24. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Follow-Up Letters to Your Bilaterals With Latin American Leaders

The memoranda of your eighteen conversations with Latin American leaders during the Canal Treaty signing have just been completed.2 For a number of your bilaterals, State and NSC felt it would be very useful for you to follow up your conversations with letters which confirm the commitments made during the meeting and underscore areas where we have a continuing interest.

In certain cases—for example, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay—our intelligence indicates that their Presidents may have gained an inaccurate impression of your concern about human rights. Apparently Pinochet, Stroessner, and Mendez felt that you were in agreement with them that their countries were victims of politically-motivated and inaccurate propaganda, and that the human rights policy which is being implemented in your name does not really reflect your views. No doubt this may be a result of wishful thinking on their part. Nevertheless, our Ambassadors in the field, State, and NSC believe it would [Page 93] be useful for you to re-state clearly your continuing commitment in this area.

Since the drafting of these letters had begun, you have received letters from the Presidents of Argentina, Chile, and Peru,3 and we have included references in your letters. The letter from President Videla was delivered directly to the White House on October 18, and it refers to the Deutsch case which you raised with him.4

There are a number of specific commitments made or repeated in the letters. Let me outline them briefly for you here, and flag any potentially controversial sections:5

Issues Or Points Which Are Noted In The Letters


1. While not deciding to invite representatives from human rights organizations, Videla did say that he was not troubled by such visits. Your letter repeats that point.

2. Argentina and Chile are involved in an effort to try to curb or prohibit the activities of non-governmental organizations—particularly human rights groups—at the United Nations.

3. Videla said that he hoped the problem of people being detained by the emergency laws would be resolved by the end of the year. Your mentioning this point will add an additional incentive for him to do it.

4. With regard to Videla’s statement that Argentina would ratify Tlatelolco when the political timing was opportune, which he hoped would be by the end of the year, there may have been some misinterpretation. The Argentines are reported to believe that he only said that he would “consider” the possibility of ratification at the proper time. Nonetheless, we believe that it would be helpful to re-state our interpretation of his statement so as to insure his awareness of our continuing concern on that issue.


1. Your letter reiterates the continued interest of the U.S. in the peaceful settlement of the problems related to Bolivia’s desire to achieve access to the sea.

2. It states U.S. continued support for integration in Latin America by congratulating him on the new Andean Pact agreement on the automotive industry.

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3. Most importantly, it reminds Banzer that he promised you to give priority attention to seeking the release of those American prisoners whose circumstances warrant special treatment. We have already given the Bolivians the list of names.


1. The letter states that “friendly and close relations” between the U.S. and Chile can only occur if there is increased evidence of improvements in the human rights situation in Chile.

2. On the question whether Chile would permit two UN human rights observers to visit, the Chileans are currently negotiating with the United Nations, and both parties may have some problems in agreeing to the procedures which Chile requires for their visit. We believe that Pinochet promised to permit two UN observers to visit provided they do so “without publicity” and meet with Pinochet before returning to the UN. The Chileans (would like to) believe that they agreed to such a visit only “under certain circumstances,” which might include comparable visits by the UN to Cuba and the Soviet Union. Similarly, Pinochet worked out an agreement with the UN on providing a report on the people who “disappeared,” but his report is not considered satisfactory. Your note of continued interest in both matters should help.

3. Finally, you note Pinochet’s pledge to bring Tlatelolco into effect if Argentina ratifies the treaty.


1. Stroessner’s pledge to receive the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights if they desire such a visit is noted, and you add that U.S. officials would also like to meet with Paraguayan officials “should that be helpful.”

On the loans from the Inter-American Bank and A.I.D., you re-state decisions which were made by the Christopher Committee6 to approve a number of loans for the needy in recognition of Paraguay’s decision to permit a visit of the IACHR, but others are withheld until the visit, in fact, occurs.


1. You repeat your interest in the Bolivian corridor issue, the Ecuadorean–Amazon issue, the limiting of arms purchases, and your hope for the continued success of Andean integration. Morales needs to hear of your interest in the first three, and will be glad to hear of the fourth.

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2. You reiterate U.S. interest in Peru’s economic difficulties, and mention your hope that we can help Peru in obtaining food assistance. This is currently under review, but our expectation is that we will be able to give $5–10 million of food assistance.


1. You state the difficulty because of human rights considerations of having close relations with Uruguay.

2. Mendez’s assurance of removing the “special security authority” and establishing an information commission, which will hopefully cooperate with our embassy, are good decisions which necessitate the comment in the letter.

3. You repeat your hope that Uruguay will invite a human rights commission.

These letters were coordinated and drafted by State and NSC, and cleared by Jim Fallows.


That you sign the letters to the Presidents of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron, Box 27, Latin America, 9–12/77. Confidential. Sent for action. At the top of the memorandum, Carter wrote, “Zbig—ok—except Bolivia—The verbiage is excessive. Did Fallows ok them? (3 or 4 ‘I was pleased’ in Suárez letter) JC.”
  2. For these memoranda of conversation, see footnote 2, Document 23. In an undated memorandum to Brzezinski, Pastor wrote, “Our Executive Directors of the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank have a need to know the President’s views on human rights to those countries and also to better understand what transpired during the meeting and how the other leaders are likely to perceive President Carter’s views on this matter.” A handwritten note on the memorandum indicates that Aaron approved a recommendation to excerpt the applicable portions of the memoranda of conversation and send them to the Directors. (Ibid.)
  3. Not found.
  4. See Document 65.
  5. Below this paragraph, Carter wrote and then crossed out: “Add: Pinochet—Invite 2 UN observers. Videla—Approve Tlatelolco this year.”
  6. Reference is to the Interagency Group on Human Rights and Foreign Assistance, chaired by Christopher.
  7. Carter checked the approve option, and an unknown hand indicates that the letters were signed on October 31. See Documents 65, 292, 306, and 320, as well as footnote 9 to Document 120 and footnote 8 to Document 205.