22. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter 1


  • Peace-Keeping

[Omitted here are sections on El Salvador-Honduras and Belize-Guatemala, which are printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XV, Central America, Document 10]

3. The Andes

There are three distinct though closely related issues subsumed within State’s paper on “Disputes in the Andes”: (a) Bolivia’s desire for access to the sea; (b) reducing tension and military expenditures in the region; and (c) Ecuador’s quest for access to the Amazon.2

(a) Access to the Sea

It is true, as State suggests, that Perez’s support for Bolivia’s desire for access to the sea as the only way to solve the security problem in the Andes is simplistic; there is more to the problem than that. But [Page 86] resolution of Bolivia’s long-standing grievance would go a long way toward reducing tension in the area.

The key to this problem and to the other two is Peru, and that is why we have scheduled your bilateral with Morales Bermudez first among the major Andean countries.3 If Morales could be persuaded of the need for a mediation effort, and at the same time, learn of our deep interest in seeing this dispute and that of Ecuador (Amazon) resolved peacefully, then I think the probability of reaching such a settlement would have increased quite dramatically. Since Peru and most other Latin American countries have recognized the legitimacy, at least in principle, of Bolivia’s claim, it would not hurt, and may be positively catalytic, if you told Morales that you too considered Bolivia’s dream to be a fair and legitimate one.

You may also want to subtly explore his reaction to having Perez or his representative serve as mediator,4 and perhaps also explore Perez’s proposal of developing and de-militarizing the border area. It’s a sound approach which awaits someone’s initiative, and the U.S. may want to take it. Most countries in the region are now very receptive to U.S. leadership. NSC therefore recommends a variation on Option #2.5

(b) Reducing Tensions in the Area

Again, the key to this issue is Peru. If you could succeed in extracting a pledge of non-aggression from Peru or a statement that Peru will not purchase any major new military equipment,6 these actions would significantly contribute to reducing tensions.

Secondly, you might want to explore with Morales and with other Andean leaders, whether—and if so, how—the U.S. could contribute to the implementation of the Ayacucho Agreement to limit arms purchases by the eight Andean countries.7

[Page 87]

Thirdly, you might want to bring up the magic year—1979—the 100th anniversary of the War of the Pacific, in the context of mentioning your interest in the peace of the region. You might also want to hint of an interest in traveling to the region in 1979.

(c) Ecuador: An Amazon Nation

The question of whether Ecuador will ever gain an outlet to the Amazon can only be answered by Peru, and they’re not talking.8 There is really little the U.S. can do here, other than encourage Peru to take Ecuador’s claim more seriously.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 47, Latin America: Bilateral Meetings Decision Memoranda, 9/77. Confidential. On a different copy, the memorandum is dated August 31, 1977. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Subject Files, Box 65, Territorial Disputes, 4/77–12/78)
  2. Brzezinski wrote “(Tab. 3)” at the end of this sentence. Reference is to an undated paper prepared in the Department of State entitled “Peacekeeping: Tensions and Territorial Disputes in the Andes,” which is attached but not printed.
  3. See Document 304.
  4. Carter underlined “Perez” and “serve as mediator.”
  5. Option 2 advised Carter “to indicate individually to the Presidents of Peru, Chile and Bolivia that we favor a Bolivian corridor, and that we would be prepared to actively and significantly support the economic development of the surrounding region as part of a package settlement. This option would, of course, require an important resource commitment.” Brzezinski marked the last five lines of Option 2 and wrote in the margin, “this point I would omit. ZB.” Option 3 was “to stop short of actually endorsing a Bolivian corridor, but to indicate our interest in exploring a jointly developed multilateral approach, including economic assistance, designed to ensure regional peace and development.” Carter checked his approval of Option 3 and wrote next to it, “but indicate personal hope for corridor.”
  6. Carter underlined “non-aggression from Peru” and “not purchase any major new military equipment.”
  7. Carter underlined “implementation” and “Ayacucho Agreement to limit arms purchases by the eight Andean countries.”
  8. Carter underlined “Ecuador” and “outlet to the Amazon.”