239. Memorandum From the Deputy Secretary of State (Christopher) to President Carter1

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Colombia.]

Colombian Cocaine Traffic. We are taking action on the disturbing reports2 that official corruption in Colombia is contributing to traffic in cocaine. Assistant Secretary Todman plans to raise this issue with President Lopez in Bogota on May 9.3 He will also prepare the way for a second approach ten days later by Mathea Falco, the Secretary’s Adviser on Narcotics Matters.4 Subsequently, our Ambassador to Colombia will follow-up by proposing specific actions Lopez can take to deal with the problem. In the meantime, we will hold up delivery of three helicopters scheduled for shipment to Colombia under our narcotics program.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 18, Evening Reports (State), 4/77. Secret. Carter initialed the memorandum and wrote “To Cy J” in the upper right-hand corner of the first page.
  2. In telegram 3471 from Bogota, April 15, the Embassy reported: “Evidence is that narcotics-related corruption is widespread, with estimated current annual trafficking return for Colombia of at least one-half billion dollars providing strong financial incentive,” and that “official corruption undoubtedly has detrimental effect on US objectives and programs in narcotics field.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770133-0263)
  3. Todman and Lopez discussed narcotics trafficking in Bogota on May 9. A memorandum of conversation is in the National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, 1976–1977 Human Rights Subject Files and Country Files, Lot 80D177, Human Rights—Colombia 1977) See Document 14.
  4. Carter wrote “OK” in the left-hand margin next to this sentence. Falco’s trip was postponed to June. See Document 242.
  5. In telegram 104488 to Bogota, May 7, the Department informed the Embassy of the decision “to hold up, at least temporarily, delivery of the helicopters pending planned demarche on the high level corruption issue.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770160-0661)