreement with the Santiago scenario set forth” in telegram 145831, “but I plan to deal initially with Foreign Minister Cubillos, not Orozco. Depending on the response I get from Cubillos it may be desirable to go directly to President Pinochet. GOC cooperation to date in the Letelier/Moffitt investigation has required in almost every instance my intervention with the Foreign Minister, first Carvajal then Cubillos.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780242-0704)